Thanks to you all for your help. You guys rock.
I used Cisco Press self study materials: Official Study Guide, Pocket Command Guide, and SWITCH SLM. I also have the Foundation Learning Guide but found it to in-depth for exam purposes. Its my go-to for reference material though. I grew particulary close to the Command Guide. I enjoyed building the scenarious referenced in the book and check my commands against the books solution. Hope this helps others.
I have a home lab consisting of 2x3560 and 2x2960 bought from the eBay machine
The age old question. As I am sure you all will agree, the prices fluctuant fairly regularly. I purchased each switch at around $200-250. I havent looked in awhile though.
Hola Travis. Yes I am indeed pursuing ROUTE next and will finish with TSHOOT obviously. Been studying ROUTE all this week and its been fun so far. I work as a Net Enginner already in both the civilian and military sectors and finally gaining my certs is exciting.