Lots of playgroups get on simply fine totally without them, utilizing what's called "The Theater of the Mind". Basically, you do not require to physically put and move miniatures if you simply keep track of characters and their relative range. Theater of the mind gameplay can save a great deal of time setting things up, given that you do not require to trouble drawing anything out.
It's not without its faults though. Theater of the mind gameplay can easily get confused and lead to arguments, and it should truly be booked for encounters that will either be over rapidly, or that include really few combatants or ecological factors. As soon as the DM is tracking multiple area effects and half a dozen enemies, it should actually be put out physically to keep everybody on the exact same page.
Professionally painted miniatures and dungeon functions can produce extraordinary games, but they can ravage your wallet as well. If you're looking for the bare bones, you can get whatever you actually need for about, eh, $10. Just grab a bag of glass beads. You'll often see these offered in craft shops, sometimes dollar stores, or periodically they get sold as aquarium substrate.
All you actually need for a video game of D&D is markers that can plainly show the positions of each animal, and that can be separated from each other. These little inexpensive beads do that well, and are about as spending plan friendly as they come. You can even discover larger versions to represent large sized miniatures (though I never found any for substantial and above).
It can be impossible to predict sometimes what minis you'll require and how lots of you'll need. It's good to have some glass tokens to put down when your druid unexpectedly summons half a lots pixies. As a DM specifically, it can be daunting attempting to upgrade from beads and tokens to actual miniatures.
Pawn collections are an excellent happy medium. Basically, you get a lot of mini stands and a stack of cardstock with monster punchouts that can slot in and out of your stands. Bam, instantaneous mini collection. Many of the fifth edition books likewise released corresponding pawn collections, as did the majority of the pathfinder books, like this one. Beware to read the fine print though, for whatever factor a few of them sell the stands separately so make sure you end up with both pawns and stands.
You'll still require to buy/make the stands, but I highly suggest the Printable Heroes line. It's completely totally free (though please help support the man's Patreon), you simply need cardstock and a printer that can manage cardstock. Pawns aren't without their downsides however, or their lack of sides truly. Being basically featureless from 2 sides, suggests that a minimum of somebody around the table usually sees your cool mini as a blank white edge.
If you have actually spent at any time at all in comic stores you need to have seen a minimum of a few of these. A lot of pre-painted miniatures made particularly for D&D (or Pathfinder) tend to be easy molds with resilient plastic and hit or miss out on painting quality. However they do offer you with an actual accurate mini to represent your characters or monsters - d&d nolzur's marvelous miniatures - nolzur's marvelous miniatures.
When I state sets I suggest products like these that are usually in blister pack type with some main theme or an adventure they were produced. If you're a player and you identify a set that simply so takes place to have a dwarven wizard mini that simply completely matches your next character, go for it.