We almost wrote an article criticising the McDonald’s budgeting tool that has been mocked by Think Progress, Huffington Post, and others. And then we looked closer at the tool, which has actually been around since 2008, and realised that it is perfectly legitimate.
Bloggers concluded from the sample budget that McDonald’s is telling workers they have to get a second job and turn off the heat to survive.
In fact, let it be noted, again, that this is a sample budget and not a recommended budget.
McDonald’s is not, as Huffington Post claims, saying that workers need $2,060 per month to survive. It is merely giving a sample budget for someone who earns that amount of money.
Nor is McDonald’s saying that you need a second job to survive. It is simply providing a budgeting tool for households where one individual works multiple jobs or two individuals are employed — which is totally useful and reasonable.
Bloggers claim that the sample figures are ridiculous, but are they really?
Yes, $20 a month on health care sounds low, considering that as of 2010 McDonald’s own medical benefits for low-wage workers start at $14/week.
But other estimates seem reasonable.$600 a month is not unrealistic for low-wage workers in most of the country. Sorry, Think Progress, but it’s ridiculous to compare that figure to the $3,000 average monthly rent in New York City.
$0 for heating is exactly what I plan on spending this month and for the rest of the summer and fall. Come winter, that cost will increase, but I, like the sample budgeter, can reallocate money from other areas, such as — if it comes to it — savings.
As for food and clothing, perhaps they aren’t included in the budget because they aren’t consistent monthly expenses (you don’t buy jeans every month, and you eat out more or less depending on available funds). Presumably money for those costs will come out of “monthly spending money” or “other expenses.”
It’s not like McDonald’s went out on a limb with this budget planning guide: it is based on material from the respected Wealth Watchers International organisation.
Without a doubt, it is hard to live on minimum wage. It is possible, however, given good personal finance habits like monthly budgeting, and McDonald’s should be commended for encouraging them.
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