My experience is that it is better to buy a good guitar she really likes! You should not set a limit for the $500. And later she will update... A good guitar can really help her building playing hobby life-long....
comparing to her spending time and effort... Even $5,000 means nothing!
Otto Vowinkel, Cedar/BRW 650; Juan Hernandez Torres, Spruce/IRW 640;
German V. Rubio, Spruce/MP 635; Kenny Hill Performance, Double Top(Spruce/Cedar)/MP 630;
German V. Rubio, Spruce/PE 635; Córdoba C9A&B, Cedar/MH 650; Sweet Tone, Spruce/RW 640