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With rising food costs and property taxes, Montrealers are in for an expensive 2024

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Estelle Miller filled her cart at the Esposito grocery store in Saint-Laurent on Saturday, preparing for the new year... and increased food costs.

"My first thought is what am I going to cut down on -- what can I cook that requires less expensive ingredients," she told CTV News.

She's among millions of Canadians feeling the crunch at checkout thanks to inflation -- and prices are only expected to get higher.

Canada's Food Price Report projects grocery costs will jump between 2.5 and 4.5 per cent in 2024.

It's hardly a surprise for grocery store owner John Esposito, who has dealt with rising expenses over the years.

"It's not our fault that the prices are doing up. It's the suppliers that are charging us more. They're charging us more and we've got to charge the client more. We work on a certain markup and we always take the same markup, no matter what the price is," he said.

Food is not the only expense going up.

Property taxes in Montreal will jump by an average of 4.9 per cent, and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corperation says the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment will be more than $1,200.

"Prices have always gone up. That is what inflation is. Very rarely have we ever seen deflation in this country, and if we have seen it, it's for an extremely short amount of time," explained Concordia economics professor Moshe Lander.

He said he'll be watching closely to see if the Bank of Canada lowers interest rates.

"Will interest rates come down? And if they come down, how fast and how far? I don't think that interest rates will come down until the second half of 2024. Maybe two or three 25 basis points cut for next year, not much more than that, even if the economy does slow."

Many people are looking to better manage their funds these days -- just ask portfolio manager Michael Zagari.

"I'm seeing that interest towards cash flow management in my meetings. And that's interesting because usually the conversation is about investments, what stock or what mutual fund to consider. But now, it's more directed towards financial planning," Zagari explained.

People are looking everywhere to cut costs, such as by postponing home renovation projects.

"The common question was 'where can we make cuts? Should we reduce our vacation budget? Should we postpone that new car that we were going to purchase? What about home renovations?'"

Like many others, Estelle Miller closely watches the prices and cuts out anything too costly to make sure that in 2024, her fixed income covers her expenses.

"You wonder when is this going to end?" she said. "Or when is this at least going to level off?"

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