Re: buying photoshop -- have questions!
Photoshop has always intimidated me, there is just so much to the program. This summer I bought Photoshop Elements 6, and find it easier to use than the older version I had. I did end up buying a book (it was like $24) called "the photoshop elements 6 book for digital photographers" by Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski. The book is filled with tutorials and examples, and it's really easy to follow. I have not found one thing that I have done using the book, that didn't work, or do exactly as it said it would. Super easy to follow, and I highly recommend it.
The one thing I like about Element 6, though I don't know if any other versions have it, is they have a "Guided" format you can opt to use for doing simple photo edits, that can still make a photograph look wonderful.