February is American Heart Month, and a perfect reminder to make small changes that can have a big impact in your heart health.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, so it makes sense to know a little bit about what makes your heart tick. While some risk factors like your age, gender, race and heredity cannot be controlled, others are very much in your own hands. The American Heart Association (AHA) has a number of strategies that can help you take control of these factors:
Eat with color. Healthy eating habits are at the top of the list. And if you follow AHA's food color guidelines, as well as seasonal eating habits, you will be on your way to managing cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar level and a healthy weight. Eat more vegetables, fruits, whole-grains and high-fiber foods, fish, lean protein, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products. All of these nutrient-rich foods are packed with vitamins and minerals, but are lower in calories.
Don't weigh yourself down with expensive diet plans. Losing excess body fat is essential to heart health, and the AHA's free diet and exercise program can help you get started on the right track.
Get physical by working your way up to 30 minutes of activity per day, at least five days per week. The AHA has numerous ways to help you make moderate physical activity a valued part of your life.
Check your stress at the door, and learn to control one of the most important factors related to heart health. The AHA has an entire section of their website dedicated to helping you manage stress levels.
Commit to quit if you still smoke. Yes, it's easier said than done but there's a lot riding on this risk factor. No matter how tough it is to quit smoking, it's a lot harder to recover from a heart attack. The AHA has detailed help here too, with resources and ideas for making this one resolution that sticks.
Know the signs of a heart attack. Familiarity with the warning signs can save a life:
- Chest discomfort. Any pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few moments, even if it stops and then comes back, can be a sign that something is wrong and you should seek help.
- Upper body discomfort. Pay attention to pain or discomfort in your arms, back, neck, jaw or even your stomach.
- Shortness of breath. Even if you don't have discomfort, shortness of breath is an important warning sign, and one that you should never ignore.
- Lightheadedness, nausea or cold sweats are other signs to be aware of.
When it comes to heart disease, every minute matters. Commit to heart-healthy choices and watch out for warning signs.
For more information, please visit the American Heart Association’s website: www.heart.org
Source: American Heart Association
The Rise of 2017
As the books closed on 2016, many economic indicators were on the rise. Some signal good news for those in the market to buy a home.
Housing Starts Surge
For regions struggling with limited housing inventory, Housing Starts may provide some hope. December Housing Starts surged 11.3 percent from November, the Commerce Department reported. The welcome news follows a disappointing pullback in November and a nine-year high in October. For all of 2016, average monthly Housing Starts were the best since 2007. Building Permits, which signal future construction, fell just short of expectations in December.
On another positive note, Existing Home Sales ended 2016 as the best year in a decade.
Limited housing inventory continued to push home prices up in 2016. CoreLogic, a provider of consumer, financial and property information, reported that home prices, including distressed sales, rose 7.1 percent from November 2015 to November 2016. The recent rise in home loan rates and the expectation of higher rates in 2017 could slow home price gains this year, CoreLogic reported.
Inflation Ticks Up
Consumer inflation was up 2.1 percent from December 2015 to December 2016, as reported in the Consumer Price Index. This 12-month increase marks the fastest pace of inflationary growth since the period ending June 2014.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported wholesale inflation also ticked up in December. The Producer Price Index climbed 1.6 percent from December 2015 to December 2016, which was the largest 12-month gain since 2014.
Rising inflation is worrisome for homebuyers because it reduces the value of fixed investments like Mortgage Bonds and hurts the home loan rates tied to them.
Home Loan Rates Still Attractive
Home loan rates were able to improve slightly in the first part of January, following the post-election volatility in Stock and Bond markets at the end of 2016. However, positive economic news, rising inflation and transitions under the new Trump administration may provide some headwinds for Mortgage Bonds and home loan rates in 2017. For now, home loan rates remain historically attractive.
If you have any questions about home loan rates or loan products, please don't hesitate to contact one of our Loan Originators.
With the Super Bowl fast approaching, regardless of which team you’re rooting for, I think all fans can agree on one thing – the food!
A Super Bowl party staple is Buffalo Chicken Dip, and this quick and easy recipe is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
- 12-16 oz. of cream cheese (softened)
- 1 rotisserie chicken – shredded
- 1/3 cup of Buffalo Wing Sauce (more if you want it spicier)
- ½ cup of blue cheese or ranch dressing
- ½ cup of mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup of cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
While your oven is heating, begin shredding the chicken into a bowl. Once you’re finished, add the cream cheese, hot sauce, blue cheese, and mozzarella cheese. Mix everything together (you can use a hand mixer to help), then transfer to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Add the cheddar cheese to the top.
Cover your pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes (or until the cheese on top is thoroughly melted).
Serve hot with your favorite kind of chips or bread!
To make it extra special, you could also serve in a football shaped bread bowl:
The holidays are here at Homestead Funding! We are prepared for the most wonderful time of the year with decorations that are both merry and bright. With elves, snowmen, menorahs, and even that mean old Mr. Grinch hanging around, we’re ready to bring smiles to everyone this holiday season. Stop by and take a peek and maybe ask about how Homestead can help you finance your home this holiday season!
This holiday season, Homestead Funding would like to take time to say how grateful we are for the wonderful people in our lives. Thank you to all our clients and referral partners. Without you, we wouldn't be here today! And thank you to our employees. You make Homestead the amazing company we are today.
Click here for a special holiday message.