It's easy to understand that you don't want to pay for what may turn out to be a hobby with no profits. I haven't bought any software to build puzzles, and don't plan to, until it becomes clear that the money will be well spent.
The reason I purchased the gold membership was for the list of puzzle entries (words in the grid, not clues) from various crossword puzzle resources like the NY Times etc. Also the search for those entries has really come in handy. I've been pleasantly surprised by how useful the databases have been, and I found the expense acceptable. But if you're not having trouble filling in the grid, then this may not be so helpful to you. I'm not trying to sell anyone on this, just recommending it as a good resource since it helped me.
Anyway, good luck with your efforts!