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Recall issued for hummus sold at Walmart

Multiple brands of hummus sold at Walmart and other stores have been recalled because of potential contamination.

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An announcement from the Knoxville, Tennessee, based company House of Thaller says it is recalling packages of Hummus with Pine Nut Topping “because an ingredient supplier notified us that their ingredient has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.”

The announcement has been posted on the FDA website since June 19 as a public service. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of listeria infection include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, fever and muscle aches. 

The affected products were sent to multiple grocery stories, such as Target, Kroger, Walmart, Fred Meyer and others, from April 18, 2017 to June 13, 2017. Products include Fresh Foods Market’s Artisan Hummus - Pine Nuts; Lantana brand White Bean Hummus with Pine Nut & Herb Topping; and Marketside Classic Hummus with Pine Nuts.

Each product comes in clear, round plastic 10-ounce cups. 

No illnesses have been reported in relation to the recall.

Customers who have the products listed should not eat them and contact the House of Thaller Customer Service Center Monday through Friday at 855-215-5142.

The full list of products, including photos of the affected products and expiration dates and lot codes for each, are at the FDA website.

How to Responsibly Handle an Inheritance

There are plenty of horror stories about sizable inheritances squandered on fast cars and glittering parties. But careful planning and good advice can help people use their good fortune in a way that creates lasting value.

Consider these steps to make sure the money you receive after a loved one dies is used to best advantage.

Keep your own counsel

“Don’t tell anybody,” says Johanna Fox Turner, a certified financial planner with Milestone Financial Planning in Mayfield, Kentucky. “People would just come out of the woodwork wanting you to invest in their good ideas.”

Turner advises talking to a trusted family member or friend who has no expectation of receiving a share of the money. She also favors fee-only financial planners who are paid a straight hourly rate for giving you advice instead of making commissions on the investments they sell you, which can lead to conflicts of interest.

Take your time

“Take a deep breath,” Turner says. “Talk to advisors. Get some perspective.”

She has seen many people who are anxious about letting a significant sum of money sit in a savings account earning very little interest then rush to make investment decisions and make mistakes as a result. She says the potential gains from quick moves are outweighed by the risks of poor choices.

When Jamie Schweser (who later changed his surname to Schwesnedl, after marrying) received $1 million at the age of 26 because his parents sold their business, he spent a lot of time talking to other young people who had been in similar situations. Schweser found them through Resource Generation, a nonprofit organization that helps younger heirs learn about charitable giving. His parents encouraged him to think carefully about how he used the money, but didn’t discourage him from making his own decisions.

“We trust your judgment, but think about it before you do anything,” Schweser remembers his parents telling him.

Make a financial plan

Before you decide whether to use part of the money to pay off debt, to invest for your future or to donate to charity, it’s best to create a long-range financial plan. Then it can become easier to put the money to work.

For many, an inheritance doesn’t top five figures. Yet others may be more fortunate. Among families in the top 5% by wealth, the average inheritance was $1.1 million, according to 2014 information from the Federal Reserve.

No matter how much you inherit, however, having a plan for what to do with it is a good idea.

“People think financial planners are for rich people,” Turner says. “They’re really more suited to middle-income people.”

She estimates that a comprehensive financial road map takes around 5 hours for a qualified planner to help you develop, and the result is a clear set of priorities that enables you to allocate resources efficiently to achieve your goals.

Consider taxes

In most cases, inheritances aren’t taxed unless you live in a state that has an estate tax. At the federal level, an estate tax kicks in when the total value tops $5,490,000 for one person this year. When it comes to gifts to family members, taxes are levied after you receive $14,000 in one year from the same person.

Ultimately, Schweser says, he ended up giving away 75%  — $750,000 — of his parents’ gift. He kept enough to buy a house and top up a rainy day fund to serve as a cushion against emergencies. Later he went to work for Resource Generation for a time. Now 44, he owns a bookstore with his wife in Minneapolis and receives income from a couple of rental properties.

But even if extreme giving isn’t your priority, modest charitable contributions can be a win-win, both emotionally and from a tax standpoint. Turner says some of her clients feel guilty about taking tax deductions for charitable contributions, but she disagrees.

“Once you have the motivation to give, why not take advantage of what the law allows?” she says.

Enjoy it

Depending on the size of an inheritance, it’s not a bad thing to have a little fun. Once you’ve made a financial plan and allocated the money accordingly, there’s something to be said for treating yourself.

For smaller inheritances, Turner recommends using 10% as fun money. If it’s a larger amount, she thinks $10,000 is a nice round number that could be spent on something enjoyable. But she emphasizes that a financial plan is crucial before this decision is made. Otherwise, it’s too easy to buy a nice car. And then another one three years later. And then another.

“If you envision yourself five years from now or 10 years from now and looking back,” Turner says, “do you want to have a lot of used cars?”

No matter how you use the money, you have to live with your decision.

“Do something that will be a story that you like telling,” says Schweser, who still feels good about his decision to give the bulk of his windfall away. “Whatever you do, you’re going to end up telling that story to yourself over and over again, or to other people, so make a good story.”

Turner recommends thinking about the person who left you some of their wealth.

“This is their hard-earned money,” she says. “This is in their memory. You want to honor that memory and be a good steward.”

What does good stewardship look like? That part is up to you.

Virginia C. McGuire is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: virginia@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @vcmcguire.

Image via iStock.

Denver restaurant charging customers 'livable wage' surcharge

Customers at Duo Restaurant in Denver have mainly been supportive of the new surcharge appearing on their bills.

Restaurant owner Keith Arnold told Denver7 that the surcharge is designed to address the wage gap between the servers and the kitchen staff. Servers can make 50 to 100 percent more than kitchen staff, Arnold said.

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The 2 percent surcharge is applied to all bills, and 100 percent of the proceeds go to the kitchen staff, Denver7 reported.

Customers have mainly given positive feedback about the surcharge, Arnold said. 

Duo's chef hopes the surcharge catches on nationwide.

5 Questions When Shopping for a Brokerage Account

A price war has broken out among online brokerage firms in recent months. In an effort to lure investors, industry leaders such as Charles Schwab, Fidelity Investments, TD Ameritrade and E-Trade have slashed trading commissions.

The price war has driven the greatest decrease in trading costs in seven years, says Richard Repetto, an analyst at investment banking firm Sandler O’Neill and Partners. “It’s a good time for investors as the costs to trade decline and advancements in the online trading space make it cheaper and more efficient to invest,” Repetto says.

Price cuts at online brokerage firms Provider Previous per-trade commission Current per-trade commission* Charles Schwab $8.95 $4.95 Fidelity Investments $7.95 $4.95 TD Ameritrade $9.99 $6.95 E-Trade $9.99 $6.95; $4.95 for frequent traders defined as 30+ trades per quarter *As of June 16, 2017

 

Why would you want a brokerage account? If you want to buy and sell stocks, bonds and mutual funds, among other investment vehicles, you need one. But which one? As competition grows, so do your choices.

“Evaluate what type of investor you are, how often you trade and what services you want,” Repetto says. “It’s gotten so cheap now, and the range of choices has widened … some provide little cost to trade but little in the way of recommendations. If you want more advice services — not just call-center help — that is also a big consideration.”

Here are some key questions to ask when choosing a broker.

1. How much cash do you need to start?

Different brokers have different account minimums depending on the types of services you want. Some allow a $0 minimum to open a retirement account such as a traditional individual retirement account or a Roth IRA; others can require anywhere from $500 to $10,000 to begin trading. And some brokers will waive the initial deposit if you set up automatic monthly deposits.

A common rule of thumb: Don’t invest cash you’ll need in the next five years so your investments have the opportunity to grow and ride out market contractions.

2. What are the costs?

People shopping for their first brokerage may simply look for providers with the lowest trading fees. That could be a good strategy if you plan to make a lot of trades. But trading commissions are only part of the picture. Other costs may include annual fees, inactivity fees and additional charges for access to different trading platforms and research, so factor those into your evaluation as well.

3. What types of assets can you trade?

As an investor, what kind of assets do you want to buy? The ability to trade individual company stocks, exchange-traded funds and mutual funds is standard for most brokerage accounts, but the selection of funds can widely vary. If you plan to trade currency, futures or options contracts, check that the broker offers those products. Also, note whether the associated fees and account minimums differ from what you’d pay to trade equities.

4. How much help does the brokerage offer?

How much hand-holding will you need? If you’re a first-time investor, probably a lot. Some brokerages offer online or in-person consultations with financial advisors, which may be attractive to newbies. If you’re a DIY investor, the depth and usability of the brokerage’s research tools also will be a factor.

Select a broker whose educational tools and advice services match your investing comfort level.

5. Is the platform right for you?

Like test-driving a car, get behind the wheel of any brokerages you are considering and ask yourself: Do I like how this feels? One of the best ways to do this is through a broker’s demonstration account or virtual trading, also known as “paper trading.” Many brokers also have videos showing how the platform works, which are worth watching before you commit.

This is a bigger factor than you might think: An April 2016 survey by NerdWallet and E-Trade found that site usability and tools were a top reason traders said they’d switch platforms, behind fees and commissions.

If you get buyer’s remorse down the line — for example, you’re trading more than you anticipated or are paying for advisory services you aren’t using — you can always switch. You’ll want to watch for any broker-change fees from your current provider, but any promotional deals from your new broker could remove their sting. After all, if there’s one thing the price war has revealed, it’s that you have plenty of options.

Kevin Voigt is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: kevin@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @kevinvoigt.

Video: 2 Biggest First-Time Home Buying Mistakes

MoneyTipsAre you thinking of buying your first home? Watch this video as Jordan Goodman, America's Money Answers Man, describes the two biggest mistakes to avoid. Another big mistake before you apply for a mortgage is not checking your credit reports for errors that could raise your interest payments. You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes using Credit Manager by MoneyTips. Originally Posted at: https://www.moneytips.com/video-2-biggest-first-time-home-buying-mistakesToday's Headlines: Housing Market MomentumToday's Headlines: A Full Housing RecoveryMore Americans Looking To Purchase Homes

How to Use PayPal to Make Money Online

When it comes to turning your website into a money-making business, PayPal is a popular choice for handling transactions. The service is known for being secure, convenient and fast — payments can show up in your account within minutes of a sale. But there are costs associated with using PayPal to process payments, so you’ll have to weigh the options to ensure you’re getting the best deal.

Here’s a breakdown of the company’s offerings to help you decide.

PayPal’s options for online businesses

First you’ll have to choose between a business and a premier account. Both carry a standard fee for online payments and invoicing: 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction within the U.S.

PayPal recommends a premier account for casual sellers — those who don’t rely on their site for a steady source of income and plan on purchasing as well as selling. To access this account type, you first have to get a business account and then downgrade to the premier account. The business account, on the other hand, requires you to operate under a company or group name.

Keep in mind that there are additional fees for each account type for things like chargebacks and refunds. And extras, like recurring billing, have costs associated with them as well.

After you’ve decided on an account type, you’ll need to compare PayPal’s payment and checkout products.

 Key feature(s)Additional costs (beyond the standard 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction)Best for Payments StandardQuick setup, lets you accept credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, and PayPal Credit From there you can add aPaypal.me link and invoices to your payment options, at no additional costNoneGeneral billing Payments ProWorks with credit cards, PayPal Credit, and PayPal; has a virtual terminal option (to accept phone, fax and mail orders online); it’s also compatible with many existing checkout systems$30 per monthKeeping the checkout process on your site (rather than directing buyers to PayPal’s site) and customizing the checkout experience Payments AdvancedWorks with many popular checkout systems$5 per monthHousing the checkout process on your site, as long as you don’t need a virtual terminal (like the one offered in the Pro account) Express CheckoutWorks with many popular checkout systemsNoneQuick checkouts for sites that already accept credit cards

PayPal also has a partner service called Braintree that delivers a similar checkout experience to Payments Pro. It offers a standard checkout at no extra cost beyond PayPal’s basic transaction fees, with the option to upgrade to a higher-priced, but more customizable checkout service. If your customers prefer paying with virtual cash and accounts — think Apple Pay and Bitcoin — it’s your best bet.

Adding PayPal to your site

Once you have a PayPal business or premier account, you’ll need to give customers access to your products. Depending on which service you select, you may need to insert a link to your PayPal account, add a contact form, insert a bit of code onto your website or create a button through PayPal’s site.

Read more about adding PayPal to your site here.

Alternatives to PayPal

If you dislike the idea of paying fees or don’t want to use PayPal, there are alternatives that can get the job done.

If you already have a Google account, Google Wallet could be a solid option. There are no fees to send or receive money, but it’s only available for businesses that are sole proprietorships (rather than registered corporations). Otherwise, sites like Amazon Pay (which carries the same standard rate as PayPal for domestic transactions) and TransferWise (for international payments) are worth looking into.

Devon Delfino is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: ddelfino@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @devondelfino.

What to Do When Your Ex Is Your Business Partner

 

Kim Leach and her ex-husband were high-school sweethearts. But after 21 years together — 16 of them wedded — a series of rough patches led to their divorce. With two kids, a house that they’d almost paid off and years of accumulated belongings, the split was bound to be painful and time-consuming.

And there was another wrinkle: The couple jointly owned a small business.

There’s no recent research on the exact number of couple-owned businesses, but in 2000, some 3 million of the 22 million U.S. small businesses were managed by couples.

For these couples, divorce throws a wrench into business management. “When dealing with your ex-spouse, it adds an extreme layer of complication to every decision,” says Shawn Leamon, a certified divorce financial analyst.

Leamon helped Nerdwallet identify three common ways joint owners might deal with a business during the divorce process, and when to consider each.

1. The buyout

A buyout, the most common way couples divvy up business assets during a divorce, allows one person to become the sole owner by buying the other’s portion of the business. This can be done either as a “bulk” buyout, using cash reserves or a business loan, or by setting up a payment plan over a certain time period.

Leach took this route, and her husband bought her out of their Oklahoma fitness center. But she was focused on getting custody of her kids and ignored her lawyer’s advice: to have the business appraised and charge interest during the agreed-upon seven-year buyout period.

Instead, she estimated the business’s value at $100,000 and agreed to a $50,000 buyout over seven years with no interest. The business turned out to be worth closer to $200,000 or $250,000.

“Fear overwhelmed me too much,” says Leach, who acknowledges that her conservative approach stemmed from a fear of rocking the boat. “I’m a very confident woman … but when you’re in that situation, everything is an unknown, so you do gamble a little bit.”

Tips

If you can, pay for a neutral appraisal: Business appraisals can be expensive, ranging from a couple thousand dollars to more than $30,000, but Leamon says they’re worth it. It’s easy to under- or overvalue a business, and hiring a neutral party helps ensure a fair deal for everyone.

Consider the future: The longer the payment period, the more likely it is that the spouse who keeps the business will default on payments or shut it down. In her book, “The Little Divorce Survivor’s Handbook,” Leach says that if she could do it over again, she’d negotiate an upfront buyout instead of an installment plan. “You can’t foretell the future,” she says. “You need to plan like this is all you’ve got coming your way.”

2. The compromise

A riskier option involves running the business as usual, with both parties maintaining control of the company. If you and your ex try this tactic, it’s crucial to develop defined business roles and clear expectations.

It might also be a good idea to review your business structure and legal documents to make sure they reflect your position in the company.

In Leamon’s opinion, staying in business together is the least ideal scenario. A financial advisor since 2010, he says he’s never seen this strategy work in the long term.

“You’re getting divorced for a reason,” he says. “When trying to maintain and run a business together, it adds an extraordinary amount of stress.”

Tips

Leave the personal at home: Your relationship with your ex is now strictly business. Work isn’t the time or place to bring around the new boyfriend or girlfriend, or even discuss those new relationships, Leamon says.

Review your legal documents: This is especially important come tax time, when your divorce might impact federal business taxes.

3. The walk away

Divorce is a good time to start fresh in your personal and business lives. If you decide to move on to a new venture, you and your ex can either sell the company to a third party or close up shop.

Selling a business is messier than you might think. It can take time to find a buyer, and the longer the divorce process takes, the more likely it is that something — your relationship, the business, the economy — will take a turn for the worse.

If your company is a franchise, it likely has specific requirements for future owners, which can narrow your candidate field and lengthen the selling process further.

Having a personal connection to the business can also make it hard to sell. So in certain circumstances, shutting down may be the best option. Small businesses often carry a heavy debt load, Leamon says. “Sometimes it’s cleaner to close it than try to dig yourself out of a giant hole.”

Tips

Think beyond cash: You can split profits from a sale 50/50, but your share can also be factored into the overall settlement. Can’t decide who gets the lake house? Consider trading your profit for the vacation home.

Keep it clean: If you decide to close your business, tie up loose ends first. “Business issues, when not properly closed, can haunt you for years,” Leamon says. It’s not as simple as just signing a few documents; you should also review potential issues such as back taxes and lawsuits.

Regardless of the outcome, Leamon stresses the importance of finding a workable agreement. “If you can’t resolve it between your attorneys and you, a judge will decide what ultimately has to happen,” he says. “If you can’t come up with a solution, a solution will be forced on you.”

To navigate the process, try mediation or enlist the help of a divorce advisor to make sure you’re not saddled with an outcome that neither of you desires.

Jackie Zimmermann is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: jzimmermann@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @jackie_zm.

3 Ways to Quickly Boost Your Retirement Savings

Few people feel entirely confident they’re saving enough for retirement.

Why? The numbers can be vague — how long your savings will need to last; your cost of living in retirement; what the stock market will do between now and then. And money is tight, especially as U.S.household debt hits record highs.

These and many other unknowns can combine to make retirement seem a bit like a pipe dream. You can’t resolve all of these issues in a few hours — some, like market volatility, are largely out of your hands — but you can take steps to feel more in control of your goals. Here are three ways to jump-start your retirement savings in one afternoon.

1. Determine your savings target

You kept your calculator from 10th grade algebra, right? It will come in handy — just kidding. Figuring out how much you need to save for retirement sounds much harder than it actually is. It starts with the kind of math you can do on an iPhone: You’re essentially estimating how much you spend today, which gives you an idea of how much you might spend in retirement.

To get started, many people can simply lop off 20% of their current annual income to account for things you won’t have to pay for in retirement, such as payroll taxes, savings contributions and power suits. The remaining 80% is probably pretty close to what you spend on everything else each year. It’s what financial advisors call your “replacement ratio,” and it tells you how much of your preretirement income you’ll need to maintain your lifestyle in retirement.

Then, you need to determine how much you should save to build a nest egg big enough to provide you with that income. To do that, plug your current income, how much of that income you think you’ll need every year in retirement, the amount you’ve already saved and your age into a retirement calculator.

For example, NerdWallet’s retirement calculator will give you a monthly savings target, which is easier to manage than a total savings goal — knowing you need $2 million total for retirement can be daunting; knowing you need to save $1,000 a month gives you a more tangible goal, even if you have to work up to it.

2. Save first and automate your savings

It’s a common disappearing act: You’ve earmarked retirement savings, whether mentally or in an actual spreadsheet, but by the time the end of the month rolls around, there isn’t any money left. This is part of the value of a 401(k): Your contribution is swept into that account directly from your paycheck; there’s no time for it to take a stroll through the shoe store on its way there.

Not everyone has a 401(k), of course, but even if you do, it can be useful to supplement that account with an individual retirement account you fund directly. If you do that, make your monthly contribution as early as possible — immediately after your first paycheck each month, if you can swing it.

When you do that, you’re spending after you’ve saved, rather than saving what’s left after you’ve spent. And here’s a little-known fact: Many companies will allow you to split up your direct deposit, electing to have a portion sent to an IRA and a portion to your bank account, which essentially mimics the ease of a 401(k) contribution.

3. Consolidate and reduce fees

The benefits of a 401(k) dwindle a bit once you leave the job that offers it: For one thing, you can no longer contribute to the account.

There still may be perks — 401(k)s have a reputation for being expensive, but the investments offered by some larger plans may actually be less expensive than what you’ll find on your own — but depending on your career stage and how many times you’ve switched jobs, these accounts can pile up. If you’ve accumulated a 401(k) graveyard, it’s time to evaluate your options.

Administratively, it can make sense to roll these old accounts into an IRA, especially a low-fee account you manage yourself. You’ll cut out any fees you were paying to your old employer’s plan, and you can select low-cost investments like index funds and exchange-traded funds.

Rolling over is a simple process — this 401(k) rollover guide can help you. Your IRA provider will be glad to lend a hand in exchange for your business, and you can initiate a direct rollover so the money goes from plan to plan without touching your hands. If you don’t already have one, you can open an IRA with a few clicks online.

Arielle O’Shea is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: aoshea@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @arioshea.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by Forbes.

Mortgage Rates Wednesday, June 21: A Mixed Bag

Nearly Half of Indebted Americans Spend Half Their Income on Debt Repayment

MoneyTipsDebt is not necessarily a bad thing – it allows us to acquire large and valuable assets like homes and cars. However, debt is also supposed to be manageable and temporary. According to a recent study, too many Americans are expecting their debt to become a permanent condition. The 2017 Northwestern Mutual Planning and Progress Study found that 14% of Americans expect to be in debt for the rest of their lives, and another 36% expect to be in debt between six and twenty years. Debt levels are so high that 45% of respondents with debt devote up to half of their monthly income to debt repayment. Almost half (47%) of Americans have at least $25,000 in debt and over 10% have debts in the six figures. Given that 29% of respondents list mortgages as a top source of debt, $25,000 sounds reasonable – until you consider that the average debt is $37,000 without consideration of mortgage payments. Credit card debt can play a large role in the feeling of debt hopelessness, and 19% of survey respondents listed credit card bills as one of the largest sources of debt. Thanks to the ease and convenience of credit cards, excessive spending can be difficult to resist. According to the survey, Americans said that after covering necessary bills, discretionary spending on items such as leisure travel, hobbies, and entertainment still consumes 40% of remaining monthly income. Almost 25% of Americans list "excessive/frivolous" spending as a financial pitfall. How can you avoid permanent debt? The best way is to set up a realistic budget and control your spending to avoid frivolous expenses and keep debt more manageable. Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst with Bankrate.com, calls a budget "your score card to tell you whether or not you're living within your means." McBride adds that a budget forces you to "…keep track of your expenses, calibrate the amount you're bringing in on your net income with what's going out the door." As you set up your budget, be sure to put aside some amount to build an emergency fund, even if that amount is small. McBride refers to your emergency savings as "the buffer between you and high interest debt." If you already have excessive debt, the repayment strategy is similar, but your budget must be even tighter with respect to spending. You can't afford to just break even. You must have a surplus to apply to your debts, even if that surplus is small. What is the best way to apply that surplus? There are two basic strategies, says LaTisha Styles, Founder and Millennial Finance Expert of Financial Success Media, LLC. "In the first way, what you do is pay off the debts with the smallest balance... In the second way, you pay off the debt with the highest interest rate – and that could be the debt that has the highest balance." The second way is the most economically sound method of paying down bills, because you will save the most on interest charges. However, momentum and a sense of accomplishment are also important. If it gives you the proper motivation to see a bill completely paid off, even if it's the smallest bill, that may be the best path for you. It doesn't matter which path you take toward debt reduction and elimination, as long as you choose one and stick with it. Don't give up and just assume debt will be a permanent part of your life. Just because many Americans (and possibly our government) seem to be headed toward permanent debt doesn't mean that you have to follow suit. If you want to reduce your interest payments and lower your debt, try the free Debt Optimizer by MoneyTips. Photo ©iStockphoto.com/siphotography Originally Posted at: https://www.moneytips.com/nearly-half-of-indebted-americans-spend-half-their-income-on-debt-repayment/611Can You Afford Your Monthly Mortgage Payments?Today's Headlines: Household Debt Approaching Record LevelsChange The Dates Your Bills Are Due To Improve Your Credit Score
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