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I'm new to all of this... want some help with definitions such as GPU/CPU, etc..

Also, I understand BTC is no longer relevant in terms of individually mining... what would I purchase for under $200 that I could use to mine litecoin or altcoin or anything like that?

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I recommend you try mining with your current hardware first for Litecoin and a less popular altcoin like Yacoin, then look to invest in hardware. Litecoin is popular enough that it will take you multiple weeks before you earn enough in a Litecoin pool to withdraw.

You can compare Litecoin hardware output here: https://litecoin.info/Mining_hardware_comparison

Yacoin is up and coming but is still low in difficulty enough that you can earn enough in a day or two and while using your CPU.

http://www.yacoin.org/

For an example to put it in perspective, on one of my machines, I mine for Litecoin using my GPU and I also mine for Yacoin using my CPU. I am getting close to 5 Litecoins mined but I have already mined over 700 Yacoins.

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If you can get good graphics card with $200 install that in your computer and start mining newly launched Altcoins and later exchange them with Bitcoin

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