The cost of living: Making ends meet on your own

Making a personal budget and finding a salary that works for you

Last updated on May 5th, 2022 at 10:28 pm

Once you move out of Mom and Dad’s house, you’re going to need to make a budget. List your fixed monthly expenses (food, rent, transit, etc.) – that will provide a baseline for what you need to survive. To figure out how to fund your lifestyle, you will need to estimate your earnings. Check out earnings for employees in different industries, and start making some career moves!

Our sample budget is local to the northeastern Wisconsin area, designed to give you an idea of some costs. Every person’s budget will be different based on wants and needs. Some might have car loans, insurance and fuel to pay for instead of public transit, for example. If you factor in your savings and retirement planning (you want to retire someday, right?), you will have an even more solid financial plan when it comes to your desired lifestyle.

The salaries and monthly earnings (before taxes) shown here reveal that some high-demand jobs require only two years or less of post-secondary schooling and offer comfortable wages that will allow you to save for bigger expenses (like a car or a home).

Compared to lower-wage service industry positions (see list), which often have night and weekend hours and lack health care or paid time-off benefits, a career in manufacturing becomes even more appealing.

Get earning!

Monthly budget for a single person

Average rent for a 900-square-foot apartment $755

Utilities (heat, electricity, gas, basic repairs like air conditioning repair, etc.) for one person in studio apartment $111

Internet/phone $45

Monthly public transit $30

Gym membership $26

Groceries & personal care $278

Dining out & entertainment $185

Total monthly expenses $1,491

(Source: Expatistan, cost of living estimates for Green Bay)

Salaries for growth areas in manufacturing that require an associate degree or technical diploma

Electrical Engineering

Sample job titles: engineer, electrical engineer

Median annual wage: $53,643

Monthly earnings: $4,470.25

Industrial Maintenance Technology

Sample job titles: maintenance technician, HVAC installer

Median annual wage: $53,426

Monthly earnings: $4,452

Automation Systems – Robotics

Sample job titles: field service technician, automation technician, electromechanical tech

Median annual wage: $48,000

Monthly earnings: $4,000

Tool & Die Making

Sample job titles: machinist, mold making apprentice, owner, tool and die apprentice, toolmaker

Median annual wage: $37,437

Monthly earnings: $3,120

Automotive Technologies

Sample job titles: automotive maintenance technician, auto service technician, master technician, mechanic

Median annual wage: $28,702

Monthly earnings: $2,392


Salaries for service industry jobs

Restaurant Cook

Median annual wage: $22,370

Monthly earnings: $1,864

Retail Salesperson

Median annual wage: $20,530

Monthly earnings $1,711

Hotel Desk Clerk

Median annual wage: $20,370

Monthly earnings $1,698

Fast Food Maker

Median annual wage: $18,480

Monthly earnings $1,540


Median annual wage: $18,330

Monthly earnings: $1,527

(Source: Career Cruising)

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