No, I didn't spend $500, but it was closer to 500 than 30... :\
Yeah, cut your losses early, it's good advice. I learnt a lot doing it, and am trying my hardest to use that as justification of the expenditure... I'm much more familiar with AWS now than before, and i'm heaps used to debian-based linux, and not so much yum based, so it was a learning experience getting all the stuff to compile and run properly; information that'll continue to be useful.
Live and learn, hopefully next time more cheaperly
I figure at least I'm making *new* mistakes (for me)!