Last month, a franchise employee quit and sued over being paid with a fee-heavy prepaid card. And now, ”in what appears to have been a gesture of goodwill gone haywire,” The Atlantic says, a McDonald’s-Visa partnership has led to a financial planning site for the fast-food chain’s employees.

“Helping you succeed financially is one of the many ways McDonald’s is creating a satisfying and rewarding work environment,” its money management manual says. But according to the sample budget the manual provides, a McDonald’s employee would need not one but two full-time restaurant jobs to start saving $100 a month.

The budget also assumes:

  • Rent or mortgage is $600 a month.
  • Health insurance is $20 a month, less than half of the most basic McDonald’s plan, The Atlantic says.
  • Employees don’t need to keep warm. (Heating bill budget: $0.)
  • Gas is free. (There’s a $150 budget line for a car payment and a $100 line for insurance, though.)

In other words, the sample budget is nowhere close to realistic. (source)

Perhaps this budget is barely realistic for someone working in some McDonald's in a rural backwater of Iowa, but what about an employee (and there are many) working in cities like NYC, Los Angeles, or Washington D.C.?

Additionally, it appears to assume or imply the worker has a second job (a clear indication they know they don't pay a living wage). It includes no lines for child care, groceries (?!!!), clothing or gas/transportation.

Perhaps the one line showing how out of touch they are is $20 allocated for health insurance. As someone viewing the budget asked, "Is that $20 for Band-Aids and aspirin?" The national average monthly health insurance premium for an individual is $215/mo. Sure, younger workers can probably find insurance cheaper than that, but a LOT of McDonald's workers are middle-aged or elderly. Good luck finding that $20 insurance! In 2010, McDonald's own health plan was $56/mo.

The tacit assumption, of course, is that McDonald's thinks its workers are dummies without a clue how to manage money, whereas its executes make so much that they probably have few money management problems. Actually, many low-income workers become masters at money management because if they don't learn to manage their small income, they may find themselves without a roof over their head or money for the gas needed to get them to work.

McDonald's employees don't need a  ridiculous budget, they need a living wage.

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