The part that actually matters to your family isn't your win/loss ratio or a 1st place trophy from Privateer Press. I imagine something like that would occupy a slot similar to the lamp in A Christmas Story. I'd love to have one, my wife couldn't care less and it certainly wouldn't be going in the window.
No, the financial side of Warmachine is the end that affects your wallet. I came out of Games Workshop, and immediately appreciated that Warmachine was cheaper to get into. A 10man unit may cost the same or more as a Space Marine 10 man kit, but it's going to fill up far more of your points than the Space Marines will in a comparative army. Warmachine is cheaper, I don't think there's a doubt about that, but it's still not easy on your wallet.
My pre-marriage Cygnar army grew in leaps and bounds, while army growth after marriage has slowed considerably. I'm not going to claim expertise on budgeting or marriage and Warmachine, but I can also tell you that I've spent about half to two-thirds as much on my army than most everyone else. If you're just getting into the sport, or you're looking at going about getting another faction (Like I am), let's run through some things together. First we're going to talk about buying your army. Then we're going to talk about painting your army.
1. Get rid of the old stuff. I had 4500 points of Space Marines. One of our local stores had a trade-in program for Warmachine specifically, and I got my stuff traded to them in about two loads. I made about 300$ in-store credit for just that alone. I got my Stormwall, my Nyss, and my Boomhowlers for free. Look into a trade program. If you're not having any luck locally, check out bluetablepainting.com. You'll only get in-store credit, but if they've got a bunch of the army you're looking for, there's nothing to lose. bartertown.com is another excellent place to sell, or trade. You're probably better off selling at that point, but it's an option. The other choice is..... facebook. If you're a member of a local group with a facebook group to go with it, post it on there if you haven't already. I've seen factions fly that way.
2. Buy used. Carefully. I bought most of my Cygnar in one lump at 60% value. Not a bad deal, but most of it came painted, and was the older metal models. If that's cool with you, awesome, but if you enjoy painting as much as I do, I would have much rather bought new, unpainted, unassembled plastic models and painted them myself. However, when I delved into Circle a bit, and bought used, they were unpainted, 60% of retail price, and I was much happier with that, and was able to get into Circle for just shy of a 100$ and I own 37pts of them. Not bad.
3. FLGS discounts. This one varies, and requires you to spend to save. Kinda tricky. But look into it. The one I have right now gives me a punch card with 10 spots. For every 10$, I get a hole punched, and at the end of the card, I can turn it in for 20% off my next purchase. I generally nickel and dime the card to death with 10$, 15$ purchases over a month or two. The store is the only local supplier of Vallejo paints, so it works out really well. I'll grab one or two paints, break 10$, move on. My wife loves the store, and we'll get card packs for some LOTR games (Want to clarify here that we're not Yu-Gi-Oh fans), or sometimes a board game. About once every other month, I can grab a unit or jack for a decent price with that discount card.
4. Buy Online. This one trumps everything. I can buy online for what I pay with 20% off at the FLGS, if not more. Amazon runs stuff at about 70% of Privateer Press retail. For me, this is the best option. For two reasons. A) I have a Discover Card with a cashback bonus. After the bills are paid and everything else, I generally have about 20-30$ in cashback awards that can be directly applied to Amazon purchases. Neat huh? I paid about 5$ for my ATGM and that was mostly shipping. I usually get a couple of solos or a min unit free every month because of this. B) Selection is better than the LGS. Yeah, you can order from them, but that can take awhile. It's up to you. The main thing you're going to have to decide is how loyal you are to supporting your FLGS. I don't have a problem supporting them, but I can't bring myself to pay 30% more for the same model that I can get online, AND, probably by just paying shipping because of the Discover deal.
Hobby. This'll be a shorter section, I think, but I want to hit a couple of points.
1. Vallejo paints. They're as much as GW or P3, but they come in dropper bottles, which means you can mix way easier, you won't spill as much paint, and unlike GW, won't ruin your brushes nearly as quick.
1B. Washes. I love GW washes, but after awhile, I want my own. Use the old paint pot, drop in some drops of paint for the color of your choosing (mud, black, red, whatever), and add in water at about a 3:1 ration or 4:1. Depends on how runny you want it. Works like a charm. I don't buy washes anymore.
2. Master's Touch Brushes from Hobby Lobby. Michaels has some decent brushes as well for about the same price, but I tend to like the MTBs. They're not synthetic, they've got a huge variety, and they hang out right at about 4 bucks. They'll last much, much longer than P3 or GW brushes ever will.
3. Master's Brush Cleaner. Different brand, same aisle. Run your brush under warm water, lather it up in this cleaner, rinse. Done. Clean. I love it. My brushes have quadrupled in lifespan.
4. Terrain effects for your basing.
A. Rocks are outside. Just saying. I'll buy fine ballast and whatnot from hobby lobby, but I'm really getting into my basing. Otherwise, rocks are outside. Gravel driveways are great for this.
B. If you're looking for a Grand Canyon layered rock kind of look, treebark is your friend.
C. Dirt. I know some guys just use regular dirt. That works. I like used coffee grounds. Let it dry, throw it in an old spice shaker and you're good to go.
D. Forest Debri. Not dirt, but just regular stuff you want scattered around for forest terrain. Used tea bags. Break them over, repeat the shaker step from C.
E. Leaves. Parsley flakes are awesome if you want green leaves on the ground, but for fall, I love me some Red Pepper flakes from Great Value at Walmart. 4 bucks. Done.
F. Grass. RayofPaint just mixed up a whole bunch of sawdust with watered down acrylic paint from Walmart and it looks fantastic.
G. If all else fails and there's something you really want, I recommend Hobby Lobby again. There's a daily 40% for one item coupon available right here: http://www.hobbylobby.com/weekly/coupon.cfm This is great for any terrain you're looking for, or if you want to get into bigger purchases like an air compressor or airbrush.
I hope some of this helps you out! See you guys more throughout the week.