In a recent move that has many left-leaning bloggers sighing loudly, McDonald’s and Visa have teamed up to produce a budgeting tool for the fast food giant’s many low-wage employees.
Here is what they came up with:
The ultra-liberal website ThinkProgress was not impressed.
“[E]very facet of this budget is unachievable. For an uninsured person to independently buy health care, he or she must shell out on average $215 a month — just for an individual plan. While some full-time McDonald’s workers do qualify for the company’s $14 a week health plan, that offer caps coverage at $10,000 a year and is often insufficient,” the site reads.
“If that person wants to eat, ‘moderate’ spending will run them $32 a week for themselves, and $867 a month to feed a family of four. And if a fast food worker is living in a city? Well, New York City rents just reached an average of $3,000 a month,” it adds.
The Huffington Post was equally upset with budget chart, saying it contained some “disturbing assumptions.”
The Atlantic adds: “[W]hoever wrote the thing seems to have been literally incapable of imagining of how a fast food employee could survive on a minimum wage income.”
But here’s the thing: the chart is a tool, not a roadmap.
The sample chart on McDonald’s website is “intended to provide a general outline of what an individual budget may look like,” Director of Media Relations Danya Proud told the HuffPo in a statement.
Furthermore, after taking a closer look at some of the figures included in the above graphic, it’s actually not that unreasonable.
“McDonald’s is not…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,” Business Insider notes.
“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,” the article adds.
Sure, $20 per month for health care does sound a little low (even McDonald’s employees pay roughly $14 per week). Then again, in certain areas such New York City, low-wage workers may be eligible for taxpayer-subsidized health care.
Again, the chart is a suggestion, not a roadmap.
And other figures seem perfectly reasonable. Six-hundred dollars per month for rent is about the going rate and $0 for heating during the summer makes sense.
“Come winter, [heating] cost will increase, but I, like the sample budgeter, can reallocate money from other areas, such as — if it comes to it — savings,” Business Insider’s Gus Lubin writes.
“As for food and clothing, perhaps they aren’t included in the budget because they aren’t consistent 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.’ By the way, food costs will even be slightly reduced thanks to free meals that workers at many McDonald’s get with every shift,” Lubin adds.
Yes, low-wage jobs are tough and they require strict budgeting discipline. Yes, it would be great if everyone was paid more.
Nevertheless, low-wage gigs are manageable if one has reasonable budgeting habits — and that’s exactly what McDonald’s and Visa are trying to encourage.
Of course, we could always go the way of Sen. Elizabeth Warren and raise the federal minimum to $22 an hour … or $100 (that way everyone can be rich!):
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Featured image Getty Images. This post has been updated.