If you're doing anything high-stakes, this guide to basic security from Tech Solidarity contains simple and actionable advice that has been real-world tested (it was used to secure entire political campaigns in the 2018 US election).
Everyone can be secure.
It is with those four words this website is founded. Computer, smartphone, and online security does not require a degree or years of experience. All it requires is someone show you the way.
You've been sold a lie. You cannot just buy "security." It is something obtained through simple choices and knowledge. Tragically, these aren't hard to do or obscure to learn. But no one makes money telling you how to use what you already have. What you need is someone who doesn't care about your money or looking smart by spouting off fancy words of no consequence - just that you not be a victim.
You don't need to shell out money to be secure online. You just need to learn how you get infected and then, from there, you can learn how to avoid it. All of this information is available for free.
VPN providers are just a glorified proxy. They can still see and manipulate all of your unencrypted traffic (even if your connection to them is encrypted, the connection between your VPN provider and destination are not).
A glorified proxy cannot possibly stop most security threats. That's not how any of this works.