Buy a used laptop. Heck, you can buy a big pile of used laptops for the price of a new one. Look them over carefully and avoid ones with dents or cracks. Make sure they boot up, make sure there are no burning smells.
Used machines are burned in, if they are still alive, they will probably continue to live. Upgrade the RAM and the hard disk.
Three year old laptops can be had for $300. They have Pentium-4 M processors and are not that much slower than new ones. Keep the original hard disk with its copy of Windows in case you need to upgrade the BIOS or the like, and install Linux on the new drive. Linux on a three year old machine feels as fast as Windows on a new machine.
You can't run the latest 3-D stuff on it, but those fancy GPUs chew up batteries like mad, and run much better on a desktop anyway. You didn't need it three years ago, you don't need it now.
Apple software is nice, but their hardware is problematic. Not worth the trouble.