Money Secrets Of The Amish by Lorilee Craker – Personal Finance Book Review – Bartering and Gifting

Challenging economic times inspire people universally to make wise financial decisions. Whether it's choosing to repair a vehicle instead of purchasing a new one, or investing in simple pleasures vs. opulent outings, such behaviors are proliferating. One culture that has always lived austere, yet meaningful lives is the Amish. Increasingly, people are intrigued by their lifestyle; and wonder what aspects of their living they could comfortably imitate.

Lorilee Craker is the author of the new book, "Money Secrets Of The Amish-Finding True Abundance in Simplicity, Sharing and Saving." She examines their lifestyle, which is extravagant in peace, family and community closeness. For them, thrift is a muscle that is exercised regularly.

Craker interviewed Amish folk in Michigan and Pennsylvania, including an Amish banker whose clientele is 95 percent Amish. During the Great Recession in 2008, his bank had its best year ever. Amish experts and Englishers' (Amish reference to anyone non-Amish), financial perspectives accentuate the book too. Here, two of their money-saving habits, bartering and rethinking gifts, are discussed.

Bartering. Bartering was a popular social behavior from the 1880s to the Great Depression. It's common again today. The Amish, who have a long history of living outside a cash economy, love to swap goods for goods, goods for services or services for services. In regards to bartering, ask yourself, "What are you good at and what could you negotiate for something of worth?"

Unfortunately, Americans can be too proud to barter, but it's popular in foreign countries. Barter, and you will:

  • Build relationships and community.
  • Engage on a deeper level when you must express your needs.
  • Think of your assets first before your needs.

If you're uncomfortable bartering, start with your friends and acquaintances; and seek bartering opportunities. Post what you need on social media sites.

Rethink Gift Giving . The Amish give one gift per child for birthdays and christmas. Gifts are often useful, need-based and hand-made, regardless of the recipient's age. The first step in rethinking gift giving is to scale back. Consider giving gifts that are either: a. experiential or charitable, or b. homegrown in some way.

Experiential gifts. Give the gift of a single experience, shared or not, of know-how, skill, and most importantly, memorable. Examples include sporting events tickets, museum memberships, or Horseback riding lessons. Experiential gifts can be expensive or cheap, as it's more about investing in the relationship.

  • Un-wrappable gifts. They can be fun, frugal, yet meaningful. Give coupons for services including babysitting, housecleaning or yard work.
  • Coupon-gifting. Consider giving the gift of time, allowing you to create memories, which are priceless. Coupon gifts are also something to anticipate using.
  • Make a donation in the recipient's name to an endeared charitable cause.

Homegrown. Examples include painted pottery, made candles, garden stones, and soap.

  • Cook, Can, Bake. "Somehow there's something about a kitchen gift that's infused with so much more than the cost of ingredients," says Craker.

Secondhand. Aim for 20 percent of your gifts to come from resale, consignment or thrift shops, suggests …

Money Secrets Of The Amish by Lorilee Craker, Personal Finance Book Review – Buying Bulk and Foodies

Challenging economic times inspire people universally to make wise financial decisions while still enjoying life. One culture that has always lived an austere, yet meaningful existence is the Amish. Increasingly, people are inspired by their lifestyle; and seek ways to simplify their own lives.

Lorilee Craker is the author of the new book, "Money Secrets of the Amish-Finding True Abundance in Simplicity, Sharing and Saving." She examines their practices, extravagant in peace, family and community closeness. For them, thrift is a muscle that is exercised regularly.

Craker interviewed Amish folk in Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania, including an Amish banker whose clientele is 95 percent Amish. During the Great Recession in 2008, his bank had its best year ever. Amish experts and Englishers' (Amish reference to anyone non-Amish), financial perspectives accentuate the book too. Here, two money-saving habits of the Amish are highlighted: buying in bulk and being authentic foodies.

Amish Foodies (aka Feinschmeckers). Feinschmeckers are Amish foodies-people who eat well and plenty. The Amish love to stick to cheap ingredients, easily accessible in their gardens, root cellars or barns.

Gardening . Gardening is frugal and the epitome of wholesomeness. It's cheaper to buy seeds than it is to purchase vegetables. Gardening can be fun, allowing for time in the sunshine. Its biggest challenge is its time-consuming nature.

Canning. Canning is once again hip in these tough economic times (The inaugural National Can-It-Forward Day was celebrated Saturday, August 13, 2011).

Farm To Table. Buy directly from the farmer and you'll save considerably. Beef and milk from grass-fed livestock, and eggs from land-grazing chickens taste better than their mass-produced counterparts. They're also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A and E. Meat is less fatty than confined cows that eat soybean and corn instead of grass. Farm-to-table businesses promote a slower, kinder, gentler type of food consumption with a shortened food chain.

Community Supported Agriculture. A farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. The shares typically consist of a box (or basket) of vegetables, but may include other farm products too. As a consumer, you purchase a share (aka a "membership" or "subscription"). Each week in return, you receive a box of seasonal produce.

Farmers Markets. Farmers markets are commonplace today. They unite country folk who produce healthy foods in an earth-friendly way and townspeople who pay a little more. When patronizing your local farmers market, keep these tips in mind:

  • Learn what's produced regionally and ask growers about future market offerings. Buy in season.
  • Arrive early and reap the market's best selections.
  • Arrive later in the day and benefit from lowered prices, in exchange for farmers not lugging their wares back home.
  • Be adventurous-buy ethnic, heirloom or rare vegetables. Google recipes.
  • Pre-plan meals and purchase accordingly at the market.
  • Bring durable canvas bags or backpacks for transport and small change to expedite transactions.

Buying In Bulk. The Amish buy in bulk monthly at dry good stores or damaged goods outlets (damaged or expired dated products are still …