The Amish rely on horse-drawn buggies to get around. And they shun technologies like electricity, telephones and most post-1800s conveniences within their homes. The rules they live by don’t allow distractions from work, worship and family. Sounds terrible, right?
But the community is also very independent, mostly self-sufficient and quite successful. An estimated 95 percent of their businesses prosper—compared to 50 percent for the rest of America, according to Erik Wesner, author of “Success Made Simple: An Inside Look at Why Amish Businesses Thrive.”
The high success rate is rooted in the Amish community’s lifestyle that emphasizes community and simplicity over individual prosperity.
If you’re actively working toward Financial Freedom, these concepts are probably starting to sound familiar. And while the use of personal technology among the Amish is increasing, as a New York Times article recently noted, the principles of community and simplicity are very much in effect as the population grows. The Amish population in the United States is estimated at 313,000, up approximately 150 percent from 25 years ago, according to researchers at Elizabethtown College.
Helping Yourself And Helping The Community
What community-mindedness mean? For the Amish, it means helping as many individuals as possible start their own businesses by funneling money back into the system. As Wesner noted, Amish communities have low-interest loan programs to help young adults buy their own land and start businesses.
But keep in mind that helping the community doesn’t mean depriving yourself.
In fact, when you’re Financially Free, you’re able to help others escape the cycle of financial dependency. Working toward your own Freedom not only prevents your own vulnerability, but also lets you help others when bad circumstances arise.
Applying Amish Lessons To Your Real Life
You may not want to trade your car for a horse and buggy, but you can learn a few lessons from the Amish lifestyle.
Here are some of the most important ideas:
- Embrace frugality. You have to choose your own lifestyle based on Living Within Your Means. But for the Amish that means not wasting what they have. Bent-and-dent discount grocery stores are popular in the community, and they usually give homemade gifts. Taking care of your possessions and opting to buy high-quality secondhand goods isn’t such a bad idea. And when a gift is given thoughtfully, cost doesn’t matter.
- Buy in bulk. The Amish buy everything in bulk—especially food. Stores run by and for the Amish often carry 50-pound bags of oats, 400-pound bags of flour and 200-pound bags of sugar.
- Save, save, save! As Wesner and other authors have noted, the Amish save more than twice what the average American saves. If you’re working toward Financial Freedom, you need to send that money out to work for you. We’ve been making our way through the Freedom Generator over the paths few months if you need a refresher!.
- Share your wealth. Wouldn’t your life feel more secure if there was a community ready to help you out in a financial emergency? For the Amish, helping others is a way of life. Try to consider how you can giving back. Whether that means investing in a start-up community business, buying local produce from a farmer in your area or saving a portion of your income to donate to youth-education programs.
Shunning technology and buying in bulk may be too extreme for you. But even living a little bit like the Amish can help you in more ways than you imagine—both in your personal life and business endeavors.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of MindShift.money.
Marisa Torrieri is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer specializing in personal finance, business, healthcare and technology. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and resides in Fairfield, CT. Her work has appeared in dozens of media outlets, including LearnVest, Forbes, The Washington Post, Business Insider, TIME and Health.com.