I am sorry...I have been pondering your post for a while now
For the most part, I would get a machine you want, the bells and whistles you want. Do not skimp on a machine. You want a machine that will grow with your crafting abilities, not limit you. Yes, sewing + embroidry machines are on the expensive side, but if it is what you are interested in save more money and get your dream machine! Of course with the dream machine you get there will be a whole bunch of stitches you won't use at first, but you never know when you will use them one day! Who knew I would be using a honeycomb stitch, LOL!!! Did the other day
What models have you been looking at? Any ideas of the brand you want? What is available in the area where you live? Shops, stores, and even interntional stores like JoAnns, Walmart, and Hancock. Have you look at referbished machines online?
I am fairly new to sewing too, about 8 1/2 months. My sewing machine is the Singer 7470 and I love it!! Google it and kinda use that as a starting point. It does everything except the emboridry.
Hope this helps! My mind is super flustered!