Not sure why this is an either or. An autopilit requires more money also. I say you have both
The content of the OP suggests that finances are a concern. I started sailing singlehanding a Catalina[Jaguar] 22 and my first purchase was a tillerpilot.
That allowed me to go forward to change/reef sails with the boat under control.
Sure it would be nice on long wet cold passages to have both but if I had to choose between having all lines back to the cockpit OR an autopilot the autopilot wins every time.