Old-Fashioned Frugal Lessons From The Amish Lifestyle

Red Amish barn with a field of hay.

 Learning to Live Frugally from the Amish

The Amish aren’t writing books or doing podcasts on how they stay out of debt and save money (at least I don’t think they are, but I could be wrong), however they have a reputation for living a simple, old-fashioned and frugal lifestyle.

I think it would do our modern world a whole lot of good to learn from their simple way of living that seems to be full of common sense and hard work.

I recognize that the Amish aren’t a perfect group of people and they have their faults and blind spots just like any one else, but I do feel like we can look to their way of life and be inspired to keep some of the old ways of living alive in order to have a more simple, calm life and also save a little money along the way.

So today I’m sharing a few frugal lessons that I’ve picked up on as an outsider looking into the Amish lifestyle. I hope this post inspires you to slow down, work with your hands and appreciate a different way of life besides the rush, rush, rush culture that we’ve all been sold.

Want more old fashioned living tips? Here are some of my favorites:

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Red Amish barn with a field of hay.

Strive to Live Debt-Free

The Amish work for what they need and then they pay cash for it. They don’t take on debt as haphazardly we do. Their culture is built on wisdom and hard work instead of instant gratification.

Modern people have been sold the lie that they deserve whatever they want right now, but with that lifestyle comes a certain amount of stress if your fiances can’t keep up with your wants.

Sometimes debt is unavoidable, but a lot of times with a little bit of hard work and creativity, it can be avoided.

Cook From Scratch

The Amish are known for being excellent cooks because they make everything from scratch. Not only does their food taste better, but they are spending less on it than us because they aren’t buying convenience foods. Anything that you can learn to make from scratch like the Amish, will save you money. If you need more inspiration in this area check out the resources below.

Additional Resources:

Grow & Preserve Your Own Food

Another reason the Amish aren’t spending as much on food as us is because they grow a lot of it themselves and then put it up for the winter using methods such as canning and dehydrating.

Growing your own food is a great way to cut down on your grocery bill, if you can evaluate which fruits and vegetables that you buy on a regular basis and try growing those at home.

Some crops that I feel make the most difference with your grocery bill (if your family eats these foods) are green beans, dried beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and tomatoes. Also, growing fresh herbs is a great money saver because they can be pretty pricey in the store.

If you’re serious about growing your own food to save money, consider planting fruit. Things like apples, blueberries and raspberries generally grow well all in temperate climates and will save you a good amount of money in the long run.

Blueberry Peach Preserves in half pint jars with fresh fruit sitting around them.

Become Skilled

The Amish possess certain skills which naturally save them money. They know how to sew and mend their own clothes, preserve their own food, knit their own mittens, construct their own buildings, take care of their own livestock, bale their own hay, make their own furniture, etc.

Any kind of life skill that you can teach yourself will save you money because you don’t have to pay someone else to do it. The internet and library offer stores of information on just about any topic that you want to learn. So why not pick a skill to start learning more about that just might save you hundreds in the long run?

Buy In Bulk

If you’ve ever been to an Amish store then you know they sell everything in bulk. As long as you don’t let it go to waste, buying in bulk saves money.

A 50 lb bag of oats is going to be cheaper per oz than a small canister from the grocery store. Also, things like oats, flour, etc. can be frozen until needed. Buying in bulk can save you a lot of money, especially when you are cooking everything from scratch.

The best places to make bulk purchases are Azure Standard and Sam’s Club or Costco.

Bulk grain in jars and in a wooden bowl.

DIY Everything

The Amish spend less than us because they do almost everything themselves. Need a gift? Make if yourself. Broken faucet? Fix it. Empty cupboard? Grow your own food. The next time you think you need to go buy an item or hire someone to fix something consider how you could make it or fix it yourself first.

I bet you will be surprised at what you can do on your own without spending any money. We’ve been trained to solve every problem that comes up with making a purchase, but a lot of times it could have been avoided with a little creativity instead.

Save For a Rainy Day

The Amish aren’t out spending all the money that they have, instead they are slowly and steadily saving. Proverbs 13:11 says, Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it. So try to be like the Amish and live on less than you make saving the rest for rainy day because the rain will come.

I know a lot of people are finding it hard to get by with the cost of living skyrocketing, but every little bit does add up, so instead of getting discouraged and giving up, just try to do what you can to save and avoid making unnecessary purchases. Things like avoiding eating out, checking books and dvds out from the library and going on a hike instead of shopping are all habits that will save you money.

Work Hard

The Amish are known for being hard workers. I think this is an overlooked quality in our culture today, but working hard can get you far in life. Most people today aren’t willing to put in the effort to do what it takes to succeed. Don’t be like most people. Working hard and living below your means is a sure-fire way to save more money.

We grow a large portion of our produce every year and guess what? It’s a lot of hard work and I definitely find myself questioning my sanity, but in the end it’s always worth it, not only from the money savings, but also from the satisfaction of working with my hands and creating my own food supply chain for my family.

Find Contentment

The Amish are known for being minimalistic. They are taught to be content and happy with what they have and not waste their lives worrying about things. Find contentment in what you have right now. Need less. Spend less. Life isn’t about collecting things, but collecting memories.

See this list of Frugal Lessons that we can learn from the Amish Lifestyle on gracefullittlehoneybee.com

This post was originally posted in September of 2015, but has been updated for your convenience.

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  1. I recently asked my husband whether he thought we could survive living like the Amish. He didn't think we could minimize our lifestyle to that degree. And our plan to travel the country with our kids will be a lot better in an RV, as opposed to a horse and buggy. However, these are all really good pointers on how maintaining the right priorities will keep you out of debt.
  2. When we were first married, we lived on my salary, which lower than my husband's, and baked part of my salary and all of his. That gave us an egg nest which helped when we had a child, when DH was unemployed for months, and for unexpected expenses. We bought a "starter" house and ever moved, so no house payments now that it is paid off, which gives us much more money to do other things. Now we are "empty-nesters" and DH has retired. And we are back to living on one income and banking the rest. As for the Amish, they do not compare themselves with their neighbor; so no going into debt, trying to keep up with the Jones.
  3. No offense, but I have lived around the largest Amish community in the country and worked with the Amish since I was a child. Though most live this way, many Amish, especially the younger generations, use the same as English, but hide their cars, cell phones and credit cards from the community by placing them in the name of a business or stating it is for business purposes. Running out to get pizza in the car on a Friday night is a normal occurrence. There are also many suicides that are not spoken of and are due to financial issues and the possible embarrassment. Because of the fact that they do not have normal electricity in their homes and the fact that they pay no taxes, their financial situation is completely different than an englishman. Though your references are good, I would not use any generalization when it comes to the Amish unless you truly know how the communities truly work.Great idea - bad reference.
    1. I know that the comment above is a few years old but KNOWING some Amish families I feel the need to reply - the comment was unnecessary, snarky, and in a know-it-all attitude. what's funny about the know it all attitude of the comment is that there are a few points in it that are downright incorrect - mainly about Amish not paying taxes - they absolutely DO pay taxes - they do not pay into Social Security, nor do they take from Social Security. But taxes, yes, they pay them!
    2. Hi Megan. The Amish actually do pay taxes, just like us. However, unlike us, when they receive their income tax refund from the IRS, they burn the check. This is to show that they are not dependent on the government. I learned that from the Old Order Amish in Maine in 2004. However, now that tax returns are filed electronically, I don't know how they refuse or return the money to the IRS.
  4. I like these lessons from the Amish, especially the one about saving vs. spending and finding contentment in the simple things in life. Our culture constantly bombards us with the newest toys and trinkets, but true contentment cannot be bought.
  5. I personally feel like there are many good reasons to be self reliant and have a simpler life style and closer knit community life. Been seeing lots of talk about going back to some of the older ways of living and references as to types of life styles that would be good to copy would be those of the Amish, Quakers and the Mennonites. There are some really good ideas which can be implemented if you choose to learn. I like the idea of growing my own food, raising my own animals, going back to a more simple and uncluttered lifestyle. Each of us just needs to look at and choose what we think is best for us and our family.
  6. My wife and I work daily to weed out all of the things that are really not needed. We also try and make a lot things ourselves, grow our own food, preserve our harvest and so on. Right now, we are giving it a go without a clothes dryer. Of course this was not by choice. The dryer broke, so we decided to see if we can make a go of it without the dryer.
    1. We did this for a bit and I loved it! It was the crunchy towels that did my husband in... but we found a good dryer on Craigslist for cheap. :)
        1. Here in Australia I had a dryer when my twins were little and used it in emergency only we have always hung our clothes out of doors and I have even given up using fabric conditioner my towels do not seem that bad?
        2. Try vinegar in the rinse cycle. It will make the towels a bit softer and more absorbent. Also a very wise relative told me (she knows every wive's tale that works lol) that it is the wind that softens clothes. Since we don't get much wind here she said that is why the line dried clothes weren't as soft. She grew up on the Prairie and everything came off the line soft.
  7. Unfortunately most of us have to work and don't have land for a garden. If I lived on a farm and had someone else bringing in the money, I could adapt some of these, but alas I have to spend up to 12 hours a day working to survive.
    1. It doesn't take much time to water a basil plant on your windowsill or a tomato plant on your patio. I never said you had to quit your job and live on a farm. These are just things we can take away from the Amish lifestyle and adapt to own own lives as needed.
  8. You have a lot of great ideas. I just wanted to let you know, the Seeds of the Month club is now $3.99 a month...still a great deal for non-GMO, heirloom seeds, but just wanted to update you. Thanks for the information.
    1. Hi Karla! I think it depends on what plan you choose. The one year plan is $2.96 per month and I think they have a two year plan that is even cheaper.
  9. Hi Iwish u give you a 1000 likes for this article. Iam simplamazed with amish. Good article Regards Chtisty
  10. I love this! Great reminders about the benefits of living simply. We have an Amish community near us and I've been searching for somewhere to shop in bulk and never thought about an Amish store. Thanks for the info!
  11. Being Amish is a Religion and lifestyle they adopt as part of their religion. However, they are still American's, they have American citizenship...unless they live in a different country.
  12. We live a couple hours from Amish communities in Ohio. I love watching the Amish children play and interact with each other. Even the kids work hard, but they don't treat their chores as punishment or drudgery. They do their work and pitch in with happy hearts. I think that mindset is a healthy one to emulate.
  13. Thank you! Thank you! I enjoy seeing people encouraging others to cut out what is unnecessary in life. Thank you for pointers that can possibly refresh our lives. I especially like the info on Seeds of the Month club. I am joining!
  14. My husband was raised Amish.... And we live our lives somewhere between Amish and English. Best advice ever: get up early and get your work done in the morning. You will accomplish so much more and your day will run smoother! One simple step sets the whole day's tone!
  15. I enjoyed this article a lot. I'm moving out of my parents house soon and we already practice some of these things. It was nice to read about. Some of the personal attacks in the comments are really just sad. They obviously need help and they just didn't like the advice you had to offer. I hope you don't take it personally. They're stuck financially and don't know what to do but be angry at their careless spending habits.
  16. A little late to the article. Thank you so much for your carefully and thoughtful article! In my life, I too would like to see more and more self reliance in many areas and you provided many tips. Thanks. Since this article was listed under "Frugal Lessons" and the "Amish Lifestyle" and written by a kind person, voicing her opinion...I feel I must throw in my opinion on the negative remarks and just say, "poo, poo". Nothing negative needed to be stated, by me or anyone. Lovely article and thanks for the wonderful tips!
  17. I have a different mindset (which might be because I'm not Amish ;) ). I function under the idea that if you can employ someone, you should. Not because you're rich or can afford to waste money, but because someone else might have a need as well and want to earn for their family. Right now, we are employing a woman to come and clean for 2 hours every week. We pay her Q15/hour--roughly $2/hour, but minimum wage here is only about Q12/hour--which ends up being around Q120/month. (I actually did the math, and she gets paid more per hour than my husband who is our sole wage earner, but because he has a full-time job, it's a drop in our bucket.) Whether or not it's a hardship for us, that's Q120/month which is helping a young mother provide for her two boys, and it's a blessing that we're able to provide her with.
  18. Great article! We are not Amish, but we do many of the things listed. My husband and I farm and we live on a small single income, which makes us get creative. We do a lot of things ourselves. My husband is a great handyman and fixes and builds many of the things around the house and farm. I try to make most of our food from scratch, have a garden (though no green thumb), dry cloths outside or inside (we heat with wood so they dry quick), preserve food, and I am trying to learn to sew. We drive old beaters, raise most of our meat, buy second-hand, or do without. We enjoy living this way and would probably still do it if we were well-off. :)
  19. I think everyone should find a person who lived thru the Depression and speak to them about how life was then. My Mama was raising children back then. She had 3 children, in a very poor town, and had to make do with practically nothing. The things she learned to do we’re phenomenal. And she never strayed from those habits, either! They say we can’t ever have another Depression like that one, but we can certainly learn from history to make life better now.
  20. This is a wonderful post as I have recently started researching on Amish lifestyle as we are in pandemic and spending less on not needed is always good . I highly respect their lifestyle .
  21. Frugal blogs loaded with ads, pop ups and other consumer garbage make me die a little inside. The irony of course being that you're preaching simple living while simultaneously punching people in the face with things they should buy.
    1. True, but my time is worth something and ads are how I can offer this content for free. If you don't work for free, then why should I? Also, I have zero popups on this site and try to keep the ads at a minimum for user experience. Are simple living magazines ad-free? No, because the reality is that's how they make money.
  22. Thank you for the reminder in Bible verses. Sometimes life punches us so hard that we can't breath. Only cry. That's all I've been able to do.
  23. Another tip: Barter with neighbors!!! We are NOT Amish, but most of our neighbors are. We've given them, i.e., a 3-storey extension ladder, a load of phone poles to use however they could, etc. No charge, we were happy to help!! Then, when we had a bunch of timber we needed milled, and prices we were quoted were $2000 to set up the portable mill and 50 cents a board/foot? My husband asked our neighbor if he knew of anyone with a mill... He said, "Jah, I got a mill." So Keith asked if he'd be interested in being hired to mill our timber into boards. He responded, after a thoughtful stroke of his beard... "What do you think about 10 cents a board foot. You've been gut neighbors..." Do unto others... Send out the good karma. It takes a community, especially in this economy!

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