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By Jeremy Quittner
Stephanie Nelson has a passion for a good deal. That’s fitting: Her two-person Atlanta company, CouponMom.com, runs an online coupon site. "I have a $3 business phone, a $4 lamp from my neighbor’s garage sale, and I use stationery I rescued from my husband’s office when they moved," Nelson says. (She blocks out the incorrect return address with free address labels.) For office equipment, she scours the newspaper for sales, gathers up rebate coupons, and heads right back to the store if prices drop after she buys. Her Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) color laser printer—retail price $500—cost her $190. She meets clients over coffee, not dinner. She almost never travels for business, preferring conference calls. She does make those calls from a lovely $1,800 desk, though. How? Her husband bought it for her.
Not every entrepreneur will be inspired to match Nelson’s thriftiness. But for those who want to channel their inner cheapskate, a little cash and a lot of tenacity can go a long way.