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Oily Rag Budget 2013

Oily Rag Budget 2013

By Frank and Muriel Newman

It’s Budget week for the government, and our learned politicians in Wellington have again being preaching the virtues of surpluses, the vices of debt, and the need to live within your means.

While the amounts are obviously much smaller when it comes to household budgets, the principles are nevertheless the same: spend less than you earn.

Unlike the government, increasing family earnings is not as easy as increasing taxes as most of us do not have a captive population that can be squeezed a little harder as the need for more money arises! We have to work more hours or work smarter.

Here are three big oily rag ideas about how to earn more.

Big Oily Rag idea #1. Make better use of “down time”. According to Statistics NZ every person watches about 14 hours of television a week. That’s equivalent to about 2 days working, or just over $190 a week for the person on a minimum wage. How about using that down-time for casual work, or on money-saving activities like growing your own vegetables and selling or swapping the surplus! The benefits should be multiplied by two in a two-person household.

Big Oily Rag idea #2. Clean out the garage. Although the amount of money tied up in household items may not appear very great, most families accumulate various “bits and pieces” that are no longer of use. It needs to be admitted that oily raggers are known to be hoarders, so they usually have lots of stuff that can be turned into cash. Surplus assets typically include: a second car, sports gear, boats, books, caravans, clothing, old furniture, and so on. When sold, all these bits and pieces can add up to serious money that can be used to knock a serious dent in a family’s mortgage - or can be converted into something else that could bring pleasure.

Big Oily Rag idea #3. Never go past something that’s free. Everything is worth something to someone. One oily ragger recalls being offered a piece of old machinery that was cluttering up shed space. The oily ragger jumped at the chance. He sold the workable parts through an online auction site and other bits to a scrap dealer, all for a tidy sum.

Those three ideas are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to money-making ideas. Here are a few others to show just how creative the oily rag community is.

• Lots of businesses now have internet based office systems, which means admin’ work can be done from anywhere, including your home. This is ideal for home-based parents with office skills wanting to earn a few extra dollars.

• If you have spare space in the garage (because you implemented Big Idea #2!), rent it out as storage. Offer the space, for a small fee, to friends or family heading off on their OE.

• For those with spare land, grow Christmas trees! (Otherwise known as pinus christmasitis!) This cash crop will be ready at exactly the time when you are likely to need a little extra.

• Become a courier. If you routinely travel long distances, offer to be a document or parcel courier to businesses in your area. The business gets personal service at a super-cheap rate, and you get someone else to pay for your petrol money. What a super idea!

These are just some ideas to help you add some dollars to the top line of your budget. Let us know if you have some “secret” money-making ideas you would like to share with readers – send it to us by visiting the oily rag website or dropping us a line at 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 from all good bookstores or 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


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