Oily Rag

Living on the smell of an oily rag is tough work. But no one does it better than Frank Newman and his wife - political commentator and former ACT MP, Muriel. The benefits are telling…

Bad debt and very bad debt

05:00am 24 Feb 2014

FRANK AND MURIEL NEWMAN

Interest rates are on the rise. The Governor of the Reserve Bank has for some time now been saying interest rates will rise and most economists expect rates to rise by 2% within two years. For most people that means they will be paying more on interest, and have less for the other things.

But, never fear, help is near! Here are some oily rag ways of getting out of debt. 

The first thing to realise is it's a whole lot easier getting into debt than out of it. Getting out and staying out of debt may require permanent changes about the relationship you have with your money. 

The key to getting out of debt is to figure out why or how you got into debt in the first place. If the reason was because of an ongoing issue, like spending more than you earn, then address that issue. 

If you don't know what you are spending your money on, keep a record of your spending over the next month.

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More tips from Oily Rag readers

05:00am 17 Feb 2014

FRANK AND MURIEL NEWMAN

Oily Rag readers have been sending in lots of interesting and imaginative tips to share with others of a frugal disposition. 

JWC from Auckland has an interesting lunchtime vegetable recipe. "Warm Salad. Preparation time: 4 minutes. You will need: 3 medium carrots coarsely grated, 2 or 3 Brazil nuts crushed slightly, 1 level teaspoon salt, a rounded teaspoon of honey, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of butter. Melt the butter in a frying pan and fry the nuts. Drop the carrot into the pan and add the honey. Turn the heat down. Stir and toss for half a minute until the carrot looks pale but still has some crunch. Tip into a bowl. Sprinkle the lemon juice on top and serve warm."

And here are some memories of her days as a student in Dunedin! "I'm 74 now but I well remember being a poor university student and begging bacon ends from the butcher and ends of the cheese rounds from the grocer. We ate Pavlova most nights - sugar was cheap and we got egg whites free from the laboratories because they only used the egg yolks for their tests.  We used to line our rooms with egg cartons for sound insulation and to stop draughts. That was in 1957."

Egg cartoons for sound proofing and insulation - now that is an oily rag trick!

LM from Paraparaumu Beach has this tip for making a bathroom cleaner. "I brought a spray bottle from a dollar store and put in just a little bit of cream cleanser - with a good shake it is ideal for the shower and bath."

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Money saving tips for students

05:00am 10 Feb 2014

FRANK AND MURIEL NEWMAN

For most of us the holidays are now a merely a pleasant but fading memory - it's back to work or study. Being the start of the school and university year, it's worth reminding students how to save money on a limited or non-existent income.


Most of the oily rag tips on the oilyrag.co.nz website will apply to students, but we thought it worth summarising some key messages.

Save money on accommodation by flatting with others who also want to save money. Don't be too particular about the quality - it's not exactly a life-long habitation.

Boarding may be a sensible option and even staying in the halls of residence may prove to be economic given it includes three square meals a day.

Check out all of the options. If you need some furniture for your flat see what's available at the localhospice/opp shops. It's amazing how cool old furniture can look with a quick sand and repaint or white-wash stain.

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Fantastically frugal pumpkin

05:00am 03 Feb 2014

FRANK AND MURIEL NEWMAN

We - and many others around Aoteaoilyragaroa - are having fun watching giant pumpkins grow larger by the day. The giant ones are not very edible, but the kids certainly get pretty excited when they see pumpkins growing larger than they are.

But, of course the oily rag garden is not without its ordinary culinary pumpkin for the oily rag kitchen.  Here are some pumpkin-type tips that will see you turn the under-appreciated gem into a delicious treat.

D.F. from Whakatane has sent in this pumpkin pie recipe. "My daughter in law served this pumpkin pie dish with a barbecue when we were last in Cape Town but her kids eat it for pudding. This recipe serves 12. Ingredients: 4 cups cooked pumpkin/butternut, 1 cup flour, 4 teaspoons baking powder, a pinch of salt, half a cup of sugar, 3 to 4 eggs (beaten), a sprinkle of cinnamon. Cook & mash the pumpkin/butternut. Sift in the flour, baking powder & salt. Add the sugar & beaten eggs. Pour into pie dish, sprinkle cinnamon on top. Bake at 180C until edges pull away from pie dish (about an hour)."

Or how about pumpkin muffins: K.J. from Wellington recommends this. "To make pumpkin muffins you will need 2 cups of flour, 1½ cups of sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 egg, ¾ cup milk, ¼ cup cooking oil, ½ cup cooked and mashed pumpkin, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon and ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg. Mix all of the dry ingredients together - and the pumpkin, milk, oil and egg in another mix. Make a well in the centre of the dry mix and add the wet mixture. Stir to form a batter then place large spoonfuls in greased muffin tins. Bake at 200C for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. This mix makes about 10 muffins."

Instead of buying expensive baby food, buy cheap fruit and vegetables (the second grade or really ripe ones) and puree.  Pumpkin is a favourite - and cheap, when compared to the cost of buying it in the supermarkets at between $1.50 and $2 for 120g. You can imagine how much that adds up to, and how much you could save if you make your own from a home grown pumpkin.

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Tips for oily readers

05:00am 20 Jan 2014

FRANK AND MURIEL NEWMAN

It seems summer is a busy time in the oily rag garden. We have received lots of interesting gardening tips to share, as well as others that are sure to appeal - or at least titillate! And don't forget that if you have a favourite oily rag tip that works well for your family, then you can share it with tens of thousands of other by sending it to us at www.oilyrag.co.nz and we will recycle to the avid oily rag readers of this column!

We had a lovely letter from an oily ragger in Whangarei. They became inspired a couple of years ago after reading the oily rag column about a back-yard orchard. Well, they got stuck in and planted various trees and are enjoying their first harvest. They say the peaches are the best they have ever tasted and they are looking forward to apples, plums, pears and more. Well done! If you don't have an oily rag orchard - give it a go. They also say they have expanded their vege garden too, and their kids are watching a giant pumpkin grow bigger by the day. (Goodness knows what will happen if they decide to grow a giant beanstalk!)

Alastair from Whangarei has this gardening, and recycling tip. "Old toilet roll spools. Save them up, cut them in half, pack in a kitty litter tray and fill with seed raising mix. Add your parsnip seeds, one to each roll. When they sprout you can plant out by lifting the toilet roll and transferring to a garden bed.  The roll breaks down in the soil."

Michael from Auckland has a tomato tip. "If you or a friend have one tomato plant it is really easy to get many freebies. Use the laterals. These are the 'unwanted' side shoots that you are told to remove. When you do remove them place the cuttings into a cup of water. After about 3 days the shoots will start to grow roots. Once the roots are about 1-2cm long plant them into pots with a mixture of compost & soil, then after a week or so into the garden. If you have some fine gravel or pumice put this in the water the shoots are in. It helps to keep the roots separate, grow stronger & makes them easier to pot on."

Lee from Rotorua writes, "I always seem to have an overabundance of lemons and most neighbours have as well, so I juice them and put them into ice-cube trays and freeze, then bag them. I take out what I want when I need it - great with fish! Keep the tips coming - we all love them."

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