GrownUps accepts no responsibility for decisions made by Members or any other persons as a result of using or relying on any information on the GrownUps website. GrownUps does not give any financial advice or make any recommendation of any product or service.

Savings More Than Crumbs

The nation's Budget has been read and the annual debate over who won and lost has begun in earnest.

 Read more Oily Rag articles by Frank and Muriel Newman 

The nation’s Budget has been read and the annual debate over who won and lost has begun in earnest. The government has even set up an online calculator to make it easier for us ordinary folk to calculate exactly how much better off we will be. That tends to range from a few dollars a week for low income earners to $20 and more for those on $70,000 a year and over.
While counting the cents is obviously of passing interest, most oily raggers tend to take the view that families should “ask not want the government can do for you, ask what you can do for yourself” (to paraphrase a quote from a famous US president).
A few dollars here and there in tax savings is not as significant as the hundreds of dollars a week that can be saved by embracing frugality – as the tips mentioned in our book “Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag” clearly show. Let’s do a quick review of some of the tips that prove that point.

  • We mentioned smoking in a column a few weeks back. The one-packet-a-day smoker who gives up the bad habit will save +$70 a week! The message is stop smoking altogether or cut down.
  • Buying unbranded products at your supermarket will save the average family about $40 to $50 a week. Compare that to the Budget handout!
  • Buying a second hand car instead of a new vehicle will save you thousands of dollars on depreciation alone. New cars depreciate 30% in the first year and 15% in the second year so after two years you would have lost nearly half the value of the purchase cost of a new vehicle. Compare that to a used car which depreciates at about 10% a year. Some oily raggers cut their motoring costs even further by searching out bargain buys: K.W. from Romahapa says, “Buy the best car you can afford for cash. Old cars don't depreciate as fast as new ones and sometimes even appreciate in value. I bought an old English car for $505 and three year later it is still worth at least $500. I also bought an old Ford Falcon for $580 and that has a resale value of about $1000. Its simple technology with no computer controlled engine management system, fuel injection, power-steering, abs or traction control, so if it does break down its easy and cheap to fix.”
  • Start your own garden and have a constant supply of vegetables for free. If you don’t have a lot of space, grow vegetables and herbs in pots on your patio. Those savings will be a lot more than any tax reductions!
  • Ossie from Taihape is beating beer price rises by brewing his own. Better still, drink water instead of alcoholic beverages!
  • And anyone with a few spare hours can turn their time and hobbies into more money (and you get to keep more of it now that income tax rates are lower!).  There are literally hundreds of ways to make a few extra dollars – anything from selling spare fruit and vegetables to delivering junk mail. All it takes is a little bit of get up and go and a “save” rather than “spend” attitude!

You can contract Frank and Muriel Newman via the oily rag website ( or by writing 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