Monday, July 22, 2024

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Living Without Cash. Is It Really Possible?

In today’s financially strapped world, there are individuals who are living a life void of cash.  At first, the notion of not having to worry whether you have enough cash to meet your financial obligations seems wonderful.  After all, we spend most our waking hours working at our jobs to earn money to live.  Imagine a life without the stress of your job?  Without a monthly mortgage payment?  Without a car payment?  The stress seems to wash away at just the thought of a “no cash existence”.  But the reality of a no cash life isn’t quite the same.  We all need shelter, food, clothing, electricity.  How do you have a comfortable existence if you have no cash?

A German woman, Heidemaire Schwerner , 69 years old (a former psychotherapist), decided to live her life without money 16 years ago.  She gave everything away; all her worldly belongings to live out of a suit case.  For shelter, she depends upon the kindness of others.  At times, she is able to barter her services of cleaning or gardening for food.  Ms. Schwerner also visits fruits and vegetable stands for discarded produce.  She is happy in her new found lifestyle and doesn’t regret her decision to walk away from a conventional lifestyle. 

Ms. Schwerner has stated she is not a homeless person and that the homeless label should not be attached to her lifestyle.  However, the division between her cash-less lifestyle and that of a homeless person has little distinction.  Instead of bartering services for food, most homeless people visit soup kitchens.  Instead of relying upon the kindness of strangers to provide shelter, most homeless people sleep in the streets.  Maybe Ms. Schwerner’s  cash-less lifestyle is simply the upscale version of homelessness.   She is the Donald Trump of the homeless society. 

I understand why people walk away from their daily lives.  The pressures and responsibilites we face daily can be overwhelming, regardless of your financial status.  Running away to a seemingly less stressful, joy infused lifestyle of sitting on the beach and working on your suntan is tempting.  Being fair skinned though, eventually I will need sunscreen, not to mention food and a hot bath.  So as much as I love the idea of the beach bum existence, there are a few wrinkles in my plan.  The fact is, I really enjoy eating three times a day, taking hot lingering baths and flipping on the light switch for light.  I like my comfy bed, my big screen TV and the ability to drive to the grocery store to stock up on food.  

For me, Ms. Schwerner’s cash-less life would be far more stressful then the financially obligated life I am currently enduring.  Where there is freedom in not owning possessions and being debt free, there is also the realization that all the comforts we take for granted now, would be lost.  There would be no safe haven to return home to at night.  Although my little abode is simple in design, it is mine.  I can close the door behind me to separate myself from the outside world.  The thought of having no door to close is what truly frightens me.  And unfortunately, in today’s harsh economic times, that scenario can happen to any of us at anytime. 

The cash-less life that Ms. Schwerner has chosen, is not a lifestyle that many could embrace and be contented living.  However, to her credit, she is happy with her choice of discarding conventional wisdom and after 16 years, she has no intention of altering her life course.  The only flaw I see in Ms. Schwerner’s plan, is that her cash-less life depends upon the rest of society remaining engaged in the process of obtaining money, so that she can enjoy her “free perks”.  With that said, it appears that Ms Schwerner has found her true path in life and I wish her well.

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