RISING COST OF EVERYTHING: Colorado Couple Moved to Wyoming Seeking Better Life, But Struggle Due to Inflation

Spiking fuel costs and loss of business put new Cheyenne residents in financial squeeze

By Jake Sorich

Special to the Wyoming Truth

In 2021, Danette Lucarini Reeves, 37, and her husband Kyle Reeves, 41, left Colorado in search of a more rural and affordable lifestyle in Wyoming. Rent on their apartment in Parker, Colo., outside Denver, was about to increase from $1,800 to $2,200 per month—more than they could afford on their income from Kyle’s trucking company and Danette’s part-time photography business.

Danette Lucarini Reeves moved with her family from the Denver area to Cheyenne in search of a better life. But then inflation spiked, impacting her husband’s trucking business and putting the family’s finances in jeopardy. (Courtesy photo from Danette Lucarini Reeves)

The couple purchased a single-wide manufactured home for $40,000 in Cheyenne and invested in some new siding and a few small renovations. For several months after their move, they were able to get by. But then the economy tanked, inflation spiraled and the cost of diesel fuel soared—all of which has put a squeeze on their budget and made life more challenging.

“It’s devastating,” Lucarini Reeves said. “We’ve had to go without several times this year to keep [Kyle’s] business afloat.”

Kyldan Enterprises has taken a huge hit. Kyle’s income has been slashed in half due to the staggering increase in the cost to fill his three six-wheel semi-trucks for jobs across the lower 48 states. 

Kyle pays around $16,500 per week to fill up all three trucks when all are running a job. That’s double what he paid a year ago, on top of salaries for four employees. Plus, he lost his biggest contract when United States Postal Service cut outside bids with independent truckers in a cost-saving move, Lucarini Reeves said.

Meanwhile, Lucarini Reeves’ photography bookings plunged 90%, adding to their plight. In Colorado, she averaged about five weddings per year for up to $2,000 each, along with smaller jobs, such as family or senior portraits, where she earned $500 to $600 per shoot. Those bookings are hard to come by now: Not only are there more professional photographers in Cheyenne pursuing a smaller a smaller pool of clients than in her former community, but it’s also not easy to relocate a business in the midst of an economic downturn.

With the loss of Lucarini Reeves’ annual income of up to $15,000, they family has been forced to sacrifice many things they would never have imagined going without, including traveling out of state to visit relatives at Christmas, dining out and subscribing to Motortrend TV.  

“Everything has been poured into the business,” she said.

As a result, the couple took the drastic step of dropping their health insurance earlier this year to save up to $24,000 annually. Lucarini Reeves said they also have no savings left, no retirement funds and no valuable assets. Still, their gross income is too high for them to qualify for Medicaid.   

The couple’s children, ages 6 and 9, also are uninsured—a major concern for Lucarini Reeves, and a big reason why she hopes to land a retail job. A steady paycheck will enable her to pay the monthly health insurance premium for their family, which can run up to $2,000 based on estimates from Healthcare.gov.   

Beyond that, they also paused several home renovations, as the cost of  wood and stone shot up around 7%. “I do miss having my own faucet in my bathroom and my countertops,” she said, “but it’s just an inconvenience more than a problem at this point.”

Lucarini Reeves refuses to give up her two her passions—at least for now.  She still loves to ride her 2016 Yamaha F Z6R motorcycle, and she recently provided free photo sessions for 43 fellow motorcycle and classic car enthusiasts, as long as they covered the cost for her to travel and to pay her babysitter, about $20 per hour.

Struggles aside, Lucarini Reeves is staying optimistic for their future. “I just keep waiting for my chance to get ahead,” she said. “This year was just a false start.”

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