Savings survey

A new survey has told us what oily raggers have known for quite some time; too many people are saving too little. A survey of 1100 randomly selected people commissioned by the good folk at Rabo Direct has found almost one in two Kiwis are not saving at all.

That’s pretty pathetic and just goes to show how much work we oily raggers have yet to do when it comes to convincing our neighbours about the virtues of an oily rag lifestyle. But it was not all doom and gloom. It found those who were in debt thought paying off the credit card as the highest priority, followed by mortgage debt. It seems the debt message is getting through. Using your oily rag saving to repay debt is the very best thing you can do.

The not so good news was the reason why people were saving. Only 17% said they were saving for retirement or investment. Everyone else was saving for future spending! Twenty-one percent said they were saving to spend on a holiday and 7% for luxuries and entertainment! Oh dear.

But never fear, we are told the clumsy helping hand of government has appointed a taskforce to look at improving the nation’s savings habits and find out why 46 per cent of New Zealanders don’t save!

The truth is the government does not need to spend our money appointing a task force. It obvious why people are not saving – they are buying stuff they can’t afford!

If the government does want to be seen to be doing something about the country’s dismal savings record, perhaps they could ask those living off the smell of an oily rag and pick up a copy of Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag.

If the Oily Rag Research Department surveyed 1100 of the 2300 members of the Oily Rag Club we would find a very different scenario. Virtually all would be saving because they know how to turn a cup of flour into two, they know how to grow their own vegetables, and they don’t do silly things like getting boozed and puffing away a fortune on fags. In other words, they know the value of money. And they know that by not wasting money they will, over time, be able to lead a financially stress free life.

Some say the solution to the saving problem is to increase incomes. While that is true, higher income alone will not solve the savings crisis. There are ample examples of $100,000 income earners living a $150,000 lifestyle, with inevitable consequences. Making more is important, no doubt about that. But for some there are limitations on doing so, and it may be a slow process. On the other hand, saving money is something totally within your control and has an immediate effect.

We are going to leave the last word to Lynda from Wanganui. Lynda says, “Last year we ran some budgeting and cooking classes for those on low incomes 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. 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… 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.” Thank you Lynda for spreading the oily rag word!

Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag by Frank & Muriel Newman is available from all good bookstores or online at If you have some favourite money-saving or money-making tips, share them with others by visiting the oily rag website or write to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.