I have to agree with @Adam_Xett here, VCarve Desktop was the best “tool” I have spent money on during my mini CNC journey. When you think about what you’ve spent on your machine, bits, clamps, material, dust extraction, the list goes on, a $350 piece of good “tooling” really isn’t much of a stretch if it allows you to fully use the rest of of your investment. I still use Carbide Create for some stuff and think it’s come a VERY long way in the 18 months I’ve been goofing around with this stuff (C3D for being a small software AND hardware company REALLY gets my applause here), but once I bought VCarve and learned to use it, which was pretty simple, it opened up a whole new world of what I could do with my machine. Software is often over looked because it isn’t something tangible, that you hold in your hand, like a big shiny machine, but development costs are no less expensive (and sometimes more) than making a physical object. When I use a piece of software like VCarve it’s obvious where my money went, and when I think of the big CAD system I use at work (which probably cost several thousands of $$$'s per seat) it’s obvious why it costs so much as well, with VCarve I think I got off cheap. When I started looking at this stuff a couple years ago I mentioned it to a machinist friend of mine and he told me to take the cost of the machine and at the very least double it before it would do what I wanted it to do, and he was pretty close, and then some!
Enjoy the journey!