To get back to the OP's original question, my vote is for Corel Graphics Suite, in particular, Corel PhotoPaint. It costs far less than PS and stand-alone versions of PhotoPaint are still available.
Photopaint's learning curve is a LOT gentler than PS, and on my machines, the system overhead seems to be less. Having said that, the number of plug-ins for PS exceeds those for PhotoPaint by a factor of 20 (at least).
So, you can spend less money and do a lot of photo editing sooner, with an app that will never be as universal as PS, OR you can spend much more money and time and get to know the app that is well-nigh unversal.
I use both; PhotoPaint for basic editing and adjustment and PS if there is a particular feature or plug-in I must use.