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As an alternative to your class and background starting equipment you can roll to see how much GP you have and you can "buy" your equipment while making your character.

Does the same "buying" rule apply without taking that option but instead with the GP given to you through your background?

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No, but the DM can easily allow it.

The normal way to decide your starting equipment is to combine the equipment granted by your class and by your background but this doesn't let you purchase equipment.

You can alternatively forego the equipment granted by your class and background and buy your equipment using the buying rule.

This being said your DM could very well allow you to spend the starting money from your background at their discretion.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd probably add the quote from the Player's Handbook that specifies this. Otherwise, great answer \$\endgroup\$ May 14, 2018 at 15:42

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