Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without. That could be considered the mantra for the Amish. They are experts at money saving and penny-pinching, but they do not live in a state of deprivation. Americans tend to want to discard materials as soon as they show the least signs of wear; we tend to be in love with new, shiny things. Much of the marketing we are bombarded with every day features items that we can completely live without, and sometimes our lives are much easier without them.
The Amish have also mastered the art of delayed gratification, which may be somewhat foreign to Americans in this age of instant gratification. This is partially the reason why so many people break diets. In the famous Marshmallow experiment, kids are told that they can eat one marshmallow now or have two when the experimenter returns. Kids who could wait turned out to be more well-adjusted and happy later in life. They sung songs to themselves or used other distraction techniques to enable themselves to endure the wait. Financial security is worth the wait and living below your means leads to a less anxiety-ridden life. According to Dr. Oz in an article for Men's Health magazine:
"Most people rank personal finance as their number one stressor, usually because they feel powerless." -Dr. Mehmet Oz
Paying on time helps people avoid the crippling credit card debt. If you have debt with high interest rates, you will wake up poorer. However, people with savings or investments wake up richer in the morning. The Amish abhor credit cards because the concept of buying things with money they do not have does not suit them. People can also rethink gifts; many gifts are expensive and do not even get used or appreciated. People equate love with gifts, but quality time with loved ones is highly valued. The Beatles song "Can't Buy Me Love" epitomizes this concept. Also, people could give each other coupons for a free room clean, night off from washing the dishes, etc. One of the author's friend's in-laws once awakened her preschool daughter to open more gifts, and the overwhelmed girl burst into tears. She did not want to open any more gifts. People can also give practical gifts, buy at second-hand stores, re-gift items that they have not used, or shop for gifts in their own homes for items that they no longer want or need. People can sometimes find true gems and name-brand items in second-hand stores for very low prices.
It is recommended that people earmark 10% - 20% of their earnings as savings. People can also save pocket change, which can add up. More successful savers have a particular goal in mind for their money, such as retirement or buying a home or any dream that they might have. There are marketing gimmicks and sales that convince customers that they are saving money when they are really buying products. Savings do not occur while people are spending. It can be very challenging to resist all of the marketing and temptations that people face every day, but it gets easier with practice. According to Suze Orman, people should have 8 months of living expenses stored in an emergency fund for life's surprises. She also recommends that people think about whether or not they can afford to have children before they have them.
People can borrow books from the library and use computers in the library free of charge. Reusing items for different purposes saves money, such as using shopping bags as trash bags. People can buy food in bulk. However, make sure that you check the per-unit price of items. Sometimes, buying larger quantities is not cheaper. In addition, people tend to consume more food if more is available; obviously, that would not be a winning cost-saving strategy. Also, growing ones own food greatly diminishes costs, and the food can be delectable. You can also barter goods and/or services for goods and/or services.
Money Secrets of the Amish: Finding True Abundance in Simplicity, Sharing and Saving by Lorilee Craker, 2011
My wonderful mother taught my siblings and I to sew when we were little. "It's an important life skill," she told us. I am not totally into wearing things into the ground and saving money at every turn, but I find a lot of these money-saving ideas useful. I have my expensive sport, horseback riding, and I am lucky that my job allows me to finance that. It is worth spending some money in order to enjoy life, but not all things in life take money to enjoy, such as the beauty of nature. I love making envelopes out of used calendar pictures, and the results delight family members and friends. My aunt grows delicious vegetables in her garden, and I used to make the best food, including bread, apple pies, and homemade pasta and tomato sauce, though I am a bit lazier now.
I love the cover; the jar of coins and dollar bills nestled comfortably between canned peaches and pickles is charming and old-worldly.
This post was spawned from my mother's visit to Lancaster, PA and I happened to serendipitously discover this book because the book was on hold for someone and I pulled it. I love the fact that the Amish have horses. They do not spend extravagantly or live beyond their means as many other Americans do.