HI Meredith and welcome!
On the contrary, Meredith.. i feel that it is never too late... the fact that you are posting to inquire further only indicates your love for your furbaby!
Personally, i think it is important to keep kitties' nails short and neat. i groom my furbabies on a daily basis, and trim their nails at least ONCE a week. Oh yes, i think it is an excellent idea to provide scratch pads/posts or sisal rope posts for them to "file" their nails.
i trim my kitties' nails a little one at a time, paying attention to the pink "quick" area. Yes, it is extremely important not to cut into this area, as bleeding will occur.
i have three different clippers. My favorite is a small human nail clipper. It is actually pretty easy and fast. Practice makes perfect i guess?
Normally, i will lay paper towels on my lap before i do any clippings (to collect the deposits.) i will place my Daisy or Venus on my lap and start clipping. The entire process is really fast. i throw away the paper towels after the deed is done. i normally give them a treat after. Their current favorites are chicken baby food treats.
Here is a site for you:http://www.katsation.com/kittentips2.html