Is it possible? Can you live in our society today without money? I researched it! To be fair, I didn’t try it out. It is one step too far for me, but we can learn from the principles. Through various websites I read article from writers who live or have lived without money. However, that is by no means easy. We spend money in a number of categories. Below is a list of the possible solutions in each category.
You could of course get by with a tent and a sleeping bag… but you have to be really motivated and hardcore. Cashless living is a lot more difficult if you want a roof over your head. On a blog I found an example of someone who lived without money and who had a house. He paid the rent of nomadic travelers who came to stay with him in while traveling and donated towards the rent. These people often also brought food that they shared.
If you want to live cashless but have a (substantial) starting capital, you can choose to buy a house without a mortgage (or, for example, a tiny house or caravan) and live in it.
If you live in a house and not in a tent or your sleeping bag, then a number of things are important. Electricity and gas, and for me also internet. Carolien Hoogland says in her TedTalk that she has lived without money for a year. She wrote a letter to the energy company requesting to receive “free” power and gas for a year. In return, she researched better marketing around green electricity and shared this with the energy supplier. The energy company agreed, and so they managed not to spend money for a whole year on electricity. With a little creativity, even that is possible! Dare to ask.
A basic necessity of life is food. You can of course grow your own food. After a start-up period of buying seeds (or growing vegetables by cuttings and using seeds from vegetables from the supermarket) and soil and possibly pots, you can then grow your own food and harvest your seeds for the following year. You do need space for this. You can also pass by restaurants and ask for leftover food that would otherwise be thrown away. You could also go dumpster diving (getting food from waste bins at the supermarket) or ask at the market at closing time if there is anything unsaleable that would otherwise be thrown away. If you want to eat for free you can be less picky. You eat what you find or what you get. You can also organize a potluck. Then you invite people to eat with you and everyone brings something.
In the Netherlands it is very difficult to not pay taxes. That is not surprising. Many essential things are paid from the tax money. We all use services payed by taxes on a daily basis.
Don’t want to pay tax after all? You can have yourself made sovereign, then you are supposedly stateless and you no longer have to pay taxes. You can no longer get a passport and driver’s license, you are not allowed to work and you are not entitled to allowances and benefits. Issues such as receiving care if you do not have health insurance and are not officially a resident of the Netherlands are difficult topics. Not paying tax is therefore very difficult in practice. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it.
I think clothing is the least difficult part of this list. Clothing is donated by almost all of us. If people know about your cashless living project, you can ask them to think about you before donating clothes. If you are skilled with the sewing machine, you can make your own clothes if you get something that does not fit properly. The only thing people often wear until it breaks are socks and underwear. Here, too, it must be possible to get your hands on for free. Think of asking for a supply for your birthday.
The bicycle is free and so is walking. Do you have to be further away? Hitchhiking is not common in the Netherlands, but you can go a long way. Carpooling can also be an option. Do you have to be on time? That may be more difficult. If you live without money and do not have a job that requires you to arrive on time, the need for motorized transport is a lot less.
How about all the other stuff? People donate well-functioning things all the time. Let your network know what you are looking for and chances are you will get what you need. I myself regularly accept things from people who have to get rid of it. I have already received a tumble dryer, bookcase and sofa. Absolutely for free! If you search for free stuff in your area on your version of craigslist, probably it is full of all kinds of other things that people want to get rid of.
And if you need something that normally needs money in return, you may be able to barter or work and get paid-in-kind.
What lessons can we take from living without money and still remain normal.
You live more with the community that exists or that you create around you if you decide to live without money. You depend on people but on the other hand you live more freely than ever. At least, that’s what the people who do it themselves or have done for a while say. If you do this for a while, I think it will change your view of money. You become more creative and settle for less.
As far as I am concerned, what we can get out of this is that not everything always has to cost money. I don’t think I could live without money. I don’t have that ambition either. I do know that I could make do with less. Let’s face it, a lot of things we spend money on are not necessary. All that is really necessary are housing, food and certain services such as electricity, water, gas, internet and some insurance, and even all these points can be disputed and negotiated and saved.
In the Western world we live in such an abundance of luxury that we are no longer used to anything else. It is good to reflect on that from time to time. We pretty much all have everything we need to survive, and most of us have enough to live comfortably or even thrive, grow, and live meaningful lives. What a privilege!
By living more frugally and applying the philosophy of cashless living in different areas of your life, you are good for your wallet. That is good for your future self. If you have money on hand in the future by saving it now, you will be a bit freer and experience less stress. And if you are now used to spending less than you make, you will learn to be satisfied with less and you will not immediately have stress when things go downhill financially for a while.
By living with the things you already have, by exchanging more with each other instead of buying everything new and by being more creative with your resources, you also help our planet. And what really emerges as a benefit is the sense of community. You can rely on each other and you can trust that it will work out. People are more generous than you think!
I’m going to try not to spend money this month on things that aren’t needed. I don’t need clothes (note to self). I’m also working hard to grow a lot of my own food, even though my garden is small. This month I will review all fixed costs and switch to different providers where possible. Only the transport to and from work, I cannot change that much. I cannot carpool, take public transport or work from home due to working in a semi hard to reach place. I do drive 100km/h on the highway. That quickly saves 2 km per liter of petrol compared to 130 km/h. At the end of the month, I will let you know in my dear diary of april how it went. Who knows, maybe I want to keep this up longer!
Let me know if you could live without money in a comment!
Until next time!