You'll see posts by people who have been printing for a long time say that after they bought a commercially-made metal halide exposure unit, that they can't believe they got by so long without it . . . that it made that much difference.
I'm cheap by nature, but I've found that I rarely regret buying a professional-quality tool. I've made 3 exposure units, and was gonna make a metal halide, but decided to quit screwing around and buy a good one and be done with it. I just missed out on a used deal about 100 miles from my shop, and after watching the classifieds and Craigslist, I found a good price on a new AmerGraph. It ships next week.
You can afford only what you can afford, but if you're thinking that the integrator is probably a good idea (and it is), you'll probably regret not getting it in the not-so-distant future. Consistency in exposure eliminates one of the many variables in screenprinting.