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  • 401(k) plan: A retirement plan whereby employees reserve a specific amount of money into an account. Some employers agree to match every dollar placed aside in these retirement accounts.

  • 403(b) plan: A retirement plan for employees of educational institutions, government units, and tax-exempt organizations.

  • Adjusted gross income: A taxpayer’s accrued income minus adjustments, such as IRAs and alimony.

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR): The cost of credit for one annual year converted into a percentile.

  • Bankruptcy: A term used to describe legally insolvent individuals who cannot afford to pay their bills.

  • Borrower: An individual who borrows money or a form of credit.

  • Budget: An organized method of matching total income to projected expenses. A budget enables individuals to live within their means.

  • Bull market: A rising stock market characterized by investor optimism.

  • Cardholder agreement: A written contract defining the terms applicable to a credit card account, which usually includes the interest rate charged, annual fees, transaction fees, and the method of calculating interest.

  • Credit Counseling: Personalized counseling services that provide guidance and support for those who have gotten in over their heads financially. The objective of most credit counseling is to help the creditor avoid bankruptcy, as well as provide basic education on financial management.

  • Debt Settlement: Also known as debt arbitration, debt negotiation or credit settlement, is an approach to debt reduction in which the debtor and creditor agree on a reduced balance that will be regarded as payment in full.

  • Dollar-cost averaging: An individual who makes regular payments or investments in the same amount periodically.

  • Investment portfolio: A collection of investments, including CDs, stocks, mutual funds, cash, and more.

  • IRA: An IRA is an account set up at a financial institution that allows an individual to save for retirement with tax-free growth or on a tax-deferred basis.

  • Mortgage: The charging of real (or personal) property by a debtor to a creditor as security for a debt (especially one incurred by the purchase of the property), on the condition that it shall be returned on payment of the debt within a certain period. Mortgage modification is a process where the terms of a mortgage are modified outside the original terms of the contract agreed to by the lender and borrower (i.e. mortgagee and mortgagor). In general, any loan can be modified, and the general process is referred to as loan modification or debt rescheduling.

  • Payment Plan: A detailed plan which depicts the solution for paying off all outstanding debts that the company, or individual owes. Takes in to account the earning of the borrower and then sets up the plan for paying the outstanding amount over a period of time.

  • Pension Plan: A traditional pension plan that defines a benefit for an employee upon that employee's retirement is a defined benefit plan. In the U.S., corporate defined benefit plans, along with many other types of defined benefit plans, are governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).

  • Retirement Plan: A savings and investment plan that provides income during retirement. It is often created by companies or the government.

  • Revolving credit: A credit agreement that grants consumers the right to pay off a portion or the entirety an outstanding balance on loans or credit cards accounts. The lending institutions re-issues credit as the consumer pays off the debt.

  • Savings bond: A certificate yielding interest after a certain period of time. The total value of the savings bond includes the interest and principle paid in the full amount after it has matured.

  • Secured credit card: A consumer uses collateral or savings to guarantee repayment of the balance on a credit card. Lending institutions base the credit limit on the total value of the collateral available from the borrower.

  • Securities: A wide array of investment options, including mutual funds, stocks, bonds, CDs, cash, and other assets.

  • Service charge: Lending institutions charge a nominal fee for carrying or servicing a loan or account.

  • Share account: A savings account opened at a credit union. The shares represent the ownership interest in the credit union.

  • Student Loan: A loan taken by a student to pay for educational expenses, usually at a favorable rate of interest that is subsidized by the government.

  • Unsecured loan: A high-risk loan based on the consumer’s promise to pay without collateral or savings as a guarantee for repayment.

  • Usury laws: These laws set the maximum interest rates that lending institutions may charge for their consumers.

  • Variable interest rate: An interest rate that fluctuates up or down on a schedule based on an economic index, such as the prime rate.