If price is an issue and you want a 1/8 scale buggy, there are nice race supported options out there right now.
I decided to go with a CEN Matrix based on:
3. Racing quality
For a company that isn't one of the big ones like a Kyosho, they have a nice string of wins and the vehicle is known to be VERY durable. Great for a beginner. You also get pretty good electronics with it too.
< Durango DEX8, DESC410V2, DEX410V5>
< Team Associated RC10B6D>