Happy 69 Year Old Lady Has Not Used Money For 15 Years

Heidemarie Schwermer, a 69-year-old woman from Germany, gave up using money 15 years ago and says she’s been much happier ever since.

Heidemarie’s incredible story began 22 years ago, when she, a middle-aged secondary school teacher emerging from a difficult marriage, took her two children and moved to the city of Dortmund, in Germany’s Ruhr area. One of the first things she noticed was the large number of homeless people, and this shocked her so much that she decided to actually do something about it. She had always believed the homeless didn’t need actual money to be accepted back into society, only a chance to empower themselves by making themselves useful, so she opened a Tauschring (swap shop), called “Gib und Nimm” (Give and Take).

Her small venture was a place where anyone could trade stuff and skills for other things and skills they needed, without a single coin or banknote changing hands. Old clothes could be traded in return for kitchen appliances, and car service rendered in return for plumbing services, and so on. The idea didn’t really attract many of Dortmund’s homeless, because, as some of them told her to her face, they didn’t feel an educated middle-class woman could relate to their situation. Instead, her small shop was assaulted by many of the city’s unemployed and retired folk eager to trade their skills and old stuff for something they needed. Heidemarie Schwermer’s Tauschring eventually became somewhat of a phenomenon in Dortmund and even prompted its creator to ask herself some questions about the life she was living.

She started to realize she was living with a lot of stuff she didn’t really need and initially decided not to buy anything else without giving something away. Then she realized how unhappy she was with her work and made the connection between this feeling and the physical symptoms (backache and constant illness) she was feeling, so she decided to take up other jobs. She began washing dishes for 10 Deutchmarks an hour, and despite many were telling her things like “You went to university, you studied to do this?”, she felt good about herself, and didn’t feel like she should be valued more because of her studies than someone working in a kitchen. By 1995, the Tauschring had changed her life so much that she was spending virtually nothing, as everything she needed seemed to find its way into her life.

So in 1996. she took the biggest decision of her life: to live without money. Her children had moved out so she sold the apartment in Dortmund and decided to live nomadically, trading things and services for everything she needed. It was supposed to be a 12-month experiment, but found herself loving it so much that she just couldn’t give it up. 15 years later, she still lives according to the principles of Gib und Nimm, doing various chores for accommodation in the houses of various members of the Tauschring, and loving every minute of it. Schwermer has written two books about her experience of living without money and asked her publisher to give the money to charity so it can make many people happy instead of just one. She’s just happy being healthier and better off than ever before.

All of her belongings fit into a single-back suitcase and a rucksack, she has emergency savings of €200 and any other money she comes across, she gives away. Heidemarie doesn’t even have health insurance as she didn’t want to be accused of stealing from the state, and says she relies on the power of self-healing whenever she gets a little sick.

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  • J

    What did she do with he money from the apartment? Taht seems relevant

    • Jason Jarvis

      Sad part is this is not legal in the US ! Did some research on it. If you dont get caught doing it its ok. But uncle Sam wants a piece of the pie. You actually need a permit or license of some kind to barter legally in the US!

      • You are correct about uncle sam, The IRS. taxes the value of the barter or trade, at least they use to. If the swap shop is set up as a non-profit, it may work. There are also bartering clubs, not sure how they function, legality wise.

        This woman is a model for Giving and Receiving, as you give you receive.

      • Ria Swift

        If you research http://www.natural-person.ca you’ll find the truth about uncle sam and taking what is not HIS. If you are not charging money for your chore how could anyone take anything from that. But check out the website. Very interesting stuff.

        • Darrien

          Uncle Sam is not supposed to be taxing us on income at all, and since we are paid in Debt/FRNs is debt based, even their own rules tell them NO ONE is expected to pay TAXES on debts……still we have been VOLUNTARILY contributing this..like trained sheep do. SHe is truly FREE! This needs to catch ON!

    • X

      I think I read in another article that she donated it to charity.

    • Lafaiette

      She donated it, did you not read the article at all? She keeps 200 for emergencies, and the rest she donated to charities… oh wait, you’re american, this may be falling on deaf ears…

      • American

        Hey!! I’m an American, and that was not very nice!! Why do you assume that because someone is American that this is falling on deaf ears? Hello? Hello? Can you hear me?? guess not.

        • Walter

          the reason she said that in that way, was that all the info was in the article, and as per normal, US people (some not all) like to think they know it all, and yet , even with the facts in front of them, do not ! And that sadly is the truth for a lot of people in North America, not only the States !

          • Ann Fisher

            That can be said about everyone else as well. Bashing anyone’s nationality is rude.

      • Stoytkg

        It seems YOU have a reading comprehension problem. The money that was donated was from the sale of the books NOT the sale of her apartment. The article above never addressed that money. SO say thank you to THIS AMERICAN for explaining a basic article to you.

        • Tara

          Maybe she rented the apartment??

      • molly

        well yell into their good ear! lol I’m american. I don’t believe its fair to group and label people in such a way. There’s good and bad in every bunch. Fully aware that the money she made from selling her apartment wasn’t addressed. I didn’t think it mattered. I guess i took that at face value? She donates all her money to mean… She donates. all. her. money.

    • KS Granny

      What difference does it make what she did with that first money, J? She was just starting out with this lifestyle. Maybe she put it in the bank, and kept it for emergency funds until she felt secure in her new lifestyle. Maybe she donated it to charity right away. Maybe she gave it to her children as their inheritance. Who cares? It’s NOT relevant.

    • Paul

      Do many mainstream Americans become a part of the Capitalist machine and become drones to a greedy and corrupt Govt that controls it’s citizens so that they can amass wealth and resources? Yes. But to those of you who obviously assume that Americans are the same in this regard, you are narrow-minded fools. There are more Americans who are open-minded and oppose what our Govt has become than there are in your little Countries (heh, heh…yeah, that’s the stuff). Does the U.S. need to grow up and stop being so geocentric? Absolutely. Just as you need to understand that there 350 million individuals…ok, more like 80-100 million individuals. So, go pick on China. 😉

  • Waja

    Beautiful! The free market in action! 😀

    • John Little

      It’s not an example of the free market, it’s actually an example of the opposite. This is an example of no monitary system, no capitalism. Very powerful

      • James

        It most certainly is. Voluntary exchange without even the government’s money mucking things up. Market activities take many forms, and this is a very interesting one.

        Many more might try to live this sort of lifestyle if societal norms and governmental rules didn’t make it so difficult.

        • Primalscream

          What will happen if she no longer can work? How will she live? I think she should have saved a bit as well. Unless she is also against savings.

          • Kaffy

            Even elderly people are worth something, even if they can no longer do “manual labor”. They can teach, tell stories, knit, crochet, babysit, talk, etc. They know where to find fruit trees, fresh water springs ~ things a lot of people have forgotten how to find. And those are only a few activities *I* personally would find value enough to share my home, food, etc. with someone. Elderly people have a huge wealth of information and knowledge to share that should not be devalued simply because they can no longer lift a shovel.

          • Maz

            I do agree with what you say, but I don’t like the way you phrase it “Even elderly people…” Why “even”? We need elderly people to be our elders. Our planet is sick and that is partly because the elders have stopped passing on the knowledge, or perhaps because we have stopped listening.

          • Ria Swift

            We have stopped listening. When I was a 20 something I thought the generation gap was due to the older people. But it is actually the reverse…in our country, US, once you start to age people look past you instead of right at you or they denigrate you with ridiculous pronouns from people younger than you. We loose so much by not considering how much older people have lived and consequently learned. Thankfully, not everyone is like the above mentioned and very thankful to have my wisdom and the wisdom of other elders. But it’s very obvious when we are dismissed.

          • CJ

            I’m one of those “elderly” who has younger people coming all the time to “please do this for me.”
            Thank you for sticking up for us! Time goes by so fast. Enjoy your youth and make it mean something!

          • Lori

            I’m 63 years old and I do more for people than was ever done for me. I totally support myself, look after my elderly father, etc etc etc. Money was never important to me, yet I travelled, raised children, lived decently and still enjoy my life to the fullest. Young people today have to have the best and biggest house, the best and biggest gadgets and they waste money on overpriced clothes, cars and unnecessary stuff. Much of it gets dumped as does with this throw away society and they’re raising their children with no regard to anything and expecting everything.. We are not dismissed, but too many younger people think they know it all. Boy are they in for a BIG shock..

          • Anonymous

            No the old “people” have destroyed the planet and our future. They are not able to teach the young people the need to get tought by responsible young people but usually the do not want to listen and change. They love to destroy the earth and to command the young and make theire living out of their work.

          • Cindy

            So TRUE; Kaffy!
            WE; in the good ole USA do NOT and HAVE Not ever since I can remember (I’m age 61 now) revere our elderly- we are obsessed with youth and appearances in my humble opinion. For myself..in younger years; I always got along better with older people and thought they had/have lots of wisdom.

          • molly

            My mom heard this saying a while back that I think it holds true. “When an elderly person dies, it’s like a library being burned down.” All that knowledge goes with them, unless you were fortunate enough to have them share it with you.

        • do or dont do, saying things like societal norms and governmental rules does not make a difference. An empowered individual is capable of miracles and limitless living.

        • kiwi

          Check out timebanking. It works on the same idea of trading skills, items or services, but instead of a direct trade you ‘earn’ hours which can then be ‘spent’ buying others offered services. Fantastic way to link a community, utiliising the skills of everybody involved, and creates equality as every skill is only worth the number of hours you gave whether you washed dishes or fixed plumbing…
          I believe its fairly active in the USA, and the only thing you cannot trade is whatever you do for an income, which I think gets around the tax problems because they still get your employed tax dollar (if you earn one!) so leave you alone outside of that.

          • austin time exchange network is a good example 🙂

      • VP

        Actually, in late capitalism the taken for granted notion of ‘free-market’ is a misconception at best. Markets are not free, at least not in the traditional sense of the word. They are to a varying degree regulated by governments and trade bodies, both intra and internationally and the only free thing about them is reckless competition. See for example the gargantuan number of lawsuits filed by competing firms and their obstinate safeguarding of patents and other I.P. or how governments sometimes subsidise production and/or create discouraging tariffs on imports. Go Schwermer!

      • Grandpajohn

        John I think it’s a great example of capitalism, she works for what she gets, just because there’s no monetary exchange, doesn’t say it’s not Capitalism. This is how we began as a country, people helped their neighbors and vice versa. I admire this woman.

        • Greg

          Exchange is not the same as capitalism. Capitalism is a system of exchange that produces a surplus profit (capital) that is then reinvested into the production process in order to make that process more efficient (generative of even more surplus profit). You actually do need money or something like it in order to have capitalism.

      • Robin

        You mean powerful like Soviet Union? Because to me it seems like Lenin wrote this article…Remember, all our genuin actions including the person in the article are selfish, lets say i give 200 dollars to a homeless man, he will feel good about it, but so will I, and if i tell someone that i did it, it was surely for my sake aswell. Socialists like you always judge people based on 2 things, 1.How much money they got, 2.How much money they are giving to you and your poor friends.

        • prote

          I really hope you work for the zionists because otherwise you are just really dumb

    • vee

      omg, so stupid. that’s not the definition of free market in economics – so don’t throw the word around if you don’t understand it. it’s not even free in a sense, since she is proffering a service in return for the stuff she needs.

      nonetheless, she’s inspiring 🙂

  • Jenny Nazak

    Five stars! Or whatever the highest rating is. She has designed her life around the things that really matter, with helping others at the top of the list. This gives her a security that no amount of money or “insurance” can provide.

  • Niels

    Great idea. Only problem is that it would not work in Denmark where I live. The Danish Tax Agency would come after and penalize with taxes and fines anyone doing something like that.

    • Wow…wonderful. Now, if one thinks into the arrangement of living as she does, we come to realize that money is not being spent by her personally, yet is being spent on her behalf by others. So, this raises the question, as Al Ray alluded to: Is it a worthy venture only if no money is used connected to Heidemarie? Al Ray thinks not. I think so. Why? Because, even if Heidemarie is still precipitating the spending/use of money, she is demonstrating that barter ultimately works. For, if everyone else could also barter for their services that they give to Heidemarie, then a moneyless system would be created. To achieve this, a broad-based barter system would have to be put in place…airlines, taxis, clothing, food, etc…and this is exactly what her example is encouraging. Heidemarie cannot live without the exchange money because she is dependent, as we all are, on one another. And others I depend on are not on the barter system. So, only if her support system were all on barter system, could she precipitate the flow of no money…and this is precisely what she is catalyzing. Bravo for her!

      • Jackie

        If we can all live in parallel realities which we all do that all the time; then we can also live in parallel economic systems. Society can easily support both barter and monetary systems.

        There is probably quite a large informal system already in existence in most countries – larger than indicated by the formal structures that may need to be registered (Canada taxes barter just as does Denmark).

        • Jackie, in Cape Town we have the Talent Exchange which works on these principles. It’s a life-saver for many and it works very well. See http://www.ces.org.za

    • Yvette

      thank you for sharing that! I so agree with you. shouldnt we see our old people as valuable, treat them as valuable and do what we can for them from a personal aspect— do it today for an old person you know.

  • Michele

    Same thing would happen in the U.S. IRS would come down on it an tax every service and exchange of service and make it a legal mess, sadly.

    • Yvette

      what if enough of us do it?

      • eve

        What about Time banking as a means of exchange? This started in the States and is used worlwide now…surely the US government cant demand anything from that? (I’m setting up a Time Bank in the UK).

  • Butters

    Although they are at times fascinating to read about, these people have a personality disorder called ‘schizoid’. This is no way to live – it is neither prestigious or altruistic. Maybe my definition of happy will be different when I’m 69.

    • Ryan

      Butters: What have you accomplished in your life that’s worth sharing? Maybe more of us should be “schizoids” and perhaps the world would be a better place.

      • Sondra

        Really? You are a trained professional who is educated to diagnose this woman whom you’ve never met? Or are you just deluding yourself and us into believing you are? Dear Butters, you should really get out into the world a little more – you’d realize that you are not qualified to state what you just did and that people who do things differently than you are not necessarily nuts. They’re just, you know, different than you.

    • Becci

      Butters, it sounds like this woman must be very sociable person who survives on interactions and transactions with other humans. Schizoid personality disorder, whilst associated with eccentricity is characterised by an avoidance and lack of interest in personal relationships.

      • jack d

        This woman might very well be diagnosed as “schizoid” or with some other “personality disorder. However, that tells me more about the psychoanalytic/medical/therapy machines than it does anything about her. I’m quite sure this woman’s somewhat eccentric attempt to live her life on her own terms could be easily “healed” with three or four years of mandated talking “therapy,” a dozen or so electroshock treatments and a handful of anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, anti-restless-leg-syndrome, mood-elevating medications.

    • John

      Who are you to determine this? And who is to say ‘prestigious’ isn’t self defined.Typical American. By the way: I am American. You make me sick. Go buy something.

      • MLH

        Prestige can be over-rated.

    • Ricycle

      Maybe it will.

    • Diana

      Since when is it Schizoid to live like humans did for most of human presence in this world and in some areas humans still do.

      • Gaelan

        Humans for most of human presence have been couch surfers? This woman has children. If she doesn’t want to live alone, why not live with her own family?

        Money is not evil, and abstaining from it is no virtue. It is simply a means of quantifying the value of goods and services, so that exchanges may be more precise. She’s still exchanging goods and services, so what’s the point of avoiding money?

        • frank

          She has absented herself from unknown people being able to take the profits of her labors and turn it to their own agendas. This is the advantage – her acts of work are not translated into power/points/money that are then utilized via tax and banks to fund unconnected activities (be they medicine or murder). If she works in a hospital her work is not also funding war and arms dealers, it is merely helping the hospital.

        • Arlo

          Hehe aww :). Money as simply the means of quantifying the value of goods hasn’t existed in a long time :). That would make an economic system barter on a large scale; which is unfortunately not the case. Instead money often makes money in and of itself; a barter system cannot operate in debt, whereas a monetary system flies into debt as part of its aggressive expansion into various other areas. ‘Evil’ is certainly a childish term to apply to money; but as a global organisational system (which it is) it certainly has a great deal of flaws.

    • Untamed Shrew

      I’m sorry – what are your qualifications that you’d make such a diagnosis on the basis of this story?

      I *do* have Schizoid Personality Disorder – take it from me, this woman doesn’t. She has a job where she works closely and socially with other people, stays in their homes, etc. A schizoid does everything to avoid these sorts of relationships others.

    • writingme

      not my definition of happiness either. since when is accumulating material possessions mutually exclusive with being ‘happy and healthy’? i’m good at doing both, thank you very much.

      all the more power to her – if this makes her happy, then she should continue doing it. but not my idea of ‘waking up’, wakeup-world.

      • Beelzebub Raftsman

        Writingme: The article didn’t say she found acquiring possessions to be exclusive to happy/healthy, it said that she found that *accumulating* them is. The word choice was hers, indicating that at least in her frame of reference, it was true that she was accumulating things at the expense of her happiness, in other words compensating, and we’re certainly encouraged to do so by the mass media as well as social, cultural, and logistical obstacles. Many ecologically minded people “accumulate” a car for instance, even if they don’t want to. It’s difficult to change from that mindframe though and still live within the economic system, but she shows at least that in her situation it was successful.
        It doesn’t make you a bad person to survive in other systems, that’s what most human beings’ priorities are after all. Sorry, but you seem a little defensive about this. The article isn’t meant to show you a new path, only to inspire. Her life’s work is a neat, working idea that made lots of people happy. It’s not an ideology itself, but it could make your own personal ideology change for the better.

    • jais g

      that’s exactly right, and we could all learn a little from them! those personality-less people are some of the warmest. you should read up and Deleuze & Guattari’s ideas about the schizophrenic!

  • Archie

    @Butters .. only someone with no love in their heart could have this opinion ,,, Do you count charity workers in the same category ?

  • heather

    Great lady!

  • Name al ray

    sounds like a good gig if you don’t mind living at the mercy of others. she is not spending any of her money, although other peoples money is certainly being spent. having a healthy body is helpful as well, injury or disease would cause major disruption and require others to care for and spend their money to save you as well. the books should be called bartering and living on other peoples money. happily.

    • Melissa

      I would agree. beautiful lady, wonderful concept AND she IS living with money: someone else’s of course.
      The concept of living basically without attachment with no possessions is a beautiful way to live without the distractions of money, spending, consuming ect. It’s a start. <3

      • Stephanie

        Er…how can you say that she’s living on other people’s money? It’s give and take. Gib und nimm. People also BENEFIT from her.

      • peaceful granny

        The article says she started an association where all the members barter with each other to trade goods & skills. they don’t exchange $$ for their needs. There’s a shot of her taking the train, not flying- to visit her grand kids. Sure, maybe her family paid for the ticket, but families do that for each other all the time anyway. I think she lives a very simple life and doesn’t need much material ‘stuff’. Others can’t believe she lives without – because they think they can’t live without ‘things’.

    • Namaste33

      well of course at this point she has to rely on other peopels money since she lives in a system which only allows you to live with money, I am sure if it was up to her she would have the entire world lving with this system but at this time it is not possible. She is just simply showing that this could would and this would be a great way to systamaticly get rid of our monetary system or maybe a duel form of barter and money. I think we should listen to her about what it has brought her…. and not how it is put in to action I mean we can critisize anything if we would like if we observe it long enough in the end she is only human.

  • Tony

    Sometimes people can only find the negative when someone is happy and making life work for them. Let’s allow and be happy for others choices.

    • Zach

      maybe its just me, but i like the idea of being able to retire and settle down with the money i earn. Looks like that might not be an option here. She might have a different opinion when shes 80 still doing choirs for dinner.

      • Alonzo Riley

        That’s only because of the incredible insecurity that you have about having to rely on others. The insecurity grows from living by buying people’s service who are essentially forced to be nice to you and perform for dollars. Any time you pay someone for a service there is always a small insecurity that nags unconsciously, saying, “this person would not actually really give a shit about me if I wasn’t giving them money.” Actually relying on people WITHOUT money can help break this insecurity buildup.

      • Chip

        She might but she probably won’t.. She doesn’t think like you, can’t you get that??..

      • Jez

        Most people I know who think like you die before they get to enjoy their retirement – that’s how the system is built, so good luck with that.

        But she’d probably say to you that she’ll worry about that when she reaches 80, you just keep living in fear of the future, and she’ll keep being in the moment.

  • Curious George

    Can’t make a judgment call either way on the lady without seeing the movie but this is a rather intriguing social experiment.

  • Mary Dwyer

    SCORE!!! Heidimarie is one of few who actually soul searched and discovered not only what is important to her, but to others as well. I envy her and hold her in great admiration. She got an idea and went for it, no holds bar!! And what a great idea it was. Her story reminded me of the quote (may not be exact) “Most men live lives of quiet desperation”, meaning most people do whatever job they do (usually something they really don’t like), and never have the guts to figure out what they “really” want to do.

  • The Sus

    What happens when she is too sick to work?

  • The Sus

    Great I dea, I wouldn’t mind living like that, but it may not work in every country – if you are not picked up for vagrancy you might be taxed to death – and what happens when or if she is too sick to work?

  • John Little

    This is the beginning of a new way of looking at the possibilities of a new way of life. A way w/out bank notes, dollars, Euro’s etc….Actually having something that exists in the world as a tangible service or item and sharing and exchanging w/others to help each other in living our lives more fully. Beautiful start. May we all entertain different ways of what life can be on living in a New Earth….

  • Larastar

    For those who don’t think this is possible…
    Why not do a mini-version of this? Exchange, and offer to your friends and others, donèt buy new things, trade and reuse and buy 2nd-hand – give what you don’t need. Help others and receive help with open arms. Every little thing helps! We can make changes in ourselves and in our lives daily 🙂

  • Mark

    It is always easy to disavow yourself of belongings and money when you have it in the first place. What do people who truly have nothing have to barter?

    Also, as many have alluded to, how will she pay tax on the value of the items she has bartered? If the answer is that she shouldn’t pay any tax, I would like to know how this is meant to be a realistic alternative model of society.

    Like every working person in democratic countries, I have to pay taxes, to maintain a civil society and to support those less fortunate than myself. It is about time that we, the honest tax-paying majority were recognised for the role we play, rather than the idealistic, but ultimately selfish protesters who want to benefit from society but do not want to contribute to it.

    The real issue of the day is not how much tax we pay, but what our governments are wasting it on. It is about time we had a referendum to determine if the tax-paying public want their money wasted on the military and, in particular ships, planes and missiles that will be of no use to us but may well be used to fight immoral wars which are politically motivated and none of our business.

    Another middle-class dream of utopia, I am afraid.

  • Charlyn

    Having just heard an interesting NPR report about Ayn Rand’s book “Atlas Shrugged”, I am all most conflicted. What I believe is the “real” problem is not money, not regulation, not welfare or socialism. In Atlas Shrugged, the main producers, did not lie or steal. They were were hard working driven people, who achieved amazing productivity and fueled an prosperous economy. These Titan’s of Industry did not seek to enslave their employee’s. They did not promise them retirement and health benefits, and then sell themselves “short” take the money, and bankrupt our economy. What our world conflict is really about is no education. So the people capable of being creative genius’s are sick lying in the polluted waste lands created by people who steal a nations resources, fill up the mines, and oil well holes with poisons. Leaving a wake of death destruction and ruin, instead of an economy where the resources provided for all benefit all instead of the 1%. the one percent who can fly away, buy bottled Perrier never thinking about the families, children of every generation to face poisoned ground water, poison farm land poison rivers and death by starvation or worse. These oil men , big Pharma , fishing fleets sucking up the oceans fish, are living on the whole earths fat, and leaving the people of the earth who love and care not only for others but thievery planet that keeps us all alive. To try and band-aid a cut throat with plastic sticky tape. Commonly known as federal regulation.
    Ayn Rand is correct, no amount of crooked politicians receiving kickbacks are ever going to solve a conflict of living values. Somehow like this German woman we must all find our own way to live an honest productive life. Without exploitation of the earth or it’s real resources. The creative ability of us all. Be brave think your own life into what your best most creative achievements can be . And believe in yourself enough to create your own motor/mind that can lift us up. Not bury us in filth waste and lies.
    All My Relations

  • guadalupe frrom mexico

    my respect and love for these type of people,the new race, thats
    awakening, send you a hug in the light, for an angel on earth

  • Christine Faith

    She is living by Biblical principles. Love your neighbor as yourself. Paying it forward.. etc. God’s idea and rules for a perfect world.. if everyone followed them, we’d all have everything we NEED, and I did say need, not want. Society has become so commercial… they push all the latest technical gadgets on us, make us believe that we NEED them. Not true. Food for your belly, shelter and clothing, and a meaningful purpose in life is all you really NEED. Years ago, people grew their own food, made their own clothes, built their own houses…and if there was something that they needed that they couldn’t grow, build or make themselves, they bartered with a neighbor.. It CAN be done. If she finds joy in living minimalistically, and helping others, then let her. I believe she will be rewarded by a very special place in heaven when her time on earth comes to an end.

  • JoeJoe

    It’s no surprise that the article source’s name is oddity central. Yes, most people would find this strange or odd BUT I find her story absolutely amazing and inspiring. What courage she has to have lived and continue to live her life this way. I wish I had such courage as she. It’s must be such a fulfilling and soul inspiring thing to live this way. I can imagine you learn so much about yourself and the generosity of others. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see places like this pop up all over in the states especially in our current state of finances?

  • erica

    This doesn’t work in my country. USA. The only acceptable service she can give here is coochie aka prostitution. But she is even too old for that. Smh

  • fish

    sounds great, although ultimately naive to think she can do this for the rest of her life. She is of course still relying on money and capitalism. Let’s just hope she does not ever require any healthcare or long term care requirements (an inevitability!!), because I’m sure that whomever would be providing this does not share her sense of altruism. I hope she kept some proceeds from the sale of her home!

  • Steve D

    Two comments:
    1. It’s sad but terribly revealing that the homeless thought they were too good to participate.
    2. Her personal lifestyle may involve no money, but somebody built the houses she stays in and the factories that manufactured the goods she swaps. Building a house on barter would be pretty complicated. You’d have to swap something for the lumber and something else for the labor to build it. But what if nobody happened to have just what those people want? We could give them some sort of token to show that they’d contributed, which they could then swap elsewhere. We could call it, oh, I don’t know, “money.”

  • Joe

    Interesting, though the person that stated it wasn’t an example of a Capitalist system is wrong. Just because she is bartering services and goods for other services and goods does not mean she is not engaging in capital exchange. Actually, it’s virtually impossible to argue that there is any other system than a Capitalist system as long as individuals retain the rights to their own body and mind, because the human body coupled with the accompanying mind is the greatest piece of capital in the world. The difference between Capitalism and Communism is more akin to the difference between Freedom and Slavery with the key difference found in the answer to the question of whether you own yourself, or whether the state “owns” you (and all that you produce, with you just stuck renting property.)

    At any rate. This is an interesting story, but this is not something that I would want to try. Money makes exchanging goods and services much easier.

  • DayLightFullDay

    Its wonderful that this one woman gains happiness through bartering and can set example that money is not always required in order to gain it. Nor is it always required to get something you want. The idea now in our heads to first offer up our skills in trade before offering someone money for whatever service or product we desire. It certainly can not hurt to try on occassion.

  • Sounds good but still quite impractical to live like this for most people. There are so many things that are connected with money that going to this extent does not make things better for most people. But we can certainly start moving into this direction “gradually” and to make this happen, we need a collective effort.

  • sky

    How do we get $? Usually, we trade time/skills for it…that’s exactly what she’s doing, she just doesn’t handle the $ part, and is more satisfied, because she doesn’t have to worry about it, or not having enough…it takes the pressure off when there aren’t dollar signs above everything..and it makes you want less, to separate yourself from the rat race.

  • Stevesufv

    Everyone seems to ignore that she cannot have a place to call home. She is homeless. Great way to live. Thumbs down. You cannot live without money these days and not be homeless. I challenge anyone to find a situation that doesn’t fit that rule. And a home is not a gypsy caravan, I’m talking one place.

  • Carla

    For her to sleep in other people’s houses, and presumably eat there, someone is making money and spending it. No possessions? Have you tried cooking a meal with whatever dishes you can carry in a napsack? Someone has to spend and own things for her to be able to use them, even if she doesn’t own them herself.

  • harry

    Thanks for sharing! A girlfriend of mine experimented with live for a year without money, together with her six year old son. Similar experience.
    ‘2010 was my most adventurous year’.
    ‘The day I returned back to my old monetary patterns I lost a lot’.
    ‘It changed my attitutde towards work and money radically’.
    Her blogsite is in Dutch: http://www.eenjaarzondergeld.nl.

  • The Nigerian Prince

    This is retarded. She is reliant on everyone else for everything. If everyone lived like this, then who would buy her that train ticket?

    I can’t imagine a single thing she could offer me. What, she is gonna come clean my house or something? How is she going to get there?

    No insurance? Check. Someone is going to have to help her when she is sick, is she is going to wash their windows for antibiotics?

    How does she eat every day? Is she doing menial chores for food? Of course not.

    She is a 69 year old white haired leech. This is hippy-scam shit and you people are suckers for buying into it.

  • Name (required)Dave

    Yes…be the type of consumer you want to be, not what the banks and corporations want you to be. Barter, make, bye used, whatever you want…..just not what they want! Reduce excess, reduce stress!

  • P Wik

    She is not living without money. She is living off of everyone else’s money. She is not contributing to the tax base that pays for the roads, police, basic services she, in fact, relies on. She may think self-healing works, but if she gets hit by bus, the public safety net will kick in and transport her to the hospital. The safety net she is no longer contributing to.

    Which is fine, but let’s not call this “living without money”. She is living off of other people’s money.

  • Very interesting concept. Did I overlook when they say when/where the documentary will be available?

  • What must be considered is the circumstances currently experienced by BILLIONS of beings – half the world is in poverty, with 1 BILLION starving. Living without money such as in this article is only possible within the context of a country/environment that is itself protected by money — what about children born into sex slavery that only exist because people abuse children to make a profit? Where is this woman
    s practical solution for the entire world? Those with money will continue to abuse because that is the nature of the entire system.
    I suggest doing some proper research of the actual solutions that are required, that consider how to actually implement a working solution that is best for all – not just a few little communities that are actually protected by money

  • Suzie

    Not logical, who pay for gas, water, electricity and how does she travel? Even bus ride requires money unless she hitch hikes of course. What about quit rent etc?

  • I just moved to an eco village and after reading this maybe I can get them to switch to get away from using money as well. That would be awesome! This place is already so amazing but that would be truly evolutionary if that would happen. This is where I currently am – http://www.pachamama.com

  • Gigi

    This is a remarkable person!! Smart, Free (unenslaved), happy….wow, see how easy ‘it’ can be:) Corporations Ruin OUR lives!!!!

  • So all you need to live comfortably without money is to be citizen of a very wealthy, highly industrialized country, reside in a densely populated urban area, have no spouse or children to hold you back, and be in good health.

  • Liz

    She seems like a really outgoing lady who makes friends easily. I admire the simplicty of her life and while I would not choose to live a similar life, I can see some lessons in simplicity that I can adapt.

  • darcitananda

    I read about this woman a few years ago. Amazing to think she’s been successful for 15 years. I was surprised at the number of short-sighted negative comments. Modes of transportation such as cycling or even walking are highly efficient (not to mention, they improve the health). I feel that the true value of items and services becomes more apparent in a barter/trade environment. I’m looking forward to trying out using less money.

  • Elizabeth Faraone

    What if she had started with owning nothing and she had poor health.

    I find her to be arrogant and she has no understanding of what causes homelessness.

    In a successful community, homelessness would not exist.

  • Jo Connop

    I would love to live like this.

  • Obo2

    isn’t this basically just communism. While our government may not be properly allocating the taxes it receives, The barter system on a national scale is just not feasible. The fact that this woman is helping out the middle class and retired community and not paying taxes means that she is going against her own original altruistic idea of helping the homeless in her community (taxes help fund homeless shelters and food banks as well as provide income to those homeless folks who can actually make their way to a doctor and get on disability which most of them should be). I would have much rather seen her spend her time to make a change in her own communities government to better provide for these people than trying to make some point that a healthy person can live their life better.

  • Maskarock

    Incredible lifestyle! As for the IRS , one embracing a moneyless existence will find fulfillment inside a jail, healthcare, board and lodging all taken cared of.

  • Karen Hewett

    That is great, but she has two children who are old enough to move away, what about people who have little children.I am sure if you grew up this way, yip it is a great way to live but if you haven`t it is hard to change when you have little children. For myself, I sort of live like a freegan, which is hard enough as it is. I wish i could find a landlord in South Africa who, would let me work of my rent every month. Otherwise a very inspiring story of living off the grid

  • Tina

    Do you think systems change immediately? That just because she is living with other people’s contributions to her care that she is not making a great change and statement towards the possibility of living completely without money? When you or I feel the need to attack something, then we need to examine ourselves. Our judgment, our resistance, our attachments. I enjoyed this article and admired her for leaving the beaten path and doing it successfully. Mendicant monks have lived in similar ways for a long time. Being around someone holy or living in a different way is valuable to those who “support” them.

  • john

    I don’t really find this inspiring. She has willingly become a homeless person that is using the bartering system to not actually be starving on the streets. Yes, it works if you are a 60-something year old, very kind looking lady, but how many of you would open your doors to a 20-something year old with a beard and dreads (just as an example) asking to wash your dishes in return for a place to stay? Before I read this I thought she figured out a way to create some sort of self-sustainable lifestyle that is not relying on other people’s capitalist gains (ie. staying in a house paid for by their jobs and eating their food that they paid for by working for what some people on here consider to be the ‘man’). But good on her for being inspiring to some people.

  • Megan

    I hate to rain on everybody’s parade, but I’ve actually experienced this phenomenon in Germany first hand, participated in it and known people who went pretty far toward living without money. The truth is that the only way it works is through the money of others. She said herself that when she travels, somebody sends her a ticket. Somebody puts her up in their house or trades her food for her services. The problem is that the other person already bought the thing they gave her. The objects that get traded in these shops (I got what I needed for my first flat in Germany from the local Umsonstladen or “for free store”) are cast-offs from consumer society. Without consumer excess, there wouldn’t stuff to trade for other goods or services. Manufactured goods, food grown abroad, or even regionally, clothing and anything else you need to live a normal modern life cost money, even if that money never passes through your hands. I’ve seen valiant attempts at collective living in the form of “Hausprojekte” (“House Projects”) where people try to live outside the system. I even visited an “Anarchy Camp” in the country where they went so far as to filter rain water but they still drank beer bought from a shop. Without government subsidies in the form of student aid, Kindergeld (money paid to parents for their children) or welfare, a lot of the people living “without” income wouldn’t be able to carry on. What this women does can only happen in a system with enough surplus for people to be generous, not because she’s genuinely living without money.

    • Arlo

      This point has already been addressed in a lot of the initial comments really… all you are saying is that money exists. Nobody doubts that. She is in fact, living without it though; regardless of whether the items she acquires or the services she gets are the product of an burgeoning throwaway capitalist culture, or a socialist society, or a state of anarchy. You are confusing the general with the specific; just because in this current socio-historical moment this method of living SEEMS to depend on other people having money, doesn’t mean that in any way shape or form it does. There are no big enough sample sizes to discover whether it would be a viable alternative to capitalist organisational structure, but the fact it is a separate structure remains. Personally I’m not sure it would work on a global scale, but I’m equally certain that money doesn’t.

  • cathyrose

    so what happens when she needs to retire.. when she is too old or too ill to trade for what she needs and wants..? what then, she has no money, cool,, when she needs to stop ‘trading’ who is she going to live off of.?

    • xrobacik

      what will happen? hopefully same what happened for hundreds years before we became selfish generation….your kids will take care of you…. giving back everything you did for them when they were little….so sad when old people get shunned into old people houses and nobody ever visits…. however, suppose in Germany there will be some poor east European “carer” to take care of her…and kids will pay, but that’s it

  • Charlie

    I couldn’t possibly imagine the concept of this working in the U.S.; our lives are almost completely controlled by what I otherwise consider to be fake fiat currency that is truly worthless. After all, you can’t take it with you!

  • I really enjoyed your story about bartering and the courageous woman who went without $$$. There are simply so many good things to say about it… don’t know were to start.
    -Helping our environment
    -living within our means during tough times
    -returning to our humanly social roots… etc.
    If we all did just a tiny fraction of what this woman did, the world would be a better place.

    • Thea Rodriguez

      An example for community and how to be charitable, a lady who wanted to help others but instead is living in her community having faith in others too be charitable, whilst working and giving something back . . .

      It is a great and inspiring debate!

      • earthrepair

        Yes it is inspiring and it shines a spotlight on the stupidity of hording a lot of wealth apart from the ethics of it but it is not a practical way for most people to live and social services would collapse if everyone lived this bohemian existence.

  • who

    i call bullshit thats impossible, sorry. how do you pay rent, pay for food, water, toilet paper, ect… just cant happen sorry.

    • Amelia Wood

      Could you please read before you comment?
      She volunteered for her accommodation and food at different places so basically she moved from place to place working for her food and accommodation. So obviously the places provided those necessities for her 🙂

  • I lived almost without money (about 2$ a day) for seventeen months, traveling in Europe and working most of the time in volunteer projects for free food and accommodation. It was the best time of my life! To learn more you can find my article on http://nextstopjupiter.hubpages.com/hub/Living-on-the-Road-An-Introduction
    and other articles about my adventure on my website.

  • This is awesome! I am from Germany and I really would like to watch the entire movie. If you want to see real change in the world take a look at “The Venus Project’s” Website.

  • Siyla

    I’m reading a lot of ‘my government won’t allow me to do this’. Who votes the government in? Who chooses the politicians? Who has the power to set up organisations that will fight for what they believe in? PEOPLE DO! Ordinary people, like you and I. Here in the UK we have an organisation called 38 Degrees (no doubt we have others, too) that has been set up to fight the potential policies of government and national organisations. ‘Fight’ as in publicising and lobbying – don’t underestimate ‘people power’. There are more of us than them – whoever your ‘them’ happens to be!

    If you don’t spread your word, someone will lose out and someone will deprive you of it.

  • John

    This isn’t living without money. This is living without touching money. People still pay for her existence, and she still works. The money’s all there, it just passes around her. The only thing unique about her existence is that she’s still couch surfing for chores at her age, which I’m fine with and sounds fun, but the “no money” thing just seems like an arbitrary handicap. I suppose I’m just bitching about the accuracy, since it seems more like she’s living with “no savings”, which is, I guess, an accomplishment… at least until anything goes wrong. To head off the rebuttals: sure, I’ve no doubt she has friends and associates who would take care of her if something did go wrong, but that’s her, and that doesn’t mean someone else trying to do this would have those resources.

    • Scott Brackett

      This comment is fair and accurate. Still, I have a working comprehension of the actual problem being addressed here, which IS not dependency. I would suggest an entirely different approach to this. What I understand to be the actual pathology, pivotal to this issue which (still) presents the greatest barrier respective to our socio-psychological evolution, has prevailed for centuries. Banks, lending institutions, credit and currency… these have not thrived and subverted the very existence of Humanity without humans providing their operation and support. Sadly, this only opens the discussion and most only care for the filling of their own self-propelled stomach which has me wondering if anyone will actually read this and want to know more, LET ALONE want to support this movement toward remedy and restoration of Human WORTH AS THE PARAMOUNT COMMODITY ????

    • earthrepair

      No it does not sound like fun at all, couch-surfing for chores in your 60’s, it sounds like hell. Let’s call a spade a spade.

  • Zangiea Fukuma

    This is AMAZING! Something I will tweet for sure. I would really love to live like this… We all need to hear this story. esp after the economic struggle.

  • moonhead

    I would like to know how she gets her toiletries, and other personal hygiene equipment? Also, does she pay rent, or taxes? If she doesn’t pay any taxes, then she shouldn’t be allowed to use any public services, like flushing the toilet = water use. Garbage disposal= tax paid public servants. Drive on public roads, or highways= construction, and maintenance paid by the government. Police protection= paid by the tax payers for everyone’s safety, and damn near everything else. This woman, is no better than the church moochers. They all use public services, but don’t pay a damn dime. They are all moochers, and should be condemned, not praised.

  • What a nice article, what a nice story. Too bad it is just trumped up bullshit. She did spend a lot of money setting this up, and having a store in Germany does cost money. Since that she is working in the store, the Law says she has to pay benefits and taxes, even if she is not getting a salary. A store cannot be a charity, unless it is declared as one, and then she needs to keep books, which has to be done by a professional accountant, ergo money. While in the big picture she might be surviving without handling money, she sure as anything has to handle money to keep her business going.

    • kkierekp

      Did you even read it to the end? She does not have this store anymore.

    • Keiffer James

      Squidward testicles,there are billions of people out there like you who condemn others.If you have not experience a phenomena as above, that does mean it never exist.Until we change our perception we cannot make this world a better place.

  • Larry Silverstein




  • Sheridan

    This is exactly what Adolf Hitler did to take Germany out of the fix it was in when he came to power. You should be careful Lady, or Worldwide Jewry will declare war on you as they did Hitler and Germany in 1933. And for all you naysayers – do the research yourself and you will see I speak the truth.

  • foo

    charity is not giving your money to some group that simply uses that word in its name and serves pointless tax games. it involves you finding people personally to help in some way

    • Thea Rodriguez

      How True! –> (I started reading and shared thinking this had empowered the homeless and needy charity doesn’t have a value that is monetary it is far greater, to many people are in it for self promotion and not tackling the issues they support, hands on, just a lot of talk!).

  • Gyan Mitra

    MONEY was probably a representation of work delivered, the value attributed to some material and/or service. Price is always determined by the buyer and the seller, even today when we bargain in the flea market. NATURE also has her own economy. Like any good mother, she is creating resources of water, food, energy and wellness. Only agriculture produces wealth from waste, for we get food, fuel and fibre created from pollution ! INDIA has learned to speed up the reaction which you partly know and call PHOTOSYNTHESIS, to transform pollutants at great speed and volume. When the basic needs of humans are addressed, then there is peace and creativity also flourishes. Such a GREEN economy is important because it can stabilise the shocks that the world is going through with the ‘Modern money model’ where currency notes are printed without the backing of any value, except confidence which is just one leg of the stool of stability.

    • Thea Rodriguez

      I love this Gyan great comment!

  • Anne-Marie Bland

    there is an international organization called L.E.T.S., I think it stands for Local Energy Trading System. I used it for a few years and enjoyed it. google it.

  • Kai Lie Lau

    Many point out the numerous benefits the woman is receiving from living in a society that provides much more than basic amenities. In fact, the IRS considers bartering a taxable exchange.

  • How could she do that its amazing but still there will be something she could miss or she want missed

  • earthrepair

    Living without money in the third world is otherwise known as poverty. Yes the experiment can happen in a rich industrialised country where she can plug in to excess. Is she really suggesting people are generally happier without a home and a secure roof over their heads? If so she is eccentric. The question is why live without money if you don’t have to. It’s as dumb as saying you have to be uncomfortable to meditate. By abandoning money she looses a lot of freedom too. Seems people want to create extremes, like say vegans. It becomes philosophical rather than practical. Yes use less. Yes recycle. Yes barter if you can but why abandon units of currency entirely if you are not forced to? She might actually enjoy jumping on a plane and seeing how the other half lives, who really have no money.

  • Greg Williams

    I like most of what Charles Eisenstein suggests in Sacred Economics. Where are you coming from in your ideas? What movement are you a part of that is gaining traction?

  • Greg Williams

    I like most of what Charles Eisenstein suggests in Sacred Economics. Where are you coming from in your ideas? What movement are you a part of that is gaining traction?

  • Julie

    It is a lifestyle that will have to suite the person. If someone can feel secure with very little savings then maybe she has gained a sense of security and confidence in ways money just can’t buy. And this offers an avenue I bet to many people to find an improved situation.

  • Earthstar

    Wow, judging by all the negative and critical, cynical comments here I’d say that there’s a lot of waking up still needs to happen in this world 🙁

  • Nathan Adams

    Wordsmith not. Good point though.