The links those guys posted are really useful, check em out for sure. To answer some of your concerns/questions directly, basically your friends are right. Spacer lifts cause issues with your suspension, and any bigger tires or offset wheels will add additional wear to various components. However, as long as you keep up on maintenance you shouldn't be concerned; those parts will still last a good long time unless you're absolutely flogging it on the trails every weekend. A 2" lift is generally regarded to be the safe upper limit for lift for the front end, however you can dabble with more by various means (pushing your luck, SFD, diff drop).
You can get a 2" lift pretty simple with just some 2" lift coils from 4x4parts.com ("AC" coils). There is a decent variety of options available though, especially for the rear end. As far as tires, if you want to go bigger than 31" you'll need wheel spacers or new wheels with ~3.75" of backspacing to clear the strut.
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