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Readers write:
"I increased business profit from $20,000 to $50,000 in a single year by doing the things you mention in your books. Every dollar saved is a dollar added to your bottom line!"

"I have introduced an oily rag mentality throughout my business. Everyone in the business has benefitted. I have shared the rewards with staff so they are now being paid more and the business is more profitable so their jobs are more secure, and I am doing better too. It's a win-win."


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Running a Business off the Smell of an Oily Rag

Businesses are just as bad, no - probably worse, than the rest of us when it comes to wasting money. Well, here is your chance to change all that.


  • If staying in a Motel be sure to ask for their corporate rate - it's a lot cheaper than the list rate. As long as you have a business card you should be entitled to the cheaper rate. For example, one motel had a corporate rate of $125 compared to a "list" rate of $185. 

Air points

  • Using your credit card is an easy way to get things for free. ASB Rewards "pay" 1 point for every $1 charged to their Visa card. The trick is to use the credit card for "flushing" through funds. I pay the account using the business credit card then transfer the exact same amount from trading account just before it is due. That way I get credit (at least one month) and Reward points. I have earned a free trip to Aussie just by paying our rates account by credit card! - B.J.


  • I have an ink jet printer. The cost of buying a new printer cartridge is an outrage, about $100. After years of paying exorbitant prices for new cartridges I found a place that re-inks them at a cost of only $35. It has already saved me hundreds of dollars. - F.N.

  • If you have a computer and use the internet - check out how many hours a month you have used over the last year.  You may be paying for too many.  This is what happened to us - we were paying for 250 hours with one of the major ISP'S and we now have gone from 250 hours to 150 and saving us $5.00 a month.  - C.K., Christchurch.

Legal costs

  • Lawyers charge by the minute, so spend as few minutes with them as possible. Some also have a flat charge per letter they read and per letter they write. 
  • Receive legal opinion over the phone. For filing purposes, record the conversation and have someone in your company type out the transcript. It will cost a heck of a lot less than receiving a letter from your lawyer.


  • Put a pile of scrap paper next to the photocopier. Use it instead of the good stuff when taking copies for internal use.


  • Don't pay any! Work from home. I know of one person that bought a home/office in a street close to the city centre. They sold their house in the suburbs, and moved their business from a CBD office. They saved thousands of dollars each year and repaid their mortage in no time.


  • I bought a huge number of evelops on Trademe for $10.50 (including postage). The normal retail was $250! That means $240 added straight onto the bottom line! - P.P.

Telephone & tolls

  • Eliminate telephone costs by using Skype. A reader says, "Skype is free to download from www.skype.com. All you need at your end is a microphone, speakers and broadband internet connection . There are three options re headphones (Dick Smith): $39.98 for a single head piece, $59.98 for full earphones, or $69.98 for full earphones with extra padding.I’d either go for the $39.98 or $69.98 ones, depending on how important it is to be able to hear stuff going on elsewhere in the office while you are on the phone. The sound is better than phone, something akin to FM quality. It’s very easy to use and set up. The cost of the calls is: Skype to Skype: zero, anywhere in the world – sound quality fantastic. Skype to landline: 2.5 cents NZ per minute, anywhere in the world (eg $1.50 approx to call Australia for one hour!). Skype to mobile: same price as using your normal phone so there’s no saving there. You pay for Skype to landline calls by prepaying in Euro over the internet using your credit card. You can see at any time how much you have left in your account."


  • Make sure airpoints gained on business travel are used for business travel. Crediting them for private use creates an incentive for people to travel, at the businesses expense, when the good-old telephone or email would do.
  • Have someone within the organisation responsibly for checking travel costs. It is amazing how much private travel eneds up being charged to the company, or how often travel companies don't book the most cost effective rates.

  • A waste not oily ragger has written in with a tip about air travel. Some friends have parked their car in Auckland at Park N Fly (www.parknfly.co.nz) for $5 a day. Air NZ has a free car parking deal for those flying to Australia (http://erequest.airnz.co.nz/airnzparking/promo.htm). (Some motels in the airport area offer unlimited free car parking and airport transfers for those staying a minimum of one night – that’s a great deal! – oily rag ed.)

Utility bills

  • Have an expert come in every year or two to check that you are not being overcharged. They get paid by receiving half of the savings they find for you.
  • Have one person in the company check the utility usage and costs. Let this person be in charge of money saving ideas on power, telephone and other utility costs.



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