When you look at machinery of any kind cost is always a factor. So how do you save money when you are looking at machinery? I would say its more about not wasting money versus saving money. There is a difference and I will try and explain my position.
Saving money implies you can get the same thing at a lower cost. Machines are often like cars where the manufacture sets the price. Can you get a bit of a discount? sure you can but its not going to be 50%. If you find 3 companies that all sell the exact same machine, you are likely to find the costs to be more or less the same. When one has a cost that is far from the general norm there will be a reason. It could be that they have made everything an option. This to me is a bit deceptive as they put a front up about the low cost but on the back side everything is an add on. The others have set the price based on what you need to use the machine and have been upfront about it. Being upfront about things like this to me is a better way to be but it sets the cost a bit higher. So even if the same product has a lower cost there will be a reason for it. So can you "save" money on a machine?
I would offer that not wasting money is a far better way to reduce the cost of any machine. I will paint a picture with our friend and champion the hammer. You need to get a new hammer for a project. You stand in the local store and you see a hammer for $1,000 that has a laser sight and all kinds of cool gadgets built in. Next to it is a basic hammer for $50 that lacks all the cool gadgets. In this case it would be rather easy to see the waste of money as there is a large difference in cost. What if one hammer was $150 and the other $185? You can have all the gadgets for just $35 more and that is not so much. Well the gadgets are likely to have side effects. Will they add weight to the hammer? Did they have to hollow out the hammer head to make space to hide the electronics? What is going to happen to all the gadgets once you use it as an actual hammer? Are all the gadgets going to fail after a few swings? Even at the closer price the extra $35 is still a waste of money. So instead of spending $185 on a hammer you will spend $150 saving yourself more than 10%. So you saved money by not wasting money.
So how does this equate to machines? Well you buy what you need, same as when looking at hammers. What do you need the machine to do? Lets say you need to remove a sharp edge or a bur. Well in that case you should not need a large sanding belt so removing that from the machine will cut the cost. If you need a grain finish then a cross belt setup will not be needed so you can remove that. If you look at what you need and take away the things that will not help, you will not waste money on tools you do not need. So if you need to remove a bur do you need a a four station machine with one sanding belt, one cross belt and a set of brushes? Well the answer to that is clearly no. You need two steps to remove a bur from a part, you need to lay the vertical bur over and then you need to remove it. So you would only need a two station machine. Rather than spend $200k on a four station machine you can spend $100k on a two station and save yourself 50%. You get the tools you need and did not spend on tools that will not help you. So you saved money by not wasting money.
It can often be things that slip by most people. I want a machine that is 60" wide as I do wide parts. Well what percentage of your parts need that 60" width? Well if its 5% is it really worth the added cost? If you look at a spreadsheet and it shows the largest part you make is 59" wide, but you may not have noticed that you have not made that part in 2 years. It would be a waste of money to buy a 60" machine just to cover a part that at best is 5% of your work. So you can go to a 40" machine and lower the machine cost. By getting the right machine for the task you can save a lot of money by not wasting it. So my argument is that its better to not waste money versus trying to save money. Look only at the tools that will help you get what you need and buy as much quality as you can afford. This will put you in a position where you did not waste any money while saving on the total cost.