Want to know how a cheapskate's mind works? Step into my head for a minute.

 I want a couple of chairs and ottomans at Crate & Barrel, but they're not on sale. I will not pay full-price on something that will probably go on sale in the next 6 months. But there's gotta be a way to save 10 to 15 percent now.

"Ten to 15 percent?! You can squeeze a nickel a lot harder than that! What about Target or furniture consignment shops? You call yourself a cheapskate. You're an embarrassment to penny pinchers everywhere!"

Get out of my !*&%!! head. I'm in charge here!

Where was I? Oh yeah,  I'll look for the 15 percent off coupon that C&B sent late last year when I moved.

"Really? You can't even find the Target circular from last Sunday. How do you expect to find a coupon from last year?"

Agreed. Time for plan B. I ask a salesperson at C&B--will these items be going on sale soon? Salesperson tells me about a custom goods sales starting Aug. 8, which may or may not include the items I want.

Time for Plan C. I go to Craigslist and eBay to look for discounted gift cards and coupons. This little trick has been around for years and there are even sites such as

that sell them. Discounts are usually 5 to 20 percent. I try Craigslist first because that's the easiest. I try to buy a gift card with $346.47 on it for $310. Guy agrees to meet me in the Galleria to verify the balance but never seems to be available to meet. I give up and head to eBay for a coupon. (Crate & Barrel periodically mails out coupons for 10 to 15% off regularly-priced merchandise when people have moved to a new home etc.)

On eBay, there were about 50 coupons for sale for Crate & Barrel last week from 10 to 20 percent off with the bidding starting at 99 cents. Why did I never think of selling them on eBay before? Duh. The "Buy it Now" prices range from $5.99 (10%) and up. I have no patience to join in a nickel and dime bidding war over a coupon. I choose "Buy it Now" and purchase a 15% off coupon for $7.

Earlier last week my coupon arrived in the mail. (Some sellers just email you the promocode number.) I went to C&B on Sunday and decided on two ottomans and a couple of accessories totalling about $400. I got nervous as the salesman started to punch in the discount code, worried that the code would no longer be valid.

But the transaction went through flawlessly WITH the discount of about $60. Not bad for a $7 investment.

I could have saved even more purchasing a discounted gift card, but I'm still nervous about purchasing those on eBay. Maybe I'll use one of the discounted gift card websites and report back.

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