Another one of these crazy people! He´s out of the world! It never works! These are only the most harmless thoughts I had when reading the headline of the BBC: “The American who quit money to live in a cave” talks about Daniel Suelo, who dedicated his existence to an especially alternative lifestyle. He lives in a cave in Utah, harvesting wild foods and eating roadkill. He is not a reclose though: The former cooks blogs and shares his experiences. A life without money. For the last 12 years.*
And Daniel is not the only one. 10 further persons are listed on the website http://moneyless.info. 10 people who do live without money as well – and this are only those who are knowns. One of them is Tomi Astikainen, whose home is not a cave but the road. Starting as a low-budget-traveller, he became a no-budget-traveller in 2010 – and told me, how and why he is doing it moneyless.
How did you come up with the idea of moneyless living?
I didn’t want to support a system where every penny in my wallet is someone else’s debt. I’m not religious but I do agree with the Golden Rule and wouldn’t want to become rich on someone else’s expense. I looked into future visions like resource-based economy
and understood what would be possible for humanity if money didn’t stand in the way of people’s participation to social development. When I talked about this to my friends, ad infinitum, they asked why I don’t do anything about it. Then I decided to be the change I seek in the world. In essence, I started moneyless living just to get into this kind of conversations and to spread the word about issues in our current system and the alternative called gift economy
. (More about this in the FAQ at his website
How did moneyless living get along with traveling plans?
In 2009 I was still a low budget traveler. I had to be very careful where to use money, not to run out of it. In 2010 I became a no-budget traveler, and suddenly everything became possible. The only hindrance is that some countries still require a passport and others even a visa. Luckily I had a passport but I’ve been limited to countries where I don’t need to pay for a visa. In the future, if I decide to travel for other than purely selfish motives – such as writing another book based on real-life experiences – I might change my principles and use money for the visas. Or, I might burn my passport and journey within.
What are your 5 key tricks for living moneyless?
1. WHY – Be very clear on why you are doing it: It’s not about saving money or traveling for free. If your personal principles are blurry you will end up feeling bad about what you’re doing.
2. WHEN – Clarify to yourself if you are going to do it as an experiment or if you wish to change your life permanently: E.g. taking a year of from the rat race and setting up a “living moneyless” project for yourself is in no way worse option than becoming moneyless until further notice.
3. HOW AND WITH WHOM – People take different paths after the initial decision to “be the change”. Some want to stay still and become 100% self-sustainable, others want to travel and be among people. There are as many ways to live moneyless as there are to live with money. Also, you should decide if you want to be vocal about your lifestyle or just do it on your own without making a big number out of it.
4. WHAT – Set your own limits on what you feel comfortable with. Dumpster diving (skipping), Couchsurfing
, Hitchhiking, Eating leftovers (table diving), Asking for food, Camping, Walking, Cycling… There are so many ways to do it. It’s up to you what you decide to do in practice.
5. Choose love over fear.
What is the main recommendation you would give someone who wants to start a life like yours as well?
I wouldn’t recommend moneyless living to anyone, because it’s not a solution to anything. Sure it does allow you to see life more as it is, without artificial institutions blurring your vision, but it’s not going to save the world. You should only do it to challenge yourself to step outside the social norms and to develop spiritually. But be warned, it can be consuming to live outside the social norms and be questioned all the time. You can achieve most of these things I’m talking about without going to any extremes. Simply letting go off things that create security in your life and facing every day as a new adventure is enough to challenge your deeply ingrained behavioral patterns drastically.
I’ve learned that I’m not here to change the world but I’m here for the world to change me. Whoever said that was a wise person. I approach life more with humor now, take it more lightly, no matter how serious issues we might be dealing with on the outset. I acknowledge the fact that in this life time I’m supposed to understand internally and spiritually as much as possible, and at the same time I can try to change conditions for other people to do the same – to be free to search for their highest purpose and to contribute to our collective consciousness. I do that mainly through my gift of storytelling. What you do is, again, up to you.
What were your best experiences because of this lifestyle you chose – reactions of people, ..?
Every day is a best experience now because I’ve ceased to divide experiences in good and bad. Things just are. You don’t have to judge them. Somehow in the end everything just makes sense. But yeah, every day is literally a new adventure. When you don’t plan too much, you never know what’s going to happen.
During the past years people’s reactions have changed notably. There are still some people that portray their own fears and problems to me: attacking verbally someone who doesn’t want to support a system that is destroying the planet and causing most of the human suffering. But mostly people agree with me, even if they’d come from a very different background. It seems that the so-called economic crisis has opened people’s eyes to understand that we need to adopt a very different kind of value set and create completely new kind of ways to deal with each other and essentially the distribution of goods to meet everyone’s basic needs.
What was the biggest surprise for you living moneyless?
Most surprising was that it actually works. In poorer countries you are met with unprecedented hospitality and help from people who you thought are strangers. In western economies you can easily live of other people’s yummy and abundant waste.
Thank you for sharing, Tomi!
“Living withouth money”, a movie about Heidemarie Schwermer, who lives moneyless since 1996 and also wrote some books about it (e.g.Das Sterntalerexperiment. Mein Leben ohne Geld.)
Another film tip: Ohne Geld bis ans Ende der Welt
*The book about Daniel´s life ”The Man Who Quit Money” by Mark Sundeen was published recently. Mark Boyle was a no-money-traveller for 19 months and wrote a book about it: ”The Moneyless Man”. Moreover he started a Freeconomy Community.