Definitions in One Spot to Make This Whole Thing Easier Because We Get It: You Don’t Get It.

Tenancy in Common

A form of property ownership under which two or more people have an undivided interest in the property and in which the interest of a deceased owner passes to his or her beneficiaries rather than to the surviving owners.

Technical Analysis

A method of evaluating securities by examining recent price movements and trends in an attempt to identify patterns that can suggest future activity. Generally, technical analysis is the opposite of fundamental analysis.

Taxable Income

A taxpayer’s gross income, minus any adjustments, itemized deductions or the standard deduction, and personal exemptions. Taxable income is used to compute tax liability.

Tax-Exempt Bonds

Debt securities issued by a state, county, city, or other political entity (such as a school district) that generate income which is exempt from federal income taxes. Income from such bonds may also be exempt from state income taxes in the state in which the bond is issued. However, some tax-exempt bonds may be subject to the federal alternative minimum tax. Bond prices rise and fall daily. Municipal bonds are subject to a variety of risks, including adjustments in interest rates, call risk, market conditions, and default risk. When interest rates rise, bond prices generally will fall. Certain municipal bonds may be difficult to sell. A municipal bond issuer may be unable to make interest or principal payments, which may lead to the issuer defaulting on the bond. If this occurs, the municipal bond may have little or no value. If a bond is purchased at a premium, it may result in realized losses. It’s possible that the interest on a municipal bond may be determined to be taxable after purchase.

Tax Deferred

A condition of certain plans and accounts under which the funds in the plan or account along with any accrued interest, dividends, or other capital gains, are not subject to taxes until the funds are withdrawn.

Tax Deduction

An amount that can be subtracted from a taxpayer’s income before taxes are calculated. Taxpayers may use the standard deduction or may itemize deductions if allowable itemized deductions exceed the standard deduction.

Tax Credit

A credit subtracted from income taxes after preliminary tax liability has been calculated.

Stock Split

A decision by a company to increase the number of shares of stock it has outstanding by issuing more shares to its current shareholders. For example, in a 2-for-1 split each shareholder would receive as many new shares as he or she owns—effectively doubling the number of shares he or she owns. The price per share adjusts to account for the split. In the example of a 2-for-1 split, each of the new shares would have a par value of half the prior price.

Stock Purchase Plan

A program under which an employer offers its employees the opportunity to buy stock at a favorable price, often through payroll deduction.

Stock Certificate

A legal document that certifies ownership of a specific number of shares of stock in a corporation. In many transactions, the stockholder is registered electronically, and no certificate is issued.


An equity investment in a company. Stockholders own a share of the company and are entitled to any dividends and financial participation in company growth. They also have the right to vote on the company’s board of directors. Keep in mind that the return and principal value of stock prices will fluctuate as market conditions change. And shares, when sold, may be worth more or less than their original cost.

Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (S&P 500)

An average calculated by summing the prices of 500 leading companies in leading industries of the U.S. economy and dividing the sum by a divisor which is regularly adjusted to account for stock splits, spinoffs, or similar structural changes. Index performance is not indicative of the past performance of a particular investment. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Individuals cannot invest directly in an index.

Spousal IRA

An individual retirement arrangement under which an IRA is established for a non-working spouse and is funded with contributions from the working spouse. Spousal and non-spousal IRAs are subject to combined annual contribution limits and must meet certain requirements. Contributions to a traditional IRA may be fully or partially deductible, depending on your individual circumstance. Distributions from traditional IRAs and most other employer-sponsored retirement plans are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions.

Split-Dollar Plan

An arrangement under which an employer and employee share the obligations and benefits of a life insurance policy.

Split-Dollar Life Insurance

An arrangement under which a life insurance policy’s premium, cash values, and death benefit are split between two parties—usually a corporation and a key employee or executive. Under such an arrangement an employer may own the policy and pay the premiums and give a key employee or executive the right to name the recipient of the death benefit. Several factors will affect the cost and availability of life insurance, including age, health, and the type and amount of insurance purchased. Life insurance policies have expenses, including mortality and other charges. If a policy is surrendered prematurely, the policyholder also may pay surrender charges and have income tax implications. You should consider determining whether you are insurable before implementing a strategy involving life insurance. Any guarantees associated with a policy are dependent on the ability of the issuing insurance company to continue making claim payments.


A unit of ownership in a corporation or financial asset.

Self-Directed IRA

An individual retirement arrangement in which the account holder can direct the investment of funds, subject to certain conditions and limits.

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

A federal agency with a mandate to protect investors; to maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets; and to facilitate capital formation. The SEC acts as one of the primary regulatory agencies for the investment industry.

Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE)

A qualified retirement plan that allows employees and employers to contribute to traditional IRAs set up for employees. SIMPLE plans are available to small businesses—those with 100 or fewer employees—that do not currently offer another retirement plan.

Roth IRA Conversion

The process of transferring assets from a traditional, SEP, or SIMPLE IRA to a Roth IRA. Roth IRA conversions are subject to specific requirements and may be taxable.