Unless you're wallowing in the depths of poverty, I don't think there is much excuse for a "student on a budget" to not get essentials like the LGB or LRB. Courses are very expensive, and it makes sense not to take one if you cannot afford it (this is the case with me). But if you are serious about self-study, then it makes sense to shell out the extra money for the guides that are most helpful. It's honestly a drop in the bucket compared to things like tuition, application fees, loans, and the eventual expected starting salaries of graduates from T1 schools as opposed to TTT schools. Find it used, borrow it, or find whatever means you can to get the books, but get them.