Researchers still squabble about what hardcore minimalists and Buddhist zen monks already know, “money doesn’t buy happiness.”
Some studies show that earning more than roughly 70k annually doesn’t increase wellbeing. Other research indicates that money does make it easier to control problems and thus adds to happiness. And yet other surveys conclude that money is irrelevant.
The stories of the following 3 persons living completely without money stipulate that this could very well be the holy grail to happiness. They took the ‘screw money’ truism literally and decided to live money-free.
If not a marker for what’s really important, these intriguing, new pathway paving individuals are relevant for our time.
Heidemarie Schwermer, Living Without Money
In her early 50’s, psychotherapist Heidemarie Schwermer decided to ditch her job and live without money. Her newfound lifestyle started 16 years ago and she hasn’t looked back since.
The founder of “Give And Take Central”, Germany’s first exchange circle (a service and bartering initiative), has always been interested in ways to live without money.
Her experiences with exchanging services such as house cleaning or baby sitting for clothes or groceries made her want to try and live without money for a year. The 12 months experiment became 16 years because she “didn’t want to go back to the old life”. She travels a lot, only accepts small payments to pay for train tickets, barters, and forages and asks for leftover food on markets.
Heidmarie’s path to happiness has been documented in the film “Living Without Money.”
More about her captivating life story on Living Without Money.
Daniel Suelo, The Man Who Quit Money
About 10 years ago Daniel Suelo, hugging his 40th birthday took his life savings and literally threw them away. “Sick of the rat race”, he quit his job, tossed the $30 in cash he owned inside a phone booth and turned his back on it ever since.
The now 50 year old Suelo has been living money-free for 12 years. Living in caves in Utah’s Moab canyonlands, wandering the earth, eating road kill, what the land provides him, and by dumpster diving he started the cashless life. Since then he has also been lodging at people’s places and has had house-sitting gigs.
The idea for this life sprung during a trip to Alaska with only 50 bucks in his pocket but it really manifested after a chance encounter with the Dalai Lama who “recommended that everybody go back to where they were planted, instead of trying to find greener grass on the other side of the fence”.
Outside commercial civilization, Suelo is a proponent of the gift economy. According to Suelo it stimulates grace, faith and love, core messages of every religion and esoteric principle.
On his website he writes: The proof is inside you: Wild Nature is your True Nature, crucified by commercial civilization.
More about his captivating story in the book, written by a long-time friend, The Man Who Quit Money.
Mark Boyle, The Moneyless Man
Irishman Mark Boyle left 6 figure job and stress for a connection with nature and happiness. No bank balance, no income, and no spending is totally opposite to his role as a well-paid manager.
The founder of the online Freeconomy Community, freelance writer for the Freeconomy blog and The Guardian changed course after seeing the film Gandhi.
“If someone told me seven years ago, in my final year of a business and economics degree, that I’d now be living without money, I’d have probably choked on my microwaved ready meal.
The plan back then was to get a ‘good’ job, make as much money as possible, and buy the stuff that would show society I was successful.
For a while I did it – I had a fantastic job managing a big organic food company; had myself a yacht on the harbour. If it hadn’t been for the chance purchase of a video called Gandhi, I’d still be doing it today.
Instead, for the last fifteen months, I haven’t spent or received a single penny. Zilch”
Boyle lived in a caravan from Freecycle which he parked on an organic farm he volunteered. He ate his own grown crops, cooked outside on a rocket stove,
He bathed in a river, wiped with newspapers, and for toothpaste he used washed up cuttlefish bone with wild fennel seeds.
In an interview Boyle says:
“Ironically, I have found this year to be the happiest of my life. I’ve more friends in my community than ever, I haven’t been ill since I began, and I’ve never been fitter. I’ve found that friendship, not money, is real security.
People now often ask me what is missing compared to my old world of lucre and business.
Stress. Traffic-jams. Bank statements. Utility bills.
Oh yeah, and the odd pint of organic ale with my mates down the local.” Read the whole interview here.
More about Boyle’s inspiring story in his books, The Moneyless Man: A Year of Freeconomic Living and The Moneyless Manifesto: Live Well, Live Rich, Live Free.
Living without money, a sign of the times
The role of money in our modern society is changing in an ever increasing pace. The cashless trend is still ongoing, cryptocurrencies are not only allowing people in poor countries to have access to banking but are showing the first signs of disrupting society as a whole.
People are reaching hands in transition towns, starting local currencies and sharing and bartering economies.
Brave, offbeat pioneers such as these people living without money altogether are lighting the path for those interested in living a simpler, happier life.
As Mark Boyle often states, living without money is not a new idea, the system of money itself is the new development.
Could you feel rich without a penny in your pocket?
Can you find happiness without possession?
Make sure to check out these portraits of people who got out of the rat race too.