HI tominboston, Just one more perspective, I'm a busy newbie with ~50 extract 5-gal batches in my 1st two years of HB'ing. I've learned to just give the primary some time... a few days after seeing any airlock activity at all...and having an idea of what to expect from that particular yeast strain... and then transfer to secondary (or on some simple brews, just give it another week or 2 and bottle). I quit bothering with measuring OG and FG (GASP! I'm sure there are differing opinions on this!)... I have a nice steady, not-too-warm basement fermentation spot. I feel like my biggest 'upgrades' from a starter kit have been small investments in an oxygenation regulator/wand/stone; a couple Ehrlenmeyer flasks and a $42 stir plate for making starters; a few extra 5-gal plastic carboys; and a few books. Many beers benefit from a few weeks of conditioning... it took me awhile to just not be in a hurry to bottle. Having extra carboys allows me to have multiple batches in process at a time... I fell into some free stuff which is doable if you ask around on your community forums and such... like most hobbies, not everyone sticks with it, (or scales up), and there are probably a gazillion sets of home brewing kits out there gathering dust. Read, meet HB'ers, use good sanitizing practices, try stuff, keep good records, and, have fun tweaking things. I've only made one batch I 'dumped' so far and that was from going with 'ehhhhh this looks good' on fresh vanilla bean without doing any research. OOPS.