When doing any work these days, there is invariably a heavy use of software. Software is expensive, cumbersome and difficult to use / learn in many instances. In an attempt to lessen these negatives, i would suggest a trip over to http://www.osalt.com/ to see how the open source community can help you.
Simply type in a piece of software you are going to buy, or even one you already own, and see what the open source (free) alternatives are. You may be pleasantly surprised!