Monday, June 6
Money Secrets of the Amish by Lorilee Craker
Author, journalist, and descendant of the Amish, Lorilee Craker, was just like the rest of us, feeling the pinch from the financial fallout of 2008. As a freelancer, her income was going the way of the dodo—family dollars seemed like an extinct myth, the bank account some archeological evidence of past prosperity.
Then, inspired by a news segment covering her people, the Amish, and how they emerged from the economic crisis unscathed, she realized it was time to get back to her roots and learn a thing or two about their time-tested approach to personal finances. While the middle-class was wringing its hands over the family budget and the wealthy were weeping over their slashed portfolios, the Amish were content as always, spared from the cares of the world and worldliness. They not only had financial health to support their lives, they exuded a wholeness that eludes so many when the financial bottom drops out.
In Money Secrets of the Amish, readers go on an “Amish money makeover,” learning the choices, secrets, and disciplines that safeguarded the contentment and the coffers of America’s favorite plain folk by spending less, saving more, and getting happier doing it.
I thought this book looked very interesting, mostly due to the title and it's reference to the Amish Secrets. But unfortunately it was similar to many other books that list ways to "use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without". In sometimes humorous but not earth-shattering ways, the author lists ways to do things cheaper. From simple ideas of using empty margarine containers instead of investing in tupperware, or bringing a bagged lunch instead of buying lunch, I really got the feeling that there was nothing new to share from the Amish perspective.
The author has distant roots to the Amish, and was brought up in a Mennonite family. I found the title actually misleading, and maybe I expected something different from this book. She talks about ways that she saved money by shopping in second hand stores, or by paying for repairs on a household appliance instead of buying new.
The other thing that she stressed was the importance of paying cash for everything. This is something we all could benefit from, but far from reality in the common household. She referred several times to one particular Amish family who rented a farm, raised 14 children, but they were still able to save $400,000 to put towards purchasing their own farm. They obviously were doing something right, but I am still trying to figure out the secret.
The book was interesting to a degree, but so similar to dozens of other books already in bookstores about ways to economize by making better choices.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Money Secrets of the Amish courtesy of Book Sneeze in exchange for my honest review.