A reader has asked for a summary of some quick and easy ways to save money, so here are our "top five" money-saving tips in some money-hungry areas.
Reduce speed and save money. Slowing down from 110km to 100km will result in a 15 per cent fuel saving, and you will avoid speeding tickets.
Ensure tyre pressures are correct; Beaurepairs says that every 10 per cent under the vehicle manufacturer's recommended tyre pressure costs about 2.5 per cent in extra fuel consumption.
Turn off the air-conditioner and save about 10 per cent of your fuel consumption. A car's air-conditioning system needs power, which comes from the engine. Air conditioners can use about 10 per cent extra fuel when operating.
Drive with a "soft" foot on the pedal. Irregular accelerating and breaking uses more fuel. A careless driver will use 25 per cent more fuel and a fast driver 10 per cent more than a smooth driver.
Keep you vehicle tuned. A poorly maintained one will consume 5 per cent more fuel.
Use the cheapest supplier, based on your needs. A quick and easy way to do that is using the online calculator powerswitch.co.nz. One reader cut their power bill by $900 a year.
For Mr and Mrs Normal, hot water accounts for over 40 per cent of their electricity bill. Make sure the thermostat on your hot water cylinder is not set too high -- 50-60C is sufficient.
A cold water wash in the washing machine costs about 10 per cent of the cost of a hot water wash.
Eliminate draughts around windows and floors. About 12 per cent of the heat of a household is lost through windows. Leaky window and door joinery can be sealed with sealants or a self-adhesive foam strip and well-made, full-length curtains or thermal drapes will minimise loss. Much air is lost around the edges so curtains should extend 150mm on each side, and below the base of the window. Heavy drapes are more heat efficient than blinds. Shop around for a cheap material to make extra savings on your heating costs.
Install a ceiling fan in rooms with an open fire. It will increase the comfort level and circulate the heat that gets trapped on the ceiling.
Double the life-span of paintwork on weatherboards by washing it once a year.
Learn how to do basic repairs. First, read the manual. If that fails, try uploading one of the thousands of DIY videos . One oily ragger says they saw how to change a washing-machine hose -- before You Tube they would have just rung the plumber.
If you have not yet bought a house, enrol in KiwiSaver to receive the substantial subsidies available. Rather than build a home and take on a huge mortgage, build the shell and fit out the interior as you can afford to do so. Or build something small and add on as the family grows. Buying an existing home is usually cheaper than building new, but be careful if it requires lots of work.
Unbranded products are, on average, 36 per cent cheaper than the same branded products. That will save the average family about $50 a week, or $2600 a year.
Grow your own. It really is dead simple. You don't even need much space. One oily ragger has made a garden out of car tyres -- they simply lay a tyre flat on the ground and fill it with soil. For bigger plants, they stack on another tyre and top it up with soil. Easy and portable.
Milk is milk. Buy house brands, discount brand, or an independent brand rather than the premium brands.
Alternatively, make your own from powdered milk.
Buy fresh fruit and vegetables directly from local growers, orchards, or look for bargains at the local growers' market. Buy what's cheap and plentiful - and preserve for use later.
Stock your pantry with bargain buys and make meals using what you already have. You will always feast cheap.
• If you have a favourite recipe or oily rag tip that works well for your family, send it to us at www.oilyrag.co.nz, or by writing to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei, and we will relay it to the readers of this column.