First: Join a local club. Check around, you'll find some decent membership prices. A one year membership will pay for itself quickly.
Second: Buy a box from Wallyworld even if you're just going in for milk. Wallet will dictate accordingly. I usually rotate between 9mm and .45ACP every trip to Wally.
Third: Determine exactly why you're going to the range. If it's just to hear a gun go bang, or make pretty patterns in paper, then invest in a .22 for your plinking needs. Only shoot your carry piece when you seriously want to conduct training, drills, speed, etc.