GrownUps accepts no responsibility for decisions made by Members or any other persons as a result of using or relying on any information on the GrownUps website. GrownUps does not give any financial advice or make any recommendation of any product or service.

Oily Rag – Free

"Free" is a word everyone living off the smell of an oily rag loves to hear. It is surprising how many things are free - everything from buses to sofas!

 Read more Oily Rag articles by Frank and Muriel Newman 

“Free” is a word everyone living off the smell of an oily rag loves to hear. It is surprising how many things are free – everything from buses to sofas!

  • D.M, Katikati says, “I found out from my pensioner neighbour that Monday to Friday, around 9am, I can catch a free bus (because I am a pensioner) outside my house and travel to Tauranga, returning about 2.30pm. Whilst in Tauranga I can travel free anywhere the yellow buses go. e.g Papamoa, Bethlehem, Welcome Bay, etc.  The Katikati bus is run by Environment B.O.P.”
  • There are about 4,760 free couches available in New Zealand right now, that is, free to sleep on! is an exchange where people make their couches available to travellers for a night or two.
  • An expat’ oily ragger has some suggestions from across the ditch: "They have this thing called hard rubbish day over here where people throw out all their old junk. I went for a drive with my father in law (otherwise known as Mr Steptoe) and we got a big old desk with 9 drawers, hose reel, shade cloth, drip pipe and we will do another drive tomorrow for some more goodies – all free of course." – B.J., Australia. The idea has caught on here too. A number of local council’s have Second Hand Sundays where people leave their unwanted stuff at their gate for others to collect. Call you local council to see if they are co-ordinating this in your area.
  • A Hamilton reader recommends making the most of freebies like free motel shampoo. What she doesn’t use is given to the local woman’s refuge.
  • A reader says, ‘Free to a good home’ is the best way to “buy” pets. No need to waste money when so many pets are looking for good homes. (One word of warning for those offering pets free to a good home – make sue it is a good home and not on-sold.)
  • Receive accommodation in return for work. We know someone who lives in a sea-side property rent free. In return for free rent they do two days landscaping work on the property, mowing lawns, etc. As a result they live in a fantastic place and don’t pay a cent!
  • A reader has some thoughts about dumped cars. “Cars get abandoned from time to time. The get dumped any where: reserves, forests, anywhere at all. They are however a treasure-chest of nuts, bolts, screws, washers, clips, pins, hinges, handles, hoses, wire, belts. Springs and so on that can be used for house repairs or modifications rather than having to go cap-in-hand to the hardware store. They can also provide seats for the porch as well as glass, steering systems, axles and diffs for larger projects.”
  • Sande writes, “This isn't an original idea but I joined my local city Freecycle online. It is excellent for picking up or giving away items that might otherwise end up in the landfill. You can give away or ask for anything within reason. No money changes hands. I've picked up a vacuum cleaner that works incredibly well, toys, bar stools, and plants for my garden.”
  • P.S. from Auckland suggests going though waste skips at building sites. “A lot of excellent material get dumped, material that can usually be had for the price of asking.”
  • And what about free food! Well that’s a whole story in itself, and something to cover in the future.

And the best thing about the word “Free” is that by living off the smell of an oily rag people are able to be become financially free, and take control of their finances instead of having their finances take control of them.
* 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