I've had experience w/ both. Although I'm not thrilled w/ root canal (had 2 of them a week apart), at least part of my teeth are saved, and I have a crown over each. I had an extraction years back when root canal wasn't in the budget (prior marriage, that is), and my goal for next year is to fill that space in w/ a permanent bridge.
To buy yourself some time, take a sip's worth of peroxide (3% in the brown bottles for under a buck), and let it just sit and foam in your mouth for as long as you can (5 minutes or so), and it will do wonders to ease the discomfort by cleaning that bad boy out. I have a tooth I put on hold so that my dog could have his baby teeth pulled. Peroxide is really helping, and I only have issues when I have certain sweets or extreme cold.
Hope this is somewhat helpful! If I had the money back then, I'd have gone w/ root canal over extraction, because it's cheaper and better in the end.