PUBLISHED: 19:19 EST, 16 July 2013 | UPDATED: 23:59 EST, 16 July 2013
McDonald’s seems to be well aware that its employees are unable to survive on their minimum wages, so the company has come up with a solution – go out and get a second job.
The fast food giant became the object of ridicule this week when its financial planning site called Practical Money Skills for Life created back in 2008 in conjunction with Visa and Wealth Watchers International to help its workforce caught the attention of several media outlets.
The portal provides a sample monthly budget, which makes a series of assumptions that have been slammed by McDonald’s critics as both naive and condescending about the workers’ ability to supports themselves while earning $7.72 an hour after taxes.
Crunching numbers: McDonald’s has landed in hot water after a financial planning site created for its employees suggested that they need a second job to make ends meet
Suggested monthly expenses for the hypothetical McDonald’s employee working a 40-hour week include $600 for rent – a figure that has raised eyebrows among anyone familiar with the housing market in cities like New York and Philadelphia.
While it is still possible to find housing with three-digit rent in some parts of the U.S., an average apartment in Manhattan rents for about $3,000 a month. Even in the outer boroughs it is nearly impossible to come across anything cheaper than $1,400 a month.
Poking fun: The fast food workers’ advocacy group Low Pay Is Not OK created a video mocking McDonald’s’ sample budget
Something’s missing: The parody pointed out that the mock-up of a budget makes no mention of basic expenses like food, water, clothing and gas
The sample budget also sets aside only $20 for health care and $150 for car payments. The financial planning tool, however, does not include allowances for either food or gas.
Revealed: Less than ONE THIRD of Americans keep a household budget
It was an oft-invoked image on last year’s campaign trail: The typical American couple, sitting around the kitchen table making a budget.
Candidates of both parties decried the federal government for failing to complete this most basic of financial tasks, citing a growing national debt and wide deficit as evidence of fiscal irresponsibility.
Turns out, most Americans don’t do it either.
A poll from Gallup shows that 32 per cent of Americans put together a budget each month to track income and expenditures, and just 30 percent have a long-term financial plan laying out savings and investment goals.
Those with higher incomes or college degrees were a bit more likely to say they regularly put together a budget, though less than half in those groups said they keep close tabs on their financial life. Only about a quarter with a high school diploma or less say they do.
And despite the frequent political invocation of a budgeted family, Gallup’s finding may not reflect a new trend in Americans’ financial behavior. A 1951 Gallup survey showed that only 40 per cent of Americans said they had ‘a budget for household expenses.’
That poll asked those who didn’t maintain a budget why they skipped it. The most frequent response? We spend it all anyhow.
McDonald’s charges workers who have been with the company for at least year $12.58 for its most basic health care plan. New hires have to shell out $14, according to The Atlantic.
In a surpassing bit of self-awareness, McDonald’s mock-up budget includes lines for monthly income from a first job totaling $1,105, and a second job, which brings in $955.
Those figures suggest that the hypothetical worker has to toil away for more 60 hours a week at minimum wage, or earn more than $12 an hour on a 40-hour work week.
In 2009, the federal government set minimum wage at $7.25, CNBC reported.
In comparison, McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson received a compensation package worth $13.8million in 2012.
Others entries in the fictional McDonald’s-Visa financial plan include $100 allotted for cable and phone, $90 for electric – just below the national average of $103 – but no money set aside for heating, which would not work for employees living anywhere outside of Hawaii or Florida.
Since the budget includes no separate line for groceries, it may be assumed that either the workers have to rely on leftover French fries for their meals, or they have to use the $27 a day in spending money to buy food.
The sample financial plan also makes no mention of basic necessities like child care expenses, water or clothing, to name a few.
In recent months, industry workers have gone on strike in cities across the U.S., including Chicago and New York, to protest for higher wages.
In recent months, industry employees from McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, KFC, Burger King and Domino’s Pizza have gone on strike to demand higher wages, according to a report by the International Business Times.
McDonald’s seemingly misguided and financial planning site has been pilloried far and wide on the Internet by everyone from Think Progress to Huffington Post and Gothamist, with critics decrying the corporation’s preposterous assumptions about the way its low-wage workers spend their meager pay checks.
Some media outlets, among them the L.A. Times and the Washington Post, have come to McDonald’s defense, insisting the the sample budget accurately reflect the spending of millions of low-income Americans.
Struggling: Employees from McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, KFC, Burger King and Domino’s Pizza have gone on strike to demand higher wages
Hard day’s work: According to the sample budget, a minimum-wage fast food worker would need to get a second job and work over 60 hours a week to survive
A disclaimer on the Practical Money Skills site states that McDonald’s does not endorse the site, even though the page features the fast food chain’s trademark Golden Arches.
The fast food workers’ advocacy group Low Pay is Not OK has called the McDonald’s budget advice for its employees ‘unbelievable’ and produced a video mocking the site.
‘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,’ McDonald’s said in a statement to the LA Times.
Haves and have nots: McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson received a compensation package worth $13.8million in 2012
While McDonald’s initiative may have come off as obtuse, promoting financial literacy among American workers has long been viewed as a worthy cause.
A recent Gallup poll showed that just over a third of Americans bother to put together a budget each month to track income and expenditures.
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