You could try printing stuff out from the computer or using stamps. Since you are starting out I would suggest you start small and don't buy everything you see. I got the fiskars system when I started and a bucn of stuff that I just handed over to my 3 yr old for crafts. When you really get into the hobby then you will know what you really like and don't and what is worth investing in. Remember try to find some deals on craigs list but use coupons and watch for sales. Birthdays and christmas are great ways to get a spluge without feeling guilty.
I actually love my Fiskars ultra shape express. There are just 3 simple rules to get it working correctly:
1. Place the template with Fiskar's name right-side up.
2. Hold the shapecutter like a computer mouse.
3. Either avoid heavy cardstock, or cut over it twice.
I also have the Creative Memories set, but no longer use it. For me, it's too difficult to cut exactly where I want it to cut. With Fiskars, simply lay down the template and what you see is what you will cut.
Is the Fiskars Ultra ShapeXpress the same thing? I got one as a gift (with no shapes) but I've never used it because I have 2 die cutters. I'd be happy to mail it to you for the cost of postage. It's still in its packaging.