Reasonable Budget

There is a serious disconnect in this country between the Haves and Have Nots.  I realize this isn’t surprising to most people, but what DOES surprise me is when new evidence pops up to show how vast the great divide truly is.

Case in point: recently, McDonald’s (who has taken to paying their employees with fee-laden debit cards) decided to give its employees a sample budget for how to live off of their minimum-wage pay.

McDonald's BudgetThis chart, at right, shows McDonald’s example of what is a “reasonable” budget.  However, let’s point out a few of the glaring issues . . .

1)  The monthly – MONTHLY – income from the 1st job (presumably at McDonald’s) is $1,105.  Multiply that by the 12 months in our calendar and you have a paltry $13,260 take home pay for the year.  That, my dears is less than two thousand dollars above the national poverty rate, but even though someone earning this wage would not be considered “poor” by that standard, I’d defy ANYONE to try to live off of that amount of money for the year.


Which brings me to:

2)  McDonald’s clearly agrees that it would be nearly impossible to live off of that wage, so they graciously suggest what your income from your 2nd job would be.  And, if you look closely at the numbers, the 2nd job’s monthly net income is just $150 less than the 1st job’s income, so either they expect you to a) work another full-time job; or b) expect that you’ll be making more per hour at your 2nd job than at your first.  If that were the case, wouldn’t said worker want to work more hours at the 2nd job, thereby bringing in more money and making it their 1st income?

Anyway, continuing with this rant, we start looking at how they break down the monthly bills.

3)  They expect this worker to pay $600 in rent, which is hard to find in a decent neighborhood, unless you live with at least one other person.  They assume your health insurance is only going to cost $20 a month (Really?!  I pay nearly $100 EVERY WEEK for my health insurance!  Who is able to get insurance for $5 a week?), and assume you won’t have to pay a heating bill.  Also, they don’t have a line in there for food (unless that’s under the “other” category, AND they mention a $150 car payment, but mention nothing about gas to drive that car, to the two jobs, mind you.

But the worst bit is at the bottom, where they tally out your Daily Spending Money Goal.

4)  In their infinite “wisdom” and “charitable hearts,” McDonald’s has shown that your daily spending money goal is $27.  For what?  The food that wasn’t included in the rest of the chart?  With the gas prices nowadays, it costs more than that to fill up our little Hyundai’s gas tank.  Granted, I’m not filling it up every day, but maybe I would be if I had to travel to two jobs.

I remember when I worked for The Mouse down in Florida (or Walt Disney World, for those who don’t know that lingo).  I was making barely over minimum wage at the time, and had to live with three other people in a 3-bedroom apartment just so I could make rent, and my “meals” consisted of a donut and single size carton of milk for breakfast, two cookies and water for lunch and a gallon of water for dinner.  Sometimes I had enough change lying around that I could afford to splurge on a Taco Bell bean and cheese burrito, but that was once a week.  Could I have parlayed that into something a little healthier for the week?  Possibly, but it wouldn’t have stretched much further than that.

Living like that was good for my figure, I’ll grant you that.  I was the thinnest I’d ever been in my life, but I also realize I wasn’t getting proper nutrition, just like the worker in McDonald’s budget.  Chances are, they’re given a discount for eating at the golden arches, which is what they’ll end up eating, because it’s the only thing they can afford.  And we all know how healthy eating at McDonald’s is . . .



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kerry
    Aug 19, 2013 @ 08:09:50

    Have you read the awesome book Nickel and Dimed? Barbara…Ehrenreich. It’s a fabulous experiment on trying to live minimum wage for a year. And she started out with some “givens”. She couldn’t do it.


    • Alyx Morgan
      Aug 19, 2013 @ 08:20:47

      No I haven’t. Having tried to do it myself before, I’m not sure much would be “new” to me, but it might be an interesting read anyway. Thanks for the suggestion.


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