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Another sign of the times.

MarketWatch and various other media outlets have been reporting that McDonald's and Visa have started the country's largest employer-based financial literacy program. It's called the "McDonald's Practical Money Skills" program, and it's aimed at the more than half a million employees throughout McDonald's 14,000 restaurants.

That may sound interesting, but not very helpful, if you don't work at McDonald's, but hang around for a moment and keep reading. While the program offers a printed Wealth Watchers budgeting guide to their employees, the web site, Practical Money Skills for Life, is available to anyone. I went there and hung around for awhile and was never asked for an employee ID number or password.

It's a pretty nice site with a lot of budgeting calculators, and the restaurant does a good job of giving the visitor food for thought (pun intended) about where their money is going. But I can't help but think that if I were an employee receiving the budgeting guide and being told I could visit this web site, my reaction would probably be: "Hey, thanks, but you know, if you really want to help your workers with their finances, why not give everyone an across-the-board raise?"

Geoff Williams is a freelance journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).
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