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Could you live on McDonald's budget?

Published: Saturday, Sept. 5 2015 2:24 a.m. MDT

This May 2, 2012, file photo shows a sign advertising job openings outside a McDonalds restaurant in Chesterland, Ohio.  (Amy Sancetta, ASSOCIATED PRESS) This May 2, 2012, file photo shows a sign advertising job openings outside a McDonalds restaurant in Chesterland, Ohio. (Amy Sancetta, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

McDonald's and Visa have teamed up to provide a website for McDonald's employees that gives advice on how to create and follow a budget. However, some have criticized the sample budget as revealing just how unrealistic it is to live on minimum wage work even on a modest budget.

The sample budget provided by McDonald's has the sample worker working two jobs, one that brings in $1,105 a month and another that brings in $955. But Jordan Weissmann at the Atlantic pointed out that in order to have a take-home monthly income of $1,105 on McDonald's average cashier wage of $7.72 an hour, the worker would have to be working 40 hours a week. And then work another full-time job to make the $955. If the worker was making the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, the worker would have to work about 75 hours a week at both jobs.

Weissmann also critiqued a number of the expenses on the sample budget. The worksheet provides no line items for gas, food, clothing or entertainment, which presumably must be part of the budget of $25 day for spending money. The budget also reserves a mere $20 for healthcare. "McDonald's, for its part, charges employees $12.58 a week for the company's most basic health plan," Weissman wrote. "Well, that's if they've been with the company for a year. Otherwise, it's $14."

However, others have called Weissmann and others writers' criticisms of the worksheet misguided. Gus Lubin at Business Insider described the budget "perfectly legitimate." He said that the figures were not unreasonable, especially given that in some cities like New York, low-income residents are eligible for free healthcare and other assistance. He argued that "it is possible to live on minimum wage given good personal finance habits like budgeting, and McDonald's should be commended for encouraging them."

Timothy Lee at the Washington Post said that the budget is a realistic reflection of the kinds of hard choices people living on minimum wage have to face. He noted that over 7 million Americans, or 5 percent of the population, work two jobs, and that teaching these people how to budget on a low-income is useful. "Offering practical advice on how to live on a modest income is more constructive than ridiculing the choices required to do so," he wrote.

EMAIL: dmerling@deseretnews.com

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