I'm in a similar position. I wanted to upgrade from some 7 x 35 porros this spring before a birding festival, but I'm definitely on a budget. My first choice was the Nikon Monarchs already mentioned, but they were just out of reach. I finally bought a pair of Bushnell 8 x 42 Trophy XLTs from B & H Photo for $100. I've been really happy with them, especially given the price.