Friday, May 4, 2012

Moneyless Living

Of course these are extremes that prove a point. Remember, as Bruce Lee said, take what is useful to you, discard the rest. It's different for every individual. The key is taking what you find beneficial to your happiness and eliminating the rest. We all will have a different point as to where that is. Surely there is a world of difference between zero and something else. Everybody will be heading here soon enough. Why not just make it easier on yourself?

Can Going Without Money Hurt the Economy? One Man's Quest to Be Penniless. (Yahoo News)
But over time he says he grew depressed, clinically depressed, mainly with the focus on acquisition. "Every time I made a resume for a job, signed my name to a document, opened a bank account, or even bought a banana at the supermarket, I felt a tinge of dishonesty," he said.

One year he went to Alaska and worked on the docks. But that, too, he says, felt dishonest. Instead, he and a buddy decided to live off the land—spearing fish, foraging for mushrooms and berries. (Think Castaway, but with snow). Suelo (which means soil in Spanish) eventually hitch-hiked back to Moab with $50 in his pocket. By the time he arrived, his stash had dwindled to $25. He realized that he only needed money for things he really didn't need, like snacks and booze.

He began toying with the idea of living full-time without money. He traveled to India, and became fascinated by Hindu Sadhus, who wandered without lucre and possessions. He considered joining them, but then he realized that "A true test of faith would be to return to one of the most materialistic, money-worshipping nations on earth, to return to the authenticity profound principles of spirituality hidden beneath our own religion of hypocrisy, and be a Sadhu there," he said. "To be a vagabond, a bum, and make an art of it - this idea enchanted me."

And soon, that's exactly what he did. He says he left his life savings—a whopping $30—in a phone booth, and walked away.
The American who quit money to live in a cave (BBC)
Daniel Suelo lives in caves in the canyonlands of Utah. He survives by harvesting wild foods and eating roadkill. He has no job, no bank account and does not accept government welfare. In fact, Suelo has no money at all. Suelo may have shunned all the trappings of modern American life, but he is not an isolationist.

Since abandoning money in 2000, the former cook from Moab, Utah has remained an active member of his community and avid blogger. Mark Sundeen, author of The Man Who Quit Money, admits many people would regard Suelo's alternative lifestyle as bizarre. But the 2008 financial crash has led many to question the value of money. He explains some of the lessons found in Suelo's philosophy.

Britain's Moneyless Man Mark Boyle:

Mark Boyle's blog: 

How to Not Pay Taxes (Shareable)
There really is no single “tax line.” The threshold is different for everyone. It's based on things like your family structure, your age, how you make your income, and what you do with your money. For me, the tax line is about $36,000 this year. By using deductions for tax-deferred retirement accounts, and for health savings accounts and health insurance — entirely legally and by-the-book — I’m able to owe no federal income tax.

To do this, I have to put about $14,000 into these retirement and health savings accounts (almost 40 percent of my income). Subtracting Social Security taxes, that leaves me about $20,000 to live on during the year. That seems like very little to many people, especially in the expensive San Francisco Bay Area where I live, but it’s more than enough for me.

For one thing, it’s a real $20,000, not a $20k salary that then gets whittled down by income tax. My yearly expenses — rent, food, transportation, health insurance, and the like — come to less than $18,000. What’s left over is a rainy-day, emergency, or vacation fund. I often use it for a south-of-the-border backpack-and-hostels style adventure. And note that I’m also saving a healthy $14,000 a year for retirement and for health expenses.
Off The Grid (Eric Valli via Boing Boing)
Eric Valli spent 3 years taking photos of people in the United States who have "decided to live light on the earth." The photographs are terrific. It looks like Valli spent time with two clans: a frontier/settler type group, and another group that look almost like cave people. I wish he had included more information about them! 
*Early Retirement Extreme* (Marginal Revolution)
That is the title of an erratic but interesting book by Jacob Lund Fisker, and the subtitle is A philosophical and practical guide to financial independence.  Think of it as a study in “least cost living,” his web site is here.

Here is his post on a middle class lifestyle on 7k a year, health insurance included, sans young children, don’t skip the section on the lentils.  How does it compare to how people lived fifty years ago?  To how I lived thirty-two years ago as an undergraduate?

“Not buy very much” seems to be his main strategy.

I transplant these scenarios to a foreign setting.  Let’s say you had 10k a year, net, to live in either India or Mexico.  How high would your standard of living be?  What kind of health insurance could you buy?  How would your level of happiness compare to working at a job you don’t like for 80k a year for twenty more years?

When it comes to modern society, I sometimes wonder, what is the true secession point with decent utility?  What kinds of options are your savings giving you?  Is there any chance you will take those options?

For the pointer I thank CR.
And see: Confessions of a Bottom Feeder

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