account maintenance fee -  A fee charged to account holders to keep an account active. This is usually charged monthly, quarterly, or yearly.

allocation - A distribution of a limited amount of asset.

appreciation - Increase in value of an asset due to economic factors, not improvement of condition.

asset - Anything of monetary value that belongs to an individual. It can refer to cash, real estate, stocks, etc.

available credit - Unused amount of an open line of credit.

balance - The amount an account is worth at the end of a reporting period. Net of debit and credit.

billing cycle - The period of time that elapses between invoices.

board of directors - Group of people elected to govern an institution. It has the ultimate authority in decision making.

borrowing risk - Determines how likely the borrower will pay back debt.

brokerage firm - Executes investment transactions for its clients. Some charge a flat fee and some charge a percentage of the cost.

budget - A plan for allocating money for specific purposes.

buying power - The value of funds available to purchases.

commodity - Goods that can be bought and sold. In trade it often refers to unprocessed materials such as grain, metal, etc.

credit balances - The net debit and credit.

credit bureaus (agencies) - Companies that keep track of credit history and provide credit scores to lenders and borrowers.

credit history - A person's borrowing behavior history.

credit limit - Maximum amount that a lender is willing to extend to the borrower.

credit line - The maximum amount of credit that a lender is willing to extend to the borrower.

credit report - A detailed record of credit information reported to the credit bureaus. It tracks a person's history of borrowing behavior.

credit score - Measurement of risk and creditworthiness of a borrower calculated by a set formula.

credit union - A cooperative financial organization which generally offers its members deposit services and loans.

credit utilization - Debt to credit ratio. This is the ratio of the total amount you owe on all of your credit cards over the total credit limit you're given. Credit utilization accounts for 30% of credit score.

creditworthiness - Assessment by a lender of how risky the borrower is and his/her ability to pay back debt.

dependents - Claiming dependents lower taxable income and liabilities. The definition changes from time to time, but they general apply to qualifying children or blood relative. A qualifying child should be under the age of 19 or student under the age of 24 with the same primary residence who receives over half of his/her support from the tax payer. A qualifying relative should also share primary residence and receive over half of his/her support from the tax filer.

deposit account - Savings account, checking account, money market account, etc. at a banking institution which allows deposits and withdrawals to be made.

direct deposit - Electronic transfer of funds directly into a bank account without the use of cash or checks.

discount brokerage firm - Characterized by lower commissions and fees (approx. 50% or more) mainly because these types of firms offer less research and advice to clients. They also tend to have less products than traditional firms.

discretionary spending - Money used after basic survival needs have been met.

down payment - Portion of the full price paid upfront by the buyer as a sign of good faith for a purchase.

emergency fund - Money set aside for use in unexpected situations.

Fair Isaac Corporation - A company known for originating the credit score in the 1980s. It also provides other analytics services to the financial industry.

FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) - An independent agency set up by the U.S. government whose main purpose is to insure deposits of up to $250,000 in its member banks.

Federal Trade Commission - A federal agency established in 1914 whose purpose is to ensure a competitive market.

FICO Score - A credit score model developed by the Fair Isaac Corporation in the 1980s. It's the first type and most widely used credit score.

flex spending loan - Somewhere in between a revolving line of credit and installment loan.

Great Recession - Period between December 2007 and June 2009 (officially) where economic decline was triggered by a housing bubble burst along with liquidity shortfall of U.S. banking institutions. 

hard pull - Typically a voluntary request authorized by the borrower for the lender to evaluate his/her creditworthiness. It can also be done by a potential employer to evaluate one's financial sense and responsibility.

income tax - Tax levied annually on individuals or families by the government (Federal, state, and/or local). The Federal income tax is a progressive system in which tax rate increases as earnings increase.

inflation - Prices of goods and services moving higher during a period of time. It results in a decrease in purchasing power.

initial public offering - When an originally private company offers to sell its stocks to the public. IPOs are usually issued by smaller, less established companies to raise capital. But it can also be issued by household names like the recent General Motors offering.

installment loan - A loan which payments are made in fixed intervals, typically on a monthly basis.

interchange fee - Amount, usually a percentage of purchase, paid by the merchant bank to the card issuer’s bank. It covers the handling cost and risk of credit.

interest - An amount paid by the borrower for the use of money loaned. Typically an annual percentage of the principal.

interest rate - Rate at which an amount paid by the borrower for the use of money loaned. Typically an annual percentage of the principal.

investor - Person or organization who commits money in order to gain a return.

itemized deduction - Eligible expenses that can be reported on tax return to reduce taxable income by the same amount. The taxpayer can choose between taking the standard deduction or to itemize. Only itemize if the total that can be claimed will be higher than the standard.

lender - An individual or institution who extends funds to borrowers.

length (depth) of credit - Shows how long since a person first established credit.

liquid asset - Asset that can be converted into cash easily.

maturity date - The date when the principal and interest is due for repayment.

minimum deposit - The amount of money required to be in the deposit account in order to avoid fees or receive certain benefits.

money market mutual fund - A type fund that invests in short term, liquid, high quality securities. Its main purpose is to retain value of the principal, the amount that was originally put in. Because of its low risk and high liquidity, it’s often used by financial institutions to store money that’s not currently being invested.

money market savings account - An account similar to a regular savings account. It usually pays higher interest, but has more restrictions and requires a higher balance.

mortgage - A loan for purchasing real estate.

NCUA (National Credit Union Administration) - An independent federal agency that oversees chartered credit unions and insures deposits of up to $250,000.

non-discretionary spending - Money required to be used for basic needs.

overdraft protection - When the balance in a bank account is lower than the amount being withdrawn during a transaction, this service allows the transaction to go through instead of being denied.

payroll tax - Tax on individuals which contributes to Social Security and Medicare.

principal - The amount of money borrowed not including interest. It can also be the amount borrowed that's still left after partial payment.

real estate - A piece of land and the unmovable properties attached to it such as a house.

recent searches - Requests by lenders to look through a person's credit report. It can be a soft pull or a hard pull.

revolving line of credit - Limited amount of credit extended by a lender under the condition of recurring payment, for example, a credit card.

soft pull - An involuntary request by a lender for one's credit information, usually for credit pre-approval.

standard deduction - Fixed amount of money that can be deducted from gross adjusted income for those who do not itemize.

standard of living - A measurement of financial situation of a specific population usually quantified by level of consumption (gross income per capital).

subprime loan - Loan offered to borrowers who normally don't qualify for traditional loans due to higher risks. It's given at a rate higher than that of a traditional prime loan.

tax bracket - Rate which someone is taxed based on the level of income they earn.

trading commission - A fee paid to the broker when a transaction occurs. This is typically based on the percentage of each transaction's value.

traditional (full-service) brokerage firm - A traditional brokerage firm often assign brokers to work directly with clients to determine detailed financial goals. The broker may directly manage a client's portfolio or execute trades on his/her behalf. Because of this, there are higher costs involved.

types of credit - Different variety of credits a person can receive such as revolving (credit cards), installment loan (car loan), mortgage, and flex spending.

VantageScore - Credit score created collaboratively by Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian to complete with the FICO score. It features an A through F grading system.

W-4 - Tax form issued by the IRS for an employee to fill out so the employer knows how much to withheld from the employee's paycheck.

withholding allowance - Portion of a person income not subjected to taxes. Reduces the amount of wages subject to income tax.

withholding - Amount of money deducted from one's paycheck and sent directly to the government as part of one's tax liability.