Asalaamu 'alykum (peace be upon you) brother. :)
I'm really glad that you've taken the decision to come closer to Allaah after being lost and confused in your life for a while. I think alot of us probably go through that anyway.
I'll answer some questions mentioned in your post so you can get a better understanding of some misconceptions you might have.
The Messenger of Allaah, Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
"Indeed those from before you from the People of the Book [Christians & Jews] divided into seventy-two groups. And, indeed, this group (Muslims) will divide into seventy-three. Seventy-two groups will be in the Hellfire and one of them will be in Paradise. And it is the Jamaa'ah (group)." 3
And in another narration, he said: "Everyone of them in the Hellfire, except for one group that which I and my companions are upon."4
The Salaf are those who came before, and therefore the 'Salafi sect' in reality follows the way of the Prophet and the understanding of his companions of the Qur'an [the speech of Allaah] & the Sunnah [Prophetic way.] If we follow there way - we will be successful, and even though you may hear many misconceptions about them - that is the path you should follow since the Salaf were the most rightly guided people. As Allaah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said:
"The best people is my generation then those that follow them, then those who follow them."
[Recorded Authentically in Sahih Muslim]
Therefore whenever anyone says anything to you in regard to religion - you have the right to ask them for their evidence from Qur'an, the Sunnah or the understanding of the Salaf [the pious predecessors.]
I hope you understand, you can check out more info from this link inshaa Allaah:
And if you ever have any questions in regard to that - please do ask.
In regard to you and sam getting married, i think that would be kool. It's much better for you to get married than to live in a sinful state, ie. dating each other when you have the chance of being married.
What you would have to do though is repent sincerely to Allaah, and she should truelly become muslim [i.e. believe from the heart that there is none worthy of worship except God/Allaah Alone and that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is Allaah's final Messenger.]
You should also perform Istikharaah which is a prayer so Allaah guides you to the correct way:
You might want her to pronounce her Shahadah in the Masjid and you can marry her there and the Imaam can be her wali or something.
Just try checking this link for more info in regard to that:
A Wali (Guardian) for a Converted Muslim Woman
That way you guys wont be sinful and you can carry on living together etc. except you won't be sinful for it, and you can join the MSA as husband and wife.
Maybe you could ask some brothers in the Masjid or MSA for financial help also so they could support you guys abit, i pray that you are successful. ameen.
Sorry i havn't been able to answer all your questions - but if i think of something i will say so inshaa Allaah.