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Live without money

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Sunday, March 4, 2012
Posted: 3 pm ET

If you got rid of the outer trappings of wealth, would you gain inner wealth? One woman says yes, and is trying to convince others that backing away from what she calls "a greedy consumer society" provides a better quality of life and personal freedom.

Heidemarie Schwermer, a 69-year-old German woman, is putting her money where her mouth is, so to speak, and has lived without spending cash for more than 16 years. A film, Living Without Money, documents her philosophy. As a European, Schwermer is entitled to more social services than people in the U.S., including medical care and education, but some of her ideas about how to get along without spending cash are interesting.

Schwermer began her experiment -- initially to see if she could live only for one year without money -- by opening a swap shop for customers to barter goods and services. It became a success, prompting her to sell all her possessions, give up her job and even her apartment. She lives the life of a nomad and trades various services, including housekeeping and gardening, for food and lodging.

Schwermer says she's never been happier and has written three books about her evolution to a life free of money, donating all book sales and advances to charity.

Granted, most of us couldn't or wouldn't go to the extremes that Schwermer has, but there are ways to barter goods and services and spend less cash. The benefit is that you'll have more to save and invest for a financially wealthier future.

Have you discovered a better quality of life by spending less? Tell us about your experiences and the ways you save.

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March 10, 2012 at 2:19 am

So leaching off the public system and going back to bartering? How forward thinking...

March 09, 2012 at 4:57 pm

so if she has an illness, and unable to "barter services" where is she going to go?

March 06, 2012 at 10:39 am

Almost but not quite-- get thee to a nunnery!