First I’ll mention GIMP and Inkscape. GIMP is what I use for pixel graphics and Inkscape is what I use for vector graphics. I am not master of either, but over the years I gradually get better and better with them. Probably a lot of people have Adobe software for either or both tasks, that came with their computers or scanners or cameras or whatever, but GIMP and Inkscape have free upgrades and you can run development versions if you want. (The GIMP I have installed right now is a development version.)
Second I’ll mention the need for one to check FontShop freebies regularly, or get on the mailing list so you know that way when a new freebie is available. You can get excellent professional fonts this way, which FontShop gives away so a certain percentage of the satisfied recipients may go buy other members of the font family. What’s really the same outfit also gives away stuff at http://www.fontfont.com/downloads.html. In fact I notice they’ve just changed the freebie there from Megano to Sanuk Fat (which I think FontShop was giving away a while ago). There’s also the German site http://fontshop.de, but I’m not sure whether it is as useful.
A similar situation exists with Storm Type Foundry, except in this case the fonts don’t change, and are always Lido STF.
If one does feel inclined to pay for a font, I suggest always checking first whether you can get it at http://myfonts.com, if only because they let you re-download fonts you’ve bought or gotten as temporary freebies anytime afterwards, as long as they have it; plus you often get free upgrades if the font has been improved. Also some folk such as Ray Larabie use it as the primary distribution site for their freeware fonts.