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Thursday, August 27, 2015

This Wage Calculator Shows Students Salaries In Terms They Can Understand

As I've mentioned many times in the past, personal economics is one of my favorite topics to teach. Over the years I've developed games for teaching it and shared those along with other resources in posts like this one. This week on Life Hacker I discovered another resource that can help students understand the purchasing power of a salary.

Salaries in Real-Time is a simple wage calculator produced by Retale. The calculator shows you how long you would have to work in order to earn enough money to purchase hamburgers, televisions, running shoes, cars, and houses. You can view this information from the perspective of your own salary by entering it into the calculator. You can also see that information from the perspective of a surgeon, a nurse, a lawyer, a teacher, a web developer, a firefighter, a truck driver, or a construction worker. And just to put in perspective how rich they are, you can also see how long it would take Oprah or Lebron James to earn enough money to purchase one of the items on the list.

Applications for Education
Salaries in Real-Time provides a nice starting place for conversations about purchasing power. The calculator isn't without flaws. It only accounts for the time it would take to earn the money to purchase house or car if you did nothing but save 100% of the salary. I would take these numbers and ask my students to generate more realistic projections of the time it would take to earn and save enough money to buy a car or house in cash. That assignment would require them to account for taxes, cost of living, inflation, and other variables impacting earning and saving rates.