Friday, November 18, 2011

Cut And Paste

I came across this story at I know it is a cut and paste but this makes only twice I have ever done it so I think I am still in the good. I thought is was some story and just wanted to share it with y'all.

Heidemarie Schwermer, a 69-year-old woman from Germany, gave up using money 15 years ago and says she’s been much happier ever since.
Heidemarie’s incredible story began 22 years ago, when she, a middle-aged secondary school teacher emerging from a difficult marriage, took her two children and moved to the city of Dortmund, in Germany’s Ruhr area. One of the first things she noticed was the large number of homeless people, and this shocked her so much that she decided to actually do something about it. She had always believed the homeless didn’t need actual money to be accepted back into society, only a chance to empower themselves by making themselves useful, so she opened a Tauschring (swap shop), called “Gib und Nimm” (Give and Take).
Her small venture was a place where anyone could trade stuff and skills for other things and skills they needed, without a single coin or banknote changing hands. Old clothes could be traded in return for kitchen appliances, and car service rendered in return for plumbing services, and so on. The idea didn’t really attract many of Dortmund’s homeless, because, as some of them told her to her face, they didn’t feel an educated middle-class woman could relate to their situation. Instead, her small shop was assaulted by many of the city’s unemployed and retired folk eager to trade their skills and old stuff for something they needed. Heidemarie Schwermer’s Tauschring eventually became somewhat of a phenomenon in Dortmund and even prompted its creator to ask herself some questions about the life she was living.

She started to realize she was living with a lot of stuff she didn’t really need and initially decided not to buy anything else without giving something away. Then she realized how unhappy she was with her work and made the connection between this feeling and the physical symptoms (backache and constant illness) she was feeling, so she decided to take up other jobs. She began washing dishes for 10 Deutchmarks an hour, and despite many were telling her things like “You went to university, you studied to do this?”, she felt good about herself, and didn’t feel like she should be valued more because of her studies than someone working in a kitchen. By 1995, the Tauschring had changed her life so much that she was spending virtually nothing, as everything she needed seemed to find its way into her life.

So in 1996. she took the biggest decision of her life: to live without money. Her children had moved out so she sold the apartment in Dortmund and decided to live nomadically, trading things and services for everything she needed. It was supposed to be a 12-month experiment, but found herself loving it so much that she just couldn’t give it up. 15 years later, she still lives according to the principles of Gib und Nimm, doing various chores for accommodation in the houses of various members of the Tauschring, and loving every minute of it. Schwermer has written two books about her experience of living without money and asked her publisher to give the money to charity so it can make many people happy instead of just one. She’s just happy being healthier and better off than ever before.

All of her belongings fit into a single-back suitcase and a rucksack, she has emergency savings of €200 and any other money she comes across, she gives away. Heidemarie doesn’t even have health insurance as she didn’t want to be accused of stealing from the state, and says she relies on the power of self-healing whenever she gets a little sick.


  1. Here we just call it 'barter.' A woman to be admired for her courage, but that living without health insurance will one day bite her in the rear and then she'll need to accept the state's funds.

  2. Very admirable woman. We barter some, but I still like to have my own house.

  3. I agree Stephen. The no insurance and stealing from the state was one of the things I did not agree with. When she gets sick and does have to have medical care, who picks up the bill? I believe her view is skewed some on this matter.

    I also agree John. Being nomadic would defiantly suck after a while. I know some people that have a house sitting business that they live in houses while the owners try and sell their house and live elsewhere. Sometimes they live in a house for two weeks and others, months. They never have to pay rent or utilities but moving all the time would get old.

  4. Good story but as John said I would rather have a roof over my head rather than rely on the fickleness of others.

  5. You have to love the fact that she was originally setting out to help others!

    Way too often these days, the less fortunate are invisable to most of us. That's sad in so many ways!

    It isn't a lifestyle for all of us, but if it makes her happy...then I'm for it! At least she is doing something positive!

  6. I read this and all I could think about were those #Occupy morons. If they looked at this lady and decided that life is about more than money, more than "The rich are happier than me, and that's not fair", they would be much better off. One of the happiest times of my life was when I hiked the Appalachian Trail. For 1014.5 miles, my life was what I could fit in my backpack. Life was simple.

    My assistant, while checking lift station controls for the town, asked me why I do the work I do, even with an engineering degree. I'm happy with what I do. I enjoy the challenge. And while I'll never be rich, I go home feeling like I did something.

  7. HermitJim, It seems she feels as if she is making a difference. It is shame the Homeless did not want to have anything to do with her.

    Just like you Mudbug, I had a friend that spent his first two years after school hitchhiking from town to town across this great nation. He said it was the best two years of his life.
    BTW, email me with what you want to put on the Bathroom wall.

  8. A very good article, though one might not agree to the very core with her ways, the bigger lesson is a good one!

  9. She is an inspiration. The insurance would be great though. We are without insurance and if anything comes up we are S.O.L. to say the least.

    I think there is a lot of merit in bartering. I am sure before everything is all said and done we will need to go back to this. I know we do what we can up here being without formal jobs.

    I don't cohabitant well so the nomadic lifestyle is not for me. I do know many people who can live very well like that. I am sure it is all just frame of mind. That is ok. I like my current frame of mind.

  10. Agreed Texan, The root to the message was indeed honorable.

    As bad as I hate paying for Insurance every month G, it has sure paid out way more than I have paid into it.
    I know I could not live that way.