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Houston bakery creates treats inspired by the Unicorn Frappuccino

A bakery in Texas is cashing in on the buzz around Starbucks' latest beverage creation, the Unicorn Frappuccino.

El Bolillo Bakery in Houston has created "uniconchas," which are brightly colored, shell-shaped pastries.

>> Read more trending news

The bakery is working on a tres leches unicorn cake, according to KHOU.

VA Loan Funding Fee: What You’ll Pay and Why in 2017

When you hear all of the amazing benefits of a VA loan, it’s natural to get a bit excited. You get a lower interest rate and more lenient credit standards than with a conventional loan, there’s no mortgage insurance required, and you don’t even have to make a down payment. You’re bound to think, “What’s the catch?”

The catch is the VA funding fee. It can come as quite the surprise to qualified VA home loan borrowers. You may not even know there is such a thing until the lender tells you. And it’s not a small-change charge. The Department of Veterans Affairs uses the fee to help defray the costs of VA-guaranteed loans that default.

Here’s what you need to know about the VA funding fee.

How much is the VA mortgage funding fee?

If you’re eligible for a VA-backed home loan, you are gaining a valuable benefit in return for your service to America. But, with few exceptions, a one-time funding fee must be paid directly to the Department of Veterans Affairs for each home loan, whether it’s for a VA purchase or VA refinance.

» MORE: How much home can you afford?

The amount of the funding fee is based on your service, how much you’re putting down and if you’ve ever had a VA-backed loan before. (If you have, a new loan is called “subsequent use.”)

Here’s how the fees break down as a percentage of the loan amount:

When you don’t have to pay a VA funding fee

There are generally two situations when you won’t have to pay a VA funding fee:

  • If you are entitled to or receiving compensation for a service-connected disability
  • Or, if you are “a surviving spouse of a veteran who died in service or from a service-connected disability,” the Department of Veterans Affairs says
You don’t have to pay the funding fee out of pocket

For some borrowers, the VA funding fee can be an unexpected expense or one that they are not prepared to pay. There is an option to consider: You can roll the funding fee into your total loan amount. While that gets you off the hook for paying out a sizable lump sum upfront, it also means that your monthly payment — and your total loan costs — will be higher. Here’s what that looks like:

On a 30-year, $300,000 purchase mortgage at 4%, regular military, with 0% down — and just considering principal and interest, not taxes, insurance or anything else — your monthly payment would be around $1,430. The VA funding fee for a first-time VA borrower would be $6,450 (2.15%). But that’s if you paid the funding fee out of pocket.

By rolling that $6,450 into your loan amount, it adds over $11,000 in total costs over the life of the loan — and your monthly payment would increase by $30 to around $1,460 a month.

» MORE: Calculate your monthly mortgage payment

And it’s not the only fee you’ll see

The VA funding fee won’t be the only charge you’ll face at closing. Mortgage loans come with closing costs and can include discount points, lender fees, an appraisal, credit report, property taxes and more.

You can negotiate some of these fees, and the seller of the home might be persuaded to pay for some of them. And again, you can roll some or all of the costs into your loan amount.

Hal Bundrick is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: hal@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @halmbundrick.

Need Multiple Savings Accounts? Here’s Where to Bank

People typically don’t set aside money for just one big savings goal, and that’s what makes multiple savings accounts so practical. You can use multiple accounts to save for a variety of short-term wants and needs, from going on a tropical vacation to replacing that wonky dishwasher.

Separating your savings into different accounts provides a better overview of your goals, which should make them easier to manage — and reach. But not every bank is customer-friendly when it comes to setting up multiple accounts.

Go here for multiple savings accounts

If you need more than one account for your savings needs, these six financial institutions should be at the top of your list. All are ranked on NerdWallet’s list of the best savings accounts. They offer some of the highest annual percentage yields (APYs) on the market, spare people from monthly maintenance fees, and let customers personalize accounts by giving them nicknames. And even if you open accounts with the reckless abandon of a child tearing through gifts on Christmas morning, you probably won’t run up against the account limit at these banks.

 APYMax. accounts per person Alliant High-Rate Savings (see full review)1.05%20 Ally Online Savings Account (see full review)1.05%No limit Barclays Online Savings Account (see full review)1%25 Capital One 360 Savings (see full review)0.75%25 Discover Online Savings (see full review)1.01%No limit Synchrony High Yield Savings Account (see full review)1.05%No limit

If you’re serious about making the most of multiple savings accounts, we’d recommend going with one of these options. Looking elsewhere can’t hurt, as long as you keep these four tips in mind:

1. Avoid monthly maintenance fees

Using multiple savings accounts can be more of a burden than a bonus if you’re hit with monthly maintenance fees. If you belong to a bank that charges these fees and would rather stay put, there are ways to avoid getting dinged. Options include keeping balances above a certain dollar amount or scheduling automatic transfers between checking and savings accounts.

2. Lock in strong rates

Although avoiding monthly fees should be a priority, securing a high rate is right up there. Online banks and credit unions tend to offer higher APYs than traditional brick-and-mortar banks, which makes them ideal for multiple savings accounts.

Look at it this way: Keeping $5,000 at a bank that offers a 0.01% APY would earn an annual yield of just 50 cents. An APY of 1.05%, on the other hand, would earn about $50 — not enough to quit your job, but a welcomed addition to that emergency fund.

3. Use nicknames to personalize accounts

The banks and credit unions listed above let people nickname their accounts based on what their savings goals are. (You can name these accounts whatever you’d like, but we would recommend keeping it simple — try “vacation fund,” “emergency fund” or “new dishwasher fund.”)

These nicknames are typically private, so you will be able to see them when banking online but they won’t show up on external transfers. It wouldn’t hurt to check with your bank just to be sure.

4. Be aware of limits

Some banks and credit unions limit the number of savings accounts people can open. What’s more, some put limits on the number of accounts folks can open during the initial application process. However, customers might be able to call the bank or credit union later and open additional accounts. Policies vary from bank to bank, so be sure to check in to get a better idea of their rules.

No matter how many accounts you have at a bank, make sure you won’t get hit with surprise fees for excessive withdrawals — federal banking regulations generally limit holders of savings accounts to six such transactions a month per account. Each account should be treated separately, but confirming that with your bank is a good idea.

As with any financial decision, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to where you should open multiple savings accounts. But by exploring your options and keeping the above tips in mind, you should be able to set yourself up for success.

Tony Armstrong is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: tony@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @tonystrongarm.

NerdWallet’s Best Credit Card Tips for May 2017

After a long winter, May is a welcome month. Spring is in the air, and summer travel is on the horizon. These tips will set you up for the coming months.

Get your first credit card

As graduation from high school or college rolls around this month, you may be considering applying for your first credit card. With a thin credit history, the options are limited, but that’s not to say there aren’t good cards for students or new grads. Discover offers two student credit cards that have no annual fee and pay 1% cash back on all spending. The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® has no annual fee and pays 1% cash back on spending and an additional 0.25% on charges during that billing cycle when you pay on time, for a total of 1.25%. Also, you don’t have to be a student to apply for it.

Another good option for those new to credit is a secured credit card. You deposit an amount of money to create your credit line, and the card company reports your usage to the credit bureaus to help you establish a credit history. You may be upgraded to a regular card after you show good credit management. Similarly, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® may raise your credit limit after five on-time payments without an additional deposit.

Know your travel protections

The car trip, whether it’s for a holiday weekend or a cross-country trek, is part of American summer. If you’re planning one, check out the travel protections your credit card offers. Most cards offer secondary car rental insurance, which kicks in after you’ve filed a claim with your own car insurance carrier. If you’re taking your own car on the road, find out whether your credit card offers roadside assistance in case of an emergency. Or consider whether renting a car for your trip makes more sense than using your own. If you rent a car and it breaks down, the car-rental company will bring you a new one, and you’ll be on your way. If your own car breaks down, you may wind up in Hell, Michigan, instead of the Grand Canyon for a few days.

Apply for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry

Air travel is no longer the stylish experience we saw in “Catch Me If You Can.” Today, it’s more like the torture we endure to get to our relaxing vacation destination. But having TSA PreCheck or Global Entry may help you get through security faster if your airport has a PreCheck line or a Global Entry kiosk. You’ll have to apply in advance and go through a background check by Homeland Security, but it’s worth filling out the forms if you travel frequently. Some premium travel credit cards, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express, the Citi Prestige® Card, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® and the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠, reimburse cardholders for the application fees for either security program. That can save you $85 for TSA PreCheck or $100 for Global Entry every time you need to renew.

Celebrate Mother’s Day

Sunday, May 14, is Mother’s Day. You’ve been reminded. In 2016, Americans expected to spend a total of $21.4 billion on Mother’s Day celebrations, and 55% of those surveyed said they would be taking Mom out for a meal, according to the National Retail Federation. If you’re having brunch or dinner, consider using a credit card that offers bonus points or cash back for restaurant spending. The Capital One® Premier Dining Rewards Credit Card offers 3% cash back on dining. The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express and the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offer 10% cash back at U.S. restaurants up to $200 in the first six months, but hurry: You must apply by May 3, 2017. Terms apply. And the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card offers 2 ThankYou points per dollar spent on dining and entertaining.

Enjoy the May flowers!

» MORE TIPS: Browse our archive of credit card tips

Information related to the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Ellen Cannon is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: ecannon@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ellencannon.

How to get a $1 Jimmy John's sub on May 2

Jimmy John's is celebrating Customer Appreciation Day on May 2 with $1 sub sandwiches.

Select Jimmy John's locations will be participating in the promotion, which runs from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

>> Read more trending news

Customers can use a tool on Jimmy John's website to find a participating location.

The promotion applies to in-store orders only, not deliveries.

Will Stocks Sputter in Spring? 4 Things to Watch

“Sell in May and go away.” It’s a Wall Street cliche.

The advice, which purportedly dates back to old England, suggests investors sell stocks in May and return after September. Why? To avoid a period of potentially higher volatility when traders focus on getting to the beach rather than placing trades.

The market’s late-April jump, reminiscent of the euphoria-filled rally earlier this year, followed a multi-week lull. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell for much of April, and May historically is the second-weakest month for returns, with average declines of 0.2% since 1928.

Whether the sell-in-May adage will play out this year remains to be seen, but there’s plenty to keep investors engaged. Here are four things they’ll be watching:

1. Trump’s emerging policies

As Donald Trump approaches his 100th day in office, investors still are trying to determine whether his presidency will accelerate U.S. economic growth as promised. Any signs of tangible progress on his campaign promises — from tax reform to infrastructure spending — could give investors reason to push the market higher again.

“The Trump factor is predominating any seasonal market patterns right now,” says Timothy Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management. “If any of his initiatives are voted in by Congress and enacted, we’re likely to see a Trump 2.0 rally, which would overwhelm any of the potential ‘sell in May and go away’ effect.”

» Investing under Trump: Embrace classic investing wisdom

U.S. stocks remain attractive for investment, even amid relatively high valuations, which is why investors are giving Trump a pass for now, Ghriskey says. “Given that everything is on the come, the market is very unlikely to correct significantly.”

Tax reform is up next. Trump has promised “massive” cuts for businesses and individuals alike, and this week released the broad outlines of a tax proposal to achieve these goals. Also of note: The president’s first foreign trip is scheduled for May 25 in Brussels for a meeting of NATO heads of state and government.

2. The Fed’s next move

The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee convenes for the third of eight scheduled meetings this year on May 2-3. While investors don’t anticipate the central bank will raise the federal funds rate, Fed Chair Janet Yellen has said “every meeting is live,” meaning such an increase could happen at any time.

» Fed rate hike: 4 ways to ride a rising interest rate wave

Focus has shifted to the Fed’s balance sheet. Policymakers in March discussed the need to begin shrinking the central bank’s nearly $4.5 trillion balance sheet that swelled as a result of buying securities in the wake of the financial crisis. While several central bankers said such a plan should be “conducted in a passive and predictable manner,” some investors question how it will affect the pace of future rate increases — and the markets.

One of the biggest holders of U.S. Treasurys starting to sell could prove to be one of the “monumental” events of the year, says Dave Haviland, managing partner of Beaumont Financial Partners and portfolio manager of Beaumont Capital Management. He questions how the bond market — and interest rates — will fare, as well as the potential impact on the stock market.

Additional clues could come when the minutes to the forthcoming meeting are released May 24.

3. Clearer signals on data

The postelection rally bore Trump’s name, but better economic reports also supported much of the gain in stock prices. More recently, there’s been a disparity between “soft” data — forward-looking surveys, primarily — and backward-looking “hard” data.

This disparity has tempered some enthusiasm on Wall Street, as investors try to ascertain which data set best depicts current economic growth. Soft data — including manufacturing and consumer sentiment surveys — have been fairly strong, Ghriskey says, while hard data such as payroll gains and GDP have been a bit weaker.

A disparity between expectations and reality could be to blame. Some businesses may have ramped up hiring or business investment in anticipation of better economic growth under Trump, only to pull back — like the stock market has — as they await the president’s policies, Ghriskey says.

New economic reports could provide further clues, with the much-watched employment report scheduled to be released May 5.

» Curious about the market? Learn how to invest in stocks

4. Global concerns

As events such as Brexit have illustrated, the U.S. stock market doesn’t operate in a bubble. From elections to commodity prices, there’s always potential for volatility from abroad.

The S&P 500 jumped after the first-round results of the French presidential election, which helped ease concerns the country might leave the eurozone. The final round is scheduled for May 7, with centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron facing off with nationalist Marine Le Pen.

Meanwhile, oil prices are back in focus. With oil trading around $50 a barrel, investors are looking for confirmation of whether supply cuts will be extended into the second half of the year. If they are not, oil could take a hit. That decision will come at a meeting of oil-producing nations scheduled for May 25.

Why go away?

The stock market has been a bit boring, marked by low volatility and until recently, little reason to push stock prices higher or lower. So the old wisdom to sell in May and relax the summer months away on the beach might hold.

But a lack of enthusiasm can quickly turn. Bullish sentiment — that stock prices will increase in the next six months — fell to the lowest level since the election in late April before jumping again to a two-month high, according to a weekly sentiment survey by the American Association of Individual Investors.

Why hang around? While one month’s events may not provide all the clarity investors seek, they certainly won’t want to ignore whatever finally breaks the market out of its lull.

Anna-Louise Jackson is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: ajackson@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @aljax7.

Foster Farms recalls chicken patties due to possible plastic contamination

Foster Poultry Farms has recalled approximately 131,880 pounds of frozen, breaded chicken patty products that may be contaminated with plastic material, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Thursday in a news release.

The recall was prompted by three consumer complaints, in which consumers said they found foreign material in the chicken patties. Foster Farms determined the foreign materials were pieces of clear, soft plastic that originated from packaging materials.

>> Read more trending news

No reports of illness due to consumption of these products has been reported, according to FSIS.

The recalled items include 5-lb. bags containing 20 pieces of “FOSTER FARMS Chicken Patties BREADED CHICKEN BREAST PATTIES WITH RIB MEAT” with best by date of 02/15/18. The products subject to recall bear establishment number “P-33901” inside the USDA mark of inspection. 

The recalled items were shipped to distribution centers in Alaska, Arizona, California, Utah and Washington.

Consumers with questions about the recall can contact Consumer Affairs at 800-338-8051. 

Start a New Habit: Check Your Financial Health

You stop and take your pulse after a vigorous workout — but how often do you stop and take the pulse of your finances?

“It’s important for everyone to do, whether they’re just starting out or they’re nearing retirement,” says David Kring, a certified financial planner and owner of Conestoga Wealth Management in Malvern, Pennsylvania.

Knowing where you stand is especially important before you set a new financial goal, make a plan to pay off debt or build a budget. It can help you decide what’s realistic and see whether you ought to prioritize other money goals instead.

How can you tell if you’re in good financial shape? Here are the areas to consider when assessing your finances — and what you should do once you know where you stand.

Your retirement savings

You won’t likely work forever, which means that one day, you’ll no longer have income the way you do now. That makes saving for retirement a top financial priority. The earlier you start setting aside money in a 401(k)IRA, or other retirement savings account, the better.

We recommend saving at least 15% of your income for retirement, with the aim of replacing about 70% of it when you stop working. At the very least, contribute enough to take full advantage of your company’s 401(k) match if it has one. Our retirement calculator can help you estimate the amount you should be saving and how close you are to your goal.

Your debt

Your debt load includes everything you owe, such as your student loan and mortgage balances. Not all debt is bad debt, but debt with high or variable interest rates can make you less secure. You’re doing well if you have no debt or debt that doesn’t disproportionately affect your daily decision making.

Once you quantify your debt load, make a plan to pay it off.

Your income

Your take-home pay, which is the amount you receive after taxes have been taken out, is the best measure of your income. The goal is to spend less than you earn.

“Spending more than you make is not sustainable,” says Patricia Seaman, a senior director at the National Endowment for Financial Education, a nonprofit organization specializing in personal finance education. If you’re running dry each month, consider how you can trim spending or make more money.

Your emergency fund

An emergency fund is a cash stash that you can draw on if you have an unexpected expense. Don’t have one? Start setting aside a little bit each month in a savings or money market account.

You should have at least three months of emergency savings in case of a financial hardship. If you prefer to start small, shoot for $500. Find extra money to pad your fund with our tips for how to save money on everyday expenses such as utilities and groceries.

Your credit score

Your credit score indicates to lenders how likely you are to pay back borrowed money. It’s based on factors such as your credit history and credit utilization, and it determines whether you’ll be approved for loans and other products, as well as the interest rate you’ll receive. You can get yours for free.

In general, lenders consider a score of 300-629 bad credit, a score of 630-689 fair or average credit, a score of 690-719 good credit and a score of 720 and up excellent credit. To build your credit score, pay all of your bills on time and aim to pay your credit card balance in full each month.

Your insurance

Depending on your assets and family situation, your insurance coverage might include car insurance, homeowners or renters insurance and life insurance. You might also want disability insurance considering that Kring says your greatest asset is “your ability to earn a paycheck.”

At the very least, you should have enough insurance coverage to protect against financial loss. That means your coverage amounts should be higher than the value of your major assets, such as your home, car and savings.

» MORE: Take a financial health quiz

Starting line

Don’t be discouraged if you find you’re not as financially prepared as you thought you were. Now that you know where you’re starting, you know where to go next:

  • If your expenses currently exceed your income, create a balanced monthly budget.
  • If you have a high level of credit card debt, pay off small debts to gain momentum, then switch to knocking down the balances of high-interest cards.
  • If your savings are in good shape, think about investing.

And don’t forget to celebrate your little victories along the way. “Remember that it’s your journey and not anyone else’s,” says Seaman. “Try to keep focused on the progress that you’re making.”

Courtney Jespersen is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: courtney@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @courtneynerd.

3 Online Business Ideas for Couch Potatoes

Maybe you like eating ice cream in your underwear — no judgement, live your truth — but if you also aspire to achieve entrepreneurial greatness, consider the infinite possibilities of the world wide web.

Truth bomb: Success will likely rely on at least some time spent outside your home (sorry).

To help you start a business, we’ve identified three online business ideas with money-making potential.

1. Retail

Whether you’ve designed something people didn’t know they wanted (hello, selfie stick) or purchased a bunch of top-notch jewelry wholesale, you can set up an online store to sell your goods.

Pro tip: According to market research firm Forrester Research Inc., toys and pet products are hot right now.

2. Affiliate marketing

Got a hot take? So does half the internet. But if your blog, Tumblr, YouTube channel or Instagram account captures a lot of eyes, you can turn your internet musings into a solid side hustle. Adding affiliate links to your content means you get a percentage of the profit when your readers click.

Pro tip: Don’t go crazy with links. Make sure what you’re promoting aligns with who is reading your website.

3. Tech

Keeping up with the latest tech opportunities puts innovators on top. If you know how to program, code or design, you’ve got an “in” to a consistently growing field.

Pro tip: To get started, consider focusing on ways to amp up websites and create apps for local businesses.

Want to start a business?

NerdWallet has rounded up some of our best information on starting a business, including structuring and naming your company, creating a solid plan and much more. We’ll help you do your homework and get started on the right foot.

Read our Starting a Business Guide

How to Choose a Business Idea in About 250 Words

A solid business idea requires creativity, planning and soul-searching. Use these three tips to choose the right business idea.

1. Focus on your skills, experience and passion

Go with what you already know or don’t mind learning fast. You don’t need to be an expert right away, but leveraging skills and experience you’ve gained can increase your chances of success.

Ask yourself whether you’re passionate about running this company. Without that drive, it may be hard to stick it out through tough times.

2. Evaluate business-lifestyle fit

If balancing work and family life is important to you, then avoid businesses that could require working 60 hours a week. If you hate being stuck in an office, then look for businesses that can be operated remotely.

Matching the business idea to your lifestyle can prevent burnout.

3. Test your idea

Before jumping in, make sure you’ve done your due diligence. Ask yourself: Is there enough demand for the product or service in your market? Can you afford the startup costs? How will you stand out from competitors?

No matter what business idea you decide to pursue, it’s smart to write a business plan that details your goals and how you plan to achieve them. A business plan forces you to examine the validity of your business idea, giving you a better shot at success.

For related information, visit NerdWallet’s guide on how to start a business.

Steve Nicastro is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Steven.N@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @StevenNicastro.

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