Could you be Amish? The Amish & many Mennonites live a more simplistic lifestyle than most 1st- Worlders. But us “Englishers” can learn some financial lessons from these people. You might think of the Amish making fine furniture, selling bulk food with a sandwich shop in the rear of the store, and the original people that chose to live “off the grid,” before it was cool to do so. But, the Amish also have some wise money lessons to learn & include in your own financial lifestyle.
During the 2008 “Great Recession,” the Amish weathered the financial storm better than most people, thanks to a culture of saving & being thrifty. Their business levels declined as well, but as most of them were not living paycheck to paycheck, they didn't have to tighten their belt as much. There was one Amish family that rented a beach house close to ours last summer in South Carolina. So they do have fun & travel like the rest of us.
Lorilee Craker wrote Money Secrets of the Amish, revealing many of the religious sect's “Amish hacks.” Here are some of the best that are more than relevant in our inflation-driven world.
Make Do With What You Have
The Western world is often classified as a “disposable society,” a generalization fueled by a historic amount of disposable income. Broken electronics? It's easier to buy a new device, than have it repaired – or heaven-forbid, repair it ourselves. And not just electronics – it's easier to replace rather than repair broken items around the house or garden. Even clothes, appliances and cars. If we want to change our decor style we go to the store and buy new to keep up with the latest fads.
And don't get us started on smart phones and other IOT devices.
Most Amish do not have to worry about money, but they stretch their dollars as much as possible anyway because it is part of their culture. This can be repairing a broken shovel handle by finding another and reattaching it to the head. Many actions that we do not have the “mechanical know-how” to complete because haven't ever had to worry about learning.
“Making Do” also goes beyond making simple repairs. It can also include using an item until it finally quits works & not upgrading to a better product just because you want to. These little expenses add up to big ones over the years.
Delay Instant Gratification
You have probably heard it said to never buy anything on impulse. Especially a new car that declines in value the second you drive it off the lot. Some impulse decisions are more expensive than others to undo. It's best to wait 24 hours sometimes and sleep on something before deciding to make a purchase.
Despite our best intentions, we all seek instant gratification to a certain degree.
Making savings goals is a great way to start and focus your efforts. Having a ‘Why' helps you justify the hard decisions to not buy in the heat of the moment, and to set aside those dollars for a more meaningful reward – often that you share with your partner or family.
Don't Spoil The Child
One problem every parent has is trying to make sure their child lacks nothing. This means having food, friends, & awesome childhood experiences.
The Amish want their children to enjoy their childhood too, but they do not believe in as many lavish gifts or participation in youth sports that we think are “rites of passages” to be a good parent or to make sure our children have everything.
I remember mowing lawns all summer in the 5th & 6th grade to save up enough money to buy an Atomic Purple Gameboy Color. My parents were not going to buy it for my birthday or Christmas. So I earned the money myself – and it made it that much more special to me.
At this time of the year, the Amish will only give their children one or two Christmas gifts apiece. Their tree will not be overflowing underneath the branches like most of ours. One of the biggest gripes about the Holiday season is the materialism. Taking a more humble approach to celebrating and gift giving, rather than making you a ‘grinch,' makes for a closer connection to family, and, for many, an Amish-style Christmas would keep them focused on the real reason for the season.
Will You Hop on the Buggy?
The Amish way of life is so unique because of the rapid progression of technology in the last 50 years. My grandparents were born in the final year or two of World War II (circa 1945). They rode horses to their country elementary school. My great-grandparents were in their early 20's during the Great Depression, and I got to hear stories of them riding in Model T's & Model A's.
The rapid advancement of technology, among other things has given rise to accelerated household and government deficits. It's hard for us to imagine being Amish because of so many modern conveniences. While living Amish isn't easy, it's very doable.
Even if you do not adopt their other principles, including their financial principles can help you live a simpler lifestyle that allows you a lifestyle of freedom and being able to pursue your long-term dreams.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Josh founded Money Buffalo in 2015 to help people get out of debt and make smart financial decisions. He is currently a full-time personal finance writer with work featured in Forbes Advisor, Fox Business, and Credible.