I posted this earlier on REDDIT, and I thought maybe some folks here might benefit from reading this:
Q: Is there any money to be made in mining anymore?
So here's the thing - people mine for different reasons, but one of the smarter ones is this; Mining is like buying bitcoin every minute of every day regardless of the price. It's a way of accumulating bitcoin in a very disciplined fashion (and learning something great and having fun doing it). Every financial expert will tell you one simple thing that leads to being wealthy - invest what you can as soon as you can and regardless of other factors. Mining does this.
Consider - bitcoin is selling for roughly $325 per coin today. If you have $32.50 in your pocket, you buy 0.1 BTC and put it away. But next week, bitcoin is $400 and you don't have the $40 in your pocket. You don't buy any because it's too expensive for you at the time. Draw this out for a month as the price of bitcoin continues to rise as the halvening draws closer. You need more and more change in your pockets to invest, most times you don't. You're not accumulating wealth because the price to buy in when you have it is rising. You're missing the boat.
Now, if you invested $1500 in a rig and run it, you are accumulating bitcoin, every minute of every day regardless of the price. You pay the electric bill every month - that is your cost of purchasing. That price doesn't rise with the price of bitcoin. You've locked in your costs - the price of the rig (capital investment) and the cost to run it (continuing 'maintenance' or recurring costs).
Ultimately, by mining, you are betting the price will rise (a good bet) to cover all the costs and have what's left over as your nest egg. This is why some very smart people are mining (sometime even at a short-term loss), and also why they are telling you not to... because they don't want their returns to tank because you are competing for their coins in some small way (by pushing the difficulty up).
So does this give you a better understanding? If you can afford an efficient ASIC like an S7 or an Avalon 6, and cover the power costs, and stand the heat and noise, you'll be the better off for it. Investing in old ASIC hardware that's less power efficient just because the initial capital investment is cheaper doesn't make a whole lot of sense, unless you are getting a hugely great deal. If you are a beginner, it's likely you can't grasp the intricacies of the crypto economy (resale vaue of ASICs, etc.) so just save to buy the newest rig you can afford, and go to it.