UWMW are my new words to live by. I recently came across these life changing words when reading Lorilee Craker's latest book.
One Saturday afternoon, while waiting for my children to pick out a book at Walmart, I scanned the shelves myself. I usually save my book selections for bookstores or Amazon.com, but something had caught my eye. There, sitting on the shelf amongst romance novels and spiritual growth books, was Money Secrets of the Amish: Finding True Abundance in Simplicity, Sharing, and Saving by Lorilee Craker.
I have always had some fascination with the Amish, but more recently, I have found myself yearning to peek into their world. How do they live so satisfied and content with so little and when us "Englishers," as they like to call us, seem so dissatisfied when we have so much? It's puzzling. If I had to give it all up today, could I do it? I don't know, but what I do know is I admire their strength and perseverance. They manage to maintain their simple life while thriving in this economy while many of us seem to suffer. How do they do it? Lorilee Craker delves right into the middle of it, and I was going to find out what she learned.
I showed the book to my husband as we turned to head towards the check-out. He chuckled, "You want to spend money on a book that is suppose to teach you how NOT to spend money." I could see his point yet I couldn't part with it. I felt I had to get it. I just had to know their saving secrets. After all, they have all that land without all the distractions of spending frivolously. Maybe I could just learn a thing or two. Maybe we all could.
When I got home, I started reading through a few chapters. Most of what she said--when boiled down to it--was common sense. Most of her tips that she learned from the Amish are things that we hear all the time: Save! Buy in Bulk! Reduce, reuse, and recycle but wait..."repurpose?"
Despite all of the common sense- "I've heard that before"- information she dishes out, we have yet to follow by example. We "Englishers" are caught up in the here-and-now bit. Why wait when I can have it now?! We are like children...We want what the television advertises. We want what our peers have. We want to be like the rich and famous. I've got news for you...if you aren't rich and famous, STOP trying to live like you are because you will only find yourself in a heap of debt just like those peers of yours. Envious of debt?
After telling my husband over-and-over again how much I was enjoying this book, he caved. That night I began from the start and read a couple of chapters to him. It became our ritual. After we put the kids down to bed, we would curl up together while I read to him.
It was as if Mrs. Craker was standing in our room sprinkling Amish water on our faces, waking us up to our UNfrugal ways. She made my husband realize the reason he was so poor at keeping track of finances (which is why I usually did it) was because he didn't want to see the wasted money we were tossing out the window. He also realized he would have eaten the marshmallow.
One of the chapters, Don't Eat the Marshmallow: Learning Delayed Gratification, briefly discusses the marshmallow study from the 1960s. Four-year-olds were put in a room with a marshmallow in front of them. They were told that they could either eat it now or wait till the researcher left and returned. If they waited, they could have two marshmallows.
It dawned on my husband that instead of his parents enforcing him to save his allowance, they had actually given him advances to get his quick fix of this toy or that game...something he eventually got tired of just a few weeks later once the newness wore off. He had never learned the importance of delayed gratification. He had never learned to save. Note: We no longer have credit cards and now have savings. Take that credit card companies!
I learned in a later chapter that it was okay to buy second-hand. I have always had this mentality that everything I want should be brand, spanking new. Once again, Mrs. Craker's voice swirled off the pages like water splashing me in the face. I had fallen into a dream-like stance...it's the American way to work hard for your money (too hard), watch television and see all the pretty commercials, and run out to spend the money just earned on the brand new X item. "Oh, but don't you already have an older X item," my little voice inside my head would ask. Or, the little voice would call out, "Can't you get that item from a second-hand store for much less?" I agreed with the voice of reasoning many times but didn't act on it. I couldn't set pride aside to buy someone's cast-off or unwanted. I mean, what if someone saw me, right?
The Amish's words of wisdom written within those pages warned me that I would not be able to live completely debt free or be able to buy something I wanted in the future if I didn't start saving money here-and-there when I can.
Justin and I sat down with a big sigh after we finished reading the book. We calculated how much we spent on things we didn't need, how much we spent eating out, how much we spent on new items when we could have gotten it second-hand for less, how much food we probably threw away when it didn't get eaten or used, etc.... It was heart crushing. A twinge of pain shot through me. All our dreams could have been achieved many times over. We might as well just take the paychecks and throw them in the trash.
We made some major changes that day. Justin pulled himself up by his bootstraps and has taken on the finances with a passionate drive. I don't even have to do it now for he takes charge and beats me to it. I shred my immature prideful ways, put on my big girl pants, and now have found so many awesome deals at yard sales, flea markets, and thrift stores. We don't eat out. I try to cook everything from home using everything in our fridge, freezer, and pantry before going back to the grocery store to buy more items. Furthermore, together we are saving money. Every paycheck that comes in, we set some aside to put in savings. We already have plans for most of what is already there, but we are hoping one day we will be able to go on our honeymoon...something we didn't do when we got married in 2001. Not to forget we are trying to save for retirement!
There are sooo many other great ideas, tips, and words of wisdom either not known or ignored within Lorilee Craker's Money Secrets of the Amish. I would love to share all that I learned, but I don't want to give too much away. Go get it! You won't be sorry you did.
Click the image if you want to purchase it.
Note*** Lorilee Craker did not pay me to promote her book. I simply love it and wanted to share.