I'm new to knitting too and didn't want to spend a lot on blocking. Ingrid gave me a great tip - and it worked PERFECTLY on the last shawl I made.
I washed the item, laied it out on towels on my carpet and put blocking pins through the towels, into the carpet to hold the item in place. I let it dry for a few days and it was perfect!
My only problem with blocking boards is the size - the shawl was 67" long and I doubt I could find a board that big. The towels are the perfect solution! The only investment was the rust proof blocking pins.