you n me both c-man, although I'm sure you've got me beat 10 x over!
The way I see it there are three kinds of woodworkers on this forum. The first being a pure hobbyist that may or may not have an unrelated job. This woodworker buys tools and machines for the pure fun of woodworking, and uses disposable income for purchases. His tools don't make him any money, and he doesn't need them to earn a living. The cost of his tools represents what can be proportioned from his regular income, or from a savings account.
Some individuals that are pure hobbyists that have a substantial income, or won the lottery, can bless themselves for what they can afford. When I was just getting started, I was referred to a doctor's home for an estimate. He had a two and a half car garage packed with all brand new machinery, industrial grade...no lightweight homeowner machinery. So, there I was giving an estimate to someone better equipped than I was. That was when my table saw was a circular saw under a sheet of plywood. He had no tool knowledge, or any idea on how to build a cabinet. He just had a dream.
The second type of individual is one with a regular job, but does woodworking on the side and makes some money off his efforts. I wish I was like that in the beginning, because I could have had regular meals. Anyway, that guy has to proportion his tool expenditure based on his income, and what he makes off his woodworking. With some, the tool budget is relative to the work performed, but there is still part of the regular income (maybe not... depending on his wife), that can be spent on tools.
The third individual, is the guy who thought he was living his dream by making woodworking a lifelong profession. His only income has to support the work, buy tools, and try to live a normal life and get some sleep in the few hours left after leaving the shop. This guy's tool purchase is directly from whatever work is/was going on.
However the shop is situated, whether it's rented or mortgaged, there is a monthly expense, along with utilities. We can call that "fixed expenses". That guy has the same "fixed expenses" in maintaining a home for a better half, a dog or two, a few cats, and an aquarium or two (these are just examples). Or, that guy could do all his work out of his garage, which financially would be a benefit.
His expenditure may be rationed to the type of work he does. But still, his customers ultimately are the ones that contribute to that fund (sometimes they get the idea). I played a prank on a client that I had done a lot of work for over many years. On one project, I had given him an itemized bill for the work, and added a line item for "machinery purchase", just to see his reaction. Well, I thought he might go for it for the heck of it, but he didn't. So, we both had a good laugh about it, and I deleted it. We did discuss the fact that operating expenses and tools/machinery are all part of doing the work.
Major purchases can be done on credit, but then there is another monthly payment.