|Grace Schwermer, 69, with her suitcase containing all her belongings.|
While the jury is still out on the optimum size of our retirement egg, one woman shows us that it is very possible to live without money.
Heidemarie Schwermer, 69, has been doing just that for 15 years. In 1996, she quit her job, gave away all her possessions, closed her bank account, cancelled her health insurance and embarked on an experiment to prove that we don't need money to live. Her one year experiment was so successful that she continued with it for 15 years.
How did Schwermer do it? By using a swap and barter system, just like in the old days before money became a medium of exchange in transactions. The Star carried a one-page write-up about her recently. Click here to read more.
Her experiment attracted a network of mostly students and pensioners - people who were always short of cash. As word spread, Schwermer decided it was time to write about her experience. After her book was published, TV interviews followed and a documentary about her lifestyle helped spread her idea further. To date, the film has been screened at over 100 locations in 20 countries. There was a free screening in Singapore on 30 April this year. Debates and discussions are usually held after the screening.
Would Schwermer's idea work here in Malaysia and Singapore? We are so accustomed to using money to pay for goods and services, it would take a drastic shift in mindset to accept barter in lieu of money. However, a quick check on the internet shows there is no shortage of ideas on what can be swapped. People are beginning to discover that swapping is a terrific way to save money. With inflation on the rise, it's only a matter of time before swapping events become as common as product launches.
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