Surviving Without Money


DANIEL SUELO LIVES IN A CAVE. UNLIKE THE average American—wallowing in credit-card debt, clinging to a mortgage, terrified of the next downsizing at the office—he isn’t worried about the economic crisis. That’s because he figured out that the best way to stay solvent is to never be solvent in the first place. Nine years ago, in the autumn of 2000, Suelo decided to stop using money. He just quit it, like a bad drug habit.

His dwelling, hidden high in a canyon lined with waterfalls, is an hour by foot from the desert town of Moab, Utah, where people who know him are of two minds: He’s either a latter-day prophet or an irredeemable hobo. Suelo’s blog, which he maintains free at the Moab Public Library, suggests that he’s both. “When I lived with money, I was always lacking,” he writes. “Money represents lack. Money represents things in the past (debt) and things in the future (credit), but money never represents what is present.”

On a warm day in early spring, I clamber along a set of red-rock cliffs to the mouth of his cave, where I find a note signed with a smiley face: CHRIS, FEEL FREE TO USE ANYTHING, EAT ANYTHING (NOTHING HERE IS MINE). From the outside, the place looks like a hollowed teardrop, about the size of an Amtrak bathroom, with enough space for a few pots that hang from the ceiling, a stove under a stone eave, big buckets full of beans and rice, a bed of blankets in the dirt, and not much else. Suelo’s been here for three years, and it smells like it.

Hmmm, Yeah, I think I’ll keep my MasterCard and sleep in a bed.

You can find his blog here (It’s ok. It’s on blogspot so it’s Google’s money. And of course he uses a library to update it which is only taxpayer’s money). Here is a post where he talks about an experience hitchhiking (other people’s car, other people’s fuel):

Here’s a harsh truth: You see who a person truly is when that person is anonymous. And people are anonymous in their cars. I’ve always said cars have dehumanized people. But, really, cars have shown us truth: who people really are. Only 1 in thousands upon thousands is willing to actually stop and help a neighbor. James & I finally gave up hitching last night and went to a rest stop, exhausted, where James got horribly ill. He didn’t think he could handle another hot day, so we got up before sunrise to try to get him to town.

I guess it’s ok to use other people’s money and means of transportation.