McDonald's has not-so-helpful budget tips for workers

Its financial basics suggest what most of its fast-food employees already know: They need 2 jobs to make ends meet.

By Aimee Picchi Jul 16, 2013 12:27PM

A McDonald's employee prepares an order at a McDonald's restaurant on April 19, 2011 in San Francisco, Calif. (© Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)Some McDonald's (MCD) workers might not be lovin' their employer's advice on how to make ends meet: Get a second job -- oh, and forget about budgeting for child care, retirement savings or gas.  

McDonald's and Visa (V) have teamed up to help teach the fast-food chain's workers the basics of household budgeting, but the effort has backfired for its suggestion of working two jobs and for its omission of basics like the water utility. 

For starters, the Practical Money Skills Budget Journal offers two income lines: "1st job" and "2nd job." A sample budget provided by Mickey D's depicts a worker holding down two posts and earning a total of $24,720 per year. But under the monthly expenses portion, the budget leaves out such essentials as water, child care and retirement savings.

While the budget includes a line for "savings," it's unclear whether McDonald's means saving for a basic rainy-day account or for a worker's golden years. 

McDonald's estimate of a fast-food worker's income is also high, given that the average burger flipper earns just $18,720 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The fast-food chain defended its budget planner, telling The Huffington Post that the sample budget is "intended to provide a general outline of what an individual budget may look like."

Some of its suggested expenditures are laughably low, such as putting aside $20 a month for health insurance. Employees typically spent $2,204 on health care premiums in 2011, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. That's about $183 per month, or about nine times more than McDonald's suggests.

And forget having children. McDonald's sample budget leaves no room for child care or other expenses related to kids. Given that the average age of a fast-food employee is 29, it's likely that many have children and kid-related costs. 

But the biggest issue for many is simply what the basic math of McDonald's budget suggests: Living on a fast-food income is nearly impossible without sacrificing some basics. 

The company's plan just might provide ammunition for supporters of a higher minimum wage. President Barack Obama is urging a $9 federally mandated hourly rate, up from the current $7.25. Based on McDonald's math of workers earning $24,720 per year, employees would receive an hourly wage of $11.88, assuming a 40-hour week (and no second job.)

You can bet its employees would end up lovin' that.

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi. 

Jul 16, 2013 6:03PM

The minimum wage job is supposed to be for teenagers learning how to deliver an honest day's work for an honest day's pay.  I worked at a KFC, when I was 18 years old and living at home, for $2.20/hr in 1976.  They deducted 20 cents per hour for the food I was going to eat.


The fact that people are working low paying part-time jobs to feed a family exposes the DIRTY LIE that the government and so-called economists tell us about the economy getting better.  The sunny-sounding June jobs report is a major offender.  Most of the jobs created were part-time jobs.  The good paying full time jobs with benefits are still in DECLINE.


Worse yet, how many times have we read in mainstream news (including this website) that America needs MORE INFLATION and that deflation must be avoided at all costs?  They want us to believe higher cost of living is what makes us more prosperous!  This is an insult to the struggling American worker.


We need people to manufacture things that others want to buy.  When money is SOUND (no inflating the money supply) and workers are productive, the supply of goods increases, driving down the prices.  The workers can then afford to buy the goods themselves and their standard of living goes up.  Mild deflation is the worker's best friend and it also lowers the cost of doing business for smaller employers. 


What is happening now, with family breadwinners desperately working 2 or 3 part time jobs in the service sector, is a symptom of a crashing economy.  Meanwhile, the big dogs on top are still snickering over their stock gains, which are out of the reach of these part-time workers.


Stimulus mostly benefits the super-rich.  It creates economic imbalance that needs to be rebalanced by recession.   Refusal to let recession run its course (as the U.S. has been doing for decades) just leads to bigger recessions. Don't believe government officials or so-called economists that tell you the recession of 2008-2009 ended in less than one year.  The recession is STILL GOING! 


Making the super-rich more rich so that the government can quote misleading statistics, then pat itself on the back, is of NO HELP to family breadwinners who work 2 or 3 part-time jobs. 

Nov 20, 2013 9:13PM

All the people who are suggesting McDonald's employees-except for teens-get a real job seem to think that adults with families are working at Mickey D's because they are stupid, lazy, or lack ambition. For many people that have been downsized or laid off because their job was outsourced it may be the only job they've been able to obtain. I have a lot more respect for someone flippin' burgers even though they are overqualified than someone who sits around whining.


Jul 17, 2013 1:39PM
If you work at McDonald's, you will never retire so there's no point in listing it as an expense.
Jul 16, 2013 12:59PM
Tip#1 Apply for government assistance so the government can subsidize our low wages shifting the financial burden from McDonalds to the taxpayer (same advice given to workers at Walmart and Target)
Jul 17, 2013 2:06PM
I wish the government would charge-back the cost of all the social safety net programs to the Wal-Marts and Mickey D's that don't pay a living wage.  We're all subsidizing the cheap crap they sell whether we want to buy it or not. 
Jul 16, 2013 4:06PM
How about $2000 rims on $500 cars, the latest and greatest smartphone every 6 months, new facial tats and facial piercings, but not willing to put even five dollars a paycheck into a 401(k) (even with company-offered matching).   Sadly, this describes most (thankfully not all) of the workers under 30 working at our local big box home improvement store.
Jul 16, 2013 3:59PM
seriously?  if you work at mcdonalds and have kids, you've got more problems than just money.
Jul 16, 2013 1:35PM
The problem is. To keep cheap food, clothing and products. You can not pay the employees much. Most of these jobs were full time jobs. Young people and old people worked part time to fill rush hour traffic. If you are full time. Most companies pay more than minimum wages. Walmart, McDonalds, Grocery stores and others. Pays full time worker a lot better. My grandfather worked in a hardware store. Supported a wife and 5 children.. That is no longer possible
Jul 16, 2013 7:00PM
It's always interesting to see people mention some company cutting back their employee hours or cutting days to avoid having to provide healthcare and then blaming the the ACA while appearing forgo admonishing the company. I fully understand that the law changes the financial circumstances for these companies. I also fully understand that for SOME of these companies, NOT all, these changes will require that they do indeed cut employee hours. However that is the exception and not the rule. 

So unless every single company who has decided to cut employee hours is currently barely keeping afloat financially, then they have made a conscious decision to take action to avoid having to provide their employees with healthcare.

This isn't me defending the law or any other type of political statement, just another point of view I rarely hear mentioned. So if this law is harmful to workers, these companies are only making it worse. 
Jul 17, 2013 12:58PM
Only an idiot would expect a fast food job to be the only one you need. Unless you are an owner/manager, that's not what it's meant to be.
Jul 16, 2013 2:18PM
How many minimum workers know what a "budget" is?  IMO McDonald's is providing a basic plan for their mostly young 1st time ever employees; they're giving them something to consider that might not have crossed their minds - sure it's not perfect - but then again have you read some of the articles on MSN Money that makes very little sense to most financial savvy folks?  
Jul 16, 2013 2:55PM
I got a tip for you "don't you eat that yellow snow" or McDonalds.
Jul 16, 2013 10:56PM
reganomics just keeps on trickeling down
Jul 16, 2013 1:57PM

It's a part time job.


If your circumstances place this or any minimum wage job as your sole means of income, you may want to give serious consideration to your plans for future happiness.


It's a part time job.

Jul 16, 2013 4:42PM
A low level job at McDonald's or Walmart was never intended to be a living wage.  It should be considered a stepping stone to something better, while you are obtaining the skills for whatever that better position is.
Jul 16, 2013 4:27PM
There was another article written about Wegman's cutting back a day or so ago. Get used to it. This is what Obamacare (ACA) is going to do nationwide. If you have 55 people or so, getting to 50 is real easy. The law was poorly written and passed too quickly. The Dems had the house and Senate, saw a chance to push it through, and they did without 1 Republican vote.. They should have kicked back, took more time, and came up with a far better law. Now, they're trying to amend the garbage they put through. The unions are up in arms. The states are rebelling. As Baucus said-----the trainwreck is coming.  Also getting under 30 hours is not that hard either.
Nov 21, 2013 9:39AM
Rather than raising the minimum wage, why doesn't out government allow for anyone who wants to to attend college or a trade school?  Many would love to get trained for a better job but can't afford to.   If the students maintain a certain grade point average, they should be able to get the education they need to improve themselves and become a productive member of society.
Nov 21, 2013 1:13PM
When I worked restaurants: I had roommates to help pay bills, did not a cell phone or cable TV, and ate a lot of top ramen burritos.  Oh, and the kid thing?  Michael Jackson sang it best, "If you can't feed your baby, then don't have a baby. And don't think 'maybe' if you can't feed your baby!"
Nov 21, 2013 12:11PM

These were never suppose to be jobs intended to support a family, and with McD' now limiting it's employees to 30 hours to avoid Obamacare they NEED a 2nd job.

I thought the idea of the article was good but the leftwing politics came through.

Jul 17, 2013 7:49AM

The minimum wage is just that; a MINIMUM wage.  It's meant to be for teens starting out or retirees wanting a little extra.  If you're trying to make a living (or worse, raise children) on a fast food salary, that will never happen.  Instead of whining about your situation, look to get something better.  Don't look to someone else to "make it better" for you.

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