I understand budgets and tight money. We raised 4 sons on one income and the family always came first.
But I tend to be with Al and I came to his side of thinking the hard way, that is to say I wasted money on cheap tolls. As the boys got older and strained the budget with college, the wife did go to work. I started to budget my more expensive tools within the family's existing budget because I wanted good quality tools. I stopped spending money on my own comforts. I brown bagged my lunch. I pocketed my coffee money. I drank less beer. I did whatever I could to redirect my personal allowance to buy my expensive tools.
So the question for me was how bad did I want my tools? Tools are an investment. Last year I remodeled our kitchen and I'm talking a big job that could have cost me $50,000. We spent $14,000 in materials. I did 95% of the work and we now have a great kitchen.
Now that the sons are on their own and the wife earned her Master's degree when she turned 50 (another investment), I'm retired and enjoying my workshop every day when the wife goes to her dream job and gives us the insurance. She rarely enters my shop but she knows how valuable it is. Besides the kitchen, we have some nice builds laying around the house. And when we visit the boys, we see family heirlooms in their homes. When my granddaughter needed a dresser, Pepe built a very nice one with secret compartments in it.
I wanted my tools so bad, I went and extended my life expectancy by giving up all those donuts and coffee and beer. I now live on easy street and when I want a tool, I go and buy it. The wife encourages me to do just that and never questions my spending. But I'm not one to go out and throw money around. I've been living too long on a tight budget and some habits are hard to break.
So I conclude my ramblings with what Steve said. Buy the best tools you can all afford. Work within your family budgets, but look over the details. You might find that extra little cash that can amount to the price of a good tool over time. Be patient, talk it over with the wife (I never hide anything from her) and make whatever investment you can afford in money and time.
Its' never hot or cold in New Hampshire... its' always seasonal.