McDonald's has a new budgeting tool for its employees, but the advice on "Practical Money Skills for Life" is pretty laughable, critics are pointing out. The site, a partnership with Visa, is supposed to help these low-wage workers learn how to manage their money, ThinkProgress reports, but instead it illustrates just how hard—if not impossible—it is to get by on an average of $8.25 an hour. For example, the sample "budget journal" suggests workers have a second job, and even then budgets only $20 per month for health insurance (the average cost for an independent individual plan is $215 per month, and the company's own plan for full-time workers is $14 a week)—and exactly zero dollars for heating.
No specific budgeted amounts are given for food or clothing, though after paying the bills (including a $150 car payment and a $600 mortgage), $800 worth of monthly "spending money" is left over, so apparently the groceries (and car maintenance, and gasoline, and co-pays, and actual medical expenses, and any number of other things not allowed for on the budget) come out of that. The website claims that "you can have almost anything you want as long as you plan ahead and save for it." But the truth is, "basically every facet of this budget is unachievable," writes Annie-Rose Strasser. The Consumerist's take: "The path to financial freedom, according to Visa and McDonald’s, involves turning off your heat, not buying groceries, not having children, never getting sick, and getting a second job."