Hi, Barb. Just keep thinking about the neat "war stories" that you will have in a few years when you have your house looking great.
As far as countertops, Formica is about as cheap as you can go. Other surfaces like solid surface (Corian), tile or stone are much more expensive for initial cost. If you or a friend that have some basic tools like a table saw and router you can make a new Formica countertop pretty inexpensively. Depending on the length, a buscuit joiner or dowling jig will be a real help too. This is a "weekend" project, if you have the tools and can pick one from the many colors and patterns of laminate in a timely manner. This can sometimes take longer than making the new counter.