Not knowing exactly what you are printing or on what paper and with what printer(s) is a bit of an impediment in making suggestions, but, never the less, I use the Colormunki Photo and for me as an amateur it works exceptionally well. The thing that I like the best with this system is the ability to update the profiles with and for specific images. The more images you update the profiles with the better the profile becomes.
Cost is about $450 so that is well within your stated budget. Building a first generation profile takes maybe 30 to 45 minutes, and that is with 20 minutes of letting the printed targets dry before scanning, hardly a time intensive endeavor in my book.
I have used a number of the canned profiles from Breathing Color for their papers, as well as Epson papers, on my Epson’s and produced quite good prints with them both color and B&W. On the other hand the profiles I have generated using the Colormunki are head and shoulders better and profiles updated using specific photo files are quite stunning, if I do say so myself. I suppose that stunning in my book may simply be mediocre or subpar in yours or others, who is to say. All things being equal, $450 doesn’t seem an overly large investment. Finely from my point of view, no two printers are the exactly the same in their output, the enormous number of complicated and interrelated components and other variables make this a virtual certainty. I therefore cannot see how one profile could possibly be optimized for all machines in all situations, this is a virtual impossibility.
I can’t see paying someone for profiles that I can produce whenever I need them; quickly achieving a what you see is what you get system between monitor and print.
With regard to Dan’s question, in my case, most assuredly I can produce profiles that allow me to make prints that are much better than those made with profiles provided by the manufacturer.