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Oily Rag Mailbag

We thought it worth repeating, for the sake of the frugal festivity lovers, the discovery made by the oily rag research team some time ago.

 Read more Oily Rag articles by Frank and Muriel Newman

It has not escaped our attention that the rugby stadium of 4 million people has been consuming more than their usually quota of beer and other festive beverages. We therefore thought it worth repeating, for the sake of the frugal festivity lovers, the discovery made by the oily rag research team some time ago.

Their general finding was that when measured as a cost per 100 millilitres buying beer in cans was found to be the most expensive, followed by small bottles, then large bottles. There was however a big difference in price so it comes down to the oily rag motto – “Let the buyer be aware!”

A reader writes that by hunting out specials he is able to reduce the per 100ml price of canned beer in half by buying 430ml cans on special. If you are buying beer off the shelf, take a calculator and work out the difference between buying bottles and cans. One price may look better, but work out how much supping you are getting for your dollar per 100ml.

Home brew is of course the cheapest of all, and does give the brewer the opportunity to have some fun with the labels: All Black Gold, Aussie Bitter (brewed for four more Years), Welsh Pride, and so on – you get the picture.

Having mentioned all of these ways to cut down on the cost of having a brew, the best way to save money is to cut down on your consumption of alcoholic beverages.  We know we should have mentioned this before the drinking started rather than after, but no doubt it will not be too long before another event is found to excuse accelerated consumption.

While others have been watching the rugby on the tellie, oily raggers have been coming up with more ways to make your money go further in these economically challenging times.

Tramore from Whangarei writes, “We have used milk powder since we stopped milking cows 25 years ago.  We used the skim milk powder but now we have recently changed to buying the whole milk powder as it is the same price.  We water it down to the consistency/colour of skim milk and voila, the saving is great….it goes twice as far for the same price!”

Pip from Nelson has lots of ideas for saving money in the laundry. She says,

  • By using hand towels and small sized bath towels when you have children you are still able to change them often but don't have as many loads to do because you can fit more of them into the machine.
  • After a shower or bath hang all the wet towels (not dirty ones!) on the line in the sun and save yourself washing when you don't really need to.
  • I use about 1 teaspoon of eco laundry liquid (much less than recommended on bottle) per load (and cold water) and washing always comes out clean.  For really stubborn stains or icky things that need to be sanitized use Sard wonder soap (one bar has lasted me about 4 years) rubbed directly onto stain and soaked in a bucket of warm/hot water for a couple of hours before tipping into machine for a normal cold wash.
  • Sunlight has an amazing sanitising effect on towels and bedding and is much cheaper than using the dryer or hot water for the whole wash.
  • Wait until machine is full to do a load (unless you have half a load and know it is about to rain for a week!)

AOS from Wellington says, “Place crushed egg shells at the base of leafy green vege plants to avoid being munched/sabotaged by snails/slugs/caterpillars. They don’t like the feeling of sharp bits under their bodies so you may be able to go a whole season without a half munched garden.”

Do you have tips to share? Send your comments by visiting the oily rag website or write to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei. The book Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag by Frank & Muriel Newman is available online at

* 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