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Budgeting Gems

Christmas seems like a good time of the year to talk about budgeting. Fortunately the oily rag community have lots to say about budgets. Here are some of their suggestions.

 Read more Oily Rag articles by Frank and Muriel Newman 
Christmas seems like a good time of the year to talk about budgeting. Fortunately the oily rag community have lots to say about budgets. Here are some of their suggestions.

Robyn from East Waikato has an easy way to keep a close eye on the pennies and pounds (the cents and dollars – that is!). “Like others we have been finding it tough and I have found by viewing a daily balance of my accounts I am able to save better.  I use my diary (a day to a page) for this as well as other things. At the top of each page I write headings for Items, Savings, Visa and Cheques, then fill in the transaction details using the balances from the day before:

 Item Saving Visa Cheque
 B/Fwd +2,000.00 -25.00 +40.00
 Countdown   -20.00
 Deposit +30.00  +120.00
  +2,030.00 -25.00 +140.00

“I hope I have explained this well enough. At the end of each day I write in the transactions (doesn't take long if you do it on a daily basis) and the balances. Keep all eftpos receipts until such time as this is done. Don't forget Automatic Payments or Cheques written. I paper clip each account that arrives in the page it is due, sometimes an earlier date. I write in appointments near the bottom of the page and highlight them."

L. Dustin from Oamaru says, “When my hubby & I were on a tight budget, we came up with the idea that we would not spend over $29 without receiving the other person's approval first.  We usually gave permission when asked by the other, but it gave us time to think if we really needed the item before getting it…..a sanity check.  We saved a lot of money in this way.”

Tracy Smith says, “To make budgeting easier for our family, I calculate ALL bills for the year (including car warrants, regos, insurance, rates, power, phone, etc). I then divide the full yearly amount by 52 weeks, and deposit that amount to a bills account. I have all automatic payments and direct debits set up to come out of that bills account, so you always have the money to pay the bills and you know they will be paid on time.”

Sande has a great idea to build up ready cash for occasions like Christmas. “Save all change given to you at shops that is under $1. Our family of three adults has made this a habit. We use an old glass vase and all the 10, 20, and 50 cents pieces get dropped in after each shopping trip. We only dip into it if we need parking meter money. It is mounting up slowly.”

Mike from the Pakuranga & Howick Budgeting Service Inc writes, “As a Volunteer Budget Advisor, I act as a free source of advice to many clients who are finding it difficult or impossible to make ends meet. There is not always an easy solution, but independent advice can often provide a solution. If the weekly budget is in deficit, there are only 2 possible solutions – either increase income or decrease spending. But there are many ways to achieve the right end result – why not talk it over before the debts become unmanageable? Just phone the local Budget Service – they are listed in the phone directory!”
The national body to which most budgeting services belong is the NZ Federation of Family Budgeting Services Inc. According to their website ( the Federation has 148 member organisations with about 1200 mostly volunteer staff who field 280,000 enquiries each year (one call a minute!). Last year 28,000 clients saw a Federation budget adviser and more than 17,000 families were provided with help.
The best advice we can give is to avoid getting into debt in the first place!
Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag by Frank & Muriel Newman is available from all good bookstores or online at  Tell us about your cashless Christmas gifts and we will share them with others. You can contact us through the oily rag website, or write to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.

*Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Readers can submit their oily rag tips on-line at The book is available from bookstores and online at