Just thought I would put my .02 in to this discussion.
I started this hobby about 10 years ago, boy where does the time go, it initially started with a GE Mr. Christmas 6 port fixed controller that I added to my static display.
Then I went on the internet and started researching, at that point there where very few options for DIY light displays.
I settled at the time with controllers from D-light since they were less expensive than LOR. My next year I had a show with 1 16 port and 4 8 port AC controllers from D-Light. My initial setup only used the 2 16 port controllers since I still had to build the 8 port controllers.
I borrowed some songs and sequences from the internet and modified them for my display using some old software that isn't even around anymore.
I found killer deals on extension cords and mini lights and did my first show. Everyone loved it.
As I worked on laying out my display I found DLA (Doityourselflighanimation) and fell in the love with their AC controllers. From there I converted my D-light controllers to DMX and ran the next show.
Then I added wireless to get into some trouble locations, converted to LED Lights, put in a sub-panel for Christmas lights, built a mega tree on my roof, etc.
I took it a little at a time. No matter how I set up projects for the year, I only ended up completing about 1/2 of what I set out to do.
I had to reset my mindset to not stress over it since this is a hobby and should be fun. Stress wasn't worth it.
Then RGB came along and added some neat options but also a steep learning curve.
I have been fighting with LSP and RGB elements for about 4 years now.
Moving my scheduler to FPP made a huge difference in reliability of my show.
Creating wire looms and labeling and documenting everything made a huge difference in enjoyability.
Perserverance and patients are key abilities in this hobby!
2017 should be the first year I will finally have about 6 new elements in my display after I had them built for about 2 years. I just couldn't get the RGB stuff working reliably.
I don't see ever converting to 100% RGB since I like the effects that my LED mini lights give for certain elements,, but they will play a big part in my show moving forward.
The folks on this group have helped me tremendously and I am now adding Falcon controllers to the mix as needed.
I agree with other statements that you need spares. Nothing is worse than having a section of your display go south because you don't have a spare. It isn't like you can just go to AMAZON and have another controller on your doorstep in two days.
I guess my advice is plan ahead, but expect things to change as you get better with the whole hobby!
Start small and then build as budget permits. Keeps the wife happy!
Add a little something each year until you are happy with everything in your yard.
Become very proficient in the software! I will admit that I am still working to get the hang of Xlights, which is the 4th sequencing piece of software that I have had to learn over the years. Appreciate all the work that has gone into the sequencers, they have come a long way since I started!!!
Remember that even if it is just a small change to your show, you are probably the only one who will notice, but anyone that comes by to see it will enjoy it just the same.
Enjoy your new hobby!
This comes from someone who has 14 16 channel AC controllers, wireless DMX, FPP, and is about to add around 1500 channels of RGB! and more money than I care to admit in the hobby!