Two bargain buy books for kids.

"Fun to read... and my kids loved it too! I liked its messages about values. Good stuff."

"Very clever and outrageously funny...."

"Awesome! And I haven't been a kid in decades."

Find out more >>> A bargain for oily rag bargain hunters!

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Oily Rag Club Newsletters

Each week we publish new ideas and tips for the frugally inclinated (otherwise known as inclined!). Here are the latest issues.
19 July Winter cooking >>>
12 July Kids money >>>
5 July Beautiful broccoli >>>
28 June Corporate chooks, ticker tape, and more >>>
21 June  Happy chooks >>>
14 June Cleaners, heaters, and more >>>
7 June Milk, tots, and teens >>>
For previous newsletters, see here >>> 

Join the Oily Rag Club and receive the FREE oily rag newsletter by email.
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Share your oily rag tips?

Do 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 here >>>

Questions and answers

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..

A 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

Melsy 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?" Click here >>> to help Melsy.

New tips and recipes!

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

Let 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! - Stephanie. 

To clean 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. - Tess, Auckland

Use 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 here >>>

Calculate the energy cost of your household appliances. See Energywise >>> 

A 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.  

A 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.  

It's 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 housing. Here's the article, 9 Sep Hints on home ownership >>>

Feature comment

The Best Comment of the moment is (drum roll please!)...

“I 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, Dunedin

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.

Nice comments!

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." - Maureen.

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. H. 

A 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

Another 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 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

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Oily Rag Questions

Do 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 >>>

Living the real simple life  
(ABC Nightline)

A 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 here >>> 

Links of interest

Down to Earth blog. Australian site, very interesting stories and tips. Go to >>>



Oh 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... 
 

The oily Rag 
Stampede 

New 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. 


Why 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 >>>

Click for details >>>

READER COMMENTS:

"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.

"Thank 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 - Tina" 

"Your 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

 

The price of milk

THE MILK REPORT
How much is a 2L bottle of milk? Where to find the best buys.
To read the results of our nationwide survey click here: 
PDF (printable version) >>>
, or HTML (web page) >>>

Media play catch-up on milk pricing

Ah, um, well, ah, yes... it is the same milk.

TV3’s Campbell Live have discovered what oily raggers have known for quite some time. Read more >>> 

What 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 here >>> For reader tips click here >>>

Oily Rag survey - how do you hang the toilet paper roll?

To see the results click here >>>