My car was originally a beautiful champagne metallic silver. Then was painted metallic silver. The new paint then lost its clear-coat and became matte silver, and then started absorbing dirt and looked like matte gray with splotches of darker gray that wouldn't wash out. Eventually it faded to severely splotchy grey that was often mistaken for primer, a la "Hey, when are you going to spray some color over that primer?"
While looking at some wheels I came across this picture and fell in love:
I kept the paint swatch with me for months, and double checked it every time I saw a car that was just the right color. I probably went in a half-dozen times to ask questions and double check costs. I knew I'd have to keep the job cheap in dollars and pour more of my time into it to make the car turn out all right. I decided on a total budget of less than $1000 on everything, paint and materials included. (Minus the spray gun and some pretty common tools, which I'll get in to later.)
I toyed with the idea of doing a $50 roll on paint job. (More of that for those of you looking to REALLY save a buck.) But have a friend with a spray gun and decided to use real paint that could last long enough for my 6-year-old to enjoy this paint, hopefully. I even found a picture of a 944 in just about the exact color that I wanted. It is now my desktop as inspiration.
Investment to date: 0 hours labor, $0.