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11th-graders get dose of sticker shock thanks to Real Life 101

Rick Wagner • Nov 7, 2013 at 2:02 PM

KINGSPORT — As adults know, a home, insurance, food, cell phone, Internet service, cable TV or satellite and a vehicle all cost money.

But some high school students are getting sticker shock this week on the high price of adult living.

It’s part of Real Life 101, an interactive part of the fourth annual 11th grade Career Expo, sponsored by Eastman Chemical Co. at its Employee Center this week.

The expo runs 8:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Nine high schools are participating this year: Cora Cox Academy, Daniel Boone, David Crockett, Dobyns-Bennett, Sullivan Central, Sullivan North, Sullivan South, Tennessee High and Volunteer.

“I was surprised at a few things I didn’t know cost that much,” Ashley Michelli, a 16-year-old D-B junior said Wednesday at Eastman’s Toy F. Reid Employee Center.

She said furniture alone, bought on a payment plan, set her back $166 a month.

Her lot in life, randomly assigned among more than 300 D-B juniors attending Wednesday, was working as a married mother of two, ages 6 and 3. In the scenario, she and her husband bring in $4,483.21 after taxes and ended up with a positive bank balance of $425.71.

“I’m happy about that,” Ashley said.

Meanwhile, classmate Michael McLaughlin, 17, also was doing well as a jet mechanic with a non-working spouse and no children. He made $63,958 a year or $5,329.83 a month.

He had $193.18 left at the end of the month.

“The cost of things is out of the roof, like having car insurance,” Michael said. His housing was $1,078 for a mortgage payment, $95 for car insurance, $50 for house insurance and $258 for medical insurance.

In contrast, Mark Bullivant, 17, was assigned a job as a security guard making $21,500. He is married with a child, but his spouse doesn’t work. His house payment was $750 a month.

“I had $4 to my name, total” at the end of the month, Mark said, and that was after he got a second job as a gardener to help ends meet.

For an expanded version of this article, please see Thursday's print edition or our expanded electronic edition.

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