Thursday, February 10, 2022

Personal finance vocabulary list

Following, in alphabetical order, is a list of vocabulary words, along with my own definitions and explanations I wrote for them. These are ideal for high school students taking a personal finance class or simply wanting to get a better grasp of, or head start on, various money management concepts. By no means is this list of vocabulary words and their corresponding definitions and explanations meant to be exhaustive. Check back from time to time, as this personal finance vocabulary list for high school students may be expanded upon.

Budget - "A spending plan for your money. You are telling your money where to go and what to do." - Dave Ramsey

Checking - A checking account is an account you have, typically with a bank or credit union, allowing you to write checks to other people or to businesses without having to carry cash on you. The money for these checks comes out of your checking account when these other people or businesses cash your checks. These days, it's more common to see people using debit cards tied to their checking accounts for purchases rather than paper checks (see Debit). You are responsible at all times for keeping money in your checking account to cover your checks or debit card purchases. Not having enough money in your account when checks or card purchases are made against your account can result in heavy overdraft fees.

Credit Card - A plastic card issued to you by a bank, credit union, or credit card company. A credit card is a form of loan that must be paid back by you. When you use a credit card to make a purchase, you are not using your own cash to pay for the purchase. Rather, you are using money loaned to you by the issuer. Typically, if you don't pay your balance by the end of the month (or your assigned due date), you will also have to pay interest, which can be very high.

Debit - When we mention the word "debit," we're often talking about a debit card, but not always. A debit card is like a credit card, in that it is a plastic card with an account number and expiration date. It has your signature on the back. All like a credit card. The big difference, though, is that a debit card is backed by your own cash. It's really your money being used for purchases, not money loaned to you by a credit card issuer that you must pay back (and usually, with interest!) A debit card is usually tied to a checking account, meaning the money used to make debit card purchases comes right out of your checking (see Checking).

Debt - Put simply, debt is any amount of money, from one or from many different sources, that you owe. It could be money that you owe a family member or friend. It could be money you owe on credit cards, student loans, a mortgage, a car loan, etc.

Income - We usually think of income as money we earn from our jobs (wages, salaries, sales commissions, etc.), but income can come from a variety of sources. For example, income can be generated from investments you own, like stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. It can also come from rental income on properties you may own. In this scenario, you own a home, apartment complex, commercial property, or even land, and other people (or businesses) are paying you to live there or run their business.

Investment - An investment, simply put, is you giving your money to an individual, a business, a financial advisor, or a bank in exchange for the potential to get your money back, along with more money just for you giving your original money in the first place! We say potential, because it is possible for you to lose money. Your investments may come in the forms of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, precious metals, or business opportunities, to name a few examples. Check out this previous blog post on the differences between stocks and bonds.

Loan - A loan is money issued to you on credit. The money is not yours. You don't get to keep it. You must pay it back, usually with interest. A few examples of loans include credit cards, student loans, a mortgage, a car loan, and a business loan.

Mortgage - A type of loan you take out from a bank or credit union allowing you to purchase a home or perhaps even a commercial building, if you're in business. Like any other loan (car loan, credit card, student loans, etc.), it must be paid back with interest added.

Salary - A salary is a type of income that you make from your job. Usually, when we discuss the term "salary," we are talking about an income that you are guaranteed to make in a full year. For example, you may get a job someday with a salary of $60,000, as opposed to being offered a wage of, say, $25.00 per hour. A big benefit of being paid in salary is that you know for sure what you'll make in a year. A major potential downside, though, is that you will most likely not receive any additional compensation for overtime, holidays, etc., like hourly wage earners would typically earn. You also will most likely end up putting in many more hours during the typical workweek than your wage-earning co-workers.

Savings - Money that you keep on reserve for an emergency, a "rainy day," or maybe for a particular thing you'd like to buy someday. While many people think of the word "savings" as money that is held in a savings account or Certificate of Deposit (CD) at the bank, it doesn't need to be. In any case, savings is money that is usually easily accessible, meaning it's not tied up in investment or retirement accounts.

What do you think of this attempt to build a solid working start to a list of high school personal finance class vocabulary words? What do you think of the definitions and explanations of money concepts presented here? What would you change, if anything? What words would you add to this list? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below! We appreciate your insights and contributions!

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