If you can't afford Vegas Pro 9.... maybe see if you can pick up the older Pro 8. If you look around the net, you can get it on the cheap. Just make sure to do your homework. Some prices that seem too good to be true, most likely are. Ask questions and look for buyer comments about the site.
Vegas Pro 8 has most of what Pro 9 has when it comes to it's basic features. Most of the additional new features in Pro 9 won't concern the majority of novice users. You can always upgrade to Pro 9 in the future on the cheap as well if you want to move up.
After using the consumer-level Pinnacle Studio 12 Ultimate for over a year, I decided I wanted more control and better rendering options for AVCHD files. I had eyed the consumer-level Vegas Studio when I was looking for a video editor. I went with Pinnacle Studio cuz it was clearly aimed at novices in it's ease of use and it came packed with a lot of modules (score maker, sound editor, lots of included effects, etc etc) which gave it a great bang for the buck.
But I eventually outgrew Pinnacle Studio's limited or non-existent advanced features. I wanted Sony Vegas cuz Sony made my camera and also helped invent the AVCHD format that the camera uses. So who's software is gonna support the AVCHD format the best?!?!? Sony of course. So I decided if I'm gonna go in, I'm gonna go all in......so I got Vegas Pro 9.
My only main complaint with it is it doesn't include the Sound Forge audio editor like the much cheaper Vegas Movie Studio Platinum Pro Pack does. Beyond that..... I could not be happier with Vegas Pro 9......... bring on Pro 10!!!