I think learning to live with less money is a crucial life-skill that pertains to greater freedom, and it's something I'm going to have to do when (ideally before) I quit work this August.
For personal inspiration, I've been looking into some of the people who actually live without money altogether... Here's two of my favourites: the first from the UK and the second from the US.
Mark Boyle: The Moneyless Man
Based in the UK and author of the Moneyless Manifesto, Mark Boyle gave up money for more than 2 years in November 2008, on Buy Nothing Day.
Boyle points out that while we tend to associate money with independence, in fact it just makes us dependent on people far away from us, and less likely to look to our local communities for our sustenance. It is also money that is the root disconnect which facilitates the type of global production processes which are associated with social and ecological injustice. In the video below he makes the point that he couldn't really proselytize about such things unless he actually lived them, and hence the moneyless experiment was born.
He originally set out to do this for one year, but after that year started to question how he could return to a money based economy, so he carried on.
Reflecting on the experiment in a 2015 interview he says:
I lived in a caravan I found on Freecycle, and I kitted this out with a wood-burner made from an old gas bottle, which I fueled using wood I’d gather from the land around me. I cooked my simple fare outside, 365 days of the year, on a rocket
stove…. I gathered up the unused apples from the surrounding area to make cider, and the campfire became my pub, around which friends would sing and dance and make music together. We became participants in life, not only consumers of it.... I brushed my teeth with toothpaste made from wild fennel seed and cuttlefish bone. I had a composting toilet and used discarded editions of The Daily Mail for toilet roll – a fine use for it.
Find out more...
More details about the practicalities of living without money can be found in Mark’s book – The Moneyless Manifesto, along with the foundations of his critique of the money system and an explanation of his preference for economic systems based on gift exchange.
Before commencing his experiment, and indicating his broader commitment to gift-economics, Mark established a gift and skill sharing platform called Freeconomy, which has since merged with the similar site Sreetbank, where anyone can sign up and offer skills or stuff for free.
Since the money-free experiment Mark has co-founded the first moneyless pub: The Happy Pig is based on a Permaculture gift-based smallholding, An Teach Saor, soon to be offering free workshops, free education, free accommodation and of course, free alcohol. The pub was converted from an old pig shed and funded through a crowd souring campaign, so while not entirely money-free, it is still at least gift-based.
Dan Suelo: The Man who Lived Without Money
A second example of, this time from the U.S. is Daniel Suelo who lived without money from the year 2000 until very recently, when he had to give up living 'off-grid'in order to return home and care for his ageing parents.
Dan says that he'd thought about going money free ever since he was a child, when he used to question why his Christian household didn't really keep to the ideals of Jesus. He then went on the study other religions and realised that what they had in common was that they all stressed the importance of living a 'giving' life based on compassion, rather than one in which you do something now for future gain, which is precisely the typical lifestyle associated with our money-based economy. There's a major ecological thread running through Dan Suelo's philosophy – he lives a 'natural life' rather than an 'accounted' life, and if you want an interesting perspective on death, the video below is a must watch. (Also, I may have this completely wrong, but Suelo is what I imagine the Zen Masters of the Tang to have been like.)
Back in his full-on money free days (I'm sure he'll return to them later!) Dan said of himself:
I don’t use or accept money or conscious barter – don’t take food stamps or other government dole. My philosophy is to use only what is freely given or discarded & what is already present & already running. I don’t see money as evil or good: how can illusion be evil or good? But I don’t see heroin or meth as evil or good, either. Which is more addictive & debilitating, money or meth? Attachment to illusion makes you illusion, makes you not real. Attachment to illusion is called idolatry, called addiction. I simply got tired of acknowledging as real this most common world-wide belief called money! I simply got tired of being unreal.
Find out more...
Dan Suelo occasionally updates the Zero Currency Blog -at time of writing the latest entry is from November 2017 and outlines a very interesting analysis of how domestication is basically regressive.
Suelo's become a bit more active on Facebook since he took on his 'caring role' recently - and maybe just a touch more
political than spiritual..... check out his Facebook page for updates.
Both of these radical lifestyles serve as a reminder of not only how central money is to our present social system, but just how colonised the average mind is by the very idea of money.
It's interesting to note (unsurprisingly) how central networks are in the 'survival strategies' of both of these 'experiments in living', but also that both of these experiments are far more than just that, especially for Suelo, they are are a re-imagining of the entire basis of human interaction. In many ways their lives appear fuller for being money-free!
Could I go Money Free?
In all honesty, probably not, certainly not with a £110K mortgage, but that aside, reducing my dependency on material items, and seeking to meet my needs through skills-share networks rather than cash-exchange is definitely something I'll be seeking to do going forwards, it just seems like sensible resilience strategy even if I can't see myself being totally money free.
Could you go money free?
I'm sure that many of the people on steemit who are homesteaders would have stumbled across these two, and are well on their way to weaning themselves off money, but I wonder how many people have gone as far as them and sustained it for any length of time?