Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


Oily Rag Column: The Virtues Of Frugality

The Virtues Of Frugality

By Frank and Muriel Newman

While others have been lounging around in the sun, oily raggers have been busy having fun in the garden and coming up with next-to-no-cost meals as their harvest rolls in. It’s interesting to hear why people choose to live off the smell of an oily rag. Over the years oily raggers have told us how much pleasure they get from a frugal lifestyle.

Rosana from Opotiki writes, “The great oily rag ideas have really inspired my lifestyle. From Townie to Coastie, now 51 years old it’s time to get back to nature. We do a swap – hen eggs for duck eggs or a cake or a batch of fried bread for some cows’ full-cream milk. But the best part is making new friends. I am hoping to revive a small orchard and grow all my veges this summer.”

JB says, "I have been an oily ragger for about 16 years since my parents brought me your book. My Oily Ragging can basically be put down to the fact I hate waste.... why waste money - or anything for that matter - if you don't need to."

LR says, "I live off the smell of an oily rag because I think it’s the right thing to do. I am not driven by necessity. I have lots of money, but I think it is better to be frugal so that I have the say-so on what happens to the savings. I actually give quite a lot away to charity. In other words, I am frugal so that I can be generous!"

A reader from the Cook Islands has this interesting comment. "We were oily raggers a bit before we came here, but now we are ‘devotees’ through necessity. Where we live there is only a very limited, expensive range of groceries. Although we order groceries every few weeks from Rarotonga we have learnt to stretch our $$ and ‘make do’ on less. We are enjoying the savings". - MN

BJ says they live off the smell of an oily rag, “because I can save heaps. This gives me money over at the end of each week so I can save as much as I need to make sure I will have a retirement nest-egg. All of my spare money is going into investments."

JO from Christchurch says, "I get a lot of enjoyment out of using things other people class as rubbish and if I save money by doing so, it’s even better. For years I was on a small wage and I still managed to pay off a $10,000 loan in 3 years. I’m proud of myself and think I am a real “oily rag” person!"

TH says, "Many years ago I read with delight your Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag and our family have been leading a very simple life ever since thanks to your wonderful book! I have implemented so many of your ideas over the years that they are now second nature to me and our home. I hope my son and daughter get as much reward - financial and contentment - knowing they have done it/made it themselves. We are about to embark on the next adventure of our life – buying a little bit of land - free range chooks included! Can’t wait to extend our vege garden and plant fruit trees and save even more whilst having fun!”

There is certainly something extremely satisfying about having a vege garden and an orchard - and knowing that by following the money-saving tips others have shared, a dollar can be turned into two dollars worth of purchasing power.

Do you have a favourite oily rag tip that you think could help others? If so, please send it to us at or write to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei so we can share it.

*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


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


13/10: 40 Years Since The Māori Land March Arrived At Parliament

Traffic into Wellington came to a standstill as thousands of Māori and Pākehā streamed along the motorway into the capital on 13 October 1975, concluding the Māori land march to parliament. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Before The Quakes

Remembering Christchurch: Voices from decades past: The Christchurch I lived in for my first 23 years was where four-year-olds walked alone to kindergarten, crossing roads empty of all but a couple of cars per hour. My primary school, Ilam, was newly built on a grassy paddock surrounded by rural land... More>>

6-11 October: New Zealand Improvisation Festival Hits Wellington

Wellingtonians will have a wide selection of improv to feast on with a jam packed programme containing 22 shows, three companies from Australia, two companies from Auckland, one from Nelson, one from Christchurch and seven from Wellington. More>>


Bird Of The Year: New Zealanders Asked To Vote For Their Favourite Native Bird

Te Radar, David Farrier, Heather du-Plessis Allan and Duncan Garner are just some of the New Zealanders championing their favourite native bird in Forest & Bird’s annual Bird of the Year competition, which kicks off today.. More>>


Werewolf Film: It Follows - Panic In Detroit

Philip Matthews: When you heard last month that Wes Craven had died and you wanted to pay homage, you could have sat down with any one of five of his films that helped reinvent American horror at least three times over three decades... Or you could just have watched one of the greatest recent horror films that would probably not exist without Craven. More>>


Werewolf Music: Searching For The White Wail - On Art Pepper, etc

If the word ‘hipster’ means anything – which it arguably doesn’t – it seems to be more of an impulse than a condition. One always headed for the margins, and away from the white-bred, white-bread mainstream... More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news