For the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about money and the impact that it has on a minimalist life. A few things have conspired to place this at the forefront of my mind, but none more so than seeing a family member’s life changed by a rather large and completely unexpected monetary gift. Without going into details, let me just say that the change was not for the better and witnessing it has left us further convinced that we want to live a life that requires very little money.
But just how little can one reasonably expect to live on?
While out for a walk last week, Angie and I spent some time pondering this question. We decided that the amount we need to live a good life is not all that much. This isn’t new news though. For the past 18 months, we’ve lived on a single part-time income for the sole purpose of having more time to take these types of pondering walks. But could we go even lower in our reliance on money? What about living a life without any money whatsoever?
I’ve read a few books and articles about folks who live with no money. Perhaps the most famous moneyless man, Daniel Suelo, has lived off/on in a Utah cave since 2000. Heidemarie Schwermer, who passed away in 2016, lived in voluntary poverty for 17 years and Mark Boyle lived 3 years without money before authoring the book, The Moneyless Manifesto (which is free, by the way). A new Australian contender, Jo Nemeth, began living without money in 2015 to reduce her environmental impact.
As we walked, we daydreamed about living our own moneyless lifestyle – homesteading in a tiny house, picking food from our own garden. We even threw in a few chickens and a hammock among the trees where we could read books from the library when we weren’t dumpster diving. Oh…and there was a solar panel to run our fridge and laptop. It all sounded so nice, until we tried to figure out…
Who’s going to pay the land taxes every year?
What happens when I fall out of that hammock or Angie trips over a chicken and we need stitches?
How will we get the necessities that we can’t grow or trade for – like toothpaste?
Are we going to give up travel? If not, how far can we go on a bicycle? And just where did this free bicycle come from anyway?
But most importantly – where are we going to get free coffee??
I suppose with a little ingenuity, we could stitch ourselves up, grow some herbs for a tooth powder, and ride our free bicycle to the nearest friend’s house every morning to bum a free cup of coffee. Perhaps this isn’t such a far-fetched scheme after all…hmm…
Okay, so complete moneylessness may be out, but there are still ways to live without much cash. Here are a few moneyless ideas we came up with during our dreaming and scheming:
- Join Freecycle or check the barter/trade/free sections of Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or apps like OfferUp and LetGo to find items you may need (or want).
- Plant a garden using saved seeds from a Seed Exchange (or from a friend’s garden).
- Check out your local library for free books, magazines, newspapers, movies, video games, events, classes, and more. (We love our library! They even offer free tea.)
- Host a clothing swap with your friends. This works well for other items too, like jigsaw puzzles, sporting goods, baby items, and kitchen gadgets.
- Go dumpster diving.
- Get a free check-up at a Health Fair. We recently attended a health fair where not only did we get our annual mammogram for free, but we went home with a t-shirt, a water bottle, and a fresh fruit cup.
- Catch a free ride. If you’re not into hitchhiking (and we are NOT), you can browse Craigslist for rideshare prospects or find a promo/coupon for a free ride from one of the major rideshare apps, like Lyft or Uber. You can also walk or bike to your destination for a truly “free ride”.
- Take your pet to a free shot clinic. Every April, our community offers free rabies shots for dogs and cats. Other required immunizations are offered at a substantial discount, saving you a trip to the vet.
- Try couchsurfing next time you travel. Or pitch a tent on BLM land – it’s free.
- Take advantage of free community events. We especially enjoy free movies in the park, free day at local museums or the zoo, and free festivals (like Farm Fest).
- Pick up freebies at the grocery store. In our area, both Kroger and Food Lion regularly offer freebies on their mobile apps.
- Score free meals by signing up for restaurant loyalty programs or birthday clubs. This is harder for us since going almost vegetarian but Jersey Mike’s, Fazoli’s, and Panera are still good options.
Personally, I think it’s kind of fun to imagine living a moneyless lifestyle. If nothing else, it’s a great mental exercise and if you do implement a few moneyless practices into your current situation, all the better!
What moneyless solutions can you add to the conversation?