Well, here it is nearly 3am, and I just had another thought--
Windows is now giving me notices that updates will expire in a week, and I know I'm not going to be able to afford a desktop like I want anytime soon. But I still want to be able to get online for now, so maybe lowering my immediate goals is the better option.
My monitor was purchased last fall. I also have a wireless keyboard purchased last year, and a wireless mouse. The primary goal for now is being able to get online. If I were to get an inexpensive laptop, would I be able to hook up those peripherals to it? Glancing at Office Max's site briefly, I saw a notebook/laptop advertised for less than $300, which I might be able to afford after April 3.
Would that be possible? Then I could just wait and get a desktop like I want later, without feeling rushed about it and save up for it.
I wanted to avoid a laptop due to the smaller screen and my diminishing eyesight, but since a lot of power isn't really necessary for online activity like this, and I still have this older machine I could use offline, maybe that's a workaround.
Edit: Alternatively, since the machine with the dead hard drive just needs a new hard drive with Windows on it, maybe that would cost less in the long run.