i'm starting a new tank, too, and will be ordering flourite from big al's. although shipping to chicago brings the price up to about $18/bag for me, it's still a lot less than what the LFS in chicago want. i've seen them sold for anywhere from $25 to $35 per 7kg bag. and the eco-complete is never less than $35. if you're in california, i used to shop for supplies at pet kingdom on sports arena blvd. and got the bags for $15, probably the best deal in town.
have you started a photo diary? i'm going to set up a 38-gallon tank (mostly because my loft is very "modern" and aesthically clean so i didn't want to throw a huge tank in the middle of it). can't wait until i can own a house with a basement! anyway, i've settled on the following equipment and will be getting most of it from big al's--the tank and stand are from LFS, of course:
AGA 38-gallon tank (36x12x20)
AGA triple-tube fluorescent fixture with (3) 36" T-8 bulbs
(i really agonized about this one. a PC ficture would've cost the same but i wanted the flexibility of removing bulbs if i had an algae problem, or just in case i got tired of brewing CO2)
3 bags of flourite (for 3-inch depth)
200-watt titanium heater with LCD display
Nutrafin CO2 system (or DIY system)
Emperor 280 (i'm concerned about CO2 loss but decided to get this filter anyway because i think it will support more fish than a fluval 204 and would be easier to clean--i haven't had a tank without some kind of wet/dry filtration in a long time and wouldn't want to regress technologically)
as you can see, my system will be much cheaper than yours--i am saving my money for discus and altum angelfish. good luck with your system; it'd be nice to hear any suggestions you have for me. i've kept fish off and on since i was 7, but haven't done so for 3 years. when i was in junior high (1988) in the SF Bay Area, you could buy quarter-sized discus for $2.99 or 2 for $5. now i have to anticipate on giving $30-40 per young discus to chicagoland breeders.
anyway, lots of luck. i'll be posting pics of mine soon. hope to see yours.