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Old July 17 2013, 09:14 PM   #16
RoJoHen
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Re: Sample McDonalds Budget

Aside from the $20 health insurance (who is your provider? Sign me up!), in my area all those expenses seem fairly reasonable (hell, my mortgage is LESS than $600/month for a 4-bedroom house).

The only thing I don't like is that it requires that you have a second job. I know that people have to work multiple jobs all the time, but as an example of how to survive on McDonald's wages, this report basically admits that you can't without some other kind of supplemental income.
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Old July 17 2013, 10:48 PM   #17
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Re: Sample McDonalds Budget

I also wonder how much of this assumes that the employee gets or qualifies for some form of social service aide? Last time I worked for a chain grocery store, they actually handed out brochures and info on how to file for food stamps, WIC, etc when they gave us our payroll paperwork at hire.
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Old July 17 2013, 10:50 PM   #18
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Re: Sample McDonalds Budget

RoJoHen wrote: View Post
Aside from the $20 health insurance (who is your provider? Sign me up!), in my area all those expenses seem fairly reasonable (hell, my mortgage is LESS than $600/month for a 4-bedroom house).

The only thing I don't like is that it requires that you have a second job. I know that people have to work multiple jobs all the time, but as an example of how to survive on McDonald's wages, this report basically admits that you can't without some other kind of supplemental income.
Yup, it basically says 'We don't pay a living wage'.
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Old July 17 2013, 11:18 PM   #19
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Re: Sample McDonalds Budget

It fails at mortgage/rent $600. Not where I live.
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Old July 17 2013, 11:39 PM   #20
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Re: Sample McDonalds Budget

$150 car payment?! $100 cable/phone bill? Where is this at?!
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Old July 17 2013, 11:40 PM   #21
SeerSGB
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Re: Sample McDonalds Budget

The numbers used are either very bad guesses as what passes for an average or severely outdated.

Current National Median for cost of living
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Old July 18 2013, 12:19 AM   #22
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Re: Sample McDonalds Budget

Once you account for taxes, the income shown is more consistent with working about 80 hours a week. Let's take that as a given, then. You're working 16 hours a week. Maybe working 11-12 hours per day, more if you want a day off now and then.

$600 Mortgage/Rent - This is doable in the Midwest and other places that don't have high living costs. This amount would get you a (small) house in, say, small towns in Indiana.

$150 Car Payment - If you can only get a job at McDonald's, then a car payment this small is from a friend or family member, not something you are financing through a traditional channel. If you are poor, you're not likely to have much/any credit, so you're stuck going to a buy here/pay here place. That's going to run you more like $50 a week, maybe more. Let's be charitable and call the real payment on that $200 a month.

$100 Car/Home Insurance - That's reasonable if you've never had any accidents/tickets and you aren't actually covering your own vehicle. So, if you ever wreck it, you're also without a car--a car you still have to finish paying off, I might add. If you wanted comprehensive coverage on the car, that's going to be more like $150-200. It really depends on where you live, though.

$20 Health Insurance - AHAHAHAHAHAHA oh my god, wait, wait. You gotta be kidding me. $20 a month might get you a plan that doesn't actually pay for anything. Let's be really nice and say it's one of those $4000 deductible plans that are so common now. I'll get to that later.

$0 Heating - Well, OK. Could easily be $200-400 in the winter, depending on where you live and how natural gas prices are doing. Let's make it an even $300, say winter lasts from December through February, and so you need to find an extra $900 for the year, or $75 a month.

$100 Cable/Phone - That might get you one of those cable and VoIP packages, but what about a cell phone? Fine, let's leave that out just because.

$90 Electric - This may or may not be enough. I'm willing to leave it alone if we keep the heat separate.

(I'm ignoring the $100 Other for now, since it's so non-specific.)

Now, what bills were left out?

$30 Water - A lot of places have water bills. I see this run an average of $30-40 a month.

$50 Sewer/Trash - A lot of places have these, too. They might be combined into one bill or be separate.

$334 HSA Funding - Remember that $4000 deductible? Well, if you want to be able to actually use your health insurance, you need to be funding a health savings account so you aren't swamped with huge medical expenses you can't pay. $4000 spread out over 12 months is $334. Everything after that $4000 is paid for by the insurance (we are assuming.)

Using my adjusted numbers, actual (more or less) fixed expenses come to $1649 (I went with $150 for comprehensive car insurance, since you still have to pay off the car one way or another.) That leaves you with $411. If you want to save $100 of that, you're left with $311. That means you have (roughly) $31 per day to spend on food and gas. That's reasonable enough, I suppose, as long as you never need any of the following:

* Clothes
* Car repairs (we're assuming a used car with no warranty)
* Toiletries (those aren't free, either)

It also assumes you never get sick and have to take a significant amount of time off from your job.

So, it would seem to me that the lesson is, if you are willing (and able) to work 80 hours a week, hedge against most major disasters to the extent your finances allow, and the stars consistently align just right for you, you can probably survive by the skin of your teeth on this amount of money. YEAH!!!!

Remember, you could just not fund your HSA... and then have thousands of dollars in medical bills you have no way to pay. You could go for cheaper car insurance... and be left with a car loan you still have to pay off, but no car. You would ultimately have to pick and choose what to prioritize and just hope nothing bad happens, because if it does, you may be totally screwed.

I'd also point out that $100 in savings is about enough to keep your car in good repair, once you account for oil changes and regular maintenance, as well as any major repairs that come up (but which make sense to fix given the car's age.)

This does not sound like a fun way to live. (In fact, I did live this way for a few years, on less money, and it was fucking awful.)
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Old July 18 2013, 12:39 AM   #23
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Re: Sample McDonalds Budget

FWIW - My rent is around $680 a month so a $600/mo rent is doable in less nice area. My gas bill is also $0/mo because I have an all electric apartment, my electric bill hovers around $100 pretty much all year round with electric heat. My water/sewage bill is around $20 a month at the very most and very rounded up. It's almost a non-bill.

The $20 health insurance is a joke. That's less than what I pay for single coverage, non-tobacco discount, yearly "healthy living" discount and a disability rider.

$100 cable/phone is absurd. Mine's closer $200. Granted that's with digital cable and two DVRs. (And no phone bill, I ride on my parent's plan which costs me about $50/mo.)

I suppose if you had basic cable/internet plan and a simple phone plan $100 MIGHT be doable but I doubt it. (Then again, cable is an expense one doesn't have to burden himself with.)

I'm assuming these bills, however, are for a single person living in an apartment. Otherwise the numbers are absurd and not even close to being in reality.
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Old July 18 2013, 12:56 AM   #24
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Re: Sample McDonalds Budget

I am actually living on about $1950 a month and that is in Australia which has a higher cost of living the USA does. However there are several reasons why I manage quite well on that

1) I am in government housing which means my share of the rent is about 1/4 of my income. I have to exclude certain monetary allowances I get (utility allowance, phone allowance etc) from that as the Housing Department aren't allowed to count that income when calculating how much rent we pay. All up my portion of our rent is around $450 a month) or $150 less than in this budget. Our rent for a three bedroom house in a nice suburb is $279 a week (around $1200 a month).

I live in a country with a UHC so I don't have to pay any health insurance. I also get most of my prescriptions for $6 each.

Three people share our house so we share our power bill. However our power prices are higher than the USA so my share (with heating) is about around $150 a month.

I don't have a car so I can take out car payment, car insurance etc and replace them with around $30-40 a month public transport/taxi fares. A person with two jobs as in the bedget would almost certainly need a car.

I don't have cable TV but our landphone/internet connection is around $110 a month cost shared by three people. I don't have a mobile (cell) phone.

I have sizeable amount of savings that I can withdraw on. Part of my income comes from interest on these savings but the money is there for any emergency that might come up.

As I am renting my contents (renter's insurance) is less than $25 a month.

I don't have to pay a water/sewage bill. That is covered in my rent.
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Old July 18 2013, 01:53 AM   #25
Tora Ziyal
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Re: Sample McDonalds Budget

I don't know if anyone else went and looked at this in context, but I did, and it appears to me that it is just a sample of how to create a budget using their tools. I don't think it's meant as a suggested budget at all. And the how-to-budget info is actually quite good.
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Old July 18 2013, 03:03 AM   #26
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Re: Sample McDonalds Budget

Scout101 wrote: View Post
Wondering if heat isn't listed because they are assuming electric heat in that example? $90 for electric seems like a lot, otherwise. And it DOES say car insurance, so gas must be part of the $27/day or the $100/month *other* charges.

Was this a Canada thing vice US (wondering per comment about where it showed up)? Maybe $20/month had a bearing in their healthcare system vice the US model (which clearly won't cover anything here). other than that, it DOES work as a menial, entry level, no skill sorta job/lifestyle.

As i keep reading the comments here, though, would like to ask the question about EXPECTATIONS. If you're working a minimum wage job (at McDonald's or elsewhere), what are the EXPECTATIONS of what kind of life you should have? We've had comments about how you'd have trouble with:

-mortgage
-going out to movies
-eating out in restaurants
-raising children
-pets
-gas/food/clothes

Let's assume that the $27/day, plus $100 month covers your minimum food/clothes needs. Not going to get you fillet or new Jordans, but living frugally, splitting food money with roommates and eating together, not really buying lots of new clothes, maybe it can just work. If you live near work, and don't drive a ton extra, maybe gas just works as well. Let's say you have a roommate for your 2 bedroom apartment, so the other costs go down slightly and make the rest of that about a wash for 'extra' food/gas money. Maybe sometimes you're even up enough to see a movie, maybe sometimes stuff goes wrong and you don't put $100 in savings.

Are the expectations here REALLY that while working literally flipping burgers at McDonald's, you should be able to afford to buy a house and have a mortgage? How about living alone in your own apartment? Raise children and pay for their expenses? How about even things like how often should you be able to go out and drop $20 to see a movie in the theater or eat out in a restaurant? If you can barely feed yourself, please don't get pets.

Maybe I'm thinking about it differently, but I just don't see those as reasonable expectations at this income/career level. If you live at home and don't have all those bills, this money should cover more of the 'fun' activities. If you at least get a bunch of roommates and live cheaply, maybe you get a *little* fun money at the end. But if you're just straight up working minimum wage and bringing in 2k/month, how much of the money should be going to essential survival (food/clothes/shelter), and how much should be for a 'nicer' place, going out to movies, $100/month for cable tv / phone service (likely including a cellphone bill now), etc? Nice to have those things, but they really aren't NEEDED or rights, and at this level of income, aren't practical.

Seems that in the US, they are seen as must haves (like a flat screen tv) and then people can't pay their regular bills. Or insist minimum wage should be $20/hour so that the numbers in that budget work out to get the things mentioned.

I guess I'm having a hard time with this. It's certainly not desireable to live like that, but you CAN make the numbers work and live on that. I just don't WANT to, and wouldn't enjoy it. But at that level, SHOULD you?

I think it's reasonable to expect that if you work full time at a job, or especially more than full time at two jobs, then you should be able to live independently. Probably not have a house or condo, maybe not have a car(if we had good public transportation in this country that wouldn't be a big deal), maybe you have to live in a trailer or have a studio apartment, but I don't think it's unreasonable, no.

Fast food work is actually hard work. It's not necessarily high-skilled work, but fast food workers probably work harder than people in a lot of other jobs. What's sad is that people assume most fast-food employees are teens or part-time employees, or whatever, when actually the majority are older than 30 and trying to support themselves and often a family.
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Old July 18 2013, 03:16 AM   #27
RoJoHen
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Re: Sample McDonalds Budget

Trekker4747 wrote: View Post
$150 car payment?! $100 cable/phone bill? Where is this at?!
*raises hand*

Over here.
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Old July 18 2013, 06:27 AM   #28
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Re: Sample McDonalds Budget

Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post
It also assumes you never get sick and have to take a significant amount of time off from your job.
Plus, the idea of taking a vacation almost has to sound like a sick joke for someone who "lives" on that budget.
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Old July 18 2013, 06:49 AM   #29
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Re: Sample McDonalds Budget

The only problem that I have with this is the $20 a month on health insurance. That's absurd. Maybe save up $20/month for one walk-in clinic visit a year, but not health insurance.

Everything else? It's doable, if you're in the right area.

But arguing about the numbers here is totally missing the point. About 1/3 of American workers live on this kind of money and make it work. Let's not pretend they don't. Do they live like most of us? Probably not. But they're doing it. And some of the richest men in the country are arguing that they're making too much money.

This is so typical of our media. Drum up outrage over this budget, and not over the ridiculous wages that make this kind of budgeting necessary.

-Indy*

*Worked at McDonald's for 8 years in the run up to my doctorate, started at $4.75 an hour and left at $12.00 an hour.
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Old July 18 2013, 07:56 AM   #30
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Re: Sample McDonalds Budget

Miss Chicken wrote: View Post
I notice that food or clothes aren't included in the budget.
You don't need food and clothes, you have unclaimed Big Macs and a spiffy uniform provided.
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