McDonald's tries to help employees budget

McDonald’s says it is opening a fast-food restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City.

McDonald's, the Internet is not loving your McBudget. 

The fast food chain teamed up with Visa to create an online budget guide for its employees. And most of the criticism is directed at the fact that the company's budget doesn't list 'food' or 'heat' as monthly budget items.

McDonald's isn't the only large employer trying out money management advice -- many firms have started to help staff with their personal finances. The companies, and personal finance experts, argue that a more economically-stable worker makes for a more stable workforce.

"Helping you succeed financially is one of the many ways McDonald's is creating a satisfying and rewarding work environment," the McDonald's site's about page states. "So you can take the next step towards financial freedom."

To do that, the guide suggests journaling daily expenses, setting up a budget and outling a savings goal. Sound reasonable?

One problem: the sample budget offered by McDonald's (below) doesn't mention money for basic necessities like food, heat, gas and clothing.

The budget also assumes a worker will need to maintain two jobs in order to make roughly $24,500 a year.


So, how achievable is this budget?

The Huffington Post points out the average food service worker made just $18,130 in 2010, or slightly more than $9 per hour, according to Labor Department data. McDonald's pays their workers an average of $8.25 an hour, which means employees would have to work well over 40 hours a week in order to meet the net income total above. The Consumerist criticizes the company's $20/month health insurance assumption in its blow-by-blow of the budget, but mostly accepts the cable/phone and car payment figures.

In an email sent to The Huffington Post, McDonald's Director of Media Relations Danya Proud indicated the sample budget was meant to be just that, a sample or general outline.

This is certainly not the first time McDonald's has come under fire for wage and labor issues. In December of 2012, the company told franchises to stay open on Christmas Day, sparking worker complaints. Though as we reported earlier in the year on Marketplace, problems like these are likely to persist as fast-food workers struggle to unionize.

Tell us: What do you think of the proposed budget? How closely does it match your expenses?

About the author

Katie Long is a contributing digital producer for Marketplace Morning Report and Marketplace Tech.
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Commenters are being incredibly harsh, and the article erroneously points out "no money for food, gas, and clothing."

First, the sample budget provides for $900 of miscellaneous expenses, presumably for food, gas, and fun. Also, $100 is explicitly going into savings which can be diverted if needed. Secondly, a car payment and cable subscription are 2 things someone making such little money can do without. Lastly, the heating omission is obviously intentional as it is currently summer and it doesn't take a degree in finance to realize some money would be siphoned from electricity to pay for heat when that time comes.

It is not McDonald's or any other employer's responsibility to make sure each of its employees can afford cable TV, broadband internet, a new car payment, new clothing monthly, and $50+ a day of spending money.

Whatever the short comings the McDonald budget are, at least they are trying to get people to live with their means. I expect that not very many people plan to make a career working in fast food. The bigger picture here is, as employers dump pension plans and healthcare coverage, it is going to be real important to learn how to manage and budget your own money. If you are unable to budget some kind of savings for an IRA or 401K you will be working until you die. I would say teach personal finance in high school but to a teenager, retirement and working wages are just too foreign of a concept for them to understand. Of course people who have money can afford to pay for advice on how to make their money while those who can't pay will not save or be scammed by brokers. Lets hope it will at least get a few McDonalds employees thinking about their future.

Let's see, there is no budget item for car repairs so I guess the car is brand-new, which then means the budget line for car cost is unrealistic. Where is the line item for gasoline?
I spend $220. per month on food from grocery store. And the cost for eating out?
And no costs for heating? Where do they live? I spend $72. per month on electricity, averaging out between summer and winter costs.
I certainly find myself buying clothes and shoes occasionally, and taking in the occasional cheap movie. And how realistic is the cost for cell phone? Most people I know spend $100. per month on phone, and $60. for Internet/Cable at home.
I cannot imagine $20. per month for health care costs. That is absurd, even if you are young. Just seeing a doctor at an urgent care is $60-80. plus medication. Apparently no one ever has dental costs, which most health insurance does NOT cover.
By the way, I manage on $1640. per month.

The idea of $20/month for adequate health insurance is laughable. I'm also a little concerned that retirement savings is not considered as I don't believe they offer a pension. As for heating being free I can only assume that McDonalds thinks its workers are charity cases (which, frankly, at what they are paid they are...). But best of all, Free Food! Who knew McDonalds gave free food to employee's and their families. Oh wait...

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