Let it be said that I have a keyboard. And its collecting dust.
I need to get up off my rear end and actually work on playing. I don't imagine having any particular goals, I just want to be able to pick up some sheet music and figure it out and not struggle too much with the simple stuff.
I'm sure that learning from another person is best - but is there any books you can recommend? I'm a little tight on cash these days (aren't we all!) and a book may go "farther" on less money than a couple of lessons. Or I could learn from the book and then get lessons? Either or.
I'm a firm believer in lessons, especially at the start. Developing good habits is important, and although books can talk about them, they can't see if you're doing them. Bad habits are hard to unlearn.
Don't worry too much about cost. In my experience, teachers are willing to work something out -- perhaps only doing lessons every other week or something. In any case, I believe music in general, and certainly learning to perform and create music, is very worth the investment of time and money.
Additionally, much depends on you personally. As you've mentioned having problems "getting off your rear end," having a teacher can really help with motivation until you hit that point where you practice for fun.
I learned piano out of pure need for it. I bought the complete Idiots Guide to music theory and learned how to read music. I still ma very much a beginner but am learning quickly. If you have a passion like I do then you will learn how to play. Don't worry too much about 'bad habits'. Follow simple guidelines that you could google search for and you will be on your way to learning!
a good set of progressively difficult pieces is Mikrokosmos by Bela Bartok, a well-known composer. Volumes one and two are for beginners. Also, I strongly suggest playing slow enough that you understand where your fingers are going. It is frustrating, but messing up should be avoided because it is like throwing something into a pot that you have been cooking.
When I was a first-year college student, I took piano for a year. The teacher let me use the Bartók books; I think in that year (weekly lessons), I only did the first two books, but they were fun - not so childish. I learned about music in general as well as about playing piano.
Now, I know nothing about this, but I just Google-d "piano lessons" and turned up quite a variety of options. One site starts you off with online lessons for free, then will send you a disk (for any donation) with much more material. There are various combinations of video and audio lessons (for free) as well as a 25-minute video lesson at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vphWgqbF-AM... and it seems there is a whole series of Youtube video lessons.
Of course, having a teacher present would help, but if that just isn't possible (financially), this would at least give you something to start with.
On the issue of lessons. Please bear in mind that it isn't mandatory to have one every week, in fact in some cases it's better not too (a whole other discussion on why people assume lessons should be weekly . . . . ).
Have you considered going once a month? Or maybe every 6 weeks? This would keep the cost down for you , give you the benefit of a teacher and between times you can work from books at your own pace.