A Man Who Lived Without Money for 15 Years


Daniel Suelo decided to give away all his worldly possessions. He considers that his life truly began after this moment.
Mark Sundeen has known Suelo for 20 years before he took this journey far away from civilization and with no money. At the beginning, he believed that Suelo lost his mind. In the video bellow Sundeen declares that “He said money was an illusion, and I didn’t really believe that”. However, when the 2008 economic crisis hit the world and “money just disappeared” Sundeen thought “maybe Suelo had a point.” Witnessing Suelo’s story determined Sundeen to write about it.
Suelo has lived without money for nearly 15 years. He did not accept any money or governmental assistance. Furthermore, he refused to even barter or trade.
“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,” Suelo expressed on his blog “Zero Currency.”
“Our whole society is designed so that you have to have money,” he adds. “You have to be a part of the capitalist system. It’s illegal to live outside of it.”

Besides giving up money, he threw away his passport and driver’s license. He didn’t really need those two since he also changed his legal name from Shellabarger, to Suelo (soil in Spanish). Suelo has spent almost 15 years camping in the desert, staying in caves or in communes around the country. Sometimes he spent the night at strangers.
For various years he stayed in a cave which was placed on the edge of a cliff in Utah’s Arches National Park. There, he carved a bed out of a rock, searched for food and drank from springs. Among the things he ate were mulberries and wild onions, scavenged road-killed raccoons and squirrels, and groceries from dumpsters. When he was out of that place, he left a note for hikers and travelers, where he said: “Feel free to camp here. What’s mine is yours. Eat any of my food. Read my books. Take them with you if you’d like.”
Even though there are many who think that the system would collapse if everyone would suddenly decide to live like this, Sundeen argues that “if everyone keeps living like the average American, the world will actually collapse much more quickly.”

In order to take care of his old parents Suelo decided to move back to “civilization” in Fruita, Colorado. He still doesn’t use money, but he had to get another driver’s license to drive his parents around. Suelo lives now near a river where he tries to use as little as possible and give as much as he can.
“We can cultivate freely giving and freely receiving no matter what station of life we’re in. That’s our true nature. It exists in everybody.” Suelo says in the video above.
“Wild nature, outside commercial civilization, runs on gift economy – freely give, freely receive – thus it is balanced. Commercial civilization runs on consciousness of credit and debt – knowledge of good and evil – thus it is imbalanced. What nation can even balance its own budget or environment? Gift Economy is Faith, Grace, Love – the core message of every religion. The proof is inside you. Wild Nature is your True Nature, crucified by commercial civilization.” ~ Daniel Suelo

7 Responses to “A Man Who Lived Without Money for 15 Years”

  1. Somsong Charoenpon says:

    I live like this when I was young, but other people won’t let me be, so here I am at 51,living life in the system that require $$$$$.

  2. Michelle says:

    That should be titled ” A man who lived with little money” because he is actually spending some money even though it’s not his.

    It said that he is living with his parents now. I’m sure that he’s using electricity, gas, food, water, etc. So he is spending money, it’s just not his.

    It also said that he eats food given to him by friends and family. Well, people paid for that food, so it’s not free.

    In the video, it also showed him at a library using a computer. Well, that library bought that computer, pays for Wi-Fi, pays for the electricity to run it, pays employees and rent so that he can have a computer to use. So, once again he is spending money, it’s just not his money he’s spending.

    This is an interesting article and video, and it would be nice if more people lived with a lot less money. I just don’t think the book is completely accurate that he’s not spending money.

  3. Raven Fyre says:

    I plan on doing this in just several day’s. I have no transportation or plans on where I’m going or what I’m going to do. I do know, however, that freedom is my goal and happiness is my mission. Would love to build an off grid pallet home near a stream or river in the mountains somewhere. Freedom is our right. Live free or die miserable and in a rut. You have a choice.

  4. Sha says:

    I took away something total different from this man’s 15 year story and what it taught him. I learned that as a society and community we all have skills and can live for free if we wanted too. But that we would not be behaving as model citizens. And that you can live free while still giving and helping people.Giving what they need to survive on the basics and getting back to living a more simple life without capitalism and consumerism. Unfortunately he had to go back home to take care of his sick parents. Who knows how much he is using for utilities and such. Good question to maybe ask him and see what he still does to try to positively impact people and Earth. Maybe follow his blog???

  5. Doug says:

    This is a nice dream for some who don’t wish to contribute, but the reality is he went back to “civilization” to care for his parents, who were themselves being taken care of by the fruits of man’s technological advances. If too many decided to go the ‘way of Suelo’, that technology would collapse. It is only by pushing forward _past_ the reliance on fossil fuels that we will have a chance to save the planet we are rapidly destroying.
    It is far too late to retreat to a time before the industrial revolution, and I for one don’t want to. NO ONE wants to give up cancer drugs. There are some gullible, uneducated people who might want to give up vaccinations and return to a world of small pox, polio, whooping cough, and diphtheria, but no one wants to get cancer and ‘go it alone’.
    There are no research scientists, ‘dumpster diving’.

  6. Janice says:

    He is a hypocrite. I know someone in Moab who knew him and told me that he often stayed at their house eating their food, taking showers, sleeping in their beds, using their Wi-Fi, etc. etc. He also often house sat for people in Moab and used everything in their household. All these things take money, it is just not his money. To say he lived without money is a farce. He lived on other peoples money many times. He also took food that was discarded by restaurants, which required money to prepare. To truly live without money, means living off the land and not using any resources that require financial means. Even if it’s not his money, there has been money spent for him to get by and benefit from.

  7. Shenan says:

    It said he lived without money for 15 years. Before he moved back in with his parents. Not that he is still living without Money. And he uses little money as possible.

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