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You are about to put yourself in the shoes of a typical ALICE® family. ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. ALICE families are those that have earnings above the Federal Poverty Level, but below a basic cost-of-living threshold. Almost 30 percent of Wisconsin families are ALICE; combined with those in poverty, 42 percent of Wisconsin households is experiencing financial hardship.

ALICE educates our children, keeps us healthy, and makes our quality of life possible. But these low-wage jobs, often in the service sector, do not pay enough for ALICE to live on.

For the next few minutes, you'll experience some of the tough choices that these families have to make every single day and how United Way is doing all that we can to help them along the way.

You and your partner have two small children — one infant and one preschooler. After an unexpected layoff at your place of employment, you find yourself scrambling to find a new job. Your partner’s monthly earnings are $2000.

But there is some good news. You have three real job opportunities. The interviews went well, so you have good reason to be optimistic.

Choose your Job

  • Grocery Stockroom Associate

    $10.00/hour, 3rd shift, 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.,
    5 days a week

    65% of all jobs in Wisconsin pay less than $20 per hour and most pay less than $15 per hour. In fact nearly 400,000 jobs pay less than $10 per hour. Learn More

    ALICE works hard to keep our economy running – working behind cash registers, fixing our cars, and caring for our young and our elderly. Only 17% the jobs pay enough to support the average Wisconsin family Household Survival Budget. Close

  • Retail Salesperson

    $9.73/hour, Part-time, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.,
    5 days a week

    There are more than 85,000 retail sales jobs in the Wisconsin, paying on average $9.73 per hour. The Household Survival Budget for a family of four requires an hourly wage of $27.40 per hour or $13.70 per hour if both parents work. Learn More

    ALICE works hard to keep our economy running – working behind cash registers, fixing our cars, and caring for our young and our elderly. Only 17% of the jobs pay enough to support the average Wisconsin family Household Survival Budget. Close

  • Waitstaff at Local Restaurant

    $6.50/hour plus tips, Full-time evenings, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.,
    5 days a week

    65% of all jobs in Wisconsin pay less than $20 per hour and most pay less than $15 per hour. In fact nearly 400,000 jobs pay less than $10 per hour. Learn More

    ALICE works hard to keep our economy running – working behind cash registers, fixing our cars, and caring for our young and our elderly. Only 17% of the jobs pay enough to support the average Wisconsin family Household Survival Budget. Close

Decide where you're going to live

  • Single-Family Homeowner

    Small house with 3 bedrooms

    In counties across Wisconsin, up to 56% of residents must pay more than 30% of their household income to rent or mortgage. Learn More

    From 2007 to 2012, housing values dropped by 12% in Wisconsin. This decline, combined with unemployment, underemployment, and reduced wages, meant that many households could not keep up with their mortgage payments. Close

  • Apartment Rental 1

    2-bedroom unit in a large complex

    In counties across Wisconsin, up to 56% of residents must pay more than 30% of their household income to rent or mortgage. Learn More

    The National Low Income Housing Coalition reports that Wisconsin was the 28th most expensive state in the country for housing in 2014. Close

  • Apartment Rental 2

    2-bedroom unit in an old house

    In counties across Wisconsin, up to 56% of residents must pay more than 30% of their household income to rent or mortgage. Learn More

    The National Low Income Housing Coalition reports that Wisconsin was the 28th most expensive state in the country for housing in 2014. Close

Choose your Childcare

  • Accredited Center-Based Childcare

    Your children are cared for in a high-quality center with social development and a structured early learning curriculum.

    Child care is often the single largest expense for ALICE families. While there are subsidies for working families, some ALICE households exceed the eligibility threshold. Learn More

    Those ALICE families that do receive assistance are often faced with difficult choices around career advancement – sometimes passing up opportunities to move up at work because they can't afford to earn more money. Child care for two children accounts for 24% of an ALICE family's Household Survival Budget. Close

  • Licensed Home-Based Childcare

    Your children are cared for by a licensed individual with other children.

    Child care is often the single largest expense for ALICE families. While there are subsidies for working families, some ALICE households exceed the eligibility threshold. Learn More

    Those ALICE families that do receive assistance are often faced with difficult choices around career advancement – sometimes passing up opportunities to move up at work because they can't afford to earn more money. Child care for two children accounts for 24% of an ALICE family's Household Survival Budget. Close

  • Family, Friends and Neighbors

    Your children are watched in your home or theirs, requiring you to cover basic expenses.

    Child care is often the single largest expense for ALICE families. While there are subsidies for working families, some ALICE households exceed the eligibility threshold. Learn More

    Those ALICE families that do receive assistance are often faced with difficult choices around career advancement – sometimes passing up opportunities to move up at work because they can't afford to earn more money. Child care for two children accounts for 24% of an ALICE family's Household Survival Budget. Close

Choose your Transportation

  • Car

    You and your partner have one car that is paid for. You have to pay for insurance and gas every month.

    93% of households in Wisconsin own a vehicle. The auto debt per capita is $2,470, the 9th highest level in the country.

  • Bus

    You and your partner each have a monthly bus pass.

    Approximately 75% of Wisconsin does not have access to public transportation, making independent vehicles more prevalent and crucial to financial stability.

Choose your Food

  • Fresh

    All of the freshest and healthiest options available to you including name brands

    In Wisconsin, 1 in 9 people struggles with hunger. Learn More

    Many ALICE families make too much money for SNAP benefits (food stamps) but cannot afford to purchase enough healthy food for nourishing meals. Close

  • Mix

    A combination of fresh and frozen options with a mix of name brands and bargain brands

    ALICE households often lack access to healthy and affordable food as well as the time to prepare it. Learn More

    Many ALICE families make too much money for SNAP benefits (food stamps) but cannot afford to purchase enough healthy food for nourishing meals. Close

  • Low Cost

    Limited amounts of healthy options with lots of frozen and processed foods and bargain brands

    Almost 12% of Wisconsin households are food insecure. Learn More

    Many ALICE families make too much money for SNAP benefits (food stamps) but cannot afford to purchase enough healthy food for nourishing meals. Close