I am a fan of tools and collections of tools. I have a very large toolbox which I use for any major project or doing something on the Jeep (my auto skills are quite limited). That toolbox weighs well over 50lbs. I have a smaller toolbox for day-to-day stuff around the house that is light enough that anyone could carry it. I have a third toolbox for tools that are intended for electrical and electronics use. I generally have enough duplicates that I have been able to put together a nice household toolbox for my girlfriend just from extra tools.
From my experience, most households do not have a toolbox. There is usually a hammer somewhere, a bent screwdriver, and anything else is done with a butter knife or a coin. A sad state of affairs. It's not that expensive to assemble a useful starter collection of tools. You may find a tool kit for sale at a good price that includes the tools that I list below. Many tool kits have a screwdriver that uses a collection of bits. This can be quite handy at times but a collection of flat blade and Philips head screwdrivers generally work better. I have both as the bits sometimes provide rather unusual sizes as well as Torx bits.
Try to stay with brands like Craftsman, Stanley, etc. Really cheap brands are made from softer metal and are cheaply made. They will fail and you will have to buy them again. As I write this I am checking prices so that my estimates are reasonably representative of what you will really pay. I think that if you shop very carefully you will do even better. You may find a set that has all of these tools but beware the quality unless you know they are good, sturdy tools.
List of Tools
Toolbox: A toolbox can be bought at Walmart for $5 that will fit all of the tools listed below with space to spare.
Hammer. A fiberglass handle hammer will last a good long time but a sturdy wood handle hammer will save some money.You should be able to find a hammer on sale for around $5 or so.
Screwdriver Set: This set should have four to five each of flat blade and Philips head. Don't scrimp here or the tips of your screwdrivers will twist, break, etc. Sears, Lowes, and Home Depot often has very nice sets on sale for about $10.
Pliers set. A smallish and a largish should be good for starting out. A set of two or three will come to about $10 or so on sale. Again, check Sears, Home Depot, Lowes, etc. for sales. Add other sizes later as you need them and/or can afford to do so. The pliers set in the picture includes an adjustable wrench so that would save you a few dollars.
Adjustable wrench. If you need to keep costs down, buy just a 6" adjustable wrench. That could be around $4 or so on sale. Add other sizes later as you need them and/or can afford to do so. You may find a nice set that has a variety of sizes at a great price.
Measuring Tape: 10' or more is fine and you could find this for for $3 or so.
Level:Even a 6" level will be useful and these can be found for $2 or less on sale.
We are at between $35 & $39 and that may seem like a lot but you
have a very nice set of quality tools that shouldn't break and should
work well. Over time you can add additional tools and develop a really
great tool set. You probably already have a hammer and you could leave
out the tape measure and level if you are tight on funds. That would
get the basic tool set down to $25 or so. But, I think that you can
probably get everything on this list for a total of $25 from very
careful shopping. Also, ask family and friends what they can donate.
You may get very lucky and put this set together for free.
If you prefer to buy a set rather than assemble one, this is about the best deal I could find online that included everything I recommend a few more items. It sells for about $52 on Amazon and can be found
Please leave comments with own your ideas for such a project. Also, I understand that guys, in particular, have strong feelings about tools so keep in mind that this is my idea of a starter set and I am sure it can be improved upon but it's a good start for most folks.