Woman Lives Without Money… for 15 years.
I came across this story online while I was looking for something else. It’s not crime but I think it’s completely worth blogging about. Heidemarie Schwermer, now 69, gave up using money 15 years ago and says she is happier then she has ever been.
Before she gave up her money Schwermer worked as a teacher for 20 years but then went through a rough divorce. After she went through that hard time she moved herself and two small children to Dortmund, Germany where she was taken aback by all the homelessness. She wanted to help solve some of the problems so she opened up a shop called “Gib und Nimm” (Give and Take). The premises of the shop was to trade stuff and skills for other things and skills. Her idea didn’t really pan out for the homeless as they often told her that a middle aged white women, such as herself, had no idea and could never relate to them. What she did find was happening was that she was overwhelmed with the unemployed and retired needing to trade their skills for things.
After running the shop that way for a while she realized she was incredibly unhappy and was accumulating a lot of stuff, and junk. In 1996 she sold everything she had and started to live out of her suitcase. Exchanging her skills for shelter, food, and clothing. “I am never short of food, clothing or friends and I have so much less stress in my life these days. I am not ruled by money, or bills, or greed. I just let go.”
Schwermer has since written two books on living without money but has her published pass on the money “I told them to give it to charity then it can make many people happy instead of just one.”
“I am even healthier. I’ve hardly seen a doctor in 15 years and I’m as fit as a fiddle. I don’t even worry about the future any more. I just live in the moment and enjoy every second,” she said.
The sociologist in me wants to say that she is using money it’s just a different type of currency. Barter and exchange is not uncommon and is known as Reciprocity. Entire cultures base their economics off of an informal exchange of skills for goods and services. Cultural Anthropologists would say that the Semai people are a good example of this. The Semai have a gift economy and everything they have works off of barter and exchange.
All that said. I think it’s incredible that she has been able to do that in the ‘industrialized world’ where the temptations of technology are all around us. Personally, I don’t know what I would do without my iPhone and Facebook.