Want some financial advice with that Big Mac?


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).