For those of you that have recently begun your bonsai journey you'll notice that this hobby can become expensive quickly. I put out a post about cheap bonsai pot alternatives and here is another post about alternative things to use.
https://www.amazon.com/Joshua-Roth-6044-Bonsai-Paste/dp/B000X36W7O - $19.50
https://www.bonsaioutlet.com/bonsai-cut-paste-spcd09/ - $14
Now not all bonsai cut paste is that expensive, Duct Seal was $2.98 at Home Depot
This was recommended to me from Rob Pressler, the owner of Kimura's Bonsai Nursery.
Now we could get into the argument of whether or not to use cut paste, but rather than that I'll just suggest that if you want to use it and want to save a few dollars (For another tree, lets be real...) try this out.
Glass and Ceramic Drill Bits:
I bought these to be able to convert glass and ceramic bowls I find into viable bonsai pots. I can drill wire holes and large enough holes to keep drainage sufficient.
Pro Tip: Read how many RPMs it can handle, if not you will burn the drill tip and have a useless stick of metal (also water . Pressure = broken bowls. Let the bit do its thing, however slow it may feel.
Here are some of my latest pickups that were either free or from garage sales (Californians can do this all year, not like you in the Midwest and Northeast that have a garage sale "season")
Cheap Bonsai Tree Material
Lowe's and Home Depot can have discount racks depending on where you live. These are great choices since both have return policies incase something dies. Great for beginners working on trees for the first time.
What we call "Yardadori" or collected material from yard renovations or seemingly undesirable trees that people want removed is a great way to source material for bonsai.
The last resort would be cuttings from easy to root plants. I have found that Crape Myrtle, Portulacaria Afra, Chinese Elm, Cotoneaster, Olive, Ficus and Pomegranate can all handle pretty large cuttings that can become bonsai quickly.
Rather than purchasing pre-made screens for your pots, you can buy "Gutter Guard" and cut it to whatever size you like. My favorite part about this is when I use a nursery pot as a temporary training pot I can cut the gutter guard into a circle to cover the entire bottom of the nursery pot. Same goes for my other DIY homemade pots. https://www.homedepot.com/p/Amerimax-Home-Products-Metal-Black-Lock-in-Gutter-Guard-6360/205207064
These are just a few things that might give you a few more dollars to appease your spouse.