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Creativity – The Oily Rag Way

Oily raggers are a creative bunch - there is no limit to their imagination when it comes to putting good ideas to good use.

 Read more Oily Rag articles by Frank and Muriel Newman

Oily raggers are a creative bunch – there is no limit to their imagination when it comes to putting good ideas to good use.

Heather has some recycling ideas for Christmas. She suggests sticking blank paper in the middle of last year’s cards and writing your own special message. Rolls of old wall paper can make very cool gift wrap, and gold painted walnut shells and silver painted sea shells make wonderful Christmas decorations.

Angela writes, “At Christmas time I always cut circles out of plastic milk bottles and use them as gift tags.  They look like bubbles and if you add a little glitter and hole punch and thread ribbon through they are fab!!!  Use a permanent marker for the name.”

Dianne makes money recycling. “I love going to second hand shops. I have a friend who has a recycling shop and every 2 weeks it's a half price day, Thursday and Saturday. Boy do I get bargains, big bags of toys for $2. I save them up and then have a garage sale… Get cracking.”

Anything that’s “For Sale” is an opportunity – because it shows a willingness to sell and that means you may be able to pick up a bargain. Search through the For Sale columns of your local newspaper. Make even $20 a week from the resales and you will be a whole lot better off at the end of the year, and there is no reason why you can’t make a lot more than that!

Even better than “For Sale” is “Free”. Oily raggers never walk past something that’s free. Everything is worth something to someone. We recall the story of one person wanting to get rid of an old piece of machinery. An oily ragger leapt at the chance. He salvaged and sold the workable parts through an online auction site and sold the recyclable material to a scrap dealer. It was good money in the pocket to the person living off the smell of an oily rag.

Those living off the smell of an oily rag don’t waste anything – and that includes space. If you have a spare room take in a boarder. If you have a spare garage, rent the space out as storage.

Canny Scot from Christchurch makes money from having spare time. “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 Trademe.”

Plingie from Christchurch says, “Making your own baby food can save hundreds. There are a couple of ways of doing it. Easy but not the cheapest: buy tinned fruit and puree it, then freeze in ice-cube trays for use later.  Cheapest but a bit more labour intensive – boil your own veg and puree and freeze as above. You can just simply cook extra when you're making family meals and puree it and freeze. When it's frozen in ice cube trays you can simply pop them out in to a zip lock bag and use one or two at a time. Perfect for little baby sized portions.”

Natz from Nelson saves coins. “I am on a low income and started a coin jar. I only ever took money out for the bus. I just cashed it in… after four months it turned out to be $309. Just goes to show how quickly it builds up!”

If you have money-making ideas or money-saving tips that you would like to share with others then please log on to our 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