times, the New Year kicks off with a huge financial
hangover. But this year, we’re looking at even more
reasons to keep an eye on our money.
of economic headwinds will influence everything from how
much we pay for gas to how much we take home in our
paychecks to the size of our tax refunds in 2019.
a look at some trends that could hit your wallet in the
prices may rise
you plan any cross-country trips for spring break,
though, consider that gas prices are forecast to head
higher in the weeks ahead.
gas prices can be at their lowest in January and
sometimes that trend can continue into February,
according to Nancy Cain, a spokeswoman for AAA Michigan.
Michigan forecasts prices will start and end the year
low, with at least a 30-cent to 40-cent increase in
between,” Cain said.
generally go up in the spring when consumers start to
take their vacations and refiners begin seasonal
maintenance and switch to higher-cost, summer-blend
forecasts are greatly influenced by shifts in the
economy, global supply and demand, as well as tropical
weather, such as a possible hurricane in the Gulf of
party at the pump will likely wrap up in the next month
or two,” DeHaan predicted.
national average price could rise as much as $1 a gallon
to a possible peak in May, according to GasBuddy.
U.S. economy continues to be strong, gas prices are
expected to be headed higher. Yet economic jitters are
increasingly causing worries.
economy stalls out or slows down in 2019, gas prices
could go lower at some point after a spring bounce.
war with China is one of the great unknowns for 2019.
maintain that both the United States and China have
strong incentives to reach some sort of agreement, given
the latest volatility in the U.S. stock market and the
deepening economic slowdown in China.
and the United States reach some sort of a deal, the
U.S. economy could get a boost and consumers would see a
jolt in gas prices, DeHaan said.
a deal, it could drag the economy down and keep gas
prices lower,” he said.
said consumers may need to “buckle up for the extra
minimum wage is going up in 20 states and dozens of
cities in 2019. Some wage hikes went into effect on Jan.
1; others will be staggered through the year.
A key tip
to remember, though, is that workers do have bargaining
power in many areas because the labor market is very
tight in most parts of the country and in most
industries, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist for
the best ways for workers to tap into that bargaining
power is to find another job.
another job offer in hand they could either take the new
job, or if they like their current job, use it to ask
for a bigger wage increase from their existing employer.
There won’t be a better time to ask for a raise,”
talks with China
Street is increasingly focused on what might happen next
with trade talks with China.
Donald Trump on Wednesday told reporters that there was
a “glitch” in the stock market in December. But he
said stocks should rebound in the future after trade
negotiations are settled.
401(k) isn’t all that’s at risk here.
outcome of the trade war with China could have a great
impact on the prices you pay at the mall, as well.
between China and the United States are set to begin
this week with all eyes focused an early March deadline
for a truce set by Trump.
agreement is reached, tariffs are scheduled to rise to
25 percent from 10 percent on roughly $200 billion in
Chinese goods, including many consumer products.
are taxes paid by American consumers and businesses,”
Charles Freeman, U.S. Chamber of Commerce senior vice
president for Asia, said in a statement.
also threaten to raise the price of everyday items, from
textiles to tablet computers,” he said. “Having the
U.S. and China at the negotiating table is
Thinner tax refunds
changes in the tax rules will show up when we file our
2018 returns this year.
looking at changes in individual tax rates as well as a
sizable increase in the standard deduction that will
cause some people to no longer itemize their deductions.
Another key change for some families: State and local
income tax deductions for individuals will be limited to
$10,000 each tax year.
point: We started receiving more money in our paychecks
last February because of changes in the payroll
withholding tables under the new federal tax law.
change in withholding tables might accurately reflect
your tax bill. But some people might not have had enough
money withheld, so they could owe more in taxes than
they’d typically expect when they file their 2018
returns. Or they might receive a much smaller tax
million Americans — or 21 percent of taxpayers — are
not withholding enough to cover the taxes due, according
to a simulation listed in a report by the U.S.
Government Accountability Office. GAO That’s up from
18 percent if the tax laws had not changed.
percent of taxpayers with wages are having too much
withheld and would receive a refund, based on
simulations run by the Treasury Department. That’s
down from 76 percent if the tax laws had not changed.
families, it may be far safer not to bank on the same
type of tax refund that they received earlier in 2018.
And you might only truly understand where you stand once
your tax return is completed in the spring.
Mortgage rates won’t be predictable
average 30-year mortgage rate was hovering around 4.75
percent as 2018 drew to a close, up from 4.1 percent a
year ago, according to Bankrate.com.
mortgage rates have been trending down in recent weeks,
along with the stock market, on worries about a possible
general, mortgage rates are expected to be volatile in
2019 — possibly rising above 5.25 percent before
falling sharply later in the year to 4.35 percent,
according to Bankrate.com’s forecast.
rates are pulling back now because of the nervousness
about economic growth so now is a good time to be
looking for a mortgage,” said Greg McBride, chief
financial analyst for Bankrate.com.
expect that as worries subside in the next couple months
— due to good economic news or a trade agreement with
China — that mortgage rates will rebound,” McBride
economy shows evidence of slowing later this year as I
suspect, then mortgage rates will fall — but I don’t
expect that until the last few months of the