Great question! First and foremost, check our local music stores. That way you can play an instrument before you buy it (or RENT it!). These stores often have clearance sections in the store and online. In the local area we have the following retailers:
A&R Music, Shar Music, Anderson Music, and Marshall Music
If that option doesn’t help you then the next step is to search for a used instrument. Use the guide I posted about brands to help your search. The most common places to look are Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. Also, check with other family members, maybe they used to play an instrument but don’t use it anymore.
Whatever you do, do not buy instruments that are not on the approved list without checking with me first. Many of the cheaper instruments you will find online are made with poor quality materials and will not be playable.