Email is still free. Find some quality sites that relate to the subject matter that don't have a mass of meaningless links and write to the webmaster or site owner for a link exchange. If it's a site worth exchanging with, put up a link first and include the URL to show them. Send a suggestion for the link text back, or include the url of a banner if that's the method to be used.
Search engines are looking for quality sites to include in their index; they'll find you by following the links. For directories, read up on how to pick a category and submit prior to submission. Some people (like me) feel better submitting also, just the root or a couple of main pages, in the case of Alta Vista or at MSN.
Submission nowadays is pretty much "play and pray." You just do it by rote, by hand, to only the important ones and forget the rest.
>Let me ask this as a poor person..
Let me answer as someone who's been doing business with a lot of poor people for a while. Never underestimate the power of networking on line. There are email lists in an awful lot of niches; you just have to find an active one. After a while you get to know who's who, and there's a lot to learn because they all do business on line, some off as well.
It's a great way to find people to link with. I'm very mingy with links, and check out the sites, their links, and their rankings before I connect them with a client site. It doesn't take a whole lot to get to PR 4 or 5, just some careful selection.
It's a lot easier and more effective than going through the re-submission routine month after month. The time is better spent reading, studying and improving sites and establishing good links.