Grade: Senior

#4408. The Cost of Living: A Cautionary Lesson

Social Studies, level: Senior
Posted Sun Jun 6 11:47:45 PDT 2010 by Ben (Ben).
High School, New York
Materials Required: Calculators, poster-size paper (for presentations
Activity Time: One period for work, one for the presentation
Concepts Taught: Economics, Paychecks, Rent, etc

Start by asking the kids to write down some ideas as answers to these questions:
1. What kind of job do you expect to have in adulthood?
2. Where will you live?
3. What kind of leisure activities will you have?

Present the students with the following costs (have one kid volunteer to write them neatly on large paper, then put it on the wall as a reference).
1. Renting your own studio
2. Renting with roommates
3. Living with Mom and paying her a small rent (includes food/electricity).
4. Food (if you live alone)
5. Electricity
6. Commuting (car, bike, or bus)
7. Clothing
8. Child support (may be different by state)
9. 40 hour week and 1.5 overtime

Break the kids into groups. Each one gets to be:
1. An 18 year old who works at Starbucks for $8.25 an hour.
2. A 20-year-old working as a a nurse for $42,000 a year.
3. An 18 year old who works at Starbucks and has to pay 17% of his pre-tax pay in child support, and pays 18% income tax.
4. Same as number 2, but also paying back $15,000 in students loans over a 30-year period.
5. A 19 year old in the US Navy who makes $7 an hour, but doesn't have to pay rent, food, electricity, etc, because he lives on the base.

Each group does a presentation: what are the bills this person pays, and how much money is left over afterward. The whole class will them discuss that the person can afford in terms of leisure, luxury, vacations, girlfriends, etc.