Living without money... can it be done?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

One young man from Germany, Raphael Fellmer, is just doing that, with his wife and young daughter. In fact, Raphael won’t touch money. When he finds a bill on the street, he leaves it there. When he needs food, clothes or other material goods, he scavenges through the trash.

For more than two years, this 29-year-old has been on what he calls a “complete money strike” to show the world how misguided we all have become about our material possessions and excess consumption, especially of food.

While he himself lives exclusively with no money, his wife uses the equivalent of around 280 Euro per month (made up from savings and the government child benefit) to pay for transportation, health care and food for their child.

Fellmer sometimes works as a guest speaker to talk about living without money, but he turns down all pay and during one of his lectures a young student mentioned, while he travels by auto-stop over long distances, and cycles everywhere else, the former means that he must rely on someone who does have a car and who buys the gas.

This shows that it all looks good on the outside to try to live on a complete “money strike” and while it may work to some extent, especially, if done right, and most Freegans can vouch for that, in regards to using food discarded from stores that is still perfectly good to use and eat, there are other things where it is not, necessarily, that easy if at all possible.

Barter worked for our ancestors and still is in use in many places, in one form or another and it could and can work again. Raphael Fellmer is lucky that he lives rent-free with his family at the Martin Niemoeller Peace Center in Berlin, in return for being the resident handyman/janitor and such and thus does not have to concern himself too much as to how he can pay for accommodation. Something other people do have to think about and while some who are going a similar way live in squats or other “free” ways it is not an option for the great majority.

However, the barter economy, to some extent, as far as food, goods and services are concerned, could work again, and we could all live on a lot less with a much smaller footprint on the Planet if we wasted less and if we would, legally, recover or rescue those things that others discard, including the food that is thrown away from food stores, bakeries, etc. at the end of the day.

We live in such a wasteful society that it should not be too difficult for everyone to make the conscious decision to use less and waste less and to use what they have and what comes their way.

Personally I love to make do with comes my way and like to make things for my use from such things that come my way or simply reuse and repurpose items of waste or what people have tossed out (or lost).

There are many other ways to live with less impact on the Planet and with less money and less consumption than pretending – sorry for saying it like that – to be able to live without money and buying things.

Having to rely on the kindness of others – and I have to do that at times when I need to pick something up, like was the case with my five hens and cannot do that by bicycle – as far as transportation is concerned but, like many of us, I am sure, I do not like to do that too often.

Traveling without money, as Raphael Fellmer does it, and not at all carrying any, even when one finds kind motorists prepared to take someone along is in the eyes of many sponging. While the person may go the way that I am going being able to offer something in return, such as a share in the cost of the gasoline, to some extent, or buying the driver lunch should be the norm as a little thank you for taking one along.

Where I cannot get to on foot or by bicycle I will use public transport, which means having to pay, but that is, in my view, part of life, and presently our system is such that we do need money in some shape or form, at least for some things.

As I said, I love to make as much as possible myself, ideally from waste materials and scrap but there are things that I cannot make or find but need and thus, as things stand still at this present time, they will have to be, in the main, paid for with money, whether we like it or not and thus, I would say, that living entirely without money is simply not possible, not for most, at this present time.

“Money strike” all sounds good and “cool” but there is an impact on a different level that also needs to be considered and while it, to a degree, works for some, entirely without will only work when we have returned to a barter economy where one's labor and one's products again have value in the eyes of people.

© 2013