This German Woman Has Been Living Without Money For 16 Years

Living Without MoneyBy Mandi Woodruff

As we edge closer to a cashless society, some consumers are quietly challenging the idea of money in the first place -- by giving it up completely.

Daniel Suelo, 50, traded his nine-to-five for dumpster diving and a cozy cave in Utah's canyonlands back in 2000.

But even before Suelo, there was Germany native Heidemarie Schwermer. In her early 50s, Schwermer decided to see what it'd be like to leave her cushy job as a psychotherapist and live money-free, a journey that's been documented in the film Living Without Money.

Sixteen years later, she hasn't looked back. In an exclusive interview, Schwermer opens up to Business Insider about why she decided to leave everything behind.

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This is good for her and good for people to think about and even employ when things get tough for them. I've been through some very tough times and had to become very creative to get by, but the truth is that this woman lives by the "kindness of strangers" and these strangers and friends are like everyone else who works or lives on a pension they earned by working and paying into a system.

Her story would be very different if everyone was living as she does. In fact, she would be so unremarkable that it's doubtful if she could survive in such a world.

It appears as though she is actually a centerpiece of an industry of documentaries and public lectures.

I'm all for what she does, if this is her choice, but when age catches up with her, it will be people who work in nursing homes and hospitals and funeral homes who will take care of the final needs.

July 06 2012 at 8:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i am very poor for nothing jobs hard to find please for me help to help jobs thank u smile bye good luckly

June 20 2012 at 2:28 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Very cool story! She has figured out how to make the most out of the barter system. Good for her!!

June 20 2012 at 4:28 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

As someone pointed out, she has paid into the system for many years and earned a pension, which she gives away. How is she a tax payer's burden? Also, she is given food that no one wants, and wears donated clothes. There are so many American these days who live on other peoples money, some through no fault of their own, and others because they have been disenfranchised from society, have no hope of getting a job and hope strangers will fill in the void that the government obviously does not. I am approached practically every day by someone asking me for money, and if I feel there is a genuine need, then I give something. However, I don't really know if their claims are truly genuine. How can I? This woman from Germany has made a choice not to deal with money, and is using other means to survive. It is up to every individual whether or not they give, or decline to give. It's called "free will," and no one forces an individual to make a donation in food, give clothes or give shelter to someone. She is obviously living the life she wants, and not many of us can say that.

June 20 2012 at 1:01 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Simple I can't do it. I like to be on other ends.
My mom told me...make sure your hand stays upper. (not lower).

June 20 2012 at 12:49 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Hubert and Susan

How well kept she appears...nice clothing, hair style, pearl necklace. Germans have a rather green approach to life. She is not always a taker. She gives away her clothes when the seasons change instead of lugging them around. How free she must feel not having the burden of having bills and things to juggle in her life. Of course not every one can live like this- there would be nobody to donate! But it did say she barters for what she is given. IF someone wanted to rake my garden, wash my car, or iron my sheets, I would put them up for the night and feed them if they looked well kept as she did. She is finding her way through life. And notice she does not stay too long in one place. She keeps it fresh and does not wear out her welcome . All that walking must keep her very fit.

June 20 2012 at 12:45 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Ok wait. how'de she get that sweater. And how does she brush her teeth with that big smile. either she makes her own designer shht and grows strawberries to brush her teeth. wtf. I want in.

June 20 2012 at 12:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It should be called "living off other peoples money". Honestly, shes not living without money, shes living off of other people. If she didn't have generous friends and made a big deal out of it, she would be homeless like millions of other people. I don't find it to be inspirational, the people who work, and bus their butts trying to make a living, if we all just quit our jobs and lived "money" free we'd all die and starve. There would be no one to help us, no one to take us in and no one to feed us. It's
bogus and a way we cannot live, not anymore.

June 20 2012 at 12:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to CJ's comment

...I'm guessing you chose to ignore the part of the article where it is noted that she does chores around the houses of those she stays with to earn her keep, gives away her pension to the poor, and gives away her clothes to the needy as the seasons change? The facts don't fit neatly into your bigoted view, so you choose to ignore them.

June 25 2012 at 8:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

In no interpretation of her circumstances is she living without money. She simply enjoys the benefit of everyone else's money. She stays with friends? That roof was paid for. She accepts fruit which is left over and didn't sell? The growers donated it, and their trucks, gas, land, and toil grew the fruit. She picks greens? From who's land, which was paid for? She is donated clothes? Someone made the fabric. She "only accepts train fare?" Well what about the train station, its costs, its fuel, and all the infrastructure? She enjoys the benefit of everyone's taxes. She may be an inspiration to some in terms of her values of living with less, and that's an admirable goal, but let's be clear: She's a parasite. Perhaps less ignoble than others, but a parasite none the less, depending on everyone she meets -- even when "favors" are exchanged.

June 20 2012 at 12:20 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to kristy916's comment

I don,t know how this can be done .I lived on $ 700.00 a month . My house and car where payed for but I still had power water insurance . The Drug Store was $ 212.00 for my wife $ 80.00 for me with all the bills added up their was no money for food so I got up every morning and prayed red the bible . We made it for a year then I was able to get a job . Well it's a long story so good night

June 20 2012 at 12:08 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply