The VZ is a better gun than many give it credit for, typical Czech.
The only real complaints are the price of magazines and the light barrel, for the high volume shooters.
As to AR’s, buy your receivers (lower) now and build them as you can. PSA has sales regularly on cosmetic blemished lowers for $50 each.
Once you have the initial firearm sorted out, I’d recommend working on 2 months good and water before another gun.
Not knowing where you are, I won’t advise on a handgun. But I would start putting $10 a week back for one, by the time you’re legal to purchase one, you’ll have enough saved for a good one, a spare, ammo and some training.
Food, water and meds aren’t romantic or exciting, but they are necessary. Having to do it over again, from your age I would focus on them heavily after the initial defense gun (s).