Handy tips from 'Oily Raggers'

20:14, May 20 2012

The new era of savings is bringing huge benefits for many. The banks are flush with funds as households shift from net borrowers to net savers, which means banks are cutting interest rates to take business from their competitors. That means lower interest costs for debt-burdened homeowners, which they can use to repay their debt even faster.

Oily raggers are get-up-and-go types of people, with lots of interesting ways to save money. Here are some of the tips received from readers this week.

Bryan Batty from Rotorua has a gardening tip. "When planting carrot seeds, put an egg tray in the ground at ground level, fill with seed mix soil and plant one carrot seed per egg hole. When the carrots come up, you don't have to thin them - they grow to a good size because they are spaced, and if any don't come up you just put another seed in that hole. They look good too, all in nice evenly spaced rows. The trays just rot away before the carrots are ready." There you have it, the perfect way to have healthy carrots in military-type rows. Oh, and by the way, we have found buying eggs by the tray (2 ½ dozen) usually costs about the same as two one-dozen cartons.

Peg from Palmerston North has a very cheap and simple cleaning product tip."I use white vinegar for all my cleaning - pure in the toilet, with a dash of detergent/Janola/water for very grubby spots. It's great for windows, which I apply using a spray bottle. For ovens, use white vinegar, juice of a lemon, another dash of Janola and detergent. Wear gloves. Leave for several hours. And white vinegar is cheap. I take an empty 2 litre milk bottle and fill it up from Bin Inn."

Jenny from Christchurch has a grease stain remover. "Try making a paste of baking soda and a few drops of water. Work the paste into the grease stain and rinse with warm water. Repeat a couple of times if needed. The baking soda will help remove the grease while also removing any smell".

Eric, an environmental solar engineer, has responded to the question asked last week about hot water heating with his own thesis on water heating. "Instead of wrapping prehistoric electrical cylinders to save some energy, people should be looking at instantaneous gas heaters for hot water. More than 75 percent of NZ buildings use electricity for hot water, space heating and cooking, which is very inefficient and makes many households vulnerable because energy prices have risen more than 60 percent in last 10 years. The cheapest way to produce hot water is the combination of a solar hot water system plus gas califont in series. If the solar hot water system is state of the art you will save over 70 percent on your energy bill - but unfortunately not many solar systems in NZ are state of the art so be careful before you buy!"

Chris from Clifton Springs in Victoria, Oz, has a double batch suggestion. "When I make a butter cake or cookie dough I double the recipe and freeze the cooked cake for another time. With the cookie dough I roll the uncooked logs of dough and wrap them in baking paper or cling wrap and when I want some cookies I just take them out, cut the log into pieces and bake them frozen - it works every time."

Pete from Avondale has a great budgeting tip: "I am on a low income and started a coin jar before Christmas. I only ever took money out for the bus. I have just taken it to the bank and cashed it in. It turned out to be $315. Just goes to show how quickly it can build up!"

Next week the government will be presenting its annual Budget, so in the next column we will be delivering the Annual Oily Rag Budget. Of course we can't reveal the contents of that budget as it is under embargo until the 24th of May, but what we can say is that an oily raggers' budget is always fiscally prudent, yet environmentally caring and socially responsible.

Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. If you have a favourite money-saving tip, please send it in to us so that we can share it with others. You can contact us via the oily rag website (www.oilyrag.co.nz) or write to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.