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How Your Monthly Expenses Might Change in 2019

From housing to health insurance to gas, some things might be a little more pricey this year. Here, we take a closer look.

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Health Insurance

First, the bad news: Rising health care expenses led to a 5.6 percent increase in premiums for many Coloradans. On the flip side, those who make less than 400 percent of the poverty level—$100,400 for a household of four—will see their costs go down, by an average of 24 percent if they stay with the same plan and up to 50 percent if they switch. Why? Simply put, tax credits that lower-income residents receive as part of the Affordable Care Act jumped drastically in Colorado for this year’s plans.

Restaurants

In 2016, Coloradans voted to raise the minimum wage gradually each year until it hits $12—and $8.98 for tip-based employees—an hour in January 2020. This month, $8.08 will become the new statewide standard for the latter category. Whether you’re dining at Casa Bonita or Sushi Den, the proprietor is likely to pass his added expense for servers’ wages on to you. (Yes, you still have to tip.)

Groceries

The U.S. Department of Agriculture believes grocery costs will grow by one to two percent nationwide. So, if your boss doles out a standard cost-of-living raise of two to three percent, your King Soopers outlay will effectively decrease in 2019. (If she doesn’t, perhaps it’s time to freshen that resumé.) Plus, Denver’s food costs have risen at a rate
well below the national average of 11.4 percent over the past decade, a trend that should continue.

Gas

It doesn’t look like we’ll get close to the hand-wringing prices of 2012, when a gallon ran close to $4. But starting in February or March, as seasonal demand picks up, the price at the pump could begin ticking up from Colorado’s current average of $2.80—maybe reaching $3 a gallon this year as OPEC continues to stymie production. What we’re saying: No time like the present for that road trip to Telluride.

Cannabis

More dispensaries mean lower prices (yay, capitalism!). And even though consumers are willing to pay a premium for their favorite cannabis-related products, Boulder industry research group BDS Analytics predicts the production process for even the most popular strains will become cheaper, translating to more buzz for your bucks.

Housing

With interest rates on the rise, the housing market may finally—blessedly—slow down by fall or winter of this year. But don’t get too excited, first-time buyers. The metro area’s average home price of $430,000 isn’t likely to drop much, according to Ryan Carter, president of Colorado brokerage 8z Real Estate. It’ll probably stay the same or dip slightly, meaning your dream of buying a house may remain exactly that.

Public Transportation

This month, RTD will hike its fares from $2.60 to $3 for a local one-way trip; from $4.50 to $5.25 for a regional journey; and from $9 to $10.50 for a ride to or from DIA. It’s a small increase to pay for a quick jaunt to the terminal. Then again, how many travelers will use it as an excuse to pay $8 a day to park in the airport’s shuttle-accessible lots?

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