There are lots of good products that you can use that aren't expensive. I've gotten so many good recommendations on this forum. Some of the favorites here are cheap drugstore brands (and there are often 2-for-1 sales on these), or Trader Joe 'poo & condish, or health food store brands. There are lots of good inexpensive gels at the drug store. You can make your own deep conditioning treatments using kitchen ingredients, which are cheap and very effective. There are a lot of recipes on the recipe forum and in the Curly Girl book. You can even make your own gel. If you're on a budget, there's no need to buy $30 shampoo.

I think a lot of us spend more money than we have to on hair products because we are PJs, it's sort of a hobby, and it's such fun to try out new stuff, but I could be pretty happy with some $3 TJ conditioner, a $5 jar of LOOB, and a $3 giant bottle of LA Looks gel, plus homemade deep treatments.

Haircuts are another matter, but I usually get 3 cuts per year, so it's manageable.
2-something? Coarse, medium underneath. Mid-back. On CG since 5/9/07.
Washing COs: VO5 Blackberry, Suave Cherry
Detangle and leave-in: Sally's GVP Conditioning Balm -- I found my HG CO!
Seal with camellia oil
Leave-in: Aura cherry almond
Gels: Homemade FSG, Eco-styler
Plus: SOTC or smooth with camellia oil, JC Nourish & Shine
Homemade food-based DTs
RC color