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Money – Types of Stored Value

DefinitionWhen we think of money, stored value means anything that isn’t cash, but you can still use to transfer value – checks, debit cards, gift cards, and forms like that. These are used to transport some dollar amount which we can later exchange for goods and services.Each of these forms of stored value have their advantages and Read More…

Net Present Value Calculator

Use this calculator to find Net Present Value, based off expected annual growth, cash flow over a variable number of years, and separations of cash flow between investments and operations. This calculator will help you determine the attractiveness of a company by seeing how much it would be worth if you wanted to buy it Read More…

Net Worth Calculator

Knowing your net worth is the first step towards growing it! This tool will help you organize your assets in one place, and even help project how they will grow in the future. If you have used our Home Budget Calculator to help see where you can improve your savings, the next step is measuring Read More…

Car Loan Calculator

The first BIG purchase many people make is when they buy their first car. This calculator will help show the impact of many of the biggest factors people need to consider when taking out their first loan for a big purchase. If you have used our Credit Card Payment Calculator to see how minimum payments Read More…

Buy vs Lease Calculator

The biggest expense most people have is the place they live, one of the biggest decisions young people face is whether to buy their home, or continue to rent. Conventional wisdom says that buying will pay off in the long term, but believe it or not this is not always the case! If you have Read More…

Credit Card Payments Calculator

Credit Cards! These are usually the first “loans” a person takes out, and the first monthly payments! Tens of thousands of young people dig themselves deep into credit card debt before they even realize it, so have fun with this payments calculator to see how much these bits of plastic REALLY cost! If you have Read More…

Home Budget Calculator

The most difficult thing people think of with personal finance is building your monthly budget, and sticking to it. There are tons of different expenses and payments to consider, so we put all the big ones in one place! This tool will also help you see exactly how much you can set aside for savings Read More…

Saving To Be A Millionaire Calculator

Want to be a millionaire? Everyone does, but do you know how much you need to save and what rate of return you need to get on your investments to reach that million level? This financial calculator helps you learn how your savings grows over time and how sensitive your final savings balance is to Read More…

Advanced Investment Return Calculator

Find out the difference between Simple and Compound Interest! See how big an impact your tax rates and inflation have on your savings over time! If you have already used our Becoming A Millionaire Calculator, you can use your targeted Expected Investment Return numbers in this calculator to see how to make that return happen! Read More…

Savings Growth and Compound Interest Calculator

The first thing to consider with all personal finance is the idea of compound interest! This is what separates the “Piggy Bank” savers from the Warren Buffets; making use of interest compounding is how you can really make your savings grow! If you have already used our Investment Return Calculator, you can use this calculator Read More…

Building Wealth

There are hundreds of small tips and rules you will hear about managing your personal finances, but putting everything together into one coherent plan can be a daunting task.You have probably already heard about budgeting, spending plans, savings strategies, credit cards, and all points in between – now we will put everything together to make Read More…

Family Planning

Raising a family is expensive. According to CNN, it costs over $230,000 to raise a child from birth to age 17 in the United States! Starting a family is the biggest change you can make to your life as a whole, but for your personal finances in particular.Some say that no one is ever prepared Read More…

Mortgages

Your home will probably be the biggest purchase you make in your lifetime. Buying a home not only saves money on rent, but is a serious asset that can appreciate over time. Since homes are so expensive, (almost) no-one buys them in cash. Instead, homes are typically purchased with a special type of loan, called Read More…

Buying a Car

Buying a car is usually the first big purchase a person will make. There is also no shortage of horror stories of people immediately regretting the decision, either by buying a new car and later struggling to meet payments, or a used car with hidden mechanical problems demanding costly repairs.When you need to buy your Read More…

Accounting for Automatic Payments

Automatic Payments – Blessing Or Curse?That title may be a bit hyperbolic – Automatic Bill Payments can be a huge time saver, and do help make sure your bills get paid on time (avoiding late fees and general headaches). This does come at a price, though – when your bills are automatically paid, you may Read More…

Preparing for Spending Shocks

“Spending Shocks” are large, irregular expenses. According to CBS, more than 60% of Americans cannot absorb a $500 spending shock: spending shocks are the #1 reasons why budgets end up abandoned, and being prepared for large spending shocks is the best thing you can do to keep your personal finances healthy.Types of Spending ShocksThere are Read More…

Unemployment and Other Assistance Programs

Everyone needs to start from somewhere. While you build your personal finances from the ground up, you may already have faced times when you had low (or no) income, trying to get any advantage to pull yourself up.There are several public programs specifically designed to help people get out of these situations. In the real Read More…

Budgeting and Spending Strategies

Building a budget or spending plan is tough. Sticking to the plan is even tougher. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can game the system to make sure you stay under budget, and your savings continues to grow.Budgeting StrategiesA “Budgeting Strategy” means different ways to approach your budgeting to build something that works for Read More…

Pay Yourself First

If you know something about personal finance, you understand how complicated it can be to make sure all bills are paid on time, you are fully insured, and your credit is healthy.Juggling all the different aspects of finances usually means savings and investing takes a back seat to everything else on your plate. This is Read More…

Bankruptcy

If you are severely behind on your bills and all other debt management plans have failed, the last option available is declaring Bankruptcy.What is Bankruptcy?Bankruptcy is a type of forced debt settlement, and is a legal procedure. When you declare bankruptcy, the courts will gather all your unsecured creditors together, and hear the debts you Read More…

Debt Management Services

If you find yourself over your head in debt, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Credit counseling agencies, both for-profit and non-profit, exist in every state to help people build a clear, workable path back to healthy personal finances.If you do need the help of a credit councilor, this is Read More…

Consolidating Debt

If you start falling seriously behind on your bills with simple prioritization and negotiation not enough to catch up, you still have some options available to keep your finances under control.One of the most straight-forward options is Debt Consolidation.When to Consider Debt ConsolidationMost adults have at least half a dozen creditors, such as credit card Read More…

Debt Negotiation

Everyone has had financial emergencies, when a huge spending shock breaks your budget or spending plan into pieces. If you have more than one emergency in a short time, such as if you lost your job, your outstanding debt balances might start to spiral out of control.Even in extreme circumstances, it is still possible to Read More…

Effectively Juggling Bills

It happens to everyone: a monetary emergency happens, such as a car breakdown, draining your bank account. Bills are still coming in, and you already know that you will not even be close to paying off everything this month.One of the goals of strong personal finance is trying to avoid these scenarios by having a Read More…

Researching Purchases

Every person makes hundreds of purchases every week. Think about how many individual items you have when buying groceries, how often you eat out or use a vending machine, or how often you buy new clothes. Each purchase has a reason, but each purchase costs money.One of the cornerstones of strong personal finances is knowing Read More…

Work Versus Study

Every high school student makes a choice when they are about to graduate – enter the job market right away, enter a trade school, or enroll in a university?Everyone will make the same kind of choice many times throughout their lives. If you first choose to work, the option is usually still available later to Read More…

Planning Long-Term Purchases

When you are evaluating how to spend your money, most people make a fairly simple comparison – if the benefit you think you will get from the purchase is bigger than the cost, then most people go ahead with the purchase.When you are working to master your personal finances, you might notice a problem. There Read More…

Health Insurance

Health Insurance is usually the most complicated and expensive insurance you need. Unfortunately, it is also usually the most important, making it very difficult to avoid the cost.With very few exceptions, health insurance is mandatory for all citizens in the United States, but the way you become insured will change drastically based on your age, Read More…

Life Insurance

Life Insurance is an insurance policy designed to pay out if the insured person dies. They were created to make sure that if the main income holder of a household dies, the payout from the policy can be used to help continue to support his or her family. Over the last 50 years, Life Insurance Read More…

Homeowner’s Insurance

Homeowner’s Insurance is a broad type of insurance coverage designed to cover a home and the property it sits on. This insurance is very broad, wrapping many different types of coverage into one package.If you want to take out a mortgage on a home, the institution you borrow from will probably require you to have Read More…

Renter’s Insurance

“Rental Insurance” is taken out on property you rent to insure against damage. Rental insurance works like a lighter version of Homeowner’s Insurance.Why Would I Need Rental Insurance?As a renter, this insurance does not do you much good. For example, if there is a fire at your apartment caused by one of your neighbors, your Read More…

Car Insurance

If you drive a car, you need to be covered by some sort of car insurance. You have probably seen dozens of advertisements from insurance companies claiming to help lower your rates, improve your coverage, or just help you compare, but before you buy your first insurance (or change providers), the first step is knowing Read More…

IRS Audits

Once you file your income taxes, the IRS will review all the forms you submit, and either issue your return or refund, usually with very little turnaround time. However, occasionally the IRS will ask you to provide some supporting documentation before your return is accepted.The Basics of an AuditAn “Audit” is what happens when the Read More…

When to Hire a Tax Professional

Most young people are perfectly capable filing the Form 1040 EZ, or even using the longer Form 1040 or 1040 A. As personal finances grow more complex, becoming eligible for more and more tax credits, or needing to report common tax additions, filing your own taxes can be a greater burden, with more tax credits Read More…

When You Need To Pay Extra Income Tax

Everyone loves getting tax breaks, but what can really ruin your finances in the long-run is forgetting about tax additions – extra taxes and fees that you need to add on to your tax bill. Missing these extra taxes will hurt – taxpayers are currently charged 6% APR on all outstanding tax balances.This means if Read More…

Tax Credits and Deductions

When you file your income taxes, you can “write off” certain expenses, and get extra tax credits based on your living situation. This means that if you had a qualifying expense over the course of the year, you basically get to subtract that expense from the income you report to the IRS, which will increase Read More…

Income Tax Filing and the 1040 EZ

What is income tax?Income tax is the tax you pay on your income, usually directly taken out of your paycheck. Everyone who works in the United States should be paying income tax on their earnings.Income is more than just wages and salaries too. If you earn rents from rental properties, investment income, interest on your Read More…

All About Sales Tax

What Is Sales Tax?“Sales Tax” is a tax that is charged on goods sold to end customers. The Sales Tax is a set percentage of the price of the goods sold. In the United States, all states except Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon charge a sales tax, but the sales tax will vary Read More…

Short Term Financing

Short Term Financing“Short Term” financing means taking out a loan to make a purchase, usually with the loan term at less than a year. There are many different types of short-term financing, the most common of which are “Buy Now, Pay Later”, “Unsecured Personal Loans”, and “Payday Loans”.Short Term Financing VS Credit CardsShort-term financing has Read More…

Credit Cards

What are Credit Cards?Credit cards is a form of unsecured credit (meaning a loan without collateral) that you can use to make everyday purchases. All credit card purchases are made using a loan – you borrow money from your credit card issuer, and later pay it back with interest.Credit Cards Vs Debit CardsCredit cards can Read More…

Debit – Credit Cards Without Credit

Before Debit CardsBefore the 21st century, if you wanted to buy groceries or visit the mall, you had 4 options that you could use to pay, all of which had their own drawbacks: Cash, checks, credit cards, and short-term financing.Cash is always reliable to make a purchase, but is prone to being lost or stolen. Read More…

Good Debt, Bad Debt

Beginners trying to tackle their personal finances for the first time see debt as sort of a “boogeyman”, a specter that looms overhead, trying to trap people into inescapable cycles of minimum payments and late fees. Or at the very least, something to be avoided whenever possible.Deep down, we all know this is not really Read More…

Budgeting

If you want to start building your first workable budget, it is important to know exactly what should be in it, how to keep it updated, and the specific reason you want to have this budget.What does a budget look like?A budget is usually a spreadsheet or table. On one side or column, you will Read More…

Reconciling Accounts

You might have experience reconciling your checkbook by comparing your own written records with your bank statements.Fortunately, in the 21st century, this exercise is a bit dated, for two reasons:Paper checks probably only account for a small amount of your total expenses per monthYou probably have an automatic record with your bank’s online services showing how Read More…

Receipts – Keeping and Tossing

When you are getting your financial records organized, it is important to keep track of your spending, so it is important to keep track of receipts.This can add up to a lot of paper very quickly, so one of the most common questions beginners are faced with is “how much do I save, and for how Read More…

Credit Reports

Credit Reports are basically a report that contains your credit history – both the good and bad. If you watch late-night TV, you have probably seen a few commercials offering free credit reports, so you might know that these are important. Most people, however, don’t know just how big a role a credit report can Read More…

Insurance

The idea behind insurance is that there are random bad – and expensive – things that happen to just about anyone. Car crashes, medical emergencies, and other problems that can destroy your personal saving and investing plans if they happen.How Does Insurance Work?To protect against this, insurance companies work to pool the resources of many Read More…

Managing Debt

To be “In Debt” means to owe money to someone else, usually making fixed payments to pay back the amount over time, plus interest.Debt means different things to different people – having some debt is perfectly healthy for your personal finances, but too much can leave you buried. There is also a major difference between Read More…

Income and Compensation

Everyone needs some income – money to pay the bills and live off of, but income comes in many shapes and forms.It might seem obvious, but your total compensation for work is more than just the paycheck you get – depending on your age and where you work, there can be many different forms of Read More…

Building An Investing Strategy

An “Investing Strategy” is a plan for how to save money to help it grow. Sometimes an “investing strategy” can just mean “plan for trading stocks”, but it really means a lot more.Liquidity, Risk, and Potential ReturnsAll investments balance liquidity (how easily it can be converted into cash for other use), risk (the chance of Read More…

Protecting Against Fraud

Today, all of our financial lives are online. Apart from a few paper records, everything you need to know can be accessed from nearly anywhere in the world, instantly.The only problem is making sure that you are the only one who has access to it. Fraud and Identity Theft are growing problems, impacting just about Read More…

Consumerism – Rights and Responsibilities

“Consumerism” can have many meanings, but each person in an economy is a “Consumer” – someone who buys and uses goods and services. As the world’s economy grows, each person is involved in more, and bigger, transactions, and so the rights and responsibilities of being a well-education consumer are more important now than ever before.What Read More…

Starting A Business

Building the next “Big Thing”. Being your own boss. Getting the full rewards for your work. There are a lot of reasons to start a business (along with lots of risks), but taking the plunge is a step every entrepreneur has to face if they plan on striking out on their own.Why Do People Start Read More…

Credit – Using Borrowed Money

What Is Credit?“Credit” is when you have the ability to use borrowed money. This can come in many different forms, from credit cards to mortgages. There is a wide range of ways to use credit, which means that it is often a challenge for beginners to learn all the different ins and outs of using Read More…

Planning for Retirement

When should someone start planning for retirement? Fidelity Investments recommends most young people try to save up 2x their annual salary by the time they turn 35, which is a pretty good benchmark to shoot for. Unfortunately, retirement is so far off the mind of most young people that they find their retirement account is Read More…

Contracts

DefinitionA “Contract” is a legally binding agreement between two parties (people, companies, or both). Having a contract means that if one party does not keep their word, the other can sue them in court to either force them to fulfill their side of the agreement, or pay back compensation.What Makes A Contract Binding?Not every agreement Read More…

Financial Records

Financial Records are what you use to have an easy way to tell where all your money and assets are, and exactly how much you have, at any given time.They are not one document, or even one type of document. In fact, most people’s financial records will not look the same as anyone else’s, because Read More…

Money Creation

How Is Money Created?In the United States (and many other countries), the question “How is money created?” comes up a lot. The treasury isn’t just printing cash all day, if they were the government debt would be zero! In the US, money is created as a form of debt. Banks create loans for people and Read More…

Wealth

Definition of Wealth“Wealth” means having an abundance of something desirable. This can be tangible, like money and property, or intangible.Intangible WealthJust because something does not have a monetary value does not mean it is worthless. Having strong connections with friends and family is often considered a major component of wealth – since these things cannot Read More…

Spending Plan

Definition of Spending PlanA “Spending Plan” is exactly as it says – a plan of what you will be spending each month. There are usually two parts – your “fixed” spending and your “variable” spending. The fixed part is usually the same every month, with things like rent/mortgage payments, grocery bills, insurance, and car payments. Read More…

Balance Sheet

What is a Balance Sheet?The Balance Sheet (or Statement of Financial Position) is one of the four financial statements required by the SEC based on the U.S. GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles). According to the SEC, the Statement of Financial Position presents “detailed information about a company’s assets, liabilities and shareholders’ equity.” In other words, Read More…

Income Statement

Definition:The Income Statement is one of the financial statements that all publicly traded companies share with their investors. The income statement shows the company’s sales, expenses, and net profit (or loss) over a period of time–usually 3 months, year-to-date, and twelve months. The income statement also comes with a lot of notes and discussions from the company’s Read More…

New Feature – Trade Notes

It is essential that students are able to justify every trade placed while using StockTrak – most professors already require students to write summaries of their trading activities, usually as a final report or presentation of their portfolio. The only downside is that these summaries are always written with 20/20 hindsight – it is hard Read More…

Getting Trading Ideas

The most challenging aspect of starting to invest is picking the first few stocks to add to a portfolio. Every investor has their own techniques and strategies, but we want to give you the tools you need to place your first trades, and get your portfolio off to a running start.Establish GoalsBefore choosing your first Read More…

Assignments Upgrade

A common request we receive is professors looking for ways to make StockTrak more accessible for students in entry-level classes – students who are first starting to understand the fundamentals of investments and finance, or participating in remote classes with less face time with professors for explanation on how to get their portfolio started.Well, we Read More…

What are Spot Contracts

DefinitionSpot and Futures contracts are a standardized, transferable legal agreement to make or take delivery of a specified amount of a certain commodity, currency, or an asset at the current date. The price is determined when the agreement is made.The only difference between spots and futures is the delivery date. The current date is used Read More…

What is a Ticker Symbol

Definition:A “Ticker Symbol” is a unique one to five letter code used by the stock exchanges to identify a company. It is called a ticker symbol because the stock quotes used to be printed on a ticker tape machine that looked like the images below. WARNING: The ticker symbol is NOT just an abbreviation of the company’s Read More…

What is a Mutual Fund

Mutual Funds are a way you can buy into a wide range of stocks, bonds, money markets, or other securities all at once. They are professionally managed, so you are basically buying a piece of a larger portfolio.DefinitionMutual Funds come in several different “flavors”, but the core concept is always the same: the fund is Read More…

What is an ETF

ETFs are a fairly new way that you can buy a large group of stocks, assets, or other securities all at once. ETFs trade just like stock; you can buy and sell shares of an ETF throughout the day on an exchange.DefinitionETF funds are not usually actively managed, instead they work like an index; the Read More…

Why Invest In Stocks

Simply put, when you have money to invest for an extended period of time (like 20 years or more), the stock market historically has provided the greatest return.When most people are able to save money, they usually put it in the bank. Banks usually pay interest on the cash in your account, so if you Read More…

Getting and Understanding Stock Quotes

DefinitionA stock quote represents the last price at which a seller and a buyer of a stock agreed on a price to make the trade. Because stock prices are determined by a continuous auction process between buyers and sellers, stock prices change frequently as the buyers and sellers change. Prices also change as new information Read More…

Most Popular Mutual Funds

Following is a list of the most popular (largest) mutual funds. Rank Symbol Fund Name 1 PIMCO:Tot Rtn;Inst 2 Fidelity Cash Reserves 3 Vanguard Prime MM;Inv 4 Vanguard T StMk Idx;Inv 5 Vanguard Instl Indx;Inst 6 JPMorgan:Prime MM;Cap 7 Fidelity Contrafund 8 Vanguard 500 Index;Adm 9 Vanguard T StMk Idx;Adm 10 American Funds CIB;A 11 Read More…

Student-Only Rankings

One of the most common requests we’ve received from professors is to remove themselves from the class ranking, leaving only student accounts. We have just as many professors who like to leave “benchmark” portfolios for students to compete against, keeping the competitions lively.To accommodate both types of teaching, we are happy to announce a new Read More…

Open Positions Sorting

The Open Positions on StockTrak have just gotten an upgrade.Now from the “list” view, students can sort their holdings alphabetically, quantity held, price paid, last price, market value, or profit/loss. Simply click the column heading of the value you would like to sort by to instantly re-order your holdings by what matters most.

New Career Center

This might be the most valuable update to StockTrak yet!Last year, over 80% of students who used StockTrak believed it made them a stronger candidate in the job market, and we take that information seriously. We want to help your students find jobs, and to help, we have launched our new Career Center.The Career Center Read More…

The 5 Biggest Mistakes Of Job Seekers

Graduating students who hit the job market can go for months without a single call back or interview if they make just one of these mistakes. Even if you have a perfect academic record, internship experience, and a head start, make sure you do not fall into one of these common traps that will get your application immediately rejected.

The Truth About Internships

Most students search hard for a great internship to help launch their career. Unfortunately, not all internships are created equal. Learn how to spot internships that provide great work experience, valuable networking opportunities, and very few coffee runs.

Ace Your Interviews – Tips and Tricks

If you want to land a great job, you will have to go through several rounds of interviews for each company who is interested in you. Find out what you can do to stand out from the competition, and what mistakes to avoid to move on to the next round.

Exercising Options Upgrade

If your class includes options trading or derivatives, you have probably covered options, and how to exercise them, in great detail.In the past, StockTrak generally discouraged students from exercising options, since it is generally more profitable to sell the option contract itself and keep the time premium. If students wanted to exercise their options, previously Read More…

StockTrak New Features For Fall 2016

Everything you ever wanted to teach your next investments or finance classes StockTrak Set To Launch A Completely Redesigned Trading Platform The StockTrak Team has been working very hard to offer you the best stock market simulation and virtual trading application. We are proud to officially announce the release of our newly redesigned trading platform Read More…

Refinancing Student Loans For Better Interest Rates

STOCK-TRAK’S Get Rich Slowly Tip: Refinance Your Student Loan and Start Saving Your Cash! If you want to get become wealthy, most successful people will agree it is easier to get rich slowly than to get rich quickly.  When most recent college graduates think about improving their personal wealth they tend to focus on making Read More…

Real-Time Class Rankings

The Achilles Heel of big class competitions on StockTrak used to be the lag between when your students’ portfolio values updated, and when they moved in the rankings. For big classes, this delay could be over 2 hours long.With this most recent update, your class rankings are now streaming in real time – as soon Read More…

New Streaming Prices

Using StockTrak could be an exercise of patience for students who day trade – constantly refreshing the Open Positions to see price movements can be draining.Not anymore!With our most recent upgrade, the Open Positions now flashes price updates as they happen – every few seconds, the values will update.It is also color coded – green Read More…

New webservers – faster than ever!

This semester we have been working hard at some back-end upgrades to help StockTrak grow into the future.This week we completed a serious upgrade to our webserver space – in short terms, StockTrak is now much faster and more reliable than ever before!Our initial benchmark tests show open positions and class reports load 20% faster, Read More…

New Series 7 Course Available

Do you have students looking forward to a career as a Stock Broker? They will need the Series 7 certification!StockTrak has partnered with Securities Training Corporation, who has trained over 75% of professionals working on Wall Street today in at least one of their training programs, to offer the new Series 7 prep course to Read More…

New Option Payout Diagrams

Options trading on StockTrak just got better with our new Option Payout Diagrams!Now, as soon as a student pulls up a quote for an option, we will also draw the payout diagram showing the break-even points and estimated profit for the option contracts based on the underlying stock price.Just one more way StockTrak is at Read More…

New Open Positions Charts

The new wave of portfolio management is here!With our most recent update, all StockTrak users can view their Open Positions either with the classic list view, or switch to brand-new Charts.The charts can toggle between the performance of each user’s holdings over the last day, month, or year. They are also color-coded: green means the Read More…

TraderEx Is Now Available For All StockTrak Users!

StockTrak is the world’s leading portfolio simulation, but what if you could also include a trading simulation with your class?With TraderEx, you can! What is TraderEx?TraderEx is a way to simulate working as a Wall Street trader throughout a single trading day. The portfolio manager (professor) gives instructions to the traders (students) which they need to complete Read More…

New System Messages

New System Messaging has been added to StockTrak!These new system messages appear as a colored bar at the top of the screen – these are used by our team to relay important information to all users, such as market closures or any system announcements all users need to be aware of.This is also the fastest Read More…

New Research Tools Now On StockTrak!

Using StockTrak in your finance and investing classes just got a lot easier!Starting today, the “Quotes” page on StockTrak has a new suite of professional-grade research tools at your students’ disposal.This powerful new addition brings the StockTrak simulation to a whole new level.These professional investment research tools include detailed information at every level:“Markets” includes market Read More…