McDonald's Employee Budget: $20 Health Insurance and No Food

Instead of deciding to pay workers a realistic living wage, McDonald's chose to go with an unrealistic budget tutorial.

McDonald’s is certainly not known for being a high-paying employer, or an employer that cares deeply about the fact that its employees too often cannot make the basic ends meet, even if they are allowed to get a full 40-hour work week, which, again, too often they are not. But, instead of trying to correct this problem by paying workers a realistic living wage, the fast-food industry leader apparently has decided that its workers need budget advice.

You know, a lot of us probably do need budget advice; I could probably use some myself. And, perhaps good budget advice would be a positive resource for McDonald’s workers. But, McDonald’s “Practical Money Skills Budget Journal” doesn’t give good advice; it gives unachievable advice.

McDonald's Advice: Get a Job

Included in the journal is the advice to get a second job. Coming from the multi-billion, internationally plastered restaurant giant, that bit of advice should make someone reconsider what they are paying their average employee. But, to achieve the $2,060 per month total income that this budget suggests, one would have to find some way of making some extra cash. After all, Time reports that the average McDonald’s employee only makes $8.25 an hour, BEFORE taxes, and Fast Food Forward makes the point that to achieve the suggested monthly budget, a worker would have to be getting not only a 40-hour work week, but be making almost $13/hour AFTER taxes.

And, of course, even if one had the $2,060 per month to spend, what kind of budget spending does McD’s suggest?

McDonald's Monthly Expenses

$40/month for electricity; $600/month for rent; $150/month for a car loan (no budget allowed for gas, by the way); and $20/month for health insurance. No specific budget allowance was given for food; perhaps it was supposed to be part of the $100/month "other" category?

Jean Chatzky, financial expert and Today Show contributor, pointed out this morning how unrealistic the budget numbers are, saying, “$150 a month for a car payment? That is NOT a big car loan. $600 a month for an apartment? You’re going to need a roommate or a very small apartment. $20 a month for health care? If you can buy health care at those rates, I want you to show me where.”

The only place you are going to find $20/month health insurance is in McDonald’s pretend budget. Otherwise, this nation would not have the health-care crisis it is having today. According to Time, a 2010 CNN article indicated that the least-expensive health insurance offered by McDonald's to its employees at that time was an individual option at $14/week, i.e. $56/month. And, in that article, the coverage was referred to as “pretty terrible.” If McDonald's is now offering a $20/month policy to employees, they are not commenting on it at this point.

McDonald's "Help" for Employees

According to a statement from McDonald's, "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." But, if McDonald’s was truly trying to “help” their employees, why not use realistic wages and realistic monthly expenses? Well, that seems pretty obvious: The real numbers do not work, and they certainly do no reflect well on the employer. But, instead of deciding to tackle THAT problem and perhaps start paying their employees a realistic living wage, McDonald’s apparently decided the best option was to tell its workers to get a second job and use unrealistic figures in their sample budget. Yes, McDonald’s, that is a much better idea; fixes everything.

Wouldn’t McDonald’s Corporation founder Ray Kroc be proud today?

Image: Wikimedia Commons