Rag Club Newsletters
week we publish new ideas and tips for the frugally inclinated
(otherwise known as inclined!). Here are the latest issues.
||Our high five tips >>>
||A lawn is a vegetable
||Reader tips: bulk
buying, lifestyle, Xmas >>>
self-sufficiency & more >>>
||Reader tips & a
question from the UK >>>
||Winter cooking >>>
||Kids money >>>
||Beautiful broccoli >>>
||Corporate chooks, ticker
tape, and more >>>
|| Happy chooks >>>
||Cleaners, heaters, and
||Milk, tots, and teens >>>
newsletters, see here >>>
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your oily rag tips?
you have a favourite money saving tip, a funny frugal yarn, or a comment
about living on the cheap? How about sharing it with others. Click
asks, “Has anybody any
tips on how I can prevent pukeko from destroying my veggie garden? I
have tried netting but they just trample over it or pull the veg out
between the holes in the netting. I would appreciate any suggestions.”
If you can help
Noreen, please Click
and we will pass your comments on.
Lin, an oily rag reader from Leamington Spa in the UK, has a cooking
question. “It’s summer here, in the UK, and despite trying very hard
to stagger my vegetable crops, I always end up with a surplus of mature
broad beans. Does anyone have any ideas of what to do with broad
beans once they've got big and tough?” If you can help Lin, please Click
and we will pass your comments on.
from Auckland writes, “Shell the beans, gently cook them, then make
into a pesto which can be frozen in small containers. Tastes very
Callum from Torbay, North Shore, Auckland has a question. “I havea cat
problem – they are using my mulch around the garden as a toilet, which
is very unpleasant if one steps on it. What’s the best way to keep
them away from Mulch and section please? Click
here >>> if you can help Callum with cat poop problem..
reader is asking the oily rag community for fish recipes. This summer
they are going on a fishing holiday and are keen to try try lots of new
fish recipes. Click
here >>> if you can help.
Thanks for the information on where to buy the draught excluder for less
than $10. I live a long way from the shops and have made my own. I got
two sticks, cut or break them to the width of the door and got an old
towel, which I folded in half and is the same width as the door. I
rolled one stick into one side of the towel and put a few small nails in
it. Then I did the same with the other stick, rolling it in the other
side of the towel, leaving about 5 cm free, enough room to slide it
under the door. It doesn't look fancy but it sure does the trick. The
only thing is, that it doesn't work on carpet but it does on lino. I'm
searching for a kind of material that will slide on carpet. Has anyone
got a good idea? - J.O. Springfield
from Auckland asks, "Have just joined your site and have
spent a good part of the day reading all the money saving tips. So many
of us out there trying to live off 'the smell of an oily rag'
. I do have a question. Years ago I was given a banana tree and has
grown so big. Cut a lot of it back and now my clothes are covered in
banana sap stains. Any suggestions?
here >>> to
tips and recipes!
was buying some nails at Bunnings the other day. I needed 2000 (it was a
big handyman job!) so I bought 2 boxes of 1000 each. The friendly chap at
the counter asked if I had looked at the price of buying 3000 instead. I
hadn’t so he went to the isle to check the price and returned with a box
of 3000. The costs was about 10% less than the two 1000 boxes. Not only
did it cost 10% less, but I ended up with 50% more nails! I was very
grateful for the excellent service. - Happy Harry, Whangarei.
on a lifestyle block means we are too small for the machinery a ‘real’
farmer has, but we do need it from time to time. So we have friends who
will mulch our gorse with their tractor, and let us use their workshop for
carpentry. Whenever we get a favour, we make sure we return it though. One
friend likes a bottle of our homemade rum, and another likes a roast of
lamb from our own flock. Many of these people don't have time for the
activities we enjoy because they are too busy making money - asset rich,
time poor. - JB, Whangarei.
best fire starters we have discovered are our flax bush flower spikes. A
friend told us when pruning the flaxes to cut up the flower spikes and
store until dry for kindling. They are better than any kindling we have
ever tried apart from pine cones which we never have enough of. We also
save our grape vine prunings, which are great because they are so thin.”
We too harvest flax flower stems - not only do Tui feed on the flowers,
but we benefit from an endless source of excellent kindling! - JB,
have a clothes rack on a pulley above the woodstove so we are heating our
house, drying clothes, cooking food and heating hot water all at once. We
grow our own firewood also so the only cost here is the petrol for the
chain saw, since there's not enough hours in the day to chop wood
manually. - JB, Whangarei.
around our home, I realise most of the furniture is recycled. My husband
made the dining table out of planks from his Dad, the chairs don't match
but I painted them all the same. When my mother in law downsized, I
painted all the garden furniture which she had no need for. The lounge
suite, piano, coffee tables were all passed on. We even scored the kitchen
bench from someone who was doing up an old house. Friends had concrete
laundry tubs lying in long grass and an old chip heater and hot water
cylinder in their garage. We have found that people doing up houses are
reluctant to chuck their old stuff on the tip, so we take things away –
including a house-lot of windows from a home being refitted with aluminium
frames, which the owner was going to have to pay to dump at the tip. We
never say no to an offer and over time have passed on only a few things we
couldn't use. - JB, Whangarei.
bought two inexpensive pillowcases and have just finished embroidering a
design on them. With the addition of a bit of lace, I have some pretty,
personalised pillow cases for a Christmas present. I did the same with a
plain tablecloth, which I found at an op’ shop, but this time I used
fabric paint for the design. One does not need to be an artist to do this,
just copy or trace a simple picture, and transfer using transfer paper
from an art supply store. I start making/buying Christmas presents early
in the year, so that by Christmas, I have them all already. - PB.
grounds are a good growing medium for mushrooms. - Set
aside part of your garden to grow flowers with long stems. This could save
you a fortune in florist bills. - Meg, Te Pukes
of us with fireplaces enjoy cosy evenings in front of a warm fire. Not too
many of us are good at starting fires so I hope this tip will be a winner
in many households. I save and dry used teabags. I peg them next to the
fire to dry, then put 10 to 20 into a jar, add methylated spirits, screw
the lid on tight and shake. Use one soaked teabag each time you light your
fire. Why spend money on fire starters, when it’s that easy! Thanks for
your column. I always read it and it brings a smile to my face. - Anita,
Whangarei [We have tried Anita’s tip and can say it works a treat! You
don’t need much meths - just some dribbles over the top and a really
good shake! - Oily Rag Ed]
have four small plastic containers I use to catch the first water from the
hot tap. It's cold and good for pot plants and special garden plants. It
saves a surprising amount. - Joyce
have this dead simple recipe for Yorkshire pudding. I saw it on TV - it's
so simple that we now make it regularly. I use 2 eggs, 100 ml of skim
milk, 100gm of flour, and a pinch of salt. Mix it all up into a thin
batter. Place cooking oil in the bottom of each recess of a muffin tin,
then put into a hot oven at 250 degrees Celsius. Once heated through, take
the tin out and quickly pour in the batter. Place in the oven and leave
5-10 minutes until they rise. The trick is to have the tin really hot to
start with – and NOT to open the door while they are cooking! We have
them with a meat roast - yum!. - Fred, Northland
would like to recommend to your readers a non-fiction book called ‘A
Secret Gift’ by Ted Gup (published 2010). It's the secret stories of
people who were obliged to learn to live off the smell of an oily rag
during the Great Depression, particularly Christmas of 1933. It doesn't
exactly list frugal hints, but the reader absorbs them in these life
stores. Your column is my Poor People's Vade Mecum (a reference book or
manual]. Thank you. - RM, Christchurch
agree one has to check prices per kg when buying from bulk bins. Craisins
(dried cranberries) bought from a supermarket bin were $13 a kg dearer
than packaged ones from the same shop! I was informed it was because they
came in fresh from the suppler. - WWG, Waipu
cheaply has been a 20 year preoccupation which we call self-sufficiency
and it all began with planning. We moved to a piece of land where we can
grow all our food - vegies, fruit, meat, eggs – as well as make hay for
the animals and have firewood trees for the woodstove. We thought about
all our needs so we are not having to produce a high income to live well.
We now have our own homemade wine from our grapevine, jars of sauce, and
preserves, and enough surplus to take to the markets or trade with
friends. It has taken planning but we can now live very cheaply without
having to cope with fulltime work as we age. - JB from Whangarei is
enjoying the good life. [Well done JB! [Oily Rag Ed']
stalks of broccoli can be peeled, chopped and cooked with the florets.
After cooking, mix with hummus, or you can use hummus as a dip. An eye
specialist once told me that broccoli is good for eyes, and should be
eaten every day. Cauliflower is delicious with hummus, also silver beet. -
tip for making compost using nothing more than large black plastic rubbish
bags, helps with the slug and snail problem too. Jackie recommends filling
the rubbish bags with soft green waste rather than stalks, keeping them in
a warm sunny place, and turning them occasionally. She says the warm bags
attract heat seeking slugs and snails. “Gather them each day, tie in a
plastic bag and pop in the rubbish bin, or douse them with boiling water
and put them in the compost.”
common G3 type razor blades work out around $4 each and the cheaper ones
cut me to ribbons. I am getting over 6 months from a blade. Use baby oily
instead of shaving foam as a lubricant, and on the blade after shaving to
preserve the edge of the blade and stop it from rusting. Plus you get a
really superb shave, even against the grain without any shaving rashes.
Keep the blade sharp by honing. Cut the leg off an old pair of denim jeans
and rub the blade the wrong way 20 times, reverse it and repeat. If the
blade is really old and blunt then do it again. - Joker
use my tea bags twice, even the herbal ones. The sweet mix berry tea work
only once but others did fine. - Lori, Paraparaumu
people can't afford to buy a slow cooker. I have used my oven, putting the
casserole or whatever into the oven in the evening, and turning the
temperature on very, very low so that it just "clicks" on. I
leave it overnight and wake up to a toasty warm kitchen and a cooked meal.
It can't overcook, and the meat is always so tender. If it hasn't quite
cooked, then turn the heat up for another half hour or so. - Jacqui,
a slow cooker with a straw box or hay box by using a chilly bin or a
carton, and putting a folded towel in the bottom. Bring your casserole to
the boil so it is all bubbling, then put it into your straw box. Push
clean towels around it so there are no gaps. Fold another one on top of
the lid to make sure it's surrounded by this padding material. Leave for
the required time. I actually cooked a one pot meal using this method as I
drove from Auckland to Morrinsville. The meal was ready when I got there!
- Jacqui, Blochouse Bay.
food is a great cost saver but don’t forget the cost of power to freeze
it. You can reclaim the energy you used to freeze the food by taking it
out and storing it in the fridge for a couple of days before you need it.
The defrosting food will keep your fridge cold without using any power. -
I decant a biggish bag of milk
powder, skim or full cream, into a glad container or such and pop in the
freezer. It does not go solid and can be spooned out as and when needed.
– AK, Kaikohe
Ants in letterbox. We've found an effective yet non-toxic ant bait is 1
tbsp baking soda, 1 tbsp icing sugar, 1 Tbsp active yeast mixed together
(replace if/when it gets wet). - Margaret from Mt Maunganui
kids save for their own college fund by encouraging them from a very early
age to earn money by getting paid for what they enjoy doing! Our little
boy who is now three loves dogs, so we offered to walk the neighbours’
dog for $5 a week. It makes us get out for exercise and gives the dog half
an hour of much needed attention while their owner is at work. I know it
doesn't sound like much but each year he earns himself $260 for his
college fund so I'm calculating by the time he is 18 he will have well
over $4,000 towards his college education - just from this hobby alone.
Similarly our daughter enjoys baking so every week we invite her friends
over to a baking session making simple things like scones, biscuits,
raisin buns etc. They are learning something new and having fun. The mums
are more than happy to contribute $5-$10 for the ingredients and the
pleasure of not having to mess up their own house. We put half in the
kitty for the ingredients and half goes to my daughter’s college fund so
she can save between $10 and $20 each week. If we are able to do
something like this every week until she is 18 she would have over $8,000!
burnt pots, cut a lemon in half, squeeze the juice and rub the lemon on
the burnt area, then scrub with goldilocks or the steel pot mitts which
are a lot cheaper. I find the burnt-on food comes off easily. -
a cake of sand soap to clean bad water spots off your glass shower. You
can pay up to $100 for simular products.
- Mervyn, Dunedin.
Too keep away the winter chills
here is a tip for a DIY heater. You will need some tea light candles, a bread
baking tin, and two ceramic flowerpots! “The tea lights (up to four)
are placed into a bread loaf baking tin then covered with the smaller
upside-down flower pot so the pot sits on top of the edges of the baking
tin. The drainage hole in the top of the upside-down pot is covered
(sealed) with the metal casing leftover from one of the tea light
candles. Then a second larger ceramic flower pot is placed over the
first (making sure they don’t touch). The hole in the bigger flower
pot is left uncovered.” Apparently this creates a very efficient
heater. If you want to see this technique in action, go to YouTube and
search “flower pot heater”. - Pamdelilah, Christchurch [A word of caution.
The pots get
very hot and there is of course a flame from the candles involved so
only do this on a hard surface that is not at risk of burning … we
don’t want you burning your house down!' - ed]
We have found that by placing a fan in front of our built
in fireplace we use less wood and get more heat from the fire.
Basically, the increased airflow over the fires surface, transfers the
heat to the air at a faster rate, which makes the room much warmer. The
same fan can be used with free standing fireplaces, just aim the fan at
the flue and feel the increase in room temperature. -
C A S, Whakatane
Free recycled curtains for bedrooms and living areas are available to
people on low incomes through the Community Energy Action's Curtain
Bank. Call 0800 GET WARM for a measurement form. -
Jess, Community Energy Action, Christchurch
Do-it-Yourself window insulation is available through
Community Energy Action. It starts from $29 and can be as effective as
retrofit double glazing in reducing heat loss and condensation. It will
help keep your home warmer and healthier for a fraction of the cost of
double glazing!” Check them out on their website, www.cea.co.nz; they are
doing great work in their community. -
Jess, Community Energy Action, Christchurch
Check out www.whatsmynumber.org.nz
to see if you can get a cheaper deal on your power. Power companies
constantly change their prices and you may find a cheaper company who won't
lock you in to a contract. - Lucie, Wellington.
How fuel efficient is your car? Click
Calculate the energy cost of your household appliances. See
reader has asked about loo paper... specifically if we use the
"flat roll approach" mentioned on page 107 of Living off the
Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Here is my reply: "Nowadays visitors
are subject to a quota per visit system. Each visitor is provided with a
toilet roll as they are greeted at the door and the number of squares on
that roll inventoried. They are given a usage quota of 1/2 a square per
hour of their stay (or part thereof). On their departure a stock take is
done of the remaining squares on that visitors roll. Visitors can elect
to become part of an emissions trading system (ETS) modelled on the
internationally recognised carbon trading approach, whereby a
group of visitors (typically a family but not necessarily so) may trade
their allocated quota. This we believe is a fair system as it
accommodates individuality and diet. Those visitors who exceed their
tissue allocation are required to provide suitable compensation in cash
or bartered goods (at a rate determined by market pricing), while those
under quota are provided a return invitation." Just kidding.
Oily Rag Ed.
wee note from Oily Rag Ed'
We have received great feedback from the column about frugality and home
ownership. Many have said “well said”, which was nice, and a few have
said they remain of the view that home ownership is an impossible dream.
It is impossible if one does not save, and for most, saving means giving
up the things we can do without: like smoking, drinking, gambling, flash
cars, and so on.
no coincidence that smokers and drinkers are usually the people who have
the least money – and for obvious reasons: they spend it on smokes and
booze! Save and invest $50 a week
and within 14 years a person will have $50k for a house deposit. A couple
could do it in 8 years. If people don't want to give up something to get
something then, yes, they will forever rely on others to provide their
Here's the article, 9 Sep Hints on home ownership >>>
The Best Comment of the moment is
(drum roll please!)...
have lived the oily rag existence out of necessity. My husband left me and
took our life savings. I had to exist on a benefit which I just hated but
ill health has left me unable to work again.
My biggest savings came from buying nearly everything from our local
hospice shop and local second hand shops. I have bought everything from
clothing to gifts for my family from these shops and I really enjoy buying
from them or having a sniff around. Unfortunately they don't sell food but
by buying home brands or things on special and a very careful shopping list
I can still manage to save money from my benefit. As well I save all gold
coins in my purse left over from shopping trips. It is surprising how fast
it grows. I put them all into a tin I have and last year alone the amount
came to $3000. It was money I never missed at the time, and the money saved
I put towards a lovely holiday with friends. They just could not believe I
had a holiday with the savings I had made from gold coins.
Already this year I have saved $250 so it can be done.” - Lynne,
I think your site is an excellent one and I will be informing our city
Missioner about it too. BTW last year we ran some budgeting and cooking classes for the low
incomed entitled Living on the smell of an oily rag. I took the budgeting one which was quite successful and had requests to speak on
the subject around Wanganui. The base line most found challenging was my statement that shopping for $40 per week per head would allow one to
enjoy not only the basics but some luxuries like chocolate, ice-cream, ginger beer, and the occasional dozen cans for those times my mate wants
to lollygag with a beer. Actually we do more than just fine as we shop only once a month and draw out $340.00.......$320.00 for ALL our
groceries and $20 for petrol for our van.
We are both long-term beneficiaries, I handle the admin side, and so speak from a do as I do point of view. - Lynda.
I am 76 years of
age so was brought up in the days of "waste not want
not". It amazes me sometimes when I see waste especially
electricity eg: lights being left on, food being thrown out when it
could be used the next day, vegetable scraps going down the thing in
the waste disposal unit, huge pieces of land covered in lawn or
weeds instead of it being a vegetable garden etc."
Rosana from Opotiki writes, “Your great oily rag ideas have really
inspired my lifestyle. From Townie to Coastie, now 51 years old it’s
time to get back to nature. We do a swap – hen eggs for duck eggs or a
cake or a batch of fried bread for some cows full-cream milk. But the
best part is making new friends. I am hoping to revive a small orchard
and grow all my veges this summer.”
"Many years ago I read with
delight your Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag and our family have
been leading a very simple life ever since thanks to your wonderful
book! After seeing Good Morning recently it reminded me of just how much
I have got out of your book and thought it would be a wonderful idea to
buy two more for my two oldest children that have since left home. (I
have implemented so many of your ideas in your book over the years, they
are second nature to me and our home now)...
"Thank you so much for a
wonderful book. I hope my son and daughter get as much reward (financial
and contentment knowing they have done it/made it themselves) We are
about to embark on the next adventure of our life – buying a little
bit of land so we will soon be the family on the front of your book –
free range chooks included! Can’t wait to extend our veggie garden and
plant fruit trees and save even more whilst having fun! Also enjoying
your emails on new tips now that I have joined your club." - T.
wee note from Oily Rag Ed'
The contributions that
appear on this site have been entered in the way they have been
submitted. Any editing is of a grammatical nature only (and from time to
time we even add our own grammatical errors!). Our policy is to
not exclude suggestions that some may think unfashionable or not
politically correct. Freedom of expression is one of our oily rag
mottos (actually, we just make up the mottos as we go!). We also do not
test every tip that is sent in and posted on this site, so miracles are
not guaranteed! - Oily Rag Ed
wee note from Oily Rag Ed'
What I enjoy most of all is the
humour of oily raggers We know living off the smell of an oily
rag is fun, and you display that in your comments. Thank you everyone for
sharing your oily rag tips. Just keep on sending them in! - Oily Rag Ed
another wee note from Oily Rag Ed'
We have developed this
site on the smell of an oily rag. We don't employ experts, we just learn
as we go. So don't expect a seven figure site. This is living off the
smell of an oily rag in action! Your thoughts and suggestions for
improvement would be appreciated. - Oily Rag Ed
Oily Rag Club
Join the hundreds (thousands!) of people who are
already members of the Oily Rag Club. It's fun, it costs nothing, and we
will email you when a real pearler of a tip is sent to us. Be part of the
oily rag community! Click
>>> for more.
Number of members: 5844
(as at ) - and growing by the day!
Search this site
you have any oily rag questions you would like to ask the Oily Rag
Research Department? They have their clip-boards in hand, pencils at the
ready... to ask a question click here
the real simple life
New Zealander and his family live on a fifth of an acre section in the Los
Angeles community of Pasadena.
To view the video click
to Earth blog. Australian site, very interesting stories and tips. Go
boy...what have I done now?
When we first wrote How to Live off the Smell of an Oily Rag in 1991, we
didn't realise what we were getting ourselves into! Since then the Oily Rag
tips have been published as a syndicated column in 30 or so community
newspapers in New Zealand and as far afield as Norfolk Island. We have
received thousands of letters from those eager to share their favourite penny
pinching tips. It would be a shame not to share these gems
and what better way to do so than through the web. So here goes...
Zealander's are joining the oily rag movement in their droves! Lots of
kiwi's are becoming disenchanted with the rat race. Millions of New Zealanders (OK, that may be an
exaggeration!) are realising they don't have to sell their soul for the sake of a few extra dollars when they can save heaps
around the home and have a better quality of life by living off the
smell of an oily rag.
live off the smell of an oily rag?
There are lots of very
good reasons why so many people are living off the smell of an oily rag.
To view or add your own reasons click >>>
"I have read your 'Living
off the Smell of an Oily Rag' book and think it is fantastic!…
Thank you for such an inspiring book. I have told all my friends
about it.” – Wayne.
you so much for a wonderful book. I hope my son and daughter get
as much reward (financial and contentment - knowing that they have done
it / made it themselves) from the book as we have. We are about to
embark on the next adventure of our life - buying a little bit of land
so we will soon be the family on the front of your book - free range
chooks included! Can't wait to extend our veggie garden and plant fruit
trees and save even more whilst having fun! Thank you -
book is fantastic and now has a permanent place on the coffee
table, where we can brush up on ORT's (Oily Rag Tips) whilst
chilling on the sofa. Our enthusiasm for keeping our money in our
pockets has been ignited and we look forward to many happy hours
of ORA's (Oily Rag Adventures). Many thanks." - Sarah
price of milk
much is a 2L bottle of milk? Where to find the best buys.
To read the results of our nationwide survey click
PDF (printable version) >>>, or HTML
(web page) >>>
play catch-up on milk pricing
| TV3’s Campbell Live
have discovered what oily raggers have known for quite some time. Read more
can you do with a can of baked beans
|We want to know what you can do with a can of baked beans. send in your
tips and suggestions. Click
For reader tips click here
Rag survey - how do you hang the toilet paper roll?
To see the results click here