I took advantage of NB’s Father’s Day Special. Purchased the 20 qt pot and the Wheat Ale recipe, and the beginner’s kit was free (chose the Caribou Slobber recipe with the kit). It came with buckets and most of what you need to get started. I really like the convenience of buckets for cleaning. Sometimes there was no activity in the air lock due to probably a less than ideal seal which concerned me at first but I got over that. If I can tell there’s krauzen formed, I’ve let it ride without a problem.
I also purchased the gravity testing kit (highly recommend) at the same time and started for under $100 with shipping. Since then, I’ve acquired an additional bucket and a couple of plastic carboys (6 and 6.5 gal). From the stories I’ve read about glass shattering due to user error or slipperiness due to cleaning, I’ve avoided glass carboys. Some swear by them and I can’t blame them, but I can be klutzy so I haven’t gotten any glass cause I know I’ll end up with stitches. Plastic can potentially harbor bacteria if scratched, but if you’re careful and don’t use abrasives when cleaning, it should be ok. If you’re concerned and not klutzy, glass might be a good plan.
One other thing I got was a 5 gallon food grade bucket from Lowe’s. About $5 with the lid. I use it to keep Starsan solution for reuse. After a few batches of beer or a few months, I make up a new batch. I started out making 5 gallon batches of Starsan, but now make 2.5 gallon batches since I don’t need to fill up everything to get the benefit. The liquid just needs to coat all the surfaces to be effective so I put enough in and swirl it around and pour back into the bucket.