While I agree with the gist of all the comments – eBay/Old Stanleys > Big Box bargains, don’t dismiss the “middle” quality stuff, either. I’ve got a couple Lie-Nielsens, a few refurbished Stanleys, and some Veritas planes, but I’ve also been stuck and needed a good plane when I didn’t have the cash for a premium model. I bought a couple Wood River v3 planes from Woodcraft – specifically a #4 1/2 and a low angle block plane. I honed them out of the box, tuned them for the cut I wanted, and they have become “go-to” workhorses in my shop. I have been very happy with them – so much so that I favor my Wood River 4 1/2 over my vintage Stanley #4. That said, it may be the 4 1/2 I favor, rather than the brand, but the point is that for 1/2 – 2/3 the cost of the Veritas or Lie-Nielsen, I got a great working plane. I have been so happy with them that I find myself thinking about buying more Wood River planes rather than spending the extra on the Lie-Nielsens and Veritas products – that would allow my tool dollars to go further, too (I know – what I just wrote is sacrilege).
The other option, baring an unlimited supply of money, is to go the Paul Sellers route and use predominantly a #4 or 4 1/2 and a block plane. That’s how I started for a long while – an old Stanley and my dad’s no-name block plane. It’s a very common misconception that one must own one of everything to do good work. Sometimes we have to do what we can to get the job done until we have the opportunity/means to get what we want.