I am new to the world of wood working hand tools, but I have been sharpening since i could reach the counter. My dad was a meat cutter and butcher, and in my early teens i caught the knife bug. I really like waterstones and have been using them off an on since i was about 20 (so over 10 years). If you are super concerned about price, King waterstones can be purchased on amazon for about $20. They are great for the cost, i would even say the best for the $ until you step up to about $50 a stone. You would probably be better served with some Shaptons which will last longer and need to be lapped less, but they will cost around $50-$60 per stone. Waterstones are fantastic, just remember you will have to lap them. Also they work great for high carbon steels like that used in most good chisels, planers, etc. but if you want to sharpen knives or other blades that use any “super steels” like S30V and the like, they work but will go a bit slow.
If you are not determined to get waterstones there are other great options available, many of which could save you some $. Let me know if you want a breakdown of some sharpening options. you can even give me a general budget # and i could give you good options based on that.