I asked for a food mixer for my birthday last year. Whilst a Kitchen Aid was in my sights, I had to get realistic and went for a more within budget option (but still as pretty) Breville Pistachio Stand Mixer. It's a great value mixer, that comes with dough hooks, beaters and a handy little recipe book.
My tips for keeping it simple. Start small - practice your basic mixes and for gods sake get some scales. I was trying to use cups and things, and it just doesn't work. Baking is science. Cooking you can lob in anything and balance it out, baking, no no no. Too much flour, knackered, forget the baking powder, trouble brewing. Don't try and substitute ingredients, I made that mistake with using butter spread rather than proper butter. Shortbread slid off the baking tray into the bin. Bake things you'd like to eat and give them a go. I don't like ginger in baked goods, so why would I cook with it? (love it in savoury, just not in biscuits and cakes) I prefer savoury so breads and buns have been my love. Google recipes or look to some fab blogs for inspiration. My favourites are Rachel Khoo, The Mother Cooker and Jamie Oliver and I always pick up Tesco magazine as the recipes in there are easy to follow and turn out pretty well.