I’m definitely an analog lover but am budget constrained. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated.
It seems like other folks ignoring your statement about " budget constrained", cartridge is the most important in your situation, change the stylus profile first, this is the most cost effective solution to upgrade the quality. You can always use your upgraded cartridge on another turntable.
I have a local friend with similar cheap belt drive, he changed M2 Red to Stanton 881s mkII and it was huge improvement in sound quality without changing anything else, later he has bought a better phono stage, but still using the same turntable (Pro-Ject).