There ARE less expensive CA's than Thawte and many agents (subcontractors, if you will) who will discount based on multiple sales for the CA.
Your OpenSSL "solution" is not a solution at all. It allows your server to have an SSL cert but you've still got to install the cert. If it's self-signed, it'll throw a warning (because browsers will not recognize the CA) so you're back at actually searching for SSLs at a reasonable price. If you still have problems, I'd been a reseller a few years ago (for my clients, of course) but may be able to re-start something for you. I'd have to add-on the cost of my time and effort, though, so you'd be better off using a search engine to find inexpensive CAs.