McDonald’s offers workers a budget solution: Get a second job

by Laura Clawson

McDonald’s and Visa have teamed up on a website that, as part of promoting Visa pay cards (yippee! fee-laden debit pay cards), offers some helpful budgeting advice. Which (oopsies!) kind of reveals how impossible it is to make a living at McDonald’s. The site provides a rather telling sample budget.
Sample monthly budget from McDonald's/Visa website showing two jobs and realistic expenses like $20 for health insurance.

McDonald’s told ThinkProgress that “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.” Which is, I’m sure, why the income from the first job just happens to be right around what you’d take home working close to full-time at McDonald’s wages. And also why, after ThinkProgress and others called them out on it, the budget actually changed, from showing $0 allocated for heat to showing $50 for heat.

Note how important that second job is, though. There’s absolutely no way that you could make this budget work, even by the comically unrealistic standards set here by McDonald’s and Visa, without it, and it’s obvious McDonald’s knows that. Even with two jobs on the budget sheet, the $20 health insurance isn’t the only eyebrow-raiser. Take the $600 a month budgeted for rent. The national average fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $949. That’s why there is not one state in which 40 hours a week at minimum wage is enough to afford a two-bedroom apartment. In fact, the state with the the lowest hourly wage required to afford that two-bedroom apartment on 40 hours a week of work is Arkansas. You’d “only” have to earn $11.41 an hour there. (Puerto Rico is cheaper.)

All of this helpful advice is accompanied by an outrageously condescending video that tells you “managing your money can be simple. Really. You just have to know your numbers: How much you have coming in, and what you can afford to have going out.” The problem for McDonald’s workers, though, is that how much they have coming in and what they can afford to have going out is not enough to live on. And no faked-up sample budget will change that.

Laura Clawson writes on labor issues at Daily Kos where this post first appeared.

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