From their simple lifestyles to their no-frills clothing, not many people would think of the Amish as being a community that is flushed with cash. But when it comes to saving their dollars, the Amish have tons of tips and tricks that just about anyone can learn from and incorporate into their lifestyles, whether they are riding a luxury car, or they’re on the back of a horse and buggy. Read on, and you might save a ton of money!
1. A Life Saver
The Amish community in general seems to know how to save a dollar or two. Especially when compared to the overall population in the United States. Take, for example, this shocking statistic: while the average person in the U.S. saves about 6% of their income, the average Amish person saves a whopping 20% of their earnings.
The community as a whole takes saving very seriously. Author Lorilee Cracker, who wrote “Money Secrets of the Amish: Finding True Abundance in Simplicity, Sharing, and Saving,” describes one man who saved over $400,000 in 20 years, even as he owned his own farm and raised 14 children. But how exactly do they do it? Read on to see some of their helpful tips.
2. True Tradespeople
While some might stereotypically assume that most of the men in the Amish community perform farm work, that assumption would be wrong. Many Amish people are skilled tradesmen and are responsible for building things like furniture, housing construction, and metal manufacturing.
While many of the creations that the Amish build would not be permissible in Amish homes, the community still has a handle on what the outside world is looking for. In general, Amish tradesmen have great pride for their work, and turn out pretty amazing products that are in high demand. Because of their knowledge for the craft, they are able to sell their goods at high prices and profit.
3. Savvy Small Businesses
If anyone is looking for evidence that the Amish definitely do the whole small business thing better than the rest of the United States, just consider this statistic. Throughout the country, the five year survival rate of an average small business is at just about 50%. For Amish businesses, the five year survival rate is a staggering 95%.
So how do they make their businesses succeed? Besides picking trades that are in high demand, there are plenty of other factors. For example, business owners in this community are willing to work right alongside their “normal” employees, creating a friendly work environment and reliable leadership. In this way, they are building relationships with their workers, and building credibility throughout the community.
4. Bulky Buying
According to U.S. census statistics, the average Amish family has about seven children. And large families are pretty standard in Amish communities. Shopping for a family for seven children obviously adds up; just imagine how much grocery shopping one would have to do to support such a large family.
So it may come as no surprise that many parents in the Amish community choose to buy their items in bulk. If anyone is wandering through an Amish town, they will notice that many of the stores tend to sell things like oats, flour, and sugar in huge quantities. Luckily, because of all the space in these rural Amish towns, there is plenty of room to fit your massive grocery haul.
5. Waste Not, Want Not
While buying in bulk might sound like a recipe for a lot of unneeded waste, that is definitely not the case in this community. Amish shoppers almost never overstock on groceries that are considered perishable. Any food that seems like it’s about to go bad is, instead, fed to animals or donated to local farms for animal feed.
But it is not just food. The Amish are also pretty crafty with the things they do not want to throw away. Once clothes cannot be worn or passed down to younger siblings, many tear clothing into strips and make beautiful rugs out of the rags. Imagine all of the money saved by turning trash into treasure.
6. Secondhand Savings
Just like buying food for a large family, buying clothing for a large family can add up quickly. It may seem like it’s totally mainstream to shop at thrift stores, or purchase items of clothing second hand, with many of these shops reporting record sales. But this type of shopping is not a trend, and the Amish have been shopping second hand for a while now.
Because of strict guidelines on what can or cannot be worn, the Amish community is not given much of a choice when it comes to their clothing. So, often, the best place to get clothes that fit in within the Amish community is, well, within the Amish community. From thrift stores to garage sales to secondhand shops, recycling clothing doesn’t just save on labor, but it saves the Amish a ton of money.
7. Growing on Us
Going organic seems to be all the rage today. But for the Amish communities across the United States, eating green is basically old news. Everyone is doing it, and has been doing it, for a very long time. Even those members of the community who are not farmers partake in some organic gardening of their own.
But for anyone who thinks that eating basically just the food you can find on the land around you might limit your options, think again. The community has its own word for being Amish foodies, known as “feinschmeckers,” and they will tell anyone that growing your own food lets people scale back their spending, without scaling back on taste.
8. Technically Speaking
Doesn’t it always seem like just as anyone gets the latest iPhone, the next generation of the same phone comes out within the next few days? Imagine how much money could be saved if everyone just ditched their phones, computers, high tech cameras, and other expensive office appliances.
Luckily for the famously frugal Amish community, no one needs to worry about rising tech prices. Instead, the Amish do not allow the use of technology at all. Not only does this mean that they get to skip some of the staggering price tags, but they also get to avoid any pricey temptations, since there are no commercials to view! But if anyone thinks he or she cannot give up on their phones or TVs, not to worry. There are plenty more useful tips coming that just about anyone can incorporate into their lives.
9. Taking Credit
The amount of credit card debt in the United States is getting higher and higher. The Federal Reserve estimates that the country has reached $1.04 trillion, just in credit card debt! But in the Amish community, the amount of credit card debt is basically zero.
Amish communities are known to be much more careful and much more averse when it comes to using credit cards. It’s just not in the culture to really owe anyone money, especially banks. While some members of the Amish community do have a credit card, it would be hard pressed to find someone with multiple cards to their name.
10. A Debt of Gratitude
When the Amish do encounter certain situations whereby they must take out loans, it all comes down to how they view the debt. Especially when comparing the Amish outlook to how the general public views many loans. For the Amish, taking out a loan means that person has a moral obligation to pay back what they owe to society.
The Amish always aim to have a simple life, and as anyone can imagine, owing thousands of dollars in loans is anything but simple. So paying back debt not only cleanses the soul morally, but it also paves the way for an uncomplicated life. But because of their reputation, banks have easily given loans to the Amish, knowing they will be paid back.
11. A Real Bargain
When it comes to buying and selling goods in small Amish communities, sometimes saving money can mean that no money is even exchanged at all! That is because Amish people know the value of a good bargain, and are sometimes able to purchase things without spending a dollar.
According to an economist who studied Amish communities, many exchanges in the community come from one shopkeeper offering their goods in exchange for other goods. For example, a handmade rug can be exchanged for produce. And there’s no better way to save money than to spend no money on a purchase at all.
12. Smooth Landing
Because Amish communities are usually so small, there seems to be an “all in this together” mentality. This does not just mean that the Amish help out their friends with favors, it means that some of the wealthier members of the community seek to “pay it forward,” especially when it comes to building up their communities.
For example, when a young member of the community wants to own a farm or build a new home, many times a more wealthy member of the community will give a low interest loan to get that member on their feet. With a new farm, or a new home, the young member can give back to the community and, eventually, give back the loan to the lender.
13. No Toying Around
Raising children takes a whole lot of money. There are mouths to feed, bodies to clothe, and for most children, there are toys to keep them occupied. And with the price tags on some toys today, the cost can really add up. But for the Amish community, there is an easy way to get around that expense.
Walking around an Amish community, one will notice that children to not play with many toys. Instead, they are told to use their own imaginations to entertain themselves. The few toys that children do have are homemade and very simple, such as the famous faceless dolls that are found in many Amish shops across the country. And when you are trying to save every penny for the future, saving on toys adds up.
14. Experiencing Life
All of this talk about saving money makes it seem like the Amish are not having any fun. That is definitely not the case. Although, as a community, they are known to be hard workers, the Amish also know how to unwind and have a good time.
Still, Amish do their “fun” a little differently than the rest of the general population. While many Americans will go out and buy something in order to “treat themselves,” the Amish tend to value experiences rather than material goods whenever they are in for a splurge. That fun may be a hiking trip or hunting trip, for example, and costs are kept relatively cheap.
15. A Different Kind of Security
Everyone loves pay day. Getting a paycheck after hours of hard work can be one of the best feelings each month. But oftentimes, that paycheck also comes with the harsh reality of seeing how many taxes have been taken out of your hard earned dollars.
But for the Amish, there’s one less place where their money goes each month. That is because the Amish do not pay into Social Security, and, therefore, get to bring a little bit more money home each month. The U.S. exempts the community from buying into Social Security, and the community waives its rights to the benefits due to their religious beliefs. So where does that extra cash go? Read on to find out.
16. Limited Electricity
The money that the Amish population saves from their Social Security exemption certainly does not go towards one specific thing: electricity bills. That is because in most Amish Mennonite homes, there is no electricity allowed. And that means there are less bills to pay.
But this electricity-less life does not mean that they live in darkness. Instead, many Amish homes depend on gas or kerosene to light their homes. But it does mean that there’s a limit to what one can do at night, and that bedtime in the community is usually earlier. An earlier bed time means less unoccupied hours that sometimes may drive people to spend some unnecessary entertainment money.
17. The Big Picture
It seems that today many Americans are earning as much money as they can so that they can purchase the nicest home, the best car, or the most luxurious clothing. For the Amish population, the goals look a little different. Economists who have studied the Amish say that this population tends to care much more about the long term.
When accumulating money, the Amish, more so than the rest of the population, tend to want to save so that they can pass on their wealth to the next generation. And with such large families, many parents have plenty of reasons to want to save up for the next generation of the community.
18. Careful Investments
Because the Amish are always looking ahead at the bigger picture, some might think that they would do what many other Americans do, and invest their money in stocks and bonds. But that thinking could not be further from the truth.
As a whole, the Amish community rarely puts their money into investments such as stocks and bonds. As one can imagine, you won’t find many Amish people (if any at all) following the stock market for the latest returns. The only real investments they tend to make include investing in real estate, where they build their family businesses and homes, and investing in their own small businesses.
19. Gifts That Keep On Giving
During the unofficial wedding season between late spring and early fall, sometimes it might seem like a ton of money is going towards gifts. Then, when the winter season comes around, the gift giving starts all over again, in a cycle that never seems to end.
Luckily for the Amish, they do not need to worry about this endless stream of gifting as there is much less pressure when it comes to gift giving. Gifts are, instead, usually based on need. Author Lorilee Cracker, who wrote “Money Secrets of the Amish,” described a situation where a woman gave her husband a flashlight, since they are off the electrical grid. In the end, everyone gets what they want, and gets to save their money.
20. Family Income
Raising children takes a lot of work, and a whole lot of income. Once many working aged children start their first jobs, they tend to spend their money on teenage activities, like grabbing $20 and heading to the movies. For the Amish population, the income made during a first job is used just a little differently.
In the Amish communities, working aged children are encouraged to take up a job. In addition, they are encouraged, if not expected, to hand over the money they earn to their parents rather than pocketing some of it themselves. The idea is that the children’s money can go toward a greater good for the family, such as pitching in on groceries.
21. A Picky Situation
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food waste is estimated to account for between 30 to 40 percent of the overall food supply in the United States. That is a whole lot of food waste! And a whole lot of money thrown right into the garbage.
In Amish communities, that number is much lower. This has to do, in part, with the practice of feeding leftovers to farm animals. It also has to do with the fact that Amish parents tend to have little tolerance for picky eaters. Children are traditionally taught to eat whatever is put on their plates. This cuts back on food waste, and cuts back on how much parents have to spend to put food on the table instead of in the trash can.
22. Real Deal Meals
Having a bunch of friends over, or the extended family over, for a big meal can be a great time to make memories around the dinner table. The only downside is that these feasts tend to cost a lot of money, even if everything is homemade. But one Amish tip could help for the next dinner party.
Taste of Home Magazine writes that the Amish tend to have a big meal weekly with “the church community or extended family for Sunday suppers.” Everyone brings something to the table, and so every guest can eat like a king or queen, without racking up a tab suited for royals.
23. Keeping it Simple
Putting together a good outfit could cost a pretty penny. Putting together an entire closet filled with outfits can take a whole lot of cash. But for the Amish community, their strict guidelines on clothing mean that they end up saving a lot of money over time.
Amish clothing is pretty simple, without any bells or whistles (or matching purses). Men’s clothing has no zippers, pockets, or belts (suspenders are used instead of belts). Women usually have about four dresses in their closets, “one for wash, one for wear, one for dress, and one for spare,” as the Amish phrase goes. Instead of having to keep up with the latest trends, they can pocket that money for the future.
24. A Chore Way
As the phrase goes, time is money. And spending an entire afternoon or day cleaning up your home means an entire day wasted when you could be doing other things. Others choose to hire someone to come and do the cleaning for them, which, instead, can come with a hefty price tag.
Instead, in the Amish community, everyone does chores as a family. According to Cleveland.com, children start doing chores from as early as two years old! Between helping out inside the home or in the back yard or garden, everyone pitching in means that more time can be spent doing the work that pays the bills.
25. Getting the Job(s) Done
No matter what community anyone belongs to, sometimes it’s necessary to splurge a little bit above your means. Maybe that is to purchase a home, or maybe that is because an unexpected expense came up that must be addressed. No matter the reason, it happens to everyone. Even the Amish.
And when those times happen, especially considering the community’s aversion to relying on credit cards, what exactly do the Amish do? Many choose to take up a second job, or ask to help out with their neighbors’ businesses or farms. Their motto seems to be that anything can be done with a little extra work.
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