Is $5K really that much? Or is it that he spent that amount quickly? Haven't many of you spent at least a few thousand by now? I've spent quite a bit just on postage for my swaps! Anyway, when I started out it wouldn't have mattered if I just bought a bunch of samples, because I really didn't understand much of what I was smelling anyway, and my tastes have changed significantly from those early days. There's really no one right way to get into this, IMO. Some of us can afford $5K and some of us can't, and that's the crucial distinction.
The OP clearly had preconceptions about only wanting a "masculine" frag, which is okay for him, but I'm glad I got a copy of Luca Turin's (and TS's) book and kept an open mind about "crossover" frags. It's allowed me to really broaden the rotation, relieving what may have become too boring. And, as most of us know, there are ways to buy at way below retail for many frags, and that allows you to "dump" stuff you hate on ebay and recoup much of your money. What really irritates me about ebay, though, is how they seem totally uninterested in stopping the sales of fakes. It's so easy to see who is selling huge amounts of the stuff through their site. I wish they would contact the FBI or any law enforcement agency that was willing to get involved, and get that nonsense cleaned up.