The Amish can teach us a great deal about personal finance. Their frugal ways, as noted in last week's column, may be applied to financial habits in the mainstream world.
Here are more tips you can take from their lifestyle:Appreciate value
"I've seen Amish pay over $100 for a hammer, but that's a hammer that over the long run will help him get the job done better," said Erik Wesner, founder of AmishAmerica.com and author of Success Made Simple: An Inside Look at Why Amish Businesses Thrive. "And it will probably be cheaper in the long run. It's not that they're totally cheap on everything. They appreciate value."
" Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without."
Lorilee Craker, author of the new book Money Secrets of the Amish: Finding True Abundance in Simplicity, Sharing and Saving, heard this rhyming adage repeated among the Amish. It describes their reluctance to replace anything before it's fully used. And when it seems kaput, they look for ways to fix it or repurpose it. That's much different than the way many Americans live.
Ways to apply that practical advice are to take time to "shop" in your own closet and pantry to use clothes and food you already have before buying more, she said. Look for ways to fix rather than replace.
"You don't have to buy something new to buy
This was another refrain Craker heard from her Amish interviewees. The Amish make secondhand their first choice.
"They would never dream of paying full retail price," she said.
They like garage sales, thrift stores and estate sales.
"They're definitely looking for deals," Wesner said. "They have no problem buying used as long as it gets the job done."
Find your inner "feinschmecker"
Loosely translated, feinschmecker refers to an Amish foodie, someone who knows what good food is.
"They love good, natural, wholesome food, and they eat a lot of it," Craker said. "They eat like royalty."
They're not eating the types of processed foods found in the supermarket but fresh-from-the-farm food. For the non-Amish, shopping for in-season produce at a farmers market would be one way to eat better food and potentially save money.
Craker took it a step further by cow-pooling. She bought part of a grass-fed cow from a local farmer, gaining rights to 72 pounds of meat made into ground beef, roasts and steaks — beef at a low $2.10 a pound.
"I can't put a cow in my garage, but I did the next-best thing," she said. "Everything is cheaper when you cut out the middleman."
Failing that, cooking more at home instead of dining out can be a step in the direction of becoming a feinschmecker.
Identify a goal
The Amish don't save money just for savings' sake. They're focused on the long haul.
"It's a goal-oriented mind-set," Wesner said. "They use money for a down payment on a home when they get married. That's pretty important to them."
Saving is easier when you have a clear reason for doing it.
"There are ways to get what you want for way less," Craker said. "And that's the Amish way."