As you can see above, there's many different thoughts on how to get into ARs, so I'll throw in my $.02
First, if your budget is $1500.00, I would first start by going through the stickied picture thread at the top of this forum, to see what sort of set-up appeals to you. Quad rail?
Pistol grip type?
BUISs? A carry handle?
M16 rifle or M4 carbine?
There are so damn many different configurations, you'll need to figure out what you want.
I myself would probably blow your entire budget on the base AR, getting something from Daniel Defense or BCM with a quad-rail and VFG (I like the DDM4-V4 myself)....plus some mags and ammo. Then over time I'd look at an Eotech or Aimpoint optic, or perhaps something magnified. Be aware, optics can be very, very expensive.
Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus (519 BC – 430 BC) Power should only be given to those that want it least.