Amish Financial Matters
Owning an insurance policy for any reason is out of the question for an Amish family. They depend on their church and community to stand with them in difficult circumstances. As mentioned in another article if their house or barn burns the community responds by helping them to rebuild. In many cases if the family is unable to absorb the losses, the deacon will visit the families of the district to solicit funds for the family to help them get back on their feet. The receiving family knows that they will have an opportunity to repay when tragedy strikes someone else.
Often the expenses come for an illness or hospital stay. Hospitals in Amish communities will often negotiate lower prices for the Amish patients because the payment comes in cash and soon after the bill is presented. No health insurance papers to file or waiting to have the insurance company process the claim.
Many Amish businessmen have become successful due to their work ethic and business acumen. That allows them to assist their community in loaning money. Many of them will hold mortgages for younger families who have bought farms or started businesses. They know that if the loan is not repaid the church will put pressure on the family to make it right. They also know that most young Amish families will work long hard hours and sacrifice many things to pay their property off quickly. A 30 year mortgage would be unheard of.
If an Amish family finds themselves in financial trouble due to poor management, the church will often step in to help them manage their finances to get things back in order. If an Amish person from one district or even another state has a business deal that doesn't go well and they are not receiving payment, it usually just takes a letter to the bishop of their church district to straighten things out. This is rare but it happens.
As children of the home grow older and begin to work outside of the home they bring their paychecks back to the family coffers. This is an understood practice until they are 21 years old. This helps the larger families to survive the growing times of their family. This is done with the understanding that at some point the young person will get married and be ready to establish their own home. At that point, the parents may step in to contribute to their finances for a home or farm or to help them establish a business.
One of the other pressures facing Amish families today is the escalating value of land. Recently an Amish father told of how he had paid off his family farm with help from his sons. His goal was to help them get their farms when they grew old enough. He had purchased the farm he was raising his family on for $700 per acre. The farms in the area were now going for $2,700 an acre. It was pricing he and his sons out of the market. He didn't have the resources to help them out as he wanted to.
This is one of the issues that is driving the migration of the Amish to settlements farther west into Missouri, Wisconsin and other places west. They are also looking for other areas away from the concentration of Amish to try to locate less expensive farm land.