If you join NFPA, there IS a members' discount.
Also, depending on when your jurisdiction adopts the NECŪ, the NFPA Catalog (or online) seems to reduce pricing somewhat as you go farther into the Code cycle, so you might save a little by holding out until when you actually need to apply the newest edition.
I agree that the NECŪ Handbook is worth the extra. Alternatively, for about $12/month or $113/year, NECplus online provides that information PLUS identifies the changes PLUS provides Formal Interpretations PLUS NFPA Staff notes. I use NECplus extensively, but it does have to be used on a computer because of the "panes" (no scrolling within a screen pane on an iPhone or iPad so far).
Also FWIW you can pick up the CHANGES in the 2011 NECŪ (versus 2008) on either your iPhone or Android smartphone for FREE; see http://necchanges.boopsie.com/
; got to be loaded from your smartphone itself (or the app stores).