I shoot a lot of 38 spl. and for that reason reload - you might want to consider that. You can save your brass from ammo you buy - or buy range brass for around .07/casing and reload it many times. The last I paid for small pistol primers was around $34.00/1,000 so round that off to .04 per reloaded round for primer. Powder - I use Bullseye - well over 2,000 reloads per pound but go on the high side and say .02 per round for that. Bullet . . . well, you can buy 'em or cast 'em. I cast all of mine. You should be able to buy 'em for around .10/ea. So, thats .10 + .04 + .02 or .16 per round - much cheaper if you cast your own. I didn't figure the casing cost in as it can be reloaded many times. So, at .16/rd. that's $8.00 per box of 50 if you reloaded them.
I don't have much tied up in lead as most of it I have scrounged - so, I figure I have about .06 per round not considering the cost of the casing or lead. My time? Well, I'm retired and reloading is also a hobby. That's some pretty cheap shooting that over time will pay for the cost of a reload press, a set of Lee dies and other necessities.
I never thought I'd see the day when it was chapter to shoot my 38 splx. than it is to shoot .22s. I just thought you might be interested in seeing what reloading could save for you over time. It's not necessary to buy the most expensive equipment - .38 spl. is one of the easiest cartridges to load.
If you decide to go with a .38 and still buy your ammo - don't leave the casings where you shoot. Grab 'em up and either save 'em for when you might reload in the future - or give them to someone who does reload 38s - they'll appreciate having 'em
Good luck to you!