Keep an eye on the Gear Swap forum here and be patient. Lots of good deals come around. You can find many on Ebay, but do your homework. Look for user reviews. Usually on there, you get what you pay for when it comes to cheap. You can even post a WTB (Want To Buy) in the BPL Gear Swap forum. If you give some ideas of what you're looking for, others may have it collecting dust in their closet. Try to get the lightest gear you can afford. You'll be reminded of your purchasing decisions with every step you take when wearing your pack.
In addition to the books Ben mentioned above, also consider "Fixing Your Feet" (4th Edition) by John Vonhof. I'm almost halfway through it and it's been a great source of info. If you can improve the condition/treatment of your feet, your hiking will be more enjoyable. If you don't, well... they'll let you know.
If you're looking at tarps, you should also consider a bug net. Mosquitos this time of year can prevent a good night's rest.
For a 40F bag, try to find something under 2 pounds. Mine is 1.5. For a quilt, you can get one for even less weight. Sleeping pads really should be try-it-before-you-buy-it.
Some require thicker pads than others for a decent night's sleep. If you don't have places around that stock them, you can make a daytrip to Nashville. REI has several with a rocky piece of concrete to lay out on.
For ground cloth, you can get a painters plastic "drop cloth" at Home Depot or Lowe's for a few bucks. Many folks love their Tyvek.
Packs should be sized and fitted properly. Measure your torso length before you even begin to shop. You'll probably want a larger pack to hold your gear at first, then paring down as your kit/skills improve. Even if you buy it and don't like it, you can list them for sale online and at least get some of your money back.
Feel free to ask questions. There's a lot of experience and help available if you put a bit of effort into it.
Best of luck.