So McDonald’s provides money management resources for their employees, including various guides and a budget worksheet. They can say what they will about it, but to me it screams,”See? Working for minimum wage isn’t so bad if they’d just learn to manage their money! No need for any radical wage increases that could cut into our bottom line.” Let’s take a look at their sample budget worksheet, shall we?
Now while I understand that this is an example worksheet, and as McDonald’s said to ThinkProgress when they posted about this issue;
“In an effort to provide free, comprehensive money management tools, McDonald’s first used the Wealth Watchers International budgeting journal when this financial literacy program launched in 2008.
As part of this program, several resources were developed including a sample budgeting guide, an instructional video and a web resource center that had additional tools and information.
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.”
I am still going to drill them for the incredibly dishonest way they prepared this sample to make it look like living on a low wage job is not only possible, but easy.
First, let’s look at the $1,105 net monthly income from your first job (More on that soon). That is $552.50 take home, every two weeks. Is this possible? Sure, depending on where you live and work, I am sure some McDonald’s employees make this much money. As a former McDonald’s manager however, I will promise you that no non-manager makes that much in my area at any McDonald’s, and the vast majority of hourly managers in my area make less than that as well. The actual hourly wage is the first problem with that take home estimate. McDonald’s in my area start everyone off at $7.25 an hour. It is going to take years of annual raises to get to the $8.25 or so that the $1105 monthly income assumes. The second problem with that estimate is the assumption that the employee is going to get 40 hours a week so they can earn that $1105 a month. To start, very rarely is anyone other than an hourly manager scheduled 40 hours in a work week. The one company that runs McDonald’s in my area just cut everyone other than hourly managers to under 30 hours a week. Being a crew member at McDonald’s means constantly fighting for more hours. However, even being an hourly manager is no promise of full time hours. The companies I worked for would guarantee that hourly managers would be scheduled 40 hours a week, but workers would be sent home each day based on business, and the higher your wage, the quicker you got cut. For example, during my last 2 months spent as a shift manager for a McDonald’s, while I was scheduled 40 hours each week, on average I only worked 33.5 hours a week.
Let’s drop one line on their budget worksheet. The last line was for income, and this next line is for…..income as well. This time, from your second job. $995 a month take home, or $497.50 every two weeks. This works out to a second full time job at a wage between 7.75 and 8 dollars an hour, depending on taxes. Now there is a chance that they are talking about your spouses or partners income here, and I will deal with that in a bit. But for now, let us talk about working 2 full time low wage jobs.
People do it. It is shitty to expect any human being to devote 80 hours a week to working just to get by, not counting the time spent commuting and between shifts where you can’t do anything but wait to go to your next job, but many people are willing to make the sacrifice and do it.
It’s just that you can not do it while working full time at McDonald’s. I am sure that there are McDonald’s in the United States that work around employees other jobs and such, and are great employers in that respect. I’ve never been to one. If you are a crew person who has limited availability, you are lucky to get 20 hours in a week. Forget full time. Also, prepare for passive aggressive scheduling from your manager, especially if your second job is a better job than fast food. Are you waiting tables on Friday and Saturday nights til close at the new place down the street? Welcome to the three hour early morning shift on Saturday and Sunday.
If you are an hourly manager, it is even worse to try to carry two jobs. Sure, you will be scheduled 40 hours at McD’s, but try to get another full time job around your restrictions. As an hourly manager, I was required to work open, closing, and middle shifts each month. I also had to be available for meetings and training classes. My schedule changed monthly, any requests I had were not promised, and if I wanted another job, I couldn’t work for any competitor. Good luck carrying two 40 hour jobs with those restrictions.
Now we can look at the expenses portion of the worksheet. Before we get into it though, remember, all this falls apart if there is only one income. The total monthly expenses is more than either income alone, so whether they are talking about 1 person with two full time jobs, or 2 people each working a full time job, without both incomes, the math does not work.
- Rent/Mortgage(HA! Mortgage! From what bank?): $600 Depending on where you live, this ranges from quite reasonable to laughably insufficient. In my area, $600 would get you a nice apartment. Some places it may get you an efficiency for a week. I’ll give them a pass on this one.
- Savings: $100 A nice thought. This is a unicorn, however. This $100 does not exist.
- Car Payment: $150 It’s been forever since I had a car payment. Seems a bit low, but I will give them a pass.
- Car/Home Insurance $100 Is this an “either, or” category? I did a quick bit of research at the university of Google, and it seems like $100 a month would be fine for renters insurance and the state required liability car insurance, depending on where you lived. If it was home owners insurance, or if you had the car payment the above line suggests you would have and needed to have more than the absolute minimum car insurance, this is probably low-balling the cost by a nice bit.
- Health Insurance: $20. LMAO. ROFL. LOL. I mean, if you are a full time McD’s employee, you may qualify for their 14 dollar a week health plan that caps at $10,000 a year (and if I am remembering it right, has a nice high deductible as well) but even that is over $20 bucks a month. If you are going to be that dishonest about a number, why even include it on your worksheet?
- Heating: $50 When McDonald’s originally published this worksheet, they had a zero entered for heating costs. Cause you know, blankets are cheap? They have since quietly added in $50 to pay for heat. After a quick bit of research I think I can safely say that, once again, depending on where you live, this is a very low estimate for heating cost. Things that I saw varied from a bit more than the quoted amount to more than twice the amount per month, when averaged out over the year. But hey, put on a sweater, right?
- Cable/Phone: $100 Okay, perhaps if you get a bundled plan from a company you can get your cable and home phone and perhaps internet access for a limited time at this price. The cable company in my area bundles internet, phone, and cable together for $109.99 a month, for the first year. Then it goes up to $129.99 the second year, then full retail price after that. Of course, that is for new customers only. I’m paying more for basic cable and internet, and then getting phone service elsewhere. Now that is just looking at home phone service and cable. Since everyone has a cell phone, this number is even more off base.
- Electric: $90 I will give them a pass here.
- Other: $100.
Which leaves a total of $750 a month in spending money! Damn ungrateful poor people! They have $750 a month, a $100 in their savings, and they still want more.
Did you notice anything that list left out? Like how about clothing? Or maybe food? Gas for the car? Maybe they have school loans. I am sure you can think of a few things this worksheet doesn’t take into account. All the low-balled numbers on the worksheet plus everything they left off takes care of the majority of that $750 pretty quickly. If any children are in the picture, it wipes it out completely. They have went from living comfortably on the worksheet to barely getting by in reality. And remember, this is with the second income, either one person working 2 full time jobs above minimum wage, or 2 full time minimum wage workers living together and sharing expenses. Take that second income out of the picture and barely getting by turns into drowning.