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It's been another 8-day week responding to lots of frugal tips flowing in from the oily rag community!

 Read more Oily Rag articles by Frank and Muriel Newman

It’s been another 8-day week responding to lots of frugal tips flowing in from the oily rag community!

LTB from Auckland has this excellent idea about a low cost treat for kids. “Make chocolate ice blocks exactly like the expensive store-bought ones, at a significant saving. First make chocolate custard. Place 500ml milk in a saucepan (I use fresh whole milk, but you can use reconstituted powder milk for extra savings) and bring it to the boil. Then add a tablespoon of sugar, a tablespoon of cocoa, and a tablespoon of cornflour. Stir constantly until thickened, then cool. Second, pour the cooled chocolate custard into pre-moistened ice block moulds. Freeze for at least three hours. The cost to make one ice block (if using powdered milk) is approx 6 cents. Cost to make one dozen is approx 80 cents. That’s a saving of $27.60 per dozen based on the price of a dozen chocolate ice blocks at the corner shop!”

Anneke from Hastings writes, “I absolutely love your book and I use it in combination with other frugal advice websites. The amount of information about frugal living available is astounding. I am a living example of living a frugal life style. I have 4 children and a husband who all have learnt how it works. My eldest son is saving for a house and has told me he would rather pay me rent or board than put money in a stranger's pocket. So he is able to save up for his own house while helping his family financially by paying board. What are families for? We are here to look after one another and build each other up. As a unit we are stronger together than when we are scattered. By the way we love our vege garden and hot water solar heating system. Our average power bill yearly is $140 for 6 people in the house! Well I could go on and on.”

Anneke also has this tip about pizza dough. “I use the bread maker. Put your favourite toppings on the pizza base and cook it in the oven for 30 min on med/high. On Fridays I use left overs from the previous night or whatever is in the fridge. This is a great way to use up left over food – eg meatballs, crab meat or left over cheese pasta.”

Sam from Te Puke describes how he makes a good liquid soap. “You can make a good liquid soap using Dove soap and tea tree oil. Buy Dove soap when it is on sale at $1 a bar. Grate it finely, add three cups of boiling water, and stir till dissolved. When cool put in a few drops of tea tree oil. It’s a great anti-rash liquid soap for the shower.”

Off the Grid from Otorohanga also uses Dove soap. “My husband uses it to shave with. He has sensitive skin and finds that it softens his beard and gives a smooth clean shave with no rash.”

Grandma C from Christchurch lives the good life. “On my 1/8th acre section I have a feijoa hedge, raspberries at the borders, and apple, nectarine and lemon trees. Herbs are in a small above-ground garden by the back door, and beans and peas climb up fences on wire mesh. Asparagus is in a plot, and yams are in an old barrel as they spread into everything. Plus we have a small plot for cabbage, broccoli, red onions, carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, and many more seasonal veges. I plant the veges that are more expensive to buy and I live well.” That just goes to show how much self-help you can do on a small section!

Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. If you have a favourite tip then share it with others via or post it to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei 0140.

* 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