My first car was a 1979 Toyota Corolla with 250k Plus miles on it. It cost $300 dollars. I had learned to drive a stick when i was about 8 years old in my fathers truck. However, i bought my wife a brand new Tracker after Geo was dissolved, and it took on the name of Chevy Tracker, and taught her how to drive a stick in that. That little transmission sure could take a beating, now the wife likes driving stick more than auto.
For your "training" car, definitely fund some old beater and teach yourself on that, or better yet, find a friend with a beater and ask him to teach you.