My limit is about $300-$400 for an amp and $400-$500 for a guitar. For guitar its either an HSS or SSS Strat or maybe a Tele. The thing is my brother has all the high end stuff, mesa boogie, custom fender jazzmaster, les paul studio and all these cool effects. I just want my own decent set up. I'm looking at the line 6 spider series. But anything better thats around $300 to $400 is welcome. My main influences are Cream, Black Crowes, Guns n Roses, Zeppelin, Allman Brothers, Hendrix, Alice in Chains,, Aerosmith, and The Rolling Stones and Buddy Guy. I might get a fuzz box and Talk Box down the line and my brother will give me his Cry Baby Wah. Where i'm getting at is whats a good amp for the music i like. Basically Blues Rock with some to a lot of distortion.

try to spend more money on the amp rather than on the guitar. the amp is really what will affect your tone more. go around trying cheaper and/or used tube amps and see what you like. the spider series really isn't that good there's a lot of better amps out there.
look at the peavey vypyr series, they are pretty decent amps to get you started. I just got the 15W to practice on at night. Its not anywhere near a nice tube amp(which i also have), but its got some decent sounds and built in effects and the larger ones you can get a footswitch for to control the effects.

I disagree with garlic owl, get a decent guitar. If something is a chore to play, you probably wont want to practice much. and if you're not going to be gigging anytime soon, i wouldnt spend a lot of money on a big amp.

the obvious thing is: have your brother help you find some stuff, if hes got a nice setup, he probably knows quite a bit about guitars and amps and might even know some people who have got some used stuff for sale good prices.