Choosing to fly for a living is a bigger decision than say....choosing to work in a call center for a living. A larger personal and financial investment is required to fly for a living.
Before jumping into becoming an airline pilot, a lot of prep work is needed....in my opinion.
My wife and I knew that the first year or two would be rough. We saved and prepared our budgets to live on mostly just her income. We then started (and continue to) live UNDER our means. Anything extra is just that...extra.
When I started at my airline we had money saved to supplement the first year pay.
It helped that I had been "in the real" world for a few years and thus had money saved away. I truly can't imagine going from high school....or even college straight to an airline.
I came across a website (http://doihaveafuturehere.org/?p=14) that does a pretty good job comparing just about every United States regional airline pay for the first 3 years.
I was surprised where my airline landed.
The graphs show minimum pay excluding per diem. Before jumping to a regional, pay should be examined and a reality check performed. Can you truly make it on first year pay ? Saving up a a few thousand dollars as a "just in case fund" would be a really smart idea in my opinion.