Social media channels blew up last week over McDonald's putting out some training materials for its employees that included a sample budget to help them learn how to manage their personal income. Why would everyone have a problem with one of the largest employers in the United States encouraging responsible money-handling? It all came down to the amounts McDonalds filled in the blanks with in the examples they showed their workers.
The McDonald's samples showed a two-income household – either one person with two jobs, or two people working. The combined incomes of those jobs was $2,060 a month. Other monthly line items included rent for $600, a car payment of $150, "car/home" insurance for $100, health insurance for $20, and no line items at all for food, car fuel, clothing, and many other basic necessities for a working person.
McDonald's caught lots of flack over the sample sheet, which seemed to be aimed at making employees feel that these numbers were the norm. Some argue that the sample budget that McDonald's provided was not intended to be an exhaustive list of what people need to spend on, nor were its budget figures intended to be realistic. They were simply there to show employees how to fill in a budget, separating income from expenses and establishing daily spending limits to keep themselves within budget.
However, the next page had a blank budget sheet for employees to fill in with their own numbers. And there was still no room for food, car gas, etc. All the items not covered in their short form would have to be lumped under "spending money", as though it were a "miscellaneous" category. Not a good budgeting tactic at all.
The guide went on to encourage employees to be thrifty, using such techniques as: "Borrow books and movies from the library"; and "Consider walking or riding a bike when running errands".
Some have taken McDonald's CEO Don Thompson to task over this, challenging him to try to live on the $25,000/year budget McDonald's touted for its employees. Last year, McDonald's paid Thompson $13.8 million.