The guy at the store said that the liquid yeast he uses does not need a starter to work right.
I think the accepted opinion of the experts is you'll always do better with a starter, however I lean toward the beginner school of -- as you said -- one less thing to screw up. I still classify myself as a beginner with only six or seven total batches; if it is the type of yeast package advertised by the manufacturer as being enough yeast cells to pitch for a five gallon batch, lately I've been pitching without a starter. So far with good results -- maybe not as good as it could be, but saves a step. I'll also say I've made starters in the past without any problems; it isn't rocket science. Like most things, take the preceding for what it's worth and do what you think works best for you. If you are going to make a starter, however, you will have need of an extra bit of malt extract.
Good luck with the first batch.