Send in your general and miscellaneous saving tips. Click >>>
and miscellaneous tips
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
- After a sudden influx
of ants on my kitchen windowsill I nearly went and bought
some ant killer stuff (expensive and often not effective)
when I remembered something I read many years ago. I went
outside and traced the track of the ants and used a soft
chalk crayon and drew a thick line across the track of the
ants. It ***dy well worked! Sat and watched the darn things
trying to cross the chalk line and they either turned back
or just fell down! - BuzzyBee,
of garlic send ants scurrying. I recently discovered this
when for some unknown reason I found ants on my kitchen
bench. Having no ant bait in the house I decided to
improvise. I put 3-4 gloves of garlic and spread them around
the bench top. I tell you, they left in a big hurry. Hurrah!
- One of the major newspapers recently ran a story about renting
appliances. The bottom line is they came to the view that renting is a
bad idea. We have done some quick numbers and have come to the same view
– buying makes more financial sense than renting. Our quick, back of a
soup-stained serviette calculation shows that those renting a washing
machine would have paid the equivalent of a new machine (with
warranties) after 12 to 18 months – and that’s for a new machine not
a good second hand one which is likely to be what you will get from the
rental company. We reckon a brand new washing machine is good for 10
years (depending on the use) but even assuming a five year life, the
cost of the new machine is a fraction of what would be $2,700 in rental
Putting the comparative costs aside, there may be situations where
renting is preferred. An appliance rental company told us a lot of their
machines go to flats where four or so flatmates share in the rental cost
and there are no buying and selling hassles and no money issues when
flat mates come and go. This does not stop an enterprising individual
owning a machine and renting it out to their flatmates as part of the
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,
absolutely love your book and I use it in combination with
other frugal advice websites. The amount of information
about frugal living available is astounding. I am a living
example of living a frugal life style. I have 4 children and
a husband who all have learnt how it works. Mu eldest son is
saving for a house and has told me he would rather pay me
rent or board than putting the money in a stranger's pocket.
So he is able to save up for his own house while
helping his family financially by paying board. What are
families for? We are here to look after one another and
build each other up. As a unit we are stronger than when
we are scattered. By the way we love our vege garden and hot
water solar heating system Our average power bill yearly
is $140.00 for 6 people in the house! Well I could go on and
on. - Anneke
- I would love to see a free copy of your book put in with
every food parcel given out by the food bank. Is this
possible? Is there anyone out there that would sponsor this
initiative as I think it would help many people in the long
term. - D.M., Tauranga. (If there is - could they please
contact oily rag ed!).
- The local refuse center has been a great place to buy books
for our daughter. I have purchased Margaret Mahy, Lyn Dodley,
Maori language books for 10-20 cents each. Some books I’ve
seen in book stores for $20-$40. - SMP, Whangarei.
- Search out old community cook books at garage sales etc.
They usually contain contributions with tried and true
recipes that have been family favourites and are great low
cost everyday recipes. - Julia, Nelson.
- A hate waster oily ragger
has a tip - they read books before giving them away as presents.
(Including the latest oily rag book!)
sell withdrawn books cheap. - G.B.
Shops have an over supply of books. They often have
Fill-A-Bag and All-You-Can-Carry for a nominal amount. -
- Don’t throw away old candles. Melt
them down in a saucepan. When wax is melted pour into tins (you can
save old tins for this), to which a piece of candle wick has been
added. Then allow to dry. – A.S.
and bag ties
- If you have trouble tying
cardboard for recycling use old tights. They are very strong
and flexible. No need to purchase string. Also having
trouble with twist ties, use plastic clothes pegs. Sometimes
I think there are more pegs in my freezer than in the peg
bag. - Jean S
make my own postcards using a collage option (Picasa have
one, as do most editing programmes). e.g. I did one using
various shots of young grandsons whilst they were here on
holiday - printed it at one of the stores for next to
nothing... eh voila a personal postcard. Probably cost less
than the stamp! - Diana, Whakatane.
- Once Christmas is over, mum cuts up her Christmas cards and
uses the pictures on the front for present tags for the
coming year. -2nd generation Oily Ragger, Wellington.
- Ever wondered why your printer ink runs out quickly? Keep
your printer turned off when not in use as the heat dries
the ink up! - Robyn,
- Don't spend heaps on anti virus software! Avast antivirus
offer a free version that gives protection as good as the
top brands but no yearly renewal fee. Just Google avast and
make sure you choose the free version. - Jeff
Cameron, Te Awamutu.
- 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.,
Instead of heading to the supermarket to buy your groceries
and food, shop online and try to use coupons to save a bit
of extra cash - I use www.flipit.com/nz
for coupons.This way, you're able to stick to your list, and
there are no sweet temptations. - A Howe, Auckland
for stereo or computer? The worst thing you can do is buy
the latest technology. It’s invariably expensive, even if
it is on special. One of the worst things you can do when
living off the smell of an oily rag is to be a technology
junkie – its hellishly expensive.
- With all the earthquakes happening in Chch, I have rethought
my emergency supplies. I buy each week dried veges, peas,
corn, onion etc and store them away. Also UHT milk is a
little more expensive, but can be stored in a cupboard. Only
need to refrigerate when opened. Candles stored in a freezer
for a few days will burn slower. Will try the teabag as
firelighters that is on your tips. Does any one else have
any ideas? Am also looking for a bread recipe. At the
moment, I am using large fruit cans that are recycled. With
your baked bean challenge, baked beans are excellent
emergency supplies, as they can be eaten hot or cold. -
Blue gum trees shed bark as they grow. Collect, cut into
suitable lengths with loppers while moist, allow to dry and
use a few on top of paper. Just as good if not better than
pine cones. - M.T., Dunedin.
Masterton reader has a good idea for the leaves shed by
cabbage trees. Use the dry leaves as fire starters or in
your garden as plant ties.
combat pesky flies around the home, use sticky
ozone-friendly flypaper, not sprays, or engage in swap
combat. Around our home the males have joined forces to
form a SWOT team!
Training Providers aren't allowed to make profit. Have brought
Haircuts, Cakes and Carpentry made, at cost value. - G.B.
Hamilton reader recommends making the most of freebies; free
motel shampoo, etc. What she doesn’t use is given to the
local woman’s refuge.
buy the cheapest flannelette sheets, and they can be prone
to pilling/fluffing. I put them - while still in their
plastic wrappers - into the freezer for at least 24 hours,
then wash as usual. They wear evenly, with no pilling, and
are lovely and warm. It works with kids' flannelette pyjamas
too! - Karen, Palmerston North
using rubber gloves I usually find that the glove I use most
(being right-handed) is the one that rips or splits.
Splitting one this morning while cleaning my oven and not
wanting to take a trip to get more, I turned one of the many
left gloves I was reluctant to throw away inside and found
that it was quite acceptable for using, so now instead of
having 12 useless gloves I have 6 pairs of gloves to carry
on with. - M.E.,
- I use powdered milk for
everything. Skim is better value and less fat. I buy my
fruit, vegetables, honey and second hand clothing, toiletries
and anything else I can find at my local Sunday markets. -
Melinda, Brisbane, Australia
It measures up
- I started to measure as a weight
watchers gimmick. Then I discovered the huge savings in it.
The flour has a cup, and the tea has a spoon.
I measure the cats dinner, soap powder and peas.
The porridge and Blitzen, sultanas and cheese.
I measure the milk for a cuppa as well
(if visitiors come, you can easilly tell).
I count out the squares on bthe loo paper too.
And use the lid on the top of the cheapest shampoo.
What all started out as a vanity whim,
has made my costs and my hips, exceedingly trim. - P.S. (What an
excellent oily rag verse! - Oily Rag Ed')
- Yes agree councillors should pay for their lunches. I am a
councillor we pay for our lunches on my council (Opotiki
District Council) As a councillor I am not that well paid
(less than $14,000 P.A.) It is all the senior
Managers who have the free lunches and the free use of
council cars that is what is costing Ratepayers big-time. -
way to save move is to ‘knock’. When measuring
unspecified amounts of stuff (eg tea, sugar, flour etc)
knock the spoon on the inside of the jar or packet. Any
loose material falls back, so you don’t spill it and you
don’t notice any less. Over time you will find you are not
using so much or buying so often. - H M K, Waipukurau
- Don't throw away that
old multi-plug board. Chop the cord off it and hang it on
the wall. Plug all your phone chargers into it. We tried
this after numerous hunts for the right phone charger was
becoming a daily event for different members of the family.
Now they are labelled and found in one place. - Sandra,
- I brought some plaster from
the supermarket 2 weeks ago, only about 30 plasters in the
packet. And today I was in the famous $2 shop and they have
a packet of plasters with 2 long strips, so came home and
cut them up into normal size strips, and I got 85 plasters.
What a good idea. Go for it. D.M.
To make strong
"rubber" bands of varying sizes, cut used rubber
gloves into strips. The cuffs make big bands and fingers
make smaller ones, good for keeping pairs of knitting
needles etc together. - Canny Lass, Upper Hutt
Put food scraps in bread bags and store them in the freezer until
rubbish day. This avoids unpleasant smells and means you don't have to
pay for rubbish bags that are only partially full. - Eru, Whangarei
- A drop of fragrant oil on
a light bulb will add a sweet smell to rooms. (Health
shops have various fragrances.)
snails in letterbox!
asks, “Our mailbox has been invaded by snails and ants eating our mail
- fine for the bills, but not so good for the cheques! Does anyone have
a non-toxic solution as grandchildren clear our mail.” Click
here >>> if you can help Warren
No ant problem
here by mail eaten by snails over the last few weeks is no joke! Our
neighbour suggested lining the letterbox with vinyl /lino; something
slippery. They do this and it works. I have been innovative and used a
plastic letter file cover (A4 size). Both solutions are non-toxic. –
from Waiheke Island has this solution. “Easy as! Just
sprinkle baking soda. They hate it and will move on immediately. Also
non-toxic and cheap.”
Elizabeth of Tramore from Whangarei writes, “We used to get our mail
eaten by the blighters and it all stopped when we put mothballs in the
box. The mothballs
disappear over time and have to be replaced but it got rid of ants
- If your smoke alarm goes off
e.g. burnt toast you can stop it by waving a tea towel
across it. Providing it is not too high up. - J.S.
- "I am a heavy smoker
and grow my own tobacco, very easy to do" - GS, Te Awamutu.
I just checked by credit card statement and noticed an $87
charge from Consumer NZ. I could not recall making the
payment so I called them and they told me the payment was an
"auto-renew" of last years sub. They tell me subs
paid by credit card are automatically renewed unless advised
otherwise - part of the terms and conditions, they said.
Beware, you may find your subscription is renewed when you
don’t want it. –
Oily Ragger, Wellington
- If you are retired like me and have the time, sign up for
online surveys. I enjoy cashing in the points I earn for $20
Farmers gift cards and some send cheques. Also I hate waste
so when my plants grow too big I divide them and pot them
up, once established I sell them on trade me. - Canny
Most mobile phones are
expensive. I highly recommend skinny mobile or Te
lecom for those who 100% need a mobile phone but can't
afford the other types of phone. You can put money away in a
loose-change jar and use it to top-up the phone. - LM,
- I call my son who is studying in California in the USA using
prepaid phone cards. They are a great way to save on calls,
plus when I buy them online and save 15%. I pay with PayPal
which is safe as I am not to sure about giving my credit
card details on the internet. – J Chen, Auckland
- To reduce
telephone costs, adopt a user pays principle. Have a note
pad and timer next to your fine. Ask shareholders to record
their toll calls. Parents will find this a sure way of
minimizing the cost of adolescent telephone romances.
- If you have a computer you really should download Skype
which is free. Skype to Skype user calls are always free but
even to a land line the cost is a few cents only and I am
talking about overseas calls. I have not paid a toll call on
my landline for years and my credit on my Skype account has
not needed topping up in a long time either as most of my
rellies and friends now have skype so I can talk to them and
see them free. - Canny Scot, Christchurch.
I bought a Michael Hill watch quite a few years ago. The
best thing about buying their brand is that when your
battery goes flat, every couple years, take it in and they
put a new one in for free! yes! I have have 2 free batteries
so far and the watch is going strong. It has to have the MH
emblem on the watch face. - L McCall, Canterbury.
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. -
a man living alone I can do what I like, which can have oily
rag advantages. I just got my water bill and it tells me
that my usage is way below the average for someone in
my circumstances. Reasons? I never use the bath; just have a
quick shower every other day... I do all my washing in one
load per week. I run the dishwasher on economy and only
when it is full to overflowing.
We used to have a wheelie bin. It
cost us about $10 a week where we live to have that service (about
$500 a year) . I go to town once a week to do my weekly shopping so
now I drive about 5 km further and take my garden bag of
rubbish to the dump and it cost me $3 a time. I have saved
myself about $ 350 per year by adding another chore onto my "town
day" list and sometimes I can take it fortnightly. - K.S., Morrinsville.