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January 5th Courier Times Article

Bucks County Courier Times Posted: Sunday, January 5, 2014 12:15 am  Updated: 12:44 pm, Sun Jan 5, 2014.   

Read online article here:

Michelle Corbi

Walt King / Staff

Michelle Corbi

For more than a decade, Michelle Corbi has operated Junkyard Barbie’s Pic-a-Part salvage yard in Falls.

A year-end look at $aving Bucks strategies

    By MARION CALLAHAN Staff Writer | Posted: Sunday, January 5, 2014 12:15 am        

$aving Bucks has been touring the region, meeting money-saving strategists who have shared their frugal finds and thrifty ways.

We’ve visited thrift stores and consignment shops and interviewed those at charitable organizations that help save people money on electric bills, professional wardrobes and taxes.

This year, $aving Bucks was welcomed in by a community of people who were eager and enthusiastic to share ages-old tips like bartering and bidding for bargains at auctions. We also featured ways to save money through new technologies.

We couldn’t pack all of the tips featured in 2013, but here’s a sampling:

Money-$aving blogger

We met Souderton blogger Kaley Ehret, author of, who has made it her mission to sort and sift through dozens of websites daily and post money-saving strategies and links.

Her creative belt-tightening saves her family more than $2,000 a year.

Among her favorite cost-savers and moneymakers is, an online search engine that rewards users for searching online. Once you download the toolbar, you’ll earn points that can be redeemed for Amazon gift cards.

She’s also a big fan of “You just have to watch a short ad, take a short survey and you literally earn cash for doing that.”

Why buy when you can trade!

That’s the philosophy embraced by a New Hope man who makes use of the centuries-old practice of bartering. His marketplace is Craigslist.

Craig Forchetti, who’s in the construction business, comes across dozens of items he knows are valuable to others, but not necessarily practical for him.

He started a few years ago, when he advertised a $50 nail gun. A man offered him a $300 grass-edger.

Through bartering, he has secured a drum set, an elliptical exercise machine, a full gym set, a video recorder and more items than he can recall in one hour.

Bottom line, he said: “Everything I got is good stuff, and I never had to pay a dime for it.”

$aving energy

Chrissy Hangey of Quakertown is grateful for a weatherization program offered by the Bucks County Opportunity Council that changed the quality of her family’s life dramatically.

The program offers free energy audits and energy renovations to low-income residents who meet the eligibility requirements.

Weatherization auditor Chris Kroszner came into Hangey’s home with his tools and caulking and sealed the cracks. He added more insulation and drywall in the laundry room. He sprayed foam insulation in the ceiling and floor cracks in the attic and crawlspace.

Hangey said it’s difficult to quantify just how much she saved on heat, but she knows she’s spending less and her family is more comfortable.

$aving bucks during a power outage

Earlier this year, we encountered Peg Haskell of Tinicum, who gave us a glimpse into a world where darkness is commonplace come storm time.

When I met Haskell, she had been without power for more than a week.

Haskell and her husband, Ron, didn’t face the last-minute rush to the hardware store to buy batteries because they had stocked up during the year when they were on sale.

She kept her closet full of canned soups and other nonperishable meals. She filled containers with water. She gathered candles and had them ready. She charged her phones at work, powered her radio with batteries and fueled her kerosene heaters.

And not once did she feel left out in the cold.

$aving at salvage yards

Junkyard Barbie’s Pic-a-Part in Falls has character, but customers flock to the sprawling salvage yard at 820 Old Bristol Pike for the deals.

They say Pic-A-Part’s owner, Michelle Corbi, who wears a pink hard hat and regularly operates all the hulking equipment she owns, knows how to set fair prices.

One day, Moises Villanueva of Trenton pulled out a tool box and set off to find a carburetor. “At the dealer, I’d spend a couple hundred dollars on a carburetor,” he said. “Here, I’ll pay under $50.”

Here is a sampling of the yard’s cheap parts: tires, $5 to $35; headlights, $10 to $35; hoods, $45; seats, $20 to $30; bumpers, $35 and up; and engines, $150.

$aving bucks on groceries

We discovered a grocery store that thrives in a tough economy. Swann’s Pantry in Quakertown boasts of prices that are more than 50 percent less than you’d find in your regular grocery store. Popular cereals are $2 instead of $4, while gourmet cheeses are $1.99 instead of $6.

Whole foods, like rice chips or blue corn chips, cost 99 cents.

Why are they so cheap? Some of the products have expiration dates that have elapsed, but the store’s owner, Francis Swann, says he’ll stand by what he sells.

Also, many items come from stores that can’t keep the products on the shelves because of label or packaging changes. He said the store’s brokers specialize in buying overstocked items, especially after the holidays.