I'm not saying not to have a VPS, I'm saying don't do your experimenting there. Set up a local VM with exactly the same configuration as your VPS, including all programs, services, config files, etc. When you read something on the internet that you want to try, like changing your SSH port or eliminating password authentication, do it on your VM first to work out the bugs, and only once you've settled on a working and stable configuration do you make the change on the VPS.
You can read as many books as you want, but the only way to really learn is through experience. You WILL break your system, every newbie does regardless of how many books they've read (you ALMOST bricked it yesterday, you're lucky you didn't), the question is do you want to break a VM that you can simply restore from a backup in a couple of minutes, or do you want to break your VPS, which will require a call to support, probably some payment, possibly a complete format and reinstall?