First i would buy a nice pair of 31's tires. I ran 31s on my stock wrangler for 2 years before i did anything else to it. It made it threw the mud. I learned a lot about my jeep during this period. If your worried about rubbing, get yourself a nice little grinder and trim your fenders a little it gives you a whole lot more clearance. One of the best things you could do to a stock wrangler is make yourself a cheap (15$) pair of discos. I broke my sway bar connects so i got discos and with the sway bar disconnected i saw much better performance.
The first picture is after a nice day of mudding. Completely stock with just 31in MTZ.
Second picture is of my front fenders cut. (still stock suspension)
I know run a 3in BDS lift and have 33s coming in the mail. Learn your jeep and make the upgrades you think you need. Itl hit you and then you won't be able to stop. In the past few months iv dropped 3-4 grand on my jeep and I'm no where near done
Remember, Craigslist is your friend. I bought all sorts of armor and suspension components off craigslist and saved a lot there, but I bought things I didn't need at the time and all out of order, but I had plans for them anyway.
Hold onto something... Quick!!!
How crazy you gonna mud? Upgrade your tires, maybe a front lunchbox, recovery points and straps, oilpan tranny skid, a good oil pump for changing diff fluid ( you will be doing it 3-4 times a year), power washer is a must... Wait, that sounds like my plan (lol)
it is what it is except when its something else
X2 on wheeling your vehicle stock for awhile. I also have a tight budget and run mine as a daily driver, but have found my girl to be most capable offroading. It does take some skill as a driver, but one of the most important things you can do is Listen! I started offroading with a group of people that had been offroading longer than I, and I just listened to everything they had to say, followed their instructions, and I've made it through some pretty hairy stuff in my stock LJ on 31's. It is a blast and you will learn a lot.