Financial Definitions

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Numerals

401(k) Plan – A defined contribution plan, governed under Section 401(k) of the Internal Revenue Code, and intended primarily for long-term retirement saving. Typically, employees (“participants”) contribute pre-tax money each payday into a custodial trust account set up for them by the 401(k) plan, and invest that money so that it can grow tax-deferred. When a participant withdraws money from the plan, it’s taxed as ordinary income. However, if the plan offers a Roth option, participants may elect to designate some or all of their contributions to be made with after-tax dollars, allowing them to take withdrawals tax-free, subject to certain rules and regulations.

402(f) – Notice that participants taking withdraws from their plan will receive annually. The plan sends detail options for both Roth and non-Roth rollover distributions, pursuant to the IRS code.

457(b) Plan – A defined contribution plan for governmental employees that is governed under Section 457(b) of the Internal Revenue Code and commonly known as a governmental deferred compensation plan. Typically, public employees (“participants”) contribute pre-tax money each payday into a custodial trust account set up for them by the 457(b) plan, and invest that money so that it can grow tax-deferred. When a participant withdraws money from the plan, it’s taxed as ordinary income. However, if the plan offers a Roth option, participants may elect to designate some or all of their contributions to be made with after-tax dollars, allowing them to take withdrawals tax-free, subject to certain rules and regulations.
Note: Certain non-governmental employers may establish 457(b) plans. However, these plans are under separate rules and regulations and are not interchangeable with governmental 457(b) plans.

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A

Account Accuracy Rule – Relates to the FACTA of 2003, the act that addressed identity theft concerns. FACTA allows consumers to request and obtain a free credit report once every twelve months from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion).

Adjustment – Financial transaction initiated by a fund company or employer used to correct a participant's account's balance. Includes the following: daily interest, dividends, capital gains, unit adjustments, bad price or price conversions, payroll adjustments, and fund reimbursements.

Allocation – The way in which deferrals, or contributions, are divided among existing investments.

Allocation Change – When a participant modifies future contribution percentages by changing the amount of the allocation or how the contribution is allocated among funds.

Annual Contribution Limit – Maximum a participant can contribute, or defer, to a 401k, 403b and/or 457b plan account(s) or IRA in a tax year. The IRS sets contribution limits annually.

Annualized Return – Rate of return for a given period that is less than one year, but computed as if the rate were for a full year.

Asset Allocation – Strategy of spreading investment funds across asset classes, such as cash and fixed income, bonds, and stocks, to help minimize risk. This may help manage the risk of investing in part because these investment categories respond to changing economic and political conditions in different ways. The use of asset allocation does not guarantee returns or protect from potential losses.

Asset Classes (Types) – Types of investments available for participant contributions and assets. In general, asset classes may be divided into stocks, bonds, and cash and cash-like products including money market instruments, Treasury bills and CDs. Retirement plans typically offer mutual funds comprised of stocks, bonds, cash or a mixture of them. Read Asset Class Types in the Learning Center for more information about the types offered by Nationwide®.

Asset Rebalancing – An investing strategy through which a participant periodically exchanges or moves between funds in their account, in an effort to maintain a specific investment mix designated.

Automatic Asset Rebalancing – Optional service offered by Savings Plus that automatically rebalances participant accounts on a quarterly basis.

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B

Basis Point – Common units of measure when quoting fixed account yields, interest rates and retirement plan charges and expense. One basis point equals .01%, therefore 100 basis points equals 1%.

Beneficiary – The recipient of, or person chosen to receive, designated assets in the event of another’s death.

Bonds – Loans or debt instruments issued by governments or corporations to raise money. These instruments are issued for a stated period, during which interest payments are made to the bondholder. Bonds may be bought or sold, and may gain or lose value, as investment property.

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C

Capital Gains Distribution – Mutual fund distributions, or profits, paid to shareowners from the sale of stocks and/or bonds.

Capitalization (Cap), or Market Capitalization – The total market value of all of a company’s outstanding shares. Often abbreviated as cap. Small-cap generally refers to a company with market capitalization of between $300 million and $2 billion. Mid-cap, between $2 and $10 billion. Large-cap, more than $10 billion. Many mutual funds are categorized based on the average market capitalization of the stocks that they own.

Catch-Up Contributions – There are two types:

  • Age 50+ Catch-Up Provision – 457b, 403b and 401k plans may allow participants age 50 and over to contribute up to $6,000 more than the maximum contribution limit annually
  • Special 457 Catch-Up Contribution – 457b and 403b plans may allow a one-time special catch-up contribution.

To learn more, visit https://www.irs.gov.

COLA – Cost of living adjustments.

Consumer Price Index (CPI) – Also known as the CPI or Cost-of-Living-Index. Released monthly by the US Department of Labors’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, it measures prices of a fixed basket of goods bought by a typical consumer in the United States. Goods include food, transportation, shelter, utilities, clothing, medical care, entertainment, etc.

Contribution – Portion of the account holder’s paycheck that is invested into a retirement plan.

Contribution Change – Modification to a pre-tax or Roth contribution amount that is deposited from a participant's paycheck to invest in a defined contribution account. 

Core Account – Portion of a participant’s account that is invested in funds offered by a retirement plan. The term is used primarily by plans that offer a self-directed brokerage option to distinguish assets a participant holds “inside the plan” from assets held in the brokerage account.

Corporate Bond – Bonds that are issued by corporations. They may offer higher returns than government bonds in exchange for higher risk. Generally, the higher the credit rating of the company, the lower the interest rate paid to the investor.

Correction – Drop in the stock market, usually following a steep or prolonged rise. A mild correction is defined as a drop of 5%, while an average correction is 10%. A major correction is a drop of 15%.

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D

Deferred Compensation – Earned income that, under the terms of the plan, such as a 457, 403(b), or a profit sharing plan, is not actually paid until a later date. The income is not taxed and can be invested in either fixed or variable accounts.

Defined Benefit Pension Plan – Employer-sponsored retirement plan that promises to pay a specified benefit to each person who retires after a set number of years of service. These plans do not pay taxes on their investments and in some cases, employees contribute.

Defined Compensation Plan – Type of retirement plan in which the employer allows employees to contribute a portion of their income to invest in options offered by the plan. Contributions can grow tax-deferred until withdrawal, when the money is taxed as ordinary income.

Deflation – Opposite of inflation, it is the decline in the prices of goods and services. A period of deflation usually has a negative affect on production and employment.

Depression – A severe and prolonged recession, a depression is an economic condition characterized by falling prices, excess of supply over demand, rising unemployment, accumulating inventories, decrease in purchase power and general public fear.

Direct Deposit (Electronic Fund Transfer or EFT) – many employers direct deposit employees’ pay into a bank account, rather than issuing paper checks.

Distribution – Amount paid out of plan accounts, also called a payout or payment.

Diversification – Portfolio strategy designed to spread risk by allocating assets among a variety of investments, such as short-term investments, bonds and stocks.

Diversified Real Return Fund – The Diversified Real Return Fund seeks to provide a hedge against inflation risk. The Fund will invest in assets that offer protection against movements of inflation while these assets also provide a low correlation to traditional asset classes. It is composed of an allocation to three underlying real return funds: Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS), Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), and Commodities. The performance of the Fund is compared against inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, plus a 3.0% premium (CPI + 3%).

Dividend – Earnings paid by a company to its stockholders, typically paid in cash or stock. Dividends may be paid monthly, quarterly, or annually.

Dividend Yield – Portion of what a mutual fund earns from its holdings, stated as an annualized percentage of the fund’s current market price. A quarterly dividend would be equal to one-fourth of the percentage stated in an investment report or prospectus.

Dollar Cost Averaging – Investment strategy that invests fixed amounts at set intervals, such as monthly or bi-weekly. Over the long term, a particular investment is purchased with a fixed dollar amount on a regular schedule, regardless of the share price. This assumes more shares are purchased when prices are low, and fewer shares are bought when prices are high.

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E

Earned Income – Money earned from salary, wages, bonuses, commissions and tips, as a result of providing goods and/or services.

Earnings – Money gained on the principal in a financial account.

Earnings Per Share – Portion of a company's profits allocated to each outstanding share of common stock — it’s generally calculated quarterly and determined after payment of company bonds and preferred stock (if any). Earnings are a primary driver of a stock's value.

Effective Date – Date on which an agreement or transaction , such as a contract or insurance policy, takes effect. With transactions, some companies require that they must be submitted by the close of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) – normally 4 p.m., ET to be effective on that day. After that time, transactions are usually not effective until the next business day the NYSE is open.

Eligible Rollover Distribution – A distribution from a 401k, 403b, or 457 plan or an IRA that is legally eligible to be rolled over to another 401k, 403b, or 457 plan or an IRA.

Employer Contributions – Contributions made by the employer for the employee. Includes Employer Discretionary Account, Employer Match and Employer Money Purchase.

End-Result Exchange – Reallocating your current balance changes the investment mix of your portfolio and is sometimes referred to as an end-result exchange. It's an easy way to manually rebalance your entire portfolio without exchanging one fund at a time.

ERISA – The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, a law governing the operation of most private pension and benefit plans including 401k and 403b plans. ERISA protects the assets of millions of Americans so that funds placed in retirement plans during their working lives will be there when they retire. For more information, visit www.dol.gov/ebsa/FAQs/faq_compliance_pension.html?vm=r.

Estate – Legal term for the sum of the assets and liabilities for an individual, generally used after the death of an individual.

Estate Planning – Advance planning for how to manage an estate when the owner dies. This is often done years in advance to ensure that the owner’s wishes are met. It can include setting up trusts, planning a will, buying life insurance to cover expenses triggered at death, and coordination of tax liability.

Exchange – Moving the current account balance from one investment choice to another choice(s) available through the same plan.

Expense Ratio – The expense ratio is the annual fee that funds charge their shareholders. It expresses the percentage of assets deducted each fiscal year for fund expenses, including management fees, administrative fees, operating costs, and all other asset-based costs incurred by the mutual fund. 

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F

FDIC Insured – Refers to accounts that are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, a U.S. government agency that insures cash deposits placed in member institutions. The basic insured amount for each depositor is capped at $250,000 for losses of cash in all accounts the depositor has with the member institution where the loss occurred.

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) – Largest independent regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States. FINRA’s mission is to protect America’s investors by making sure the securities industry operates fairly and honestly.

Fund Expense Ratio – See Expense Ratio.

Fund Fact Sheets – A document providing the investment objectives, strategy, fees and expenses, and past performance of the fund options offered by Savings Plus. Fact sheets are provided in lieu of a fund prospectus for separate accounts, collective trust funds, and fund-of-fund options.

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G

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) - Total value of goods and services produced in a country in one year.

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H

Hardship - an immediate and heavy financial need for which Savings Plus 401(k) participants may request a 401(k) Hardship Withdrawal when no other funds (including Savings Plus loans) are available. Eligible hardships can include:

  • Medical, disability and funeral expenses
  • Housing repair and stopping an eviction
  • Post-secondary education tuition 

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I

In-Service Withdrawals – Withdrawal from a retirement plan that occurs before retirement, including Unforeseen Emergency and Hardship withdrawals. While participants are discouraged from taking money out of their plan before retirement, Savings Plus allows one such withdrawal per account.

Index – A stock market index is a benchmark that provides a point of reference for evaluating performance of a portfolio. Some of the more common indices include the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Index Fund – Index funds seek to match the overall performance of a market or some segment of a market by investing in many or all securities (stocks or bonds) that comprise that index.  For example, the Large Cap Index Fund offered by Savings Plus seeks to match the returns of the S&P 500 Index.

Individual Retirement Account (IRA) – Retirement accounts owned and funded by an individual. Two common types of IRAs are traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs. Contributions to a traditional IRA are eligible for a credit when the individual files a federal income tax return. Withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income. Contributions to a Roth IRA are not eligible for a tax credit, but withdrawals may be taken tax-free (subject to certain conditions and restrictions).

Inflation – Persistent and measurable rise in the general prices of goods, services, materials, etc.

Interest – Fee charged by a lender to a borrower for the use of borrowed money. It’s commonly expressed as an annual percentage of the principal, and is determined by the time value of the money, the perceived credit risk of the borrower, and the projected rate of inflation.

Internal Revenue Code (IRC) – Body of law containing federal tax provisions, including those that govern or impact 457b, 403b, 401k and 401a plans, IRAs and defined benefit pension plans. References to specific section numbers in more formal documents are often preceded by §, as in IRC §457(b) for Section 457(b) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – The U.S. government agency responsible for tax collection and tax law enforcement.

Investment Objective – Defines a fund's investment goals. Investment objectives can be found on Fund Fact Sheets.

IRA Transfer – Custodian-to-custodian transfer of an IRA. The owner does not take possession of the assets – they’re transferred directly from one plan custodian to another.

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L

Large-Cap Stocks – Large-Cap Stocks are instruments that signify part ownership in corporations. Usually, they encounter higher market risk than do short-term investments and bonds but offer the potential for higher long-term returns. Large-cap typically refers to companies with market values exceeding $10 billion. Large-cap funds tend to be less volatile and offer lower risk than do funds with smaller capitalizations.

Liquid Asset – An asset, such as a bank savings account, that can be converted into cash quickly and with minimal impact to the price received.

Loan – An optional provision available to retirement plan sponsors. If adopted by the sponsor, participants may request to borrow money from their retirement account. Repayment is typically made through Automated Clearing House (ACH) directly from the participant’s bank account to the retirement account.

Loan Principal – The amount borrowed – interest is calculated on the principal.

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M

Mandatory Employee Pre-Tax Contribution – Employee’s contribution made upon condition of employment and managed by the employer under IRC Section 414 (h), e.g. the Alternate Retirement Program (ARP).

Market Capitalization (Cap) – Total market value of all of a company’s outstanding shares. Often abbreviated as cap. Small-cap generally refers to a company with market capitalization of between $300 million and $2 billion. Mid-cap, between $2 and $10 billion. Large-cap, more than $10 billion. Many mutual funds are categorized based on the average market capitalization of the stocks that they own.

Market Timing – The frequent movement between and among mutual funds to potentially capitalize on perceived or anticipated market trends. Market timing does not ensure profitability and, because it often operates to the detriment of other investors, fund managers may assess fees on sales of funds held for short periods.

Maximum Deferral – Largest amount a participant can invest annually. These limits are established by the IRS.

Mid-Cap Stocks – Mid-Cap Stocks typically refers to companies with market values between $2 billion and $10 billion. These funds can be somewhat more volatile than large-cap funds, but are generally less risky than funds devoted exclusively to smaller companies.

Money Market Account (MMA) – Mutual fund that invests primarily in low-risk, short-term investments such as treasury bills, government securities, certificates of deposit and other highly liquid, potentially safe securities.

Money Source – Original contribution made to a retirement plan. The source may affect how an asset is treated within a plan type. Examples include rollovers or contributions

Morningstar® – Independent mutual fund rating service that provides information on mutual funds, including performance history and other investment data.

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N

Nationwide ProAccount® – An option, for-fee, professional money management service offered to participants of 457b and 401k plans provided by Nationwide Retirement Plans. The service is offered through Nationwide Investment Advisors, LLC, a broker/dealer affiliate of Nationwide Retirement Plans, which has retained Wilshire Associates as the independent financial expert, to select and monitor investments so that participants do not have to. Based on a participant’s personal profile, age and risk tolerance, ProAccount will create an investment strategy that seeks to enhance diversification, increase returns and control risk.

Net Asset Value (NAV) – The market value, or price, of a share. It’s calculated daily by dividing the total net assets of the mutual fund by the number of shares outstanding.

Normal Retirement Age (NRA) – Age at which a participant in a retirement plan can retire and receive unreduced benefits. Some deferred comp plans define a retirement age range within the Plan Document and let the participant choose when to retire; other plans choose the date for the participant.

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P

PST Employees Retirement Program – Mandatory Savings Plus retirement program for part-time, seasonal and temporary (PST) state employees who are not covered by CalPERS or Social Security. 

Payout – Payment from a 457b, 403b or 401k plan or a defined benefit pension plan – also called a distribution. Examples include disbursements, loans, rollovers to another plan and separation from service payments.

Payroll Frequency – How often your regular paycheck is issued – daily, weekly, bi-weekly (once every two weeks), bi-monthly (twice per month), etc.

Personal Choice Retirement Account (PCRA) – Self-directed brokerage account provided by Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., and offered through the Savings Plus Program. Participants choosing to enroll in a PCRA are allowed to manage investments in their 401(k) and/or 457 plan.

Performance Benchmark – Index used to evaluate a mutual fund’s performance.

Plan Document – A document or collection of documents that officially define the plan and specify how it is to be governed and operated.

Portfolio – Collection of investments owned by the same individual or organization.

Post-tax – Paycheck contribution made to a retirement plan after taxes have been paid on the amount.

Pre-Tax – Paycheck contribution made to a retirement plan prior to taxes being paid on it.

Prime Rate – Interest rate commercial banks charge their best clients -- generally large corporations. Many consumer loans, such as mortgages, automobile and credit card loans are tied to the prime rate.

Principal – Money contributed to a financial account, such as a 457b or 401k plan.

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Q

Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) - Divorce judgment, decree or order that relates to the provision of child support, alimony payments or marital property rights. This judgment may include a spouse, former spouse, child or other dependent of the employee, and may affect the disposition of or rights to assets in a participant's 457b, 403b or 401k plan account.

Qualified Plan - Defined benefit and defined contribution plans that meet the requirements of 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code. A key IRC provision governing these plans is that they must exist and operate "for the exclusive benefit of participants or their beneficiaries." Employer-sponsored qualified plans include 401(k) and 401(a) plans.

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R

Rate of Return – Percentage of change in an investment, including appreciation or depreciation and dividends or interest, over a given time period. Most rates of return of funds within a retirement plan are expressed on an annual basis (“annualized”), unless stated otherwise.

Reallocate – Process of rebalancing the investment mix of an entire portfolio instead of exchanging one mutual fund at a time. Participants may reallocate their account when they get closer to retirement, to potentially invest in less aggressive mutual funds, for instance.

Rebalance – A strategy to sell investments that have been performing well and invest more into those that have fallen behind – a buy low, sell high approach. It won't change how future contributions are invested and is sometimes referred to as an end-result exchange.

Recession – General economic decline that generally lasts from six to eighteen months.

Required Minimum Distribution (RMD)Distribution amount that must be paid to a participant in a public retirement plan. U.S. Dept. of Treasury and IRS regulations generally require that participants begin taking an annual RMD by April 1 of the year after they reach age 70½ or the year in which they retire, whichever is later. There are also RMD requirements for beneficiaries.

Risk Tolerance – Degree of uncertainty that an investor can handle in regards to a negative change in the value of his or her portfolio.

Rollover (Pre-Tax) – Amounts transferred to the plan from an eligible retirement plan or IRA. Reinvestment of assets into an IRA that an individual receives from a qualified tax-deferred retirement plan. It must be reinvested into an IRA within 60 days to avoid tax and penalties.

Roth Contributions – Roth contributions are designated employee after-tax pay that’s contributed to a participant’s 401k, 403b or governmental 457 plan account. Subject to certain restrictions, distributions of earnings from the Roth account may be taken tax-free. There are several different types of Roth accounts: IRAs, 457b, 401k and more.

Rule of 72 – A calculation used to estimate how many years it will take an investment to double in value. To use the Rule of 72, divide 72 by the assumed rate of return of the investment. For example, if $1,000 is invested at an 8% annual rate of return, the money may double in nine years. Since variable investments fluctuate in value, there can be no guarantee how long it will take to double the money.

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S

Separate Account – Privately managed investment account that uses pooled money to buy individual assets. It is similar to a mutual fund. However, in a retirement-plan context, while a mutual fund is available to the general public, a separate account is available only to participants of the plan that sponsors it.

Share – Unit of ownership, referring to stocks or mutual funds.

Short Term Redemption Fee – Redemption charge common in mutual funds (especially International funds). It usually lasts for 3, 6, or 12 months from the time shares are purchased and commonly is limited to a small amount (1, 2, or 3%) if shares are sold within that timeframe.

Short-Term Investments – Short-Term Investments include two basic underlying asset types: (1) cash, which refers to short term securities, such as bank certificates of deposit (CDs) and money market funds and (2) fixed income, which includes securities issued by the U.S. Government, U.S. Agencies, corporate bonds, residential and commercial mortgage-backed securities, and other asset-backed securities. Typically, short-term investments encounter less market risk than do stocks, diversified real return, and bonds because of their short duration. Therefore, they usually provide a lower rate of return than investments in those categories.

Small Cap Fund – Stock funds that invest in companies that have a market capitalization of less than $1 billion at the time of purchase. These funds may continue to hold a company that has grown beyond the $1 billion cap. It is common for small cap funds to turn into mid cap funds when their assets grow to a level that makes it impossible to continue to buy small cap companies. Small company funds involve increased risk and volatility.

Socially Responsible Fund – A socially responsible fund will use social screens to determine which companies will be eliminated from its portfolio. After the social screens are applied, the fund managers will follow an investment objective, typically the growth of capital, and seek companies in an equity asset class or classes. While the managers attempt to maximize performance within their investment objective, they also are constrained by the social screens they apply.

Stock Market – Commonly referred to in the singular form "market", all stock markets are auctions, where traders come together to buy and sell ownership shares in companies, investment bonds, and other investment items. Some of the largest stock markets include The New York Stock Exchange, The Chicago Mercantile Exchange, The NASDAQ and The London Stock Exchange. Similar to most auctions, prices are driven by supply and demand, the real or perceived value of the item and/or emotion. It's for this reason that prices continually change on the market.

Stocks (Equities) – Units of ownership in a corporation. Many factors influence the value of a stock, but a company’s earnings generally have the biggest impact. As earnings increase, the value of the stock typically increases too.

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T

Tax-Deferral – Pre-tax money invested now to grow tax-free until money is withdrawn, at which point taxes will be assessed. Used to help people save for retirement in both the public and private sector.

Time Horizon – The number of years until a participant retires and/or begins to take distributions from their retirement plan.

Total Return – Return on an investment, including income from dividends and interest. Includes appreciation or depreciation in the price of the security, over a given time period

Transaction Types – Identifies how money came into or moved out of a deferred compensation account, such as contributions, exchanges, distributions, fees, loan repayments and more.

Trust – Legal arrangement through which title to assets is given to one party to manage for the benefit of others. Under Internal Revenue Code regulations, defined contribution retirement plan assets must be held in a trust or an annuity established for the benefit of participants or their beneficiaries.

Trustee – Person(s) legally appointed to act on behalf of a beneficiary or a trust. Often times, an employer acts as a trustee for a retirement plan.

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U

Unearned Income – Income from sources other than salary or wages from employment. They include interest income and capital gains, among other forms income.

Unforeseeable Emergency – A severe financial hardship, as defined by a governmental 457b deferred compensation plan. While the plan document may add further criteria, an unforeseeable emergency must be defined in the plan as (1) a severe financial hardship of the participant that results from illnesses or accidents of the participant, their spouse or a dependent, (2) unreimbursable loss of the participant’s property due to casualty, or (3) other similar extraordinary and unforeseeable circumstances that arise as a result of events beyond the participant’s control.

Unit - The measurement approach used by Savings Plus to perform daily account valuations. This differs from the net asset value (NAV) method reported by fund houses. Financial trends are generally the same.

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V

Voice Response System (VRS or VRU) – Automated phone system that allows you to access your account information, perform account transactions, and request materials. Account access requires a personal identification number (PIN).

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W

Withdrawal – Also called a distribution, a withdrawal is money taken from a financial account, such as 457b, 403b or 401k plan account or an IRA. In most situations, participants of a 457b plan who have left employment of the plan sponsor may take distributions from their plan without penalty, regardless of age. Distributions from 401k and 403b plans made prior to age 59½ may be subject to a tax penalty

Withdrawal Schedule – Plan where a fixed dollar amount or percentage is redeemed from a retirement account at regular intervals (monthly, quarterly, etc.). This plan is popular with retirees who will have a certain amount redeemed from a mutual fund or retirement plan on a regular basis, while keeping their remaining assets in the fund or plan.

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Y

Yield – Rate at which an investment pays out interest or dividend income, expressed in percentage terms. It’s calculated by dividing the amount paid by the price of the security and annualizing the result.

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