Your neighbor is right about buying tools. It never ends. This is not necessarily a cheap hobby. Roughly the same as quilting (as my wife has demonstrated).
ABOUT PLANES AND SHARPENING: I bought two Wood River planes and am very happy with them. The Wood River models I have, however, have very good blades and are nowhere near the price of Lie-Nielsen's exquisite, but very pricey models.
Sharpening is not really that hard to do. You should use a honing guide (not expensive) to hold the blade or a chisel at the correct angle for sharpening. I use the sandpaper method of sharpening using strips of sandpaper of various grits held either on a 3/8ths piece of plate glass, or on a flat surface such as the table saw.
You start with a coarser grade paper (usually 320 if the blade is really dull or has a nick in it. I work up through finer and finer grits, up to 2000 grit for a final polish. I use the same method for sharpening chisels. When you sharpen this way, you will get a very slight burr at the edge that must also be polished away, and for that you use a leather strop (you can use a polishing compound on the stop if you wish). If you don't deburr , the blade will feel dull.
When you buy a plane (likely a #4 Jack plane to start), you will need to make certain the back of the blade is flat. To do this, you use whatever sharpening method you choose and lay the back of the blade flat across it (only the first inch or two on the sandpaper, that's what you have to polish dead flat). You push, pull across the sandpaper until there are no more raised areas and the finish is the same all the way across. This is the grinding step. Next, you do the same process with finer and finer grit until you have a very polished surface.
You do something similar to the bottom of the plane (take the blade out first!), paying particular attention to flattening the front edge all the way past the blade opening. If you have high spots, the low spots will show no sanding marks. Grind with coarser grit until the sanding marks are uniform all the way across. Then polish with finer grits until it gleams. It is all about keeping down pressure even as you work.
My biggest challenge comes with setting the blade and the chip breaker or cap iron just right. The chip breaker must be very close to the cutting edge of the blade--much less than one mm. The blade needs to be adjusted forward/back so it is very near the front edge of the mouth of the plane where the blade exits. Not much of the blade should show or you will find it very tough to use. My vision makes this hard to see because the blade barely shows as you look down the base of the plane when its set right.
You also have to make sure the blade is parallel to the base or you get gouging. It takes practice. What makes it worthwhile is the amazing finish on the wood when you plane rather than sand it. Planes cut across the fibers so there is a beautiful sheen to it. Sanding abrades those fibers and makes a microscopically fuzzy surface--no sheen. One reason antiques look so spectacular is that the makers used planes.
Hock tools makes special, high quality replacement blades that sharpen well.
You can make a Wooden plane yourself, there are many plans and videos online for this. Some folks prefer these, but they are not necessary. There are a couple of styles of these, most interesting to me is the Japanese style, which is much lower profile and is pulled along rather than being pushed along.
In the end, however, it is all pretty much a matter of practicing. I bought a chunk of curly maple that I practiced on until I got it down. It is getting harder to find the old planes and their prices have skyrocketed, but if you find one of the old Stanleys in a garage sale, snap it up. Even pretty rusty, they are not so hard to clean up and put to work again. But I just bought new.
This may have been more than you wanted to know, but heck, I really enjoy working with a plane now and again, especially on good (expensive) stock.