You've heard about Generation X and personality types A & B. Well, not to be outdone, we at the Oily Rag Research Institute have done our own research into oily rag personality types.

We all know people who live off the smell of an oily rag are characters, but most people don't know there are many different thrifty personality types.

The traditional oily ragger:

This oily ragger personality comes from a long line of penny pinchers who may well originate from England (Yorkshire in particular). They can been seen ferreting around bargain bins, muttering, "eh, by, gum, lad, ain't thart expensive".


After a few years the pennies turn into pounds so these folk usually sleep well, knowing they have a good, solid nest-egg.

The hate waste oily ragger: They hate waste of any kind and can been seen frantically squeezing the tomato sauce bottle to get the very last elusive drop, and even when they get it all, they still think there's more to be had. They never throw away a piece of paper unless both sides have been used, and you will sometimes find them rooting around in rubbish bins for aluminium cans and other recyclable goodies.

They have stuff piled up in the garage, under the bed, in cupboards, and up in the loft.

The greenie oily ragger:

These folk are not interested in the financial windfalls that come from living off the smell of an oily rag. To them it's about the more meaningful aspects of life, like saving the planet for future generations.

These oily ragger types possibly appeared years ago when they were seen sitting in daisy fields reflecting on Woodstock and GE potatoes. Nowadays, they are into electric cars and carbon-free push lawn mowers.

The Scrooge McDuck oily ragger:

They are thought to be quite miserly and miserable, but such a harsh opinion is often given to them unfairly. Deep down, the Scrooge McDuck oily ragger is kind, perhaps a little insecure socially, but very concerned about financial security in their golden years.


This personality type has an uncanny ability to have someone else pay for lunch, and whenever someone says to them, "It's your shout" they tend to have a weak bladder moment and disappear to the little room long enough for someone else to have done the honours. They also tend to borrow a lot of stuff and never quite get around to returning it.

The making-ends-meet oily ragger:

Typically they are on a tight budget. Often they are at the early stages of life's little journey -- saving for their first home or studying to earn a future income -- but sometimes they have fallen on hard times and need to tighten their belt a notch or two or three. In times like these, a living-off-the-smell-of-an-oily-rag approach to life can make all the difference.

The serious saver oily ragger:

They are not stingy, just very serious about saving and have come to realise that the easiest way to save more is to spend less. These savers are the ones who will skip the latte and take a cut lunch to work rather than spend $10 on a meat pie, doughnut, and coke. As it happens, those who practise a lifetime of oily rag serious saving are usually the ones who least need to live off the smell of an oily rag.

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We welcome your questions and tips, so please keep them coming. You can send in your ideas and join the Oily Rag mailing list, by emailing us at 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. Read our wealth of tips at