You aren’t going to be able to surf without a surfboard, and certainly, if you are a true beginner, you can’t figure it out on your own.  It’s not smart to do so.  You should learn how to surf with a surf instructor and you should DEFINITELY know how to swim before you start learning. Much of surfing is muscle memory, so it is important to build good habits from the beginning. Surfing also requires knowledge of the tides and the layout of the area -- you don't want to smash into rocks when you wipe out! This is why having an instructor is invaluable. 
So that’s where the $20 comes in.  You are going to have to pay for a lesson, pay for the instructor’s time, and rent a surfboard.  It may be more or less than $20 where you are, but it’s the safest way to get started.