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Key Investing Definitions To Know

Investing can be a scary word, but it doesn’t have to be. This article will provide you with some of the most basic investing definitions so that you can get started on your investment journey. You’ll find out what stocks are and how they work, as well as read about bonds and mutual funds. In no time, you’ll feel like an expert!

Mutual funds

Mutual funds are a way to invest your money. While investing in it is not for everyone, there are many benefits of doing so. Mutual fund investments allow you to diversify, which can help reduce risk and increase returns on your investment. For example, suppose five companies exist within one mutual fund with an equal amount of each stock (five stocks total). In that case, your entire portfolio will be made up of twenty-five different stocks instead of just having all five invested into only one company or individual stock.

An open-ended mutual fund is a company that sells shares to the public and invests money on their behalf. A closed-end fund, by contrast, has only one pool of investors’ cash being managed by professional managers who invest in securities such as stocks and bonds to increase the value of those assets for shareholders or unitholders.

A fund that tracks an index (e.g., Standard & Poor’s 500) such as the S&P 500 is known as a passive fund or exchange-traded fund, which means it follows and does not attempt to beat its benchmark. It can also be referred to as a “passive strategy” in terms of investing. An index fund is a type of mutual fund.

Index Funds

Index funds are mutual funds that seek to mimic the performance of a market index such as the S&P 500 or Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA). Index funds typically have lower fees and expenses than actively managed mutual funds because they don’t require research staff, which reduces costs substantially.

Their passive management styles also mean they generally underperform comparable actively managed funds over time due to factors like a human error in selecting stocks and other forms of market risk inherent in all securities transactions. However, their low operating expenses keep them ahead of many active managers overall if held long enough—and many investors use index trackers simply as core holdings with perhaps a few carefully selected add-ons from time to time.

What is the difference between an index and a mutual fund?

An index is a grouping or range of investments representing an index (e.g., Standard & Poor’s 500) used by many mutual funds. On the other hand, a fund that tracks an index such as S&P 500 Index is known as a passive fund or exchange-traded fund, which means it follows and does not attempt to beat its benchmark. Thus, it can also be referred to as a “passive strategy” in terms of investing.

A mutual fund that invests primarily in stocks issued by small companies or foreign securities generally has higher risk but potentially offers greater returns than stock funds.

Stocks and bonds

Stocks are securities that represent pieces of ownership in a corporation. Bonds are debt instruments that represent a loan to an organization.

Bonds are securities that represent a debt owed by an entity, such as corporations or government entities like city and state governments; they must pay investors back the amount they borrow (the principal) plus interest at designated intervals over time until it is paid off. Bonds typically trade on major exchanges like stocks do but may also trade over-the-counter.

The difference between stocks and bonds

Stocks are considered riskier investments compared to bonds because there is no guarantee that a company will succeed, which means you might not get your initial investment back plus interest; however, it can potentially offer greater returns than bond-type investments. On the other hand, bonds are considered less risky because it is traded on an exchange and therefore there is more oversight which means the company must pay back what they borrowed plus interest.

Oher investing definitions you might encounter

Bear market

A bear market is a time when stock prices are falling, and economic activity slows down. This is typically caused by an imbalance between supply and demand in the market. The term bear comes from how bears attack their prey: they swipe downwards to bring it down.

Bull market

Bull markets exist when there is optimism in the economy, which typically means investors will be willing to pay more for stocks than they would naturally because their expectations of how thriving companies perform increase; this can help drive up stock prices. Thus, a bull market typically happens when the economy is doing well.

Asset allocation

Investors decide how to divide their investments between stocks, bonds, cash equivalents (money market funds), and other assets based on their time horizon, risk tolerance, goals for the money they are investing in.

Accrued interest

This is where an investor must pay back what they owe even if they do not own the bond anymore; typically, this happens when a bond changes hands before its maturity date.

Stock market crash

A stock market crash refers to rapid drops in stock prices over extended periods mainly due to panic selling where investors sell off their shares quickly because they fear further price decreases; this usually results in lower prices overall unless something significant happens like government intervention. An example would be during Black Monday, when stock markets all over the world crashed.

Bond market

The bond market is where buyers and sellers meet to make deals on various investment securities such as government bonds, corporate bonds, mortgage-backed securities (MBS), asset-backed securities (ABS). In addition, bonds can be bought or sold in secondary markets before their maturity date.

Exchange-traded funds

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are similar to mutual funds, except they trade like stocks so that you can buy and sell at any time during the trading day. They typically track a stock market index or group of assets. An example would be Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF which tracks all companies in The United States, allowing investors to gain exposure to companies across major sectors without having to purchase individual stocks

Hedge Funds

Hedge funds are alternative investments. This type of fund is privately offered to investors who meet specific financial qualifications. A hedge fund typically invests in various asset classes, including stocks, bonds, currencies, and commodities. Hedge funds usually have greater risk than mutual funds because they invest in less-liquid securities that cannot be sold quickly when the fund needs to raise cash.

Income Investing

Income investing is a strategy in which an investor looks for stocks that pay dividends. In general, dividend-paying companies tend to be mature businesses with consistent earnings and strong free cash flow, so the shares may not offer significant capital appreciation potential. However, they can provide solid returns through regular income and sometimes even rise when interest rates drop (which would decrease the yields paid by competing securities).

Tax advantages

This is another investment strategy. If you plan on using your stock market gains to pay for college, different tax benefits will come into play regarding the capital gains rate. One way around this will be to use mutual funds or other investments that would allow for a distribution of dividends and long-term gains (or at least this is one way to avoid capital gains taxes).

Dollar-cost averaging

This is a strategy to help long-term investors. The idea is that when markets are low, you invest more money in the market and vice versa with high prices. This helps to smooth out any fluctuations because of price volatility or fear in the marketplace. Dollar-cost averaging can be applied by making regular automatic investments into your portfolio monthly, so you sometimes buy when there’s not much activity happening in the stock market.

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT’s)

These investment companies have a structure that is very similar to mutual funds. However, REITs invest in real estate, and the income generated from this activity is distributed between shareholders as dividends. They’re considered a good option for an investor seeking equity exposure of their portfolio because they provide higher returns than most other investments while still maintaining some stability due to their diversified nature.

The stock market index

A stock market index is a metric that represents the value of some group of stocks; it will typically contain all the stocks in an industry, country, or region. An example would be The Dow Jones Industrial Average which includes 30 well-known large companies like Apple and Walmart.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is a stock market index. It is one of the most commonly used and recognized indexes in the world today. The DJIA tracks 30 large publicly traded companies, such as American Express, Apple, Boeing Corporation, and Coca-Cola Company. These are among some of the biggest household names that we see on Main Street USA each day.

Listed Company/Publicly traded company

These companies have issued stocks on either the NYSE or NASDAQ (or any other exchange) where they can be bought and sold freely.

The New York Stock Exchange

This is the largest in terms of market capitalization and is one of two stock exchanges operating independently. The NASDAQ works with a trading floor located in New York City and has offices around the country.


This abbreviation means “National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations System.” It was created by several major brokerage firms back in 1971. The NASDAQ is a stock market index that includes many of America’s most prominent high-tech and biotech companies.

In conclusion:

This article has covered several key points that will help you better understand the investment, stock market, and some of its intricacies. The goal was to provide information in a straightforward, easy-to-understand manner so anyone could read it without getting confused or overwhelmed by all the technical jargon.

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