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Living For Tots and Teens

There are lots of ways for the young and not so young to participate in the joys of the oily rag lifestyle.

 Read more Oily Rag articles by Frank and Muriel Newman 

There are lots of ways for the young and not so young to participate in the joys of the oily rag lifestyle.

Reader M.H says, “We made our children a play area using saw dust instead of sand and an old bath instead of a paddling pool – it's deeper and elicits louder screams of delight.”

G.B. says charities and community groups like Plunket, Parents Centre and play centre run courses for parents, to learn how to make toys and groups like Parents Centre, Plunket, council libraries, churches and community centres run cheap story telling, coffee and music groups.

TwinMum from Christchurch says, “Don't bother buying cot sheets – they look pretty, but your child will outgrow the cot in a year or two. Instead, buy and use single bed sheets, which (if you buy the right ones) will last the child until it leaves home! Simply fold them in half when using them in a cot.”

M.W says, “The best money I have ever spent on toys for my children is my annual toy library membership. Our toy library has no per toy charge. We get a wide range of toys and puzzles and they get changed every two weeks so the kids always have something new and interesting. The second best money I spent on toys were a set of coloured wooden blocks (a gift actually) which we added to until we have over 100. When my eldest girls were three and four they literally spent three hours per day for months playing quietly with them. Most days the blocks will be played with for some time. (I expect these children to grow up to be architects and engineers as a result!)”

Dee from Whangarei says, “We bought a near-new baby buggy on Trademe for $95, worth $600 new. It goes a treat and we are sure to get our money back when baby has outgrown it.” Great point, Dee – the baby doesn’t know the difference between new and used. Better still borrow the gear from friends or family if you can. Many people don’t sell their baby gear (they may be between babies!) and they may be happy to lend it to you.  

There are heaps of cool money making opportunities for older children. Ideas include: raking leaves in the leafy well-to-do ‘burbs, buying and selling second hand goods, babysitting, shopping for the neighbours, house cleaning (yeah right!), picking and selling fruit, waitering at parties, putting on a kids art exhibition or putting on a drama (drama comes easy to kids!), selling flowers from your garden (ask mum first!), growing and selling Xmas trees, convincing mum and dad to increase your pocket money if you get better grades at school(!), standing in a queue (every queue is an opportunity and the longer the queue the higher the standing price), recycling aluminium cans, delivering papers and pamphlets, lawn mowing, making greeting cards for friends and relatives, car washing, giving computer help to those who are new to computers (and still searching for the on button!), web site design, collecting autographs (and selling them on Trademe), cleaning computers, busking or street drama, entering competitions, collecting golf balls or acting as a bag carrier, retrieving tennis balls so your friends and family can spend more time playing and less time finding the ball,  tutoring younger kids, walking dogs… the list is endless!
Oily Rag has thousands of tips and ideas to make your dollars go further. Please send us your favourite tips.

* 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