amish money saving tips

We have much to learn from the Amish. I want to share some really useful Amish money saving tips to take your own savings account up a notch. 

There is a truth in life that I thought I could get past: when you make more money, you spend more money.

I first heard this bit of wisdom when I was a teenager and shrugged it off as a problem for people who are not good stewards of their resources, who want too much out of life, and who consistently overextend themselves.

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None of this described me — a 14 or 15 year old girl who made $98 a week mucking horse stalls for two years to save for a study abroad trip to Spain — and I was not going to become like them.

What I didn’t know at that tender age is that a person is not in control of their lives all of the time, that in order to pursue some of a person’s dreams (travel, college, creating a home and life with someone else) money will need to be spent, or that at some point, a person may want more comforts than their 14-year old farm girl self could understand.

But this life truth seems to have caught up with me.

I have felt over the last year or so that there is some needless spending going on in our household (and not just by my husband!). It’s hard for me to talk about this with people because the reaction I usually get is “you guys have the money, why not spend it”, a sentiment that is blasphemous to my financial philosophies.

I've never understood why my money views are so different from many other people around me, or why in my teenage years I was focused on saving and investing towards my future, when so many others wanted to spend.

But, I no longer fight my natural inclinations. Question them? Yes, sometimes. And that's healthy to do. But I've accepted myself for who I am.

Even though I have always felt strong in my financial convictions, sometimes I have also felt like a foreigner.

That is, until recently when I picked up the book Money Secrets of the Amish (Lorilee Craker).

  1. Amish Simple Living Born from Farming
  2. Amish Money Management Quotes
  3. An Amish Money Lesson I Love
  4. Great Depression Money Saving Tips

Amish Simple Living Born from Farming

It turns out that my way of thinking is from my Lancaster County, PA farming roots where rural agrarian conservatism keeps Amish and Englishers alike planted firmly on the ground.

My family lived mostly off of the land as farmers (my parents always held side jobs to make ends meet such as bus driving for the local school district, nursing at the local hospital, and opening a farm stand). Money was tight—I picked up on this at a very young—but something I didn’t realize until later was that we were also always at risk of having a ‘bad year’. As we are seeing with the current drought situation in the Midwest, farming is not all about what the advertisements would make you think: families eating corn at a picnic table at the end of a long, hard day (there are plenty of those to go around—hard days, that is), and self-employment among rolling hills and endless horizons.

Farming can be downright risky.

Even though there is the Farmer’s Almanac and lots of meteorologists working on weather predictions, the fact remains that you can spend all of the profit you made in a good year purchasing seed and equipment for next year’s crop and come up with a field full of Johnson grass. While the majority of the time you know that your crops will grow (though the market price will fluctuate), one lean year can cause your farm and finances to collapse if you have nothing in the bank.

This is exactly what happened to my family in the drought of 1999.

It is why saving resources during the good times is crucial in sustaining a farming lifestyle. And as we’ve seen in the financial meltdown and recession over the past several years where some lost their job for a sustained period of time, credit dried up and banks failed, this is vital advice for everyone.

The Amish came out of the Recession nearly unscathed, and many even prospered. So what are some of their other secrets that drive their rural agrarian conservatism?

Amish Money Management Quotes

  • “Ya gotta make up what you don’t have; don’t borrow it.” – Bishop Eli King
  • While discussing spending money on retail, Daniel Miller passed along his father’s advice: “It’s either my money or it’s theirs. I prefer it to be mine.”
  • “[A] dollar saved is better than a dollar earned because you are not taxed on the dollar saved.” – Elmer
  • Bishop Jake said, “Making interest payments is like paying for a dead horse.”
  • Bishop Ephraim stated, “Most of the Amish do not live on the edge.” (Wow is that the understatement of the century. I have been an Amish taxi driver in the past and had the pleasure of driving a group of young married couples up for a night at their cabin. One of the guys put a cassette tape in the car radio upon entering the vehicle and they all mischievously belted out the lyrics “If I said you had a beautiful body would you hold it against me? If I said you were an angel would you treat me like the devil tonight?” This was about the most edge I have seen. Of course the Bishop was mainly talking about the financial edge, of which the Amish also do not typically inhabit).

Craker’s book of Amish interviews and frugal advice has really struck a chord with me. Not only does it give great insight into how the Amish are able to save up vast amounts of money while raising a lot of children, but it also just feels like coming home to me. These are my principles, these are my feelings, and while I never recognized before how my family and our Amish neighbors were bred and rooted from the same soil, I am completely convinced of it now.

An Amish Money Lesson I Love

I used to drive Amish for a living (well, if you can call working summers and holidays in-between college semesters ‘a living').

Ah, memories.

Like that time I took an Amish family on the metro in D.C., or the group of young Amish couples I drove up to their cabin for the night with their cassette tape of “Beautiful Body” and hours of unsolicited karaoke (the Devil, my friend, is in those lyrics). I even saw Amish in bathing suits on a New Jersey beach.

Driving Amish is sort of a family affair. My father drives Amish for a living, my stepmother does as well, and each of my siblings has had their share of runs in Amish Paradise for errands, market runs, doctor appointments, “visiting”, etc.

You can make good money driving Amish. And if you can get past some of the “quirks” of driving around people who are generally not used to being in a vehicle {you don't want to know what a ‘whip' container is…trust me}, then it can truly be an eye-opening experience.

Especially after allowing the cultural divide to shrink and having genuine conversations with them.

Here’s one of my favorite lessons learned from one of those conversations:

“A dollar saved is better than a dollar earned because you are not taxed on the dollar saved.”

Think about the $201.34 Paul and I put back into our monthly cash flow by paring down our expenses. In order for us to reap that same amount by an income increase each month, we would have had to increase our earnings by approximately $270. Why is that? Because income is taxed, so in order to reap an overall increase in cash flow of $200 from bringing in extra money, you need to earn $270 (25% tax bracket).

We got the same results, just without having to pay any additional taxes.

I love that.

There are personal financial bloggers out there who will tell you that frugality is dead and that instead you need to change jobs, earn lots more money, get a second job, etc. I agree with them that their advice leads to an increase in income and better cash flow (that is, if you continue to spend less than you earn and to keep lifestyle inflation at bay with the new money coming in).

But I only agree with using their strategy after you try to pare down your spending in a frugal decadent way.

In most cases, I think you are leaving some money on the table with your current paycheck and you can take advantage of it without paying extra taxes.

Want to learn how to get around sacrificing what makes your life comfortable while still increasing your own monthly cash flow? Subscribe below for a guide that will get you started.

Great Depression Money Saving Tips

Something else I'm interested in? Researching how people saved money during the Great Depression. Check out my article on how did people survive the great depression.

I love saving money, and am really interested to find the best money saving ideas out there. That’s why this article on Amish money saving tips from a woman who grew up on a dairy farm in Amish Country is so fascinating to me! #savemoney #amish #amishliving

8 replies
  1. Laura
    Laura says:

    What a great realization. The odd thing is that I have very similar values and perspectives on finances and I grew up in a big city. Maybe it was the European influence that changed my perspective, but I believe so many people nowadays borrow to live up to their lifestyle because that credit is readily available. Those people have never lived in a situation where it wasn’t. It may be part of the way people are raised.

    Great and thought-provoking post!

    • Amanda L Grossman
      Amanda L Grossman says:

      Thank you so much Laura! It was such a pleasure to write this article.

      That is interesting that you have the save views with such a different background. It goes to show that we all pick up and latch onto different things throughout life.

  2. Rebecca
    Rebecca says:

    Great post! What an interesting topic. I think the Amish are right on when it comes to their beliefs about money. Too bad mainstream America doesn’t share the same views.

  3. Pam
    Pam says:

    I have no reason to believe this way, I am not Amish and my parents were very careless with money but I totally am different.Thank you so much for writing this.

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  1. […] I grew up on a dairy farm on the cusp of Lancaster, PA, where hard work, stretching your resources, and saving for the future were held in high regard—both out of necessity as well as ‘just because.’ While some people who grow up in this atmosphere rebel by becoming spendthrifts in adulthood, frugality and saving money ran through my veins. […]

  2. My Farming Past Taught Me More than just How to Muck Manure | Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance | Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance says:

    […] rural agrarian conservatism to an Urban Life Results in […]

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