Daniel Suelo went off for an adventure many years ago, giving away his possessions and relying on gift economy.
Can you imagine your life without money? It seems impossible, right? Well, maybe you should check out the story of the man without money. This will probably give you a few ideas.
The man without money
In 2000, Daniel Suelo was 39. He came up with a crazy idea to give away his possessions. Suelo left his last $30 in a phone booth and made his way into the desert in Moab, Utah.
Have you ever heard of “gift economy”? Suelo lived like this for 15 years. In 2016, Suelo had to take care of his elderly parents so he returned home.
Author Mark Sundeen wrote the story of his dear friend. When Suelo first brought the idea, Sundeen thought that he had lost his mind. The economic crash in 2008 opened his eyes. Sundeen had a better understanding of his friend. “The Man Who Quit Money” attracted the attention of the nation.
“Here’s someone who is saying I don’t know what the solution is but I’m going to disobey. Our financial system is so big we can’t control it and in so many ways we feel enslaved by it. Worse, we feel powerless to change it.” Sundeen said. “The fact is, if everyone lived like the average American, the world would actually collapse more quickly than if everyone lived like Suelo.” (1)
How did Suelo manage to live without money for 15 years?
Suelo didn’t have any money and he didn’t even barter or trade with others. No food stamps and government help.
“My philosophy is to use only what is freely given or discarded and what is already present and already running (whether or not I existed).” he said on his website.
Shellabarger became Suelo. In Spanish, ‘suelo’ means ‘soil.’ He got rid of his driver’s license and passport and started camping outdoors. Suelo lived in a cave, too. Sometimes he stayed in communes or spend a couple of nights in a stranger’s home. Kindness is such a wonderful thing.
Suelo lived in a cave on the edge of a cliff in the Arches National Park in Utah. This was his home for a few years. Suelo’s home was 200 feet wide and 50 feet tall. What did he ear? Where did he take his shower?
The man without money bathed in the creek and enjoyed his spring water. Suelo carved his bed out of rock in the cave. He made a make-shift stove to cook his food. Sometimes he collected roadkill and cooked it on his stove.
Suelo welcomed hikers to stay in his cave even when he wasn’t “home.” He wrote a note encouraging others to use his home and enjoy his food. Hikers could take the books they liked, too.
After a few years, a ranger spotted Suelo and gave him a $120 ticket. It looks like Suelo wasn’t allowed to camp in the park for more than two weeks. Suelo told the ranger that he didn’t use the money and didn’t have a driver’s license. The judge had to decide.
Well, Suelo was lucky. The judge was in a good mood and all he had to do was complete 20 hours of service at a center for abused women and children. Suelo moved on with his life and moved into a smaller, more distant cave.
The lapse of the man without money
In 2001, Suelo lived in a commune in Georgia. He received a tax return in the mail and had to attend a friend’s wedding. So, he bought a new convertible and drove across the country. This was a short break for the man and he returned to his old life in the desert.
Today’s life of Daniel Suelo
Suelo lives in Fruita, Colorado, with his elderly parents. He is taking care of them and also manages their finances. The man without money had to have his driver’s license reinstated so he can take his parents to a hospital or for a short adventure. Suelo operates a blog, Zero Currency, and shares his wild experience. Some of his posts are related to capitalism and environmental change.