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Opportunities in Challenging Times

 Read more Oily Rag articles by Frank and Muriel Newman 

We live in challenging times. The job market is tough and the economy is not getting any better. So it’s time to get a little self-help can-do attitude. Here are some thoughts about using your spare time to make a few more dollars. Some will suit those at home looking after the littlies.

  • What about childminding, pet-minding, or minding assets. Property management is a classic. Look after the grounds, do basic maintenance, and so on.
  • If you happen to be travelling some distance from home and you have spare room in your vehicle, cart some goods for a few extra dollars. Contact local businesses that are likely to be sending goods to the place you are going. Do it at a cut- price rate so that they are happy – and you are happy because you will be helping to pay for your petrol costs. We are amazed at the number of people who commute long distances to work – why not double up as a daily or weekly courier service.
  • Those living off the smell of an oily rag don't waste anything – and that includes space. Take in a boarder if you have a spare room. If you have a spare garage, rent it out as storage for cars, boats, caravans, household furniture, and the like.
  • If you have space acreage, lease it out for grazing or as a horse paddock or grow Christmas trees. You may want to specialise in "rent-a Christmas trees". Grow them in a barrel and deliver them once a year.
  • Grow more vegetables than you need – sell the surplus on the roadside or at a local vegie market.
  • Enter competitions. There's a chance to win many great prizes.
  • Consider joining a co-operative. We know ladies who have formed knitting co-operatives who get together to hand-knit woollen sweaters. Each is unique and marketed as natural and handmade in tourist stores.
  • Be a relief driver. Even owner drivers need holidays. Instead of their vehicle standing idle while they are idling away the days on holiday, you could fill in and do their runs.
  • Garage sales are a treasure trove of opportunity – but you have to know what you're looking for. Did you know some of the first Star Wars dolls (the alien models in particular) are now worth hundreds of dollars (they originally retailed for about $3). The most valuable toys are those still in their original packaging.
  • Oily raggers never walk past something that's free. Everything is worth something to someone. We recall the story of one person wanting to get rid of an old piece of machinery. An oily ragger leapt at the chance – stripped the salvageable parts and sold off the waste material. It was enough to pay for the groceries for a month!
  • Don't go on annual holiday, get a casual job instead. Make it something a little different so it even feels as though you've had a holiday. If you normally work in an office, try an outside job, for example. Teachers and those with generous holidays should be making the most of their time to make a few extra dollars.

When looking for ways to make a few extra dollars, remember that we are continually being faced with tremendous opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations!

Share your money-saving tips 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