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Money Making Fun

People say times are challenging, and for some they are, but it's moments like these that the oily rag pioneering spirit of frugality, thrift and adventure is reawakened

 Read more Oily Rag articles by Frank and Muriel Newman 

People say times are challenging, and for some they are, but it’s moments like these that the oily rag pioneering spirit of frugality, thrift and adventure is reawakened.

Here is a list of can-do things that the young of age and young of heart can engage in to earn a few extra dollars.

Elderly folk very often need and appreciate a helping hand. How about seeing if you can do regular odd jobs for them for a small fee? Things like putting their wheelie bins and recycling in and out on rubbish day; gardening, raking leaves, mowing lawns, changing light bulbs and checking fire alarm batteries; or washing the outside of the house or the windows.

Use your oily rag bargain hunting skills to go shopping for busy people or those less mobile. Make a deal – something like you keep any discount savings – then it really costs your customer nothing! There are three types of shopping service you could provide: the regular weekly shop, the occasional shop, and the “I need something urgently” request.

How about a pet management service? Do all of the down-side things related to owning pets: clean out bird cages, wash dog kennels, clean fish tanks. Or what about a job that people really don’t mind paying for: a doggie-do pick-up service in owners’ back yards! Get in there with your gloves and pooper scooper and bucket. There’s nothing worse than a dog owner running over dried out dog poop with the lawn mower to find themselves covered in a cloud of doggy doo dust! Or what about a dog walking service for busy people or the elderly – add in a dog shampoo (and blow-dry!) as an extra!

It’s amazing how much fruit is allowed to go to waste. If you see windfall fruit that is being left to rot, ask if you can collect it for your own use, or to sell or exchange with others. It’s something for nothing, avoids waste, and only takes the time to ask.

Buying and selling second hand goods is a popular way to make a few extra dollars but it’s even better if you can get the goods for free. Ask around friends and family to see if they have anything they are throwing away – you will be amazed how much stuff people have that they don’t value. Sell the goods online on trading sites, rent a stall at a market, sell them at a car boot sale, or if you have enough, hold a garage sale. Selling is all about finding the right person who wants the benefits the item offers rather than always being about price: for example, when selling an old Glenn Miller big band record, you will have more luck promoting at as “a trip down memory lane” than as “really old songs for 95 cents!” If you do decide to sell on price, try something like, “Why pay $24.95 for a new one when you can have a really good not-so-new one for 95 cents!”

Clean up and dress up the things you have for resale. For example, if you have been given an old (penny farthing!) bike to sell, dress it up by painting it yellow, add a drink bottle and a commercial logo or two and place a sign on it – “As seen on the Tour de France!”

Try washing cars: call yourself something like “Scuba Car Cleaning”, put on a wetsuit and mask and snorkel and distribute some flyers around your neighbourhood. You are bound to be noticed, and get heaps of business!

If you have some favourite money-making or money-saving tips, share them with others by visiting 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