You Too Can Live on McDonald’s Wages – With Two Jobs and No Heat

mcdonalds_downey_McDonald’s should just stick to slinging cheap burgers and fries and abstain from budget recommendations for its workers.

A story from ThinkProgress reports McDonald’s and Visa in have launched a website that purports to advise its low-wage workers — they average $8.25 per hour — with some handy tips on how to live, you guessed it, on $8.25 an hour. It’s called the Practical Money Skills Budget Journal, or as they explain, “a great first step toward taking control of your money.”

The site is supposed to demonstrate that McDonald’s employees can indeed survive on their low wages, but the message is exactly and perversely the opposite. According to the tips in the journal, workers should first get a second job that would put them in the land of plenty with income at just over $2,000 per month. Maybe if you are a single person, with no children and are living with your parents or in a flophouse you can get by on $2,000 a month, but seriously Ronald, how realistic is that?

But it gets better, or is it worse? The journal has mostly laughable (or is it obscenely ridiculous?) examples of monthly expenses on that lavish $2,000 per month budget:

– Mortgage/rent at $600.00 – see one-room flophouse in North Podunk.
– Car payment at $150.00 – maybe if you were buying a ’62 VW Beetle, in 1962.
– Health insurance at $20.00 – exactly where did they pull that absurd number from, and where can one sign up?
– Heating at $0 – wait, what? Move immediately from North Podunk to South Podunk.

When all is said and done then, the monthly expenses in the fictional budget total $1,260, leaving about $800.00 for spending money each month, perhaps for some food, living necessities and repairs to the ’62 VW Beetle. There are a lot of Big Macs, pizzas and dumpster diving in this family’s budget future.

“Basically every facet of this budget is unachievable,” says the ThinkProgress article. “For an uninsured person to independently buy health care, he or she must shell out on average $215 a month — just for an individual plan.” A more realistic figure, based on personal experience, is about $300 per month for the most basic and minimum coverage with a high ($10,000) deductible. Try getting sick or injured on that plan.

ThinkProgress estimates about $867 a month to feed a family of four, and that is probably way low depending on where the family lives. “And if a fast food worker is living in a city? Well, New York City rents just reached an average of $3,000 a month,” the article says.

A McDonald’s spokesperson, in a statement to ThinkProgress, said: “The samples that are on this site are generic examples and are intended to help provide a general outline of what an individual budget may look like.” Later the budget sample was changed slightly to include $50.00 a month for heat. It still looks like absurdity.

Maybe it’s safe to say that McDonald’s and Visa are not living in the real world with their “generic” budget examples. Is it possible they believe they are helping? In a way they are helping – by showing just how clueless they are.

This story from the Golden Arches might even be funny if it weren’t so obtuse, wrong-headed and pathetic. What’s even sadder is that it’s no joke.

[Image: McDonald’s Restaurant – Downey, CA (3rd Unit) by Dwight via Flickr cc]

writer, editor, reader and general good (ok mostly good, well sometimes good) guy trying to get by

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