– Economics Paper-Budget

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The goal of this project is for you to create a personal budget and answer the driving question:  What decisions do you have to make when creating a budget to meet some of your lifes goals.

Remember that economics is the study of scarcity and the choices that have to be made due to this. At this point in your life, you are facing many decisions about your future. You will be deciding how to allocate your resources of time and money. Due to scarcity, you must make important economic decisions about your current life and your future.  

This project has five steps:

Step 1:  Choose a career and research the salary you expect to receive when you begin.

Step 2:  Calculate your income tax.

Step 3:  Allocate your income for bills.

Step 4:  Plan for savings and retirement.

Step 5:  Reflect on your decisions.

The two summatively assessed grades are the budget document and the written reflection.  Please see the rubric for clarification.

Lets begin!


Step 1:  Career and salary

Your first decision is what career you are going to choose. You need to conduct research and find what the starting salary is for your chosen career, in the place you will be living. There are many great sites that will help you with this information. Here are a few possible resources:

https://www.thebalancecareers.com/writer-and-editor-526082 (Links to an external site.)

https://www.thebalancecareers.com/bureau-of-labor-statistics-bls-2059767 (Links to an external site.)

Be sure the website you use is credible.  

Answer the following questions:

  1. What is the career you have chosen?  
  2. Did you know what career you wanted straight off, or did you look at several careers before deciding for the purpose of this project?  
  3. What is the job description?
  4. What is the salary in the area you want to live?
  5. What sources did you use? Include the webpage title and URL. Use MLA style for any source citations. Use this source for information on MLA style citations (Links to an external site.).


Step 2: Determining your income tax

In the United States, a tax is collected every year on your income. This takes place at the federal level. Most states, but not all, also collect income tax. Taxes are the revenue the government uses to pay for spending. The U.S. income tax is a progressive tax, which means the higher your income, the higher tax rate you will pay.

Use this income tax calculator to determine your income tax:

https://smartasset.com/taxes/income-taxes (Links to an external site.)

Enter your annual income and the zip code of where you will be living, and your federal and state income tax will be calculated for you. Use the information in the chart breakdown to answer the following questions:

  1. How much is your federal income tax?
  2. How much is your state income tax?
  3. How much is your total income tax?


Step 3: Allocate your disposable income

  1. Use the following chart to complete this section. Fill in the income section. Enter your monthly and yearly income.
  2. Enter your total income tax, both monthly and yearly.
  3. Your disposable income is your income after taxes are paid. The chart includes a list of the bills you will need to pay when you are living on your own. You are going to have to conduct some research and/or ask your parents how much some bills will cost. Enter the total monthly and yearly cost of each bill. Then calculate the total you are spending on your bills and enter it in the appropriate space.


The budget chart below is worth a possible 50 points. (For a printable PDF, click on the link below.)


Income Before Tax Monthly Yearly
Research from Step 1
Income Tax Total Monthly Yearly
Federal and State Income Tax Totals from Step 2
Disposable Income Monthly Yearly
Subtract the income tax
Bills (fill in for each category below; subtract from disposable income) Monthly Yearly
  • Rent/Mortgage
  • Utilities
  • Groceries
  • Clothing
  • Medical
  • Personal
  • Entertainment/dining out
  • Car payment/transport
  • Insurance (car, medical, and property)
  • Phone, internet, tv
  • Student loan payments

Total of all bills



Total monthly expenditures

(bills + retirement + savings)

Total Budget (over or under)


Step 4: Plan for savings and retirement

You need to begin planning for your retirement now. Even though that seems like a long time from now, it happens really quickly and surprises most people. You are going to calculate how much you need to put into retirement planning each month and year.

  1. Use the following retirement calculator:
    • https://www.bankrate.com/calculators/retirement/retirement-plan-calculator.aspx (Links to an external site.)

      • This is interactive, so you can play around with the numbers and read the short outcome reports to determine your monthly and annual required retirement savings.
      • Start off by plugging in the age you will be when you begin working. If you are planning to start your career right after high school graduation, use 18 as your current age. If you are going to college, you will probably be 22 when you start your career.
      • Use 70 as your age of retirement. Current retirement age is 67 and will most likely increase in your lifetime.
      • Plug in the income you determined you will make.
      • Use 0 for your current retirement savings.
      • Expected income increases are difficult to determine. For this project, plug in 0.
      • Income needed at retirement should be at least 75% of your current income.
      • Years of retirement should be 20. Lets estimate you will live to be 90.
      • The number you are going to play with is the annual retirement savings. Plug in different percentages until you get an acceptable total. You will see this in the short report at the bottom of the calculator.
      • Using this information, calculate the monthly and yearly amounts you need to put into a retirement plan.
  2. Savings: you also need to have a savings account which is separate from your retirement account. This savings is money you can access before you retire for emergencies, buying a new car or a house, etc. You should always pay yourself first, and a good rule of thumb is 10% of your salary. However, this is your budget, so you decide. 
    • Fill in your retirement and savings information in the chart.
  3. Total all of your expenditures (your bills plus your savings and retirement).
  4. Subtract your total expenditures from your disposable income.
  5. Indicate whether you are living within your budget. If you are overspending, you will need to adjust your expenditures. If you are underspending, you can always increase savings and retirement.


Step 5: Reflection  

This is worth a possible 50 points. Be thoughtful in your response, and see the rubric.

Create a written response to the driving question: What decisions do you have to make when creating a budget to meet some of your life goals? The following questions should be considered in your response.

  1. Are your expenses greater or less than your income?
  2. What are your biggest expenses?
  3. What expenses are you considering to cut down on to meet your budget goals? Why?
  4. Do you have money left over for savings?
  5. Is your budget for retirement on track to retire by age 70?
  6. Discuss your resources in terms of scarcity.
  7. What sorts of choices do you have to make, and what are the opportunity costs?

Be sure your answer is in essay format. The length should be approximately one page, 12 point font. Do not just list your answers to the above questions; include them in a well-written, flowing response with your thoughts clearly expressed. Sentence structure, spelling, and grammar are important.

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