Whenever I considered if Aikido was in my budget, I looked at what my other expenses were, and decided that I could easily make room for it in my budget. We (the family of 4) spend an average of $125/month on eating out, $60 on video rentals and CD's, and a few other expenses that were somewhat frivelous. Pure and simple, we (my 9 yr. old daughter and I) joined Aikido for self-defense. Not for mind-body unification, or purification of my soul. These may be an end result in the future, but are secondary to self-defense.
It seems that you cannot pick up a newspaper and least every other day another girl is kidnapped and/or raped. A man even tried to pick up two of her little friends when they were on their way to come play with my daughter. They ran away, but the description of the male and car were to vague to help the police any. She (my daughter) is in 4th grade right now, but hopefully by the time she is in late middle school, early high school age, she will be able to successfully defend herself if and when the moment/time comes.
This being said, the price of classes and peace of mind is very cheap. Where I train, it is $55 for adults, and $40 for a second family member or someone 11 yrs old or younger. So we pay $95 dollars for 2 of us (per month). Originally we were just going to put her in classes alone, in Tai Kwan Do, or Kenpo Karate, but sinces we found an Aikido dojo close by, this was something that I too would be interested in and we both could do together.
For a short while, I was hoping that I picked a martial art that would be effective against a bigger opponent, but when my daughter had a 180 lb. guy turning red and tapping out of a choke hold, I was glad that Aikido was the art of choice.
It's all about connection.