No they're not. People spend what they want to spend, just like anything else. If you go to any reputable shop, they'll have a selection of gear that covers the low-mid and high end price point. Nobody here has expressed any kind of obligation to purchase anything, and every suggestion made on this thread has fit within the constraints of the OP's budget. Personally, if I wanted a certain piece of gear that was beyond my budget, I think my time would be better spent off the water trying to make some money, and I definately wouldn't be sitting on a couch.