At the library recently I picked up Money Secrets of the Amish: Finding True Abundance in Simplicity, Sharing, and Saving. It sounded like a perfect fit for me. I am fascinated by the Amish, who live very near to me, and I am a big fan of simple living. I have also recently delved into the world of scrimping and saving, something totally new to me actually.
We have lived comfortably for years and without a budget of any kind, but we have also lived pretty much paycheck to paycheck. We have been one disaster away from real financial trouble for years because we could not manage to save. Didn’t even have a savings account until September of this year… pathetic I know. Anyway, a book changed all that about 2 months ago but I was still looking for ways to save money so that my burgeoning savings account and IRA could be beefed up even more. Once I got started saving it became like a game of sorts and I liked the challenge of finding ways to continually add more and more money to my these accounts.
In order to save more money I have been reading up a storm about great savers and the Amish definitely qualify! I have been in several Amish homes and it is absolutely amazing how they survive and thrive on so little. Money Secrets was written by a journalist after she read an article about how the simple people were actually thriving after the recession of 2008. She was so keen to find out how they do it that she decided to spend some time in their neck of the woods and interview many Amish families. What also makes it interesting is that she was experiencing lots of money hardships at the time and was looking to put what she learned into immediate practice. Learning their tricks was needed for its practical application.
It was an interesting look into the daily lives and habits of these people and also an interesting look into how the author applied everything she learned. One of the chapters that had the biggest impact on me was about the UWMW principle, “Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, Or Do Without”. The Amish use everything until it is threadbare or just a scrap of what it used to be and then they use it some more. I have to get MUCH better about sewing clothing that rips around here instead of just turning it into rags or finding someone to fix a broken piece of equipment instead of giving up and buying new. I also need to do a bit more “home recycling” of what might otherwise be considered garbage or recycle bin fodder. Right after reading the book I remembered how I wanted to go thrifting for some baskets to go under our bathroom sinks. After looking around our house a bit I found a couple cardboard boxes that will do instead and I can even paint them using Tempera paints we have on hand if I want to. When the Amish need something simple (like a storage container) they figure out how they can get it without buying it. When they need something big they still try to find out how they can get it free… scrap yards, junkyards, dumpsters, etc. I recall that when my grandmother died a few years ago there were some Amish at her estate sale. They bought up old stuff from the barn that I would have assumed was trash but I imagine they took the stuff home, cleaned up 20 years of grime, and it served them well for many years. I want to be that thrifty!
Other interesting chapters addressed things like instant gratification and how patient the Amish are when it comes to their want list, gifting during special occasions and holidays, buying in bulk, and being frugal foodies. After reading I really wanted to find an Amish grocer in my area so I can see their bulk offerings and I got a hankering for Shoofly pie. Oh and next spring I will insist that my hubby find an Amish source for grass fed beef because the prices the author started paying were staggeringly low.
The only thing that bothered me about the book was that sometimes the author would relate how she asked one of the Amish a question and then she would get sidetracked by some funny response or story and then never share the true answer to the question. A couple times I was left scratching my head and going “Is that it?” but otherwise it was a very enjoyable book and it really got my wheels turning about how I can bring some of that simple abundance into my life and save some pennies to.