Hmm. I'd argue with needing a set of knives all at once, especially if money is an issue. Nice if you can afford it, but not essential. I cook a lot, use a knife for almost all chopping etc, and do about 90% of that chopping with a 6" no-name chef knife I picked up in a second hand store about 20 years ago. I have a larger Henckels chef knife for larger items, a serrated bread knife from Wal-mart, an old carbon steel carving knife also bought at a thrift store, and a paring knife I use so rarely that I usually can't remember where it is. If I were you, I'd find a medium price brand, possibly American made, buy one or two chef knives and get the means of sharpening those knives and learn how to sharpen knives. I use a $5 stone bought at a kitchen supply store. You should be able to get by quite well for a while with that until you can afford more variety or much higher quality. Whatever you buy, look for the signs of a well made knife: full tang, good balance, and one that fits your hand. A composite handle is probably best but wood is fine too.