I once had that exact tank set up and I really liked it.
It's taller than a 55 gallon and as a result has more viewing area.
The good news is: I know you can achieve one of your goals, you don't have to spend a fortune on fish to have an enjoyable and beautiful tank.
I have 6 tanks and one of my favorites is still my 29 gallon planted Tetra
It has very common fish, Rummies, Rasboras and Cardinals - the tank has GREAT colors and GREAT action....
My plants are easy to grow species most of which came as freebie stems from my fish club buddies.
A good light and some Flourish Comprehensive and the plants look awesome plus they help with water quality and my fish really enjoy them. As Byron suggest go with plants if you can while you cycle.
So as a begginer find some hardy fish that you like. Most of the hardier secies are easy to find.
In that tank you have many options.
But do read up on cycling and join a fish club!