I've been playing nearly non-stop for the last two months. I known the rules of how to play for years, but have only recently tried to play online.
I play several games a day, have spent a few hours playing a tactics trainer, and have read several articles.
Is there any way for me to get decent at this game without having to collect unemployment?
Go out and buy a top chess game like Chess Master 2000, on its hardest setting its near impossible to beat.
The when you play online have the chass game running when you play on its hardest setting with a game set up against the computer.
Then what ever move your opponent plays against you online, copy the move into the game as if it was your move, then see what the computer does and then copy the computer's move and play it against your online opponent.
You will kick ass every time online just buy copying the computer, as that game is near unbeatable, the best your opponent will do is get a draw if they are an absolute chess mater, or cheating themselves with the same software.
May sound like cheating but after time you will get used to what the computer game does move wise, if you play like that for 6 months to a year, everyday several games per day, you will learn from the computer and eventually be able to stop cheating with the computer, but you will still have months of experience watch and following its moves and should have hopefully learned a lot from it.