Financial Jargon – Basic Finance Terminology Explained

The financial business is adding new terms and neologisms every month due to the increasingly complexity of personal finance and commerce or business relationships. However, for someone that is not familiar with all this jargon it turns very difficult to understand even the basic explanatory brochures or articles explaining common products. To clear some basic concepts, following is a list of common terms used frequently on financial flyers and other pieces of writing.

Collateral, Guarantee, Security

There are two types of loans out there: Secured and unsecured. Unsecured loans are awarded to people without other assurance of repayment than their word (signature) or personal credit. This means that if the borrower fails to repay the loan, the lender has no other means of claiming his money than taking the debtor to court on a long and tedious legal process.

Secured loans on the other side provide the lender with an additional protection. An asset is pledged as guarantee of repayment and in the event of default (lack of repayment), the lender can either repossess the asset or obtain the money owed by forcing its sell on a public auction. The asset pledged as an assurance of repayment is indistinctively referred to as: Collateral, Security or Guarantee.

Provisional Financing, Refinancing, Restructuring, Roll Over Agreement

These terms are often used with different meanings but with the intent of clarifying financial jargon, we suggest the following uses for the terms: Provisional financing refers to a short term loan or line of credit that is used for buying the borrower some time till a more convenient and definite loan can be obtained; Refinancing implies the cancellation of a previous loan with the money obtained from a new one that has different terms (usually lower monthly payments either because of a lower rate or a longer repayment program); Restructuring often implies a series of refinancing agreements that imply more than one debt and more drastically term changes than a simple extension of the repayment program; Finally, a roll over agreement implies the postponement of the loan repayment by obtaining approval for an identical loan with the same lender.

Delinquency, Default, Bad Credit

These terms are often used on articles and flyers about personal financing and non-traditional financing. People that have to face financial difficulties often damage their credit by paying late debts that are due, or missing a payment or missing several consecutive payments. All of these are recorded on the debtors’ credit report and hurt their credit stance lowering their score.

The above situations are referred to as delinquencies: paying late or missing payments. Failing to repay the loan (missing several consecutive payments) is known as default and usually leads to the debt being sold to collection agencies that will try to claim the money by different means. Finally, the consequences of default and delinquencies on your credit along with other problems like excessive debt have a negative impact on people’s credit which is known as bad credit, poor credit or low credit score.

Principal, Interest, Term

The Principal is the amount of money that is lent by the lender to the borrower and has to be repaid. The Interest is the price of the transaction: This price can be expressed as an overall amount but unless the loan is a short term loan, it is usually expressed as a rate or percentage. The term is the period of time for the loan repayment; it can refer to the overall repayment period including the repayment deadline but it can also refer to the repayment frequency whether you have to make monthly, biweekly or weekly payment.

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