FRANK AND MURIEL NEWMAN
We can't believe the year is coming to an end so quickly: as one gets older, the years just seem to get shorter!
Christmas is almost here, again, and oily rag households are getting busy planning for the special day. Fortunately the oily rag community has lots of ideas to take the cost out of Christmas but leave in the fun. Here are some tips to unlock your creativity!
· A Wellington reader writes, "I have recently been trawling galas, garage sales and op shops for Christmas pressies for the kids. You can buy fantastic gifts at very reasonable prices. I have bought all my nieces and nephews puzzles and games of their favourite cartoon characters for 20c each and they are still in almost new condition. My nieces are also getting jewellery boxes that were less than 50c each and my son is getting a huge box of Lego we found for $5. Cannot believe how little we have spent so far and the fantastic toys and gifts the kids are getting this year. Have also saved some presents for Birthdays too!"
FRANK AND MURIEL NEWMAN
Oily raggers are really good at making Christmas an occasion without the cost. Here are some tips for those looking for creative ways to celebrate Christmas.
- A classic oily rag tip is to re-gift things that have been given to you but never used. One oily rag couple don't drink wine, but they gladly receive wine because it's so easy to re-give to those who do appreciate the occasional drop. (Hint: make sure you know who gave you the gift so you don't give it back to them!)
- Another oily ragger makes the most of duty free purchases when they are travelling overseas. Being dedicated oily raggers they don't drink booze, but that doesn't stop them from buying it duty free and storing it for gifts.
- Why not agree with your family and friends to have a "Buy nothing Christmas" and take out all the stress and cost!
- One interesting suggestion is to set up a "free" store in your neighbourhood and have your neighbours bring stuff they don't need to trade with others. This idea of bringing stuff to swap could be used for a cost-free Christmas Day as well!
- Don't forget about the online deals which will be aplenty this year. We too are getting in on the bargain buying spirit and offering our fun kids' books at a ridiculously low oily rag bargain price. Check it out at oilyrag.co.nz.
- If you are looking for deal, have a look at the daily deal websites. There are lots of them offering coupons or heavily discounted deals, like grabone.co.nz.
- Here's a good idea for a different sort of Christmas Day meal - have the men make the feast! Give them free range of the kitchen to produce whatever they wish.
- Here are some tips if dining out over the holidays:
- Keep an eye out for kids-eat-free deals.
- Have an entrée instead of a main and share a desert - just ask for two spoons - or skip the desert and make it at home.
- Some restaurants offer an early-bird menu for early diners, or have a late lunch as the lunch menu is usually cheaper.
- Share a plate. Most restaurants will allow two people to share a plate for no additional cost.
- Look for 2-for-1 deals. Take along a buddy, and split the cost so you both save.
- The add-ons are usually the biggest cost of dining out. Avoid ordering the drinks by saying "water please" when you are asked for your drinks order.
- Take a doggie bag, but instead of giving the leftovers to the doggie have them for a second meal. That way a $30 meal becomes two meals at $15.
- Seniors should ask if the establishment offers a senior citizens' discount.
- Sporting clubs and RSAs usually have big good-value meals.
- If you are going out for a group dinner, ask for a fixed price at the time of making the booking. Think of it like a bulk discount.
And finally, here's a bit of classic Christmas Day fun for the kids - especially if it's raining! Make gingerbread men (or ginger-persons if you prefer!) with this simple recipe from Chelsea sugar: Sift 2 cups of flour with ½ teaspoon of baking soda and a tablespoon of ground ginger. Add ½ cup of sugar then mix in 150g of soft butter and 1 egg. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky. Place in the fridge for half an hour then roll on a lightly floured surface until about 5mm thick. Use a cookie cutter or knife to shape the gingerbread men then bake in a pre-heated 180deg oven for about 10 minutes until golden brown. Make icing by adding a few drops of food colouring and water to icing sugar, then use to make fancy wiggles and squiggles - like clothing - and as a glue for lollies. Don't forget to make a hole in them before baking if you want to hang them on the Xmas tree.
Let us know if you have some special Christmas Day tips you would like to share with others. You can contact us (and join our newsletter list) through our website www.oilyrag.co.nz or by writing to us at 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 www.oilyrag.co.nz. The book is available from bookstores and online at www.oilyrag.co.nz.
FRANK AND MURIEL NEWMAN
Oily raggers are not the sort of people to let anything go to waste. It is no surprise that they have lots of ideas to make the most of what others throw out. Here are some suggestions for plastics, paper and tyres.
- "Use the inside 'plastic' bags from cereal packets to wrap left-over food instead of grease-proof paper. I use it to wrap my lunch and it keeps it fresh. Just wipe and dry it each night." - J.J.
- "Paper towel cardboard rolls are a convenient and tidy way of storing plastic bags in your drawer. I just stuff the plastic bags in, and pull them out when needed." - Anon.
· There are lots of uses for newsprint.
o One reader made an attractive lamp shade from a newspaper. The old shade had become tattered and untidy so he simply pasted newspaper pages around the frame. Having had a bad experience on the share market, he used a page showing a share market table. His friends joked that he had finally seen the light! You may want to use a page showing a moment of national pride - such as the All Blacks beating Australia in a test match ... it would be a great conversation starter with your Australian mates!
FRANK AND MURIEL NEWMAN
Living off the smell of an oily rag is all about being frugal with one's money. That means being sensible about borrowing.
Central government is currently reviewing consumer credit laws, and this has awakened media interest in the scandalous Payday Loan industry, which has grown exponentially in recent years.
Payday loans are short-term unsecured loans of small amounts that are intended to get the borrower though to the next payday. They generally have a maximum term of a month or two. According to the website of these lenders, the loans are typically used to pay for groceries, power bills, vehicle breakdowns, and the like. But the reality is there are probably a host of other reasons why desperate people end up at the doorstep of these usurious lenders.
The loans are usually for just a few hundred dollars. While every lender has different terms, they all have one thing in common - outrageously high interest rates with 500% per annum not unusual!
That means for every $1,000 these Payday lenders lend out, by the end of the first year they will receive back $6,000. If that $6,000 is then lent out at the start of year 2 they will end that year with $36,000, with $216,000 by the end of year 3, and with just under $1.3m by the end of year 4 - all from an original investment of just $1,000!
FRANK AND MURIEL NEWMAN
Being oily raggish does not have any age restrictions. Young, or just being young at heart but not in years, matters not a jot when it comes to being part of the oily rag lot - especially when it comes to kids' gardens!
The garden is a wonderful place for kids, parents and grandparents. What better place to have an inter-generational conversation about photosynthesis or the wonders of pollination and germination than while in a kids' garden.
And there are also nutritional benefits as Suzanne from Rotorua writes, "When my grandchild was a preschooler and I looked after her during the day, we spent many long hours in the organic vege garden. One thing Emma wanted to do was to grow something herself, by herself. She chose the silver beet plants that we purchased, planted them, then watered and cared for them. Now I am thrilled to say that she will go down to the garden, pick the leaves, wash them and above all loves to eat her silver beet!"
A reader from Whangarei has also become enthused about a kids' garden after seeing a promotion by Mitre 10. As part of their Easy As Kids promotion they have "Big pumpkin seeds" available at 50 cents a packet. There are two seeds to a packet, plus a very bright planting tag. The packet has a few very simple tips.
· Plant early spring [now!]: Under glass so they don't get too cold [but probably not necessary if you live in the winterless North] and space 2 to 4 metres apart so they have plenty of room to grow.
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