Module 16 Assignment: Living in Poverty

In this assignment, you will apply things you’ve learned about in this course, particularly this module on work and the economy, to consider what life would be like to budget and live as a parent in a family below the poverty line. After you create a monthly budget with a breakdown of expenses, you’ll write a reflection paper about the experience and its application to the course materials.

STEP 1: Imagine you are a single parent with two kids, ages 1 and 6 (a first-grader). You work a full-time minimum wage job. Make a bulleted list with all of the categories below and write a paragraph for each, explaining how you would plan for monthly expenses.

  • Family: Describe your fictional family. Where specifically do you work? What are your kids names and interests?
  • Budget: What is you annual income at the current minimum wage rate? What is your monthly income?
  • Housing: Where will your family live? Look up actual apartments or houses using websites like Zillow or Craigslist to find a good place for your family to live. Where is it relation to the place you work?
  • Childcare and Education: Look up your new address to find what school your children will attend. What is the school’s rating? Next, you will need to find full-time childcare for your youngest child. Look up prices and options in your area (having family or someone watch him or her voluntarily is not an option in this case). How much will it cost?
  • Food: write down everything your family will eat, in detail, for every meal of one day. Estimate the expenses for each of those items. Use this daily information to create a weekly grocery list. Look up prices and write down how much you will need to spend on groceries per month.
  • Utilities and phone: If not included in the rent, look up average utility costs in your area to pay for electricity, water, garbage, cable, internet, and phone bills.
  • Transportation: How will you get around? Do you have a car payment? If you have a car, include an estimated monthly cost. What will you pay in gas expenses? Or is public transportation a feasible option?
  • Others: You’ll need to reserve some funds for needs like diapers, wipes, clothes, toilet paper, toiletries, etc. Look up average needs and costs and include that information here.
  • Miscellaneous: What other monthly expenses do you anticipate needing for you or your family?

STEP 2: Write up an analysis paper between 400-600 words, describing your reactions to this exercise, as well as its sociological implications. Consider the following questions:

  • Did anything surprise you about this exercise?
  • Do you feel that it is reasonable to live off the minimum wage in America?
  • What expenses seemed to be the most burdensome?
  • How does this exercise tie in with concepts you learned about in this module? Specifically tie in at least two specific terms or concepts.
  • What recommendations would you make for government or economic programs to better aid those in poverty?
  • In what ways did this assignment make you think about the current state of the economy and things like welfare programs?


Criteria Rating Points
Budget Creates budget with all necessary components with accurate descriptions and explanations of each category: family, budget, housing, childcare and education, food, utilities and phone, transportation, other, and miscellaneous Creates budget but misses some of the key components or does not elaborate or describe all of the expenses in each category Partially creates budget and/or does not describe expenses ___/18
Analysis Writes thorough analysis paper between 400-600 words that ties it at least TWO key concepts from the module and provides a reaction to the budget exercise. Writes analysis paper that ties in to one sociological concept or provides only light analysis of the budget exercise Does not tie in analysis to sociological concepts ___/12
Total: __/30