If My Life Started Today

A Web Quest for 6th, 7th or 8th Grade (Mathematics)

Designed by:  Anthony Gillespey




Have you ever wondered what the future holds?  The choices you make today are shaping your tomorrow's.  You will be exploring your earning potential and creating a budget that might represent your real life.  Are you on the right road to in your education to meet the goals you have for your future?


Based on your GPA (Grade Point Average) you will be given a yearly salary.  Better grades equals better pay.  Based on this yearly salary you will calculate your taxes, housing cost, automobile costs, and many other things that go along with living in the real world.  So often we do not understand the struggles that our parent's have gone through to keep food on our tables. This web quest has been thoroughly research to reflect the cost of living in today's world. 

  You will research and calculate budgets, learn the limitations of your income, and begin to appreciate the power of good budgeting.  Many times you will need to manipulate your budget in order to afford the necessities and luxuries you would like to have.  As you cut your budget to fit your salary, you will begin to experience the struggles of real life.

As a final product, you will write one essay describing your experience during this web quest.

Things to remember

This is your project and all work must be done by you.

If you must have the help of your instructor or another student they will be charging you $50.00 per month from you budget for 6 months, each time they help you.

Any errors in your budget will cost you $50.00 a month from your budget.

You must have a balanced budget.  You can not spend more than you make.

You must live in Corpus Christi and you must live alone.  Your home and any purchases must be made in Corpus Christi.

Have fun, but remember this is graded.


1)  Salary

    Any time you start to create a budget you need to know what your expenses are each month. You will be given a copy of a budget worksheet to be used throughout the web quest.  When you finish your entire worksheet you will make  a final copy by typing it on the computer.

          Monthly Expenses Worksheet

    a) It pays to do well in school!

Based on your GPA you will have a salary range per year.  Use this chart  to determine your potential yearly salary, based upon your GPA then record your data on 1a

          Potential Salary Based on Your GPA 

    b)  Determine the range of your Monthly Salary by dividing each number in box 1a by 12. You should have 2 numbers.  These two numbers become the low and high end of your monthly salary. 

  Example: GPA = 83  Salary Range per Year to

$22000 divided by 12 Months =  $1833.00           (round to the nearest dollar)

 Do this again using the high end of your yearly income.  Use $27,999 instead of $22,000.     

Example:   $27999 divided by 12 monthly = 2333.33
(round to the nearest dollar)

    c.)  Determine the range of your hourly wage by dividing the 2 numbers in box 1a by 52weeks and then 40 hours. These two numbers become the range for your hourly wage. 

Example:  GPA = 82  Salary Range per Year to      

$22000 divided by 52 weeks, divided by 40 hours =   $10.58 per hour          

(DO NOT ROUND TO THE NEAREST DOLLAR!!! round your answer to the nearest cent).

 Do this again using the high end of your yearly income.  Use $27,999 instead of $22,000.    

  Example:   $27999 divided by 52 weeks, divided by 40 hours =   $13.46 per hour (round your answer to the nearest cent).

    d) Now you will determine what type of job you can do based on the amount you are  capable of making per year.  Each year the United States Government surveys millions     of Americans and determine how much different jobs pay per year, per month, or per hour. You will research and choose a career based upon your yearly or hourly wage range.   On this web site there is a list of over 2000 jobs along with their Median wage.

 Web site:  http://www.bls.gov/ooh/

     For each job on the web site their is a Tab called Earnings

  • Nature of the Work
  • Working Conditions
  • Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
  • Employment
  • Job Outlook
  • Earnings
  • Related Occupations
  • Sources of Additional Information


 Here they list the Median Income for a group of jobs in that field.  You must choose a job that does not exceed the Yearly, Monthly, or Hourly Salary ranges. You may pick a job below your ranges but you MAY NOT go over the higher number in your range. If you can't do the job you would like look at the tab called Related Occupations.  This is a group of jobs that are similar to the job you are looking at.

    Web site: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/ 

  e)  Once you have found the job you would like to do, record the Median Yearly Income for the  job of your choosing in box , based on the information from the earnings tab for that job.  If the website does not list the median income for the job you chose you may not use it.

 f)  Next find the Actual Monthly Wage by dividing the median yearly income by 12.

 g)   Record your actual hourly wage by dividing the Median yearly Income by 52 and then by 40.

2)   Taxes

      Every American must pay taxes and other expenses to help support the running of our government.  Next you will find how much money you must pay per month in taxes, social security, and Medicare.

      a)  First you must find out what percent of your income is taxed and deducted per year.  The more money you make the more the government taxes.  Also, the more you pay in Social Security and Medicare.

      Using this Web page  find out what percent of your income is taxed. Don't forget about the 5% of your income that goes to  Social Security  and Medicare.  Everyone must pay this.
 Website:  Taxes, Social Security, and Medicare Page

      b)  Next Subtract your Yearly taxes from your Median Yearly Income (box 1e) record the results in 2b.

      c)  Divide the results in 2b by 12 to determine your monthly salary after taxes, record in 2c. 

    This number is very important, this is the amount of money you have to spend each month!!!  You may not go over this amount in any month.  Good Luck!

3)   Housing Expenses

      You will explore some websites to find a place to live.  Whether an apartment or house, you will need to calculate monthly payments.  You may not live with someone else and you must live in your own apartment or home.

      Living in a house or apartment is your choice.  Each one has their own expenses.  Keep in mind that homes cost more and have other costs associated with them, but you own it. Buying a home should be a goal of yours, but they can be very expensive. 

 Apartments versus Homes



Less Expensive

More Expensive

Smaller size

Bigger size

Utilities Cheaper

More Expensive Utilities


You rent it, but never own it.

You own it.

Don't pay property taxes or insurance.

You pay property taxes and insurance.

If something breaks someone fixes it.

If something breaks you fix it.

Can be loud.

Much quieter.



You may also go to this website and read what other people think of the apartment you are thinking  of renting. 

Apartment Ratings.com


 a)  Rent or Mortgage


 Homes are one of the best investments you will ever make.  They are much more expensive but you are buying it. In order to buy a home you must get a mortgage. A bank lends you the money to buy the home and you pay them back with interest.  Unless you make more than $40,000 you should probably not spend more than $100,000 for the cost of a house.

Website:  http://www.homes.com

To find the cost per month of a home use this Mortgage calculator  Mortgage Calculator.

    Assume you have 6% interest over 30 years. Find the Monthly payment. Record this information in box 3a




Things to remember

 Apartments are generally cheaper than houses. 

You do not pay for property taxes, box 3b.

If you want apartment insurance you can assume you would pay $20.00 a month for renters insurance or $240.00 a year in box 3c. 

Many apartments come with free utilities such as gas and water.  Read the information carefully to see what they pay.

There are three primary kinds of apartments.

1) Economy or Studio - a very small one room apartment.

2)  Flat - usually a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment.

3)  Town house - usually a large 2 to 3 bedroom apartment that usually has a yard included.

Use this website to find Apartments:  http://www.apartmentguide.com

Once you find an apartment you like you may want to go to this website:  Apartment Ratings.com. At this website people can leave their opinions about the apartment.

If you rent an apartment you must find 1) the price per month.  2) What utilities are paid. If the website about the apartments says nothing about free utilities you must pay them all.     

      Record the monthly rent or monthly mortgage amount the first box, the type is either house or the type of apartment Studio, Flat, or Town home, and #rooms is the number of bedrooms in the home.  Record all 3 results in box 3a

       a)  Rent/Mortgage: Type: # Rooms:

      b)  Skip this step if renting an apartment.

    If you buy a home you must determine the yearly property taxes, apartments do not have taxes.  Take the price of the home and find 3% of the total value of the home. Remember turn 3% into a decimal and multiply by the total cost of the home. This is your yearly property taxes.  Divide this number by 12 to find your monthly property taxes. Record both results in 3b  

               b)  Property Taxes Per Year: Property Taxes Per Month:

      c)  For apartments:

    If you want apartment insurance it will cost you $20.00 per month or $240.00 a year. Record your results in 3c.

    For homes:

    You must also have home owners insurance which is 1% of the value of the home.  Find 1% of the total value of the home.  Next divide that by 12 to determine the monthly insurance payment.   Record your results in 3c.

             c)  Yearly Home Insurance:   Monthly Home Insurance:

d)  Add the Mortgage , Monthly Taxes, and Monthly Insurance together.  This is the total expenses of your house or apartment per month.  Record your results in 3d

      d)  Total Monthly Home Cost:

4)  Vehicle payments 

           Research web sites ( Autotrader.com   Cars.com)
to find a vehicle.  Do you want a car, motorcycle, or do you want to ride the bus?  You will need to determine what kind of vehicle you will purchase (if your income allows you to do so) and calculate monthly payments along with insurance and gas.  When searching for a vehicle you must purchase it within 300 miles of Corpus Christi.  You may not buy a car from someone living in California or some other place far away.

    If you can not afford your own vehicle you may use the bus by buying a bus card for $40.00 dollars per month. Add this cost of a bus card to the box labeled other:_______ in box 6a.

       a)  To find a vehicle, use these web sites

    Record the model and type of vehicle along with the cost in box 4a   

                a)  Vehicle Model: Type: Cost:



 b)  Just like everything else in the world you must pay tax on a car purchase.  To find the taxes for the vehicle find 8.25% of the cost of the vehicle in box 4a. Remember 8.25% as a decimal x the cost of the car.  Record this number in box 4b.  Next add the Cost of the vehicle to the tax.  Record this in the second box in 4b.  This is the total cost of the vehicle.

     b)  Taxes on Vehicle : Total Cost:


 c)  Just like homes you must borrow money from a bank to buy a vehicle.  New cars and used cars have different rates and number years. Use the Car Payment Calculator to figure out the car payment for your vehicle.

You must pay interest on a vehicle that you are buying. New and used vehicles have different interest rates.
    New Cars   7% Interest over 5 years
    Used Cars 7.5% Interest over 3 years   

Take the total cost of the car box 4b and use the information above to calculate the monthly cost of your car.

 Car Payment Calculator


Record this in the highlighted box 4c Monthly Car Payment

       c)  Yearly Car Payment Interest Rate:  Monthly Car Payment:  



       d) and e) Next you must  determine how much gas and how much insurance costs for your vehicle.  Based on the size of the vehicle use the chart to record your             information for box d) and e).  If you do not know how many cylinders the vehicle has please ask your teacher or read the description of the vehicle on the website.

       Website : Gas and Car Insurance Chart

                    d)  Gas for Vehicle:  

                    e) Car Insurance:


       f)  Now add the total in the 3  yellow highlighted boxes this is your total monthly vehicle expenses. Record this amount in box 4f.   

4. Vehicle Costs

a)  Vehicle Model: Type: Cost:

b)  Taxes on Vehicle : Total Cost:

c)  Yearly Car Payment Interest Rate:  Monthly Car Payment:  

d)  Gas for Vehicle:  

e) Car Insurance:

f)  Total Monthly Vehicle Cost:


5)  Utilities

     a) You will need to budget money for your utilities.  Some places come with free utilities.  You need to read the description of the apartment carefully. While others you have to pay them yourself.  Keep in mind different size homes cost different amount to heat, cool, etc.  Remember this when choosing your home.

      Website:  Utilities Chart

                 a) Electric: Gas and Water: Cable:  Telephone:Internet:


             b)  Next add the total monthly cost for each utility and put the total in box 5b.  This is your total monthly utilities cost.


                b)  Total Monthly Utilities Cost:


6)   Living Expenses

a)  Now determine your other expenses: food, cell phones, pagers, health insurance, clothing, entertainment, savings accounts, and miscellaneous items.  Certain parts of this section have minimum amounts you can spend on them. 

Things to Remember.

You must spend at least a minimum amount in Food, Clothing, Entertainment, and Miscellaneous Items.

Miscellaneous Items include toiletries, cleaning supplies, and household supplies

You do not have to have Health Insurance, but think about the video and the problems they had.  Co-pay is the amount you have to pay extra for visiting the doctors office.

Emergency Funds are always good to have when you need a little extra money for something, but you don't have to have one.

You must have a home phone, a cell phone, or both. 

Any other things you may want for your home, such as a pet, plasma screen TVs or any thing else would go into this section.


Minimum amounts to spend.







Just a home phone.


Cell phone without home phone


Both home and Cell phone.     ($50.00 each)




Basic Health Insurance with co-pay of $25.00


Good Health Insurance without co-pay







Other Optional Expenses

Charitable Giving





Car repairs/ maintenance

      b)  Now add the totals in box a) together and record your total in box b) this is your Total Monthly Living Expenses.

                  b)  Total Monthly Living Expenses:


7)   Total Monthly Budget -

The most important step

You now must find the total amount of your expenses per month.       

      a) Record once again the total from box 2c (Monthly Salary after Taxes) , so that you can easily reference it during this last section.  Remember this is the total amount of money you have to spend each month on all your bills.  You can not go over this amount per month.   

                   a)  Total Monthly Earnings:

      b) Add the totals of boxes 3d, 4f, 5b, and 6b together. Record in box 7b.

       b)  Total Monthly Expenses:

If you make any money from being an accountant for someone else list that income in 7b. This is extra money you have each month for being someone else's accountant.


                   This is your total monthly expenses.  Was this total less than your Monthly Salary after taxes?  If so you have some money left over.  If it's more than your monthly total you must go back and adjust your monthly expenses to fit your salary.  Maybe you can't afford a home, a car, or your cell phone.

      c)  Any money left over should be put into your savings account box 7c and used for any emergencies of life, such as car repairs, doctors visits,  or psychiatric counseling.  It is always recommended to save about 20% to 30% of your income each month, but the choice is up to you.

  c)  Savings Amount Per Month:

Final copy and Essay

First have your teacher look over your work. Then type in all your information on this form Monthly Expenses Worksheet.  Make sure to include your typed name on the sheet raise your hand to show your teacher.  Then print two copies, one for you and one for your instructor.

Next write a 1 pg. typed essay on this prompt.  Use this page to type your essay (Essay Page)  Do not change the font or the line spacing.

 After working on this project, you probably found that life in general, is pretty expensive. What lessons did you learn from this project?  How can these lessons help you better be prepared for your future? Does college sound more appealing to you today than it did before you worked on this project? Does getting good grades in school seem more important now? Write a 1 page essay describing this experience. 


Extra Credit (1 pg. Typed Essay)

After using the Job web site I want you to compare and contrast the job you picked in the project to the job you want to have when you graduate college.  How much education do you need for each?  What would you do at each job?  Do both jobs sound fun to you?  How much money do you make at each job? What steps do you have to take in order to have your dream job in the future?  How much college do you need for each job?





Page Navigation


1) Salary                            a)   b)   c)   d)   e)   f)    g)

2) Taxes                             a)   b)   c)

3) Housing Expenses        a)   b)   c)   d)

4)Vehicle payments          a)  b)  c)  d)   e)   f) 

5) Utilities                        a)   b)  

6) Living Expenses           a)   b)        

7) Total Monthly Budget  a)   b)   c) 

Final copy and Essay