The August issue of Details magazine profiles Daniel Suelo, a college graduate (University of Colorado, Anthropology) who lives in a cave near Moab, UT.
On his website, Living Without Money, Suelo writes, "I've been living without a cent to my name since the autumn of 2000 (with a month's exception during my first year). I don't use or accept money or conscious barter, and I don't take food stamps or other government dole."
The 48-year-old Suelo has no credit cards, no mortgage, no bills whatsoever. He survives mainly by scavenging the streets and dumpsters for food and clothing. He also forages for wild edible plants and "ants, grubs, termites, lizards, and roadkill," which he fries on a stove made from a cookie tin.
After graduating from college, Suelo worked for the Peace Corps in Ecuador and a women's shelter in Moab. He lived in a Buddhist monastery in Thailand and joined the ascetic sadhus in India. Eventually, he became "enchanted" with the idea of living as "a vagabond in America, a bum, and make an art of it" and moved back to the United States. Shortly after that, he stopped using money.
While I wouldn't want to live like Suelo (and I know that my wife and kids wouldn't go for it), I do think his outlook is refreshing and worth thinking about. His FAQ is especially interesting ("What happens if you get sick or injured?" "What do you do if you find money?" "What about relationships? Don't you get lonely?"). You can also read Suelo's blog, which he updates whenever he hikes an hour to the public library to use the Internet-connected computer there. Here's a short documentary about Suelo here.
(Photograph by Mark Heithoff).