McDonald’s Helps You Budget

I received lots of emails from you guys this weekend about McDonald’s and Visa’s ridiculous “budgeting” site for employees, which assumes that workers will work two jobs to earn $24,000 a year to get by, don’t have any children, and doesn’t include groceries or transportation costs like gas in its sample monthly budget (not to mention: retirement). The Youtube video was made by fast food workers who are fighting for fair wages.

The site also includes an introduction video, which I had to stop watching after the host started using a “latte factor” example and talked about how workers shouldn’t be spending $1 a day on gum and candy bars, because it all adds up.

Also, I don’t know what kind of adequate health insurance McDonald’s knows about that costs $20 a month, but if they can give that to their workers, it’ll do a lot more for them than this budgeting site will.


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Oh geez. This is the first time I’m seeing this … painful. Gas and groceries are part of your spending money of course! So let’s say $100 for gas a month and $250 for groceries? (There are probably Billfold charts for the average but I’m just gonna guesstimate) so really only $450 for spending. which isn’t actually that bad, but since basically all the estimates above are lowballs (including mine) … oh dear.

Have you done a “What’s your monthly car payment?” That would be interesting. Maybe it’s been done and I missed it.

Slutface (#53)

@redheaded&crazy I’d like to see a car payment graph too! When I was 22, I had a $495 car payment. Oh to be young and stupid…

@redheaded&crazy There was a “what do you pay for transportation” where car owners tallied their payments, insurance, gas, and maintenance — predictably it was much, much higher than people who relied on public transport, cycling, and other non-car forms of transit.

@Slutface oh man. Part of the reason I ask is because my car payment is $172 and I feel like that’s pretty low! but my car was new, not used. So I guess used car payments could probably get to be pretty low.

@stuffisthings ooh I must have missed it (or forgotten about it, more likely). Good point re: McDonald’s assumes people are using a car for transportation … when public transit may be more likely. (then again, maybe not? I always wonder about highway service station employees … that seems like a rough commute for a minimum wage job in the middle of nowhere)

Slutface (#53)

@redheaded&crazy My payment is $158, but I bought my car when it was 2yrs old.

bgprincipessa (#699)

@redheaded&crazy I am always so curious about that! Particularly places like NJ where the turnpike is restrictive – you have to go all the way to the next exit to even get there!

may june july (#2,862)

@Slutface Mine (that I got when I was around 22) is still $357. But then the interest rate is also super high because I was young and stupid, so I pay $557 a month on it now to get it over with. That’s so much money! It does comfort me a little bit that I’m not the only one, though :)

milena (#3,288)

I’d like to know what car insurance company offers coverage for $100/month, because I pay $180 and that’s with my corporate discount!

laluchita (#2,195)

@milena Not just car insurance: Car and rental/homeowner. McDonalds employees get all the hookups I guess.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@milena Do you drive a new car?

@milena You’re getting ripped off, unless you have a lot of violations. I pay $100 for two cars. One was only $65/month.

s. dekker (#3,301)

@milena We have 3 vehicles in the same plan, all of them full-cover (a 2002/2012/2013), and we pay ~160/mo. for all three. Progressive! This is in Texas with good driving/credit records so I don’t know how that factors in.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@s. dekker I’m glad others are confirming this is a dramatic ripoff. Okay cool. My “Cadillac of car insurance” State Farm policy is $65 a month.

limenotapple (#1,748)

@milena You might want to shop around. I have a new car and pay 304 every six months for really good coverage. Oddly, it was higher on my old piece of crap car I was driving before I got this one (but not that much). My husband pays a little more; he’s a little younger than me (not sure if that matters).

@milena Yeah I pay $110 with USAA, although I’m going to call in a few weeks and try to negotiate that down a bit.

milena (#3,288)

@aetataureate I do drive a new car. Back when I had an old car, even though it was a “luxury” ride, I paid $105 per month.

lanascrub (#2,531)

Also missing: taxes (including FICA), student loans, childcare, consumer debt, bank fees (maybe from your McDonalds “payroll debit card”!)

@lanascrub I think taxes are accounted for when they start with “net” pay at the top (or am I confusing net and gross again?).

lanascrub (#2,531)

@polka dots vs stripes It does say this is net income, but I’m not sure how they calculated the numbers? Federal minimum wage is 7.25/hour; that multiplied by 40 hrs and 4 weeks comes to $1160. As Mike says above, this sample budget is assuming a single person with no children, so this person is somehow paying only $55 a month in taxes & FICA without any dependents to increase take-home pay?

I ran a couple of sample calculations, and for a single person in a state with no state income tax (I used South Dakota)the weekly net income for 40 hours at minimum wage would be $250.49 ($1001.96 monthly). In my state (IL), the minimum wage is $8.25 ($1 higher than the federal wage), and our state income tax is a flat 5% – a minimum wage worker would take home $266.95 weekly ($1067.80 monthly).

not trying to be argumentative! I just suspect that this is either another example of McDonalds magical thinking, or that they calculated these amounts based on the state with the highest min. wage & lowest tax rate just to support the rest of their imaginary numbers.

s. dekker (#3,301)

The health insurance made me raise my eyebrows, too. I have a pretty decent job with good benefits and I pay about $170/mo. for health insurance. Plus another bit for dental and disability insurance.

ALSO, they just assume that people are working 70-80 hrs/week, which, come on. Even if you wanted to, McDonald’s and most other food service or retail jobs don’t usually offer stable hours OR 40/hrs week. Where in the world are you going to find 2 low-paying jobs whose “flexible” (ie, variable, unstable, usually 20-30/week at the most) hours synchronize well enough to do that and whose hours add up to so many?

@s. dekker To be fair, if you’re working 80 hours a week, who has time to spend any money anyway!

E$ (#1,636)

@s. dekker I guess they’d have to be food service jobs, too, if you don’t have any budget item for groceries!

aetataureate (#1,310)

@Jake Reinhardt Yeah . . . Or have any health to insure.

lizard (#2,615)

@s. dekker i had serious issues about that too. its so unrealistic.

@aetataureate Yes, also-if you work 70-80 hours a week, don’t worry-you’ll never be able to get to the doctor! Lower costs again!

The idea that a company can put something like this out there, and still argue that not paying a living wage is fair, is outrageous. From the very beginning they already assume you can’t live on just what they pay you, and then they add insult to injury with their low ball estimates and conveniently excluded categories (especially, as people mentioned, childcare, groceries, and transportation).

This is so gross.

I would love to know if McDonalds has issued any official reaction to the coverage of this site.

madrassoup (#929)

I just cannot get over how paternalistic and condescending this is. Like, “the wages we pay are totally livable if you work somewhere else AND learn to budget AND only eat what falls out of our greasetraps.” I just find it so appalling and demeaning that this is the world we live in.

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