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My 2 cents would be to start off with “prosumer” version of a leading post production platform. Examples are Final Cut Express 4.0 or Sony Vegas Platinum. You can get into these editing suites for very little money, they are powerful, and you have an easy upgrade path should you consider moving to the pro versions. In truth though, these programs could handle 95% of all editing done. The vast majority of us do not need the features associated with the pro versions of current editing software.
I am partial to FCE. It is pretty hard to get the value that this package represents elsewhere. On the PC side, Vegas Platinum is a very close rival.
Hope this helps,