Resources, and equipment's resource requirement, represent permanent attachments to a character. These are things that are simply part of the character's existence and not just items that happen to be lying around. You don't have to have resources to have access to a weapon for a scene where you need it, you need to have resources to have access to that weapon as a default. If you're starting a situation where in a near-future scene you will need access to an item and you don't currently have it, you have to go through some method of obtaining the item whether you have the necessary resources to obtain it that way or not. If you don't have the resources, you'll need to obtain the item some other way, but it doesn't make it unobtainable.
For example: Gangrel vampire Marky Fangs needs a gun to take to a gunfight, since he knows that even for vampires the old adage about knives still holds true. Marky lives a simple life, where he gets what he needs by taking it, since there's certainly nobody who's gonna tell him he can't have something. After observing a few gang-bangers that hang out down the block from his Haven, he follows one of them he's seen brandishing a gun before as the gang-banger walks home. Marky jumps the kid, and after a brief struggle Marky ends up with the gun. Marky decides to let the kid go...this time. He doesn't need another mess to clean up right now. Marky steps off into the shadows of the nearby alley before disappearing into the night with his newfound weapon.
Absolutely no resources required, but Marky now has a gun. Of course he only has the ammo that's in the gun (unless he somehow acquires that) and he certainly doesn't have any way of maintaining the gun. He also has no attachment to it, so if it gets broken, destroyed or lost it's unlikely for Marky to care much about it, he'll just get another one the same way. He has nothing invested.
All merits can work the same way, if Marky's player had decided to spend some experience or creation merit points in Resources previously, he'd be able to just buy the gun, rather than suffer the consequences of having a now pissed-off gang-banger in his neighborhood who might or might not come back with friends to make Marky's life a little more difficult. If Marky had needed some heavier weaponry, obviously it would've taken a lot more effort to retrieve, and thus a greater amount of repercussion possible, which is the trade-off for having the Merit in this case.
I hesitate to say this makes Merits "feel balanced, meaningful, and fun..." but when you push characters to make decisions like that it can definitely improve the overall balance of the game regarding merits. The flip side of the coin is going to be punishing players for over-using high-rated "Quality of Life" merits to extract more mileage from them than would normally make sense. This occurs whenever you have a player whose high-resources character simply starts buying his way through problems rather than role-playing the situations out. (Essentially the polar opposite of my previous example). You can re-balance those high-merits through role-playing means again, pulling out things like suspicious IRS agents investigating or freezing the accounts temporarily (Don't take the dots away, simply make the player have to do some role-playing to make up for the RP he'd avoided using the Merit) or having the player attract the attention of powerful players in the city with all the cash he's throwing around.
When you get right down to it, having Resources 5, Allies 5, (Housing) 5 or Fighting Styles (Kung-Fu) 5 are all perfectly balanced, and realistically they can all provide you the same things with decent role-playing. In the Gun-needing-situation earlier, Resources 5 could've easily purchased the gun, assuming the character can find someone who'll sell it to him. With Allies 5, he could call on his buddy to bring him a gun (Though at a possible risk to his ally), with Housing 5, the gun could be considered part of the security of the house, if said housing was spent on security, but the gun being lost or permanently removed from the house could negatively impact the house merit. Kung Fu of course could be used to bypass the need for the gun, or to retrieve a gun in a similar fashion as exampled above. Or to earn some cash to buy the gun. Or make a friend who counts as an ally to bring you the gun.
It's not bad to be lenient with resources or other "quality of life" merits if you've got much bigger things for the characters to be worried about, but in the average game or with above average players you'll want to be as strict with them as you would be with any other merit, because it's easy for a that leniency to be bent to where the balance of the game overall has to be readjusted to compensate. I used to be very lenient with my players especially regarding resources when both I and my players were new to the system, but I very quickly learned that the seemingly "default" quality of life merits, even at fairly low dot-levels, can be incredibly powerful when abused without check.