“Suelo gets a Social Security statement. . . .When he showed it to me, the exquisite column of zeros from 2001 to 2010 sent a shudder down my spine.”
- Mark Sundeen
In The Man Who Quit Money, Mark Sundeen writes about his friend Daniel Suelo, who’s lived without money for about 14 years. In 2000, he left the $30 he had to his name in a phone booth and walked away.
Since then, his most common shelter is a cave in Utah, though he house-sits as well. He eats wild plants, roadkill, and food found dumpster-diving. His clothes, sleeping bag and other material goods most often are thrift-store rejects.
While he says he doesn’t “expect everybody to live in a cave and dumpster-dive,” he asks everyone “to take only what they know in their own hearts that they need, and give up excess to those who have less than they need.”
“Suelo does a great deal of what would more conventionally be recognized as work – he just does it without pay.”
- Mark Sundeen
Suelo maintains a blog and website by using a computer at the public library. He house-sits and volunteers at various organizations, including (at least when Sundeen wrote the book) the Youth Garden Project.
He’s also helped launch a program to grow vegetables in people’s lawns and give away the harvest and volunteered at a shelter for women and children.
“Everybody, no matter how entrenched they are in the money system, can freely give and freely receive.”
- Daniel Suelo
As you might imagine, Suelo’s lifestyle is controversial. Some people admire him greatly; others believe he’s nothing but a moocher. Some worry about his health.
With respect to the latter issue, Suelo says, “Why is it sad that I die in the canyon and not in the geriatric ward well-insured?”
Suelo says he’s “been surprised at the intensely angry reaction thousands of people have had” to his lifestyle, but that he believes the anger comes from people feeling threatened by his challenge to their fundamentalist beliefs in the value of money.
Animals, Suelo points out, don’t barter. He feels that money is a figment of our imagination, more addictive than meth, and merely the most convenient means of keeping track of the human inclination toward credit and debt.
Want to learn more about the man who quit money?
You may also be interested in Irishman Mark Boyle, who lives without money as well.
Would you ever want to live without money?
Although I’m working hard to simplify my life and appreciate the simple pleasures, I don’t think I’d be happy living the way Suelo does. What about you?