Weekly Roundup – Living On Nothing Edition

Did you hear about the guy that lives on nothing? No seriously, he lives on zero dollars a day. Daniel Suelo, who lives in a cave outside Moab, Utah. Suelo has no mortgage, no car payment, no debt of any kind. He also has no home, no car, no television, and absolutely no “creature comforts.” But he does have a lot of creatures, as in the mice and bugs that scurry about the cave floor he’s called home for the last three years.

To us, Suelo probably sounds a little extreme. Actually, he probably sounds very extreme. After all, I suspect most of you reading this are doing so under the protection of some sort of man-made shelter, and with some amount of money on your person, and probably a few needs for money, too. And who doesn’t need money unless they have completely unplugged from the grid? Still, it’s an amusing story about a guy who rejects all forms of consumerism as we know it.

The Frugal Roundup

How to Brew Your Own Beer and Maybe Save Some Money. A fantastic introduction to home brewing, something I’ve never done myself, but always been interested in trying. (@Generation X Finance)

Contentment: A Great Financial Principle. If I had to name one required emotion for living a frugal lifestyle it would be contentment. Once you are content with your belongings and your lot in life you can ignore forces attempting to separate you from your money. (@Personal Finance by the Book)

Use Energy Star Appliances to Save On Utility Costs. I enjoyed this post because it included actual numbers, and actual total savings, from someone who upgraded to new, energy star appliances. (@The Digerati Life)

Over-Saving for Retirement? Is it possible to “over-save” for retirement? Yes, I think so. At some point I like the idea of putting some money aside in taxable investments outside of retirement funds, to be accessed prior to traditional retirement age. (@The Simple Dollar)

40 Things to Teach My Kids Before They Leave Home. A great list of both practical and philosophical lessons to teach your kids before they reach the age where they know everything. I think that now happens around 13 years-old. (@My Supercharged Life)

Index Fund Investing Overview. If you are looking for a place to invest with high diversification and relatively low fees (for broader index funds with low turnover), index funds are a great place to start. (@Money Smart Life)

5 Reasons To Line Dry Your Laundry. My wife and I may soon be installing a clothesline in our backyard. In many neighborhoods they are frowned upon – one of the reasons I don’t like living in a neighborhood. I digress. One of our neighbors recently put up a clothesline, and we might just follow his lead. (@Simple Mom)

A Few Others I Enjoyed


  1. Hi there,
    Thanks for linking to my guest post at My Super-Charged Life, I’m glad you enjoyed it. So 13 years old you say before they know everything…I only have 11 years to go – best get a move on. 🙂


  2. Interesting collection for the roundup 🙂

    Re: Daniel – just whose property is he a squatter on? Glad to see it can be still done these days without taking handouts from the government, except for ‘borrowing’ the cave from someone/something. His lifestyle is not so far fetched from what a lot of us come close to doing, but I like to own the ground I am sleeping on 🙂

  3. @Marci: I wondered about that myself – since nearly ever piece of real estate is owned by someone these days (or some government entity). I also prefer to own the ground I’m sleeping on, and I prefer it to be free of mice and scorpions.

  4. Totally unplugging from the grid like that is pretty bizarre. I’m a fan of getting away from it all, but that’s out there! Thanks for including Sherri’s guest post in your round-up!

  5. 100 years ago this would not have been considered that odd – it was done fairly regularly, especially outside of the urban area. (But not being able to scrounge leftovers, etc) Just goes to show you how far removed from what used to be more or less normal we have become.

  6. Hmm, just because Daniel doesn’t use money doesn’t mean he’s necessarily a squatter or a moocher.

    He’s in a rural area, and if someone owns the land he’s on, odds are he’s bartering. A rancher has need for someone to trap or hunt pests or grazing wildlife (in season). He need not mooch off of other humans for food. In most of the USA wild food is available three seasons a year if you know how to get it. How to do that is no longer common knowledge but it’s possible. Even if there aren’t a lot of wild foods around Daniel probably has enough space for a garden. Garden + rabbit snares = free protein.

    It’s not a lifestyle I’d care for (nowhere to plug in my electric guitar) but I see how a determined person could get by provided they were healthy.

  7. Go for the clothes line! Everyone should have one, at the very least all the frugal people out there should have one! 😀

  8. Frugal Dad writes:
    Still, it’s an amusing story about a guy who rejects all forms of consumerism as we know it.

    Hmm. Wondering about your definition of “consumerism.”

    Personally, I don’t find anything amusing about the story. I wonder about the guy’s mental health.
    (Voluntarily living amidst rodents, etc.? Even homeless people don’t want that if they are mentally stable.)

    I get that many people want to live simply and even away from general “society” but this is way beyond that. I hate to use words like bizarre and extreme as they are labels, but they do seem appropriate.

    We have become a country of “consumers” but one can take frugality and non-consumption to extremes just as one can over consume.

    And we are creatures of whatever our community and society dictates, with rare exception. Folks who deviate dramatically from the “norm” of the groups they associate with pay a very high price.

    Being fiscally prudent is always a good idea, regardless of the times. But I am beginning to think that the way the pendulum is swinging for some, to extreme frugality, has its own shares of issues and concerns.

    Somewhere between excess and extreme frugality is the land where most of us want to live. Creature omfort is not a bad thing. Especially if it allows us to get up each day with a positive attitude and appreciation for our lives, and to contribute to society , create, inspire and give to others.

    I really wonder: What does this person contribute? It isn’t in life just about not using things, but about what you do with what IS available.

  9. @IRG: I called the story “amusing” for its entertaining/diverting qualities. Didn’t mean to suggest it was a cheerful article. I would agree with you that there are elements of the story that are a little disturbing. But, as far as I can tell, this man isn’t hurting anyone by living the lifestyle of his choosing.

  10. I read the article about Daniel. Pretty interesting. I can’t really say he’s avoiding consumerism since he “forages” the benefits of a consumerist society by dumpster diving and he’s squatting on land supported by the US taxpayer 0(I’m assuming he’s on public land). The library he uses to support his blog/internet access is certainly funded from some form of taxation on somebody. While his “natural selection” comment shows the naivety of the healthy- when he’s sick will he be treated at a publicly funded hospital, his bills paid for by others or passed on as a cost to everyone else?

    I don’t think he’s rejected consumerism entirely- I think he’s just found out how not to pay for it while relying on its benefits. Admittedly his lifestyle choice reveals a standard of living far below what most Americans would consider normal, but I wouldn’t say he’s rejected consumerism entirely.

  11. Frugal Dad I was shocked at how much I loved the article about Daniel.It made me think not something I am encouraged to do working as a nurse for an insurance company.And yes a bit uncomfortable with somethings like no bathrooms and rodents or bugs but none the less I found it to not be the same boring info on how to live frugal.Alittle sad with the idea of if a person chooses such a radical diversion on lifestyle we consider mental health when if someone else lived in 4000sq ft for 2 people or had hundreds of pairs of shoes we don’t question mental health.. . I’m just saying any way loved the brain stimulation THANK you

  12. That is a really interesting life for Suelo. I have to say though, that he lived with some really great people around the world. Not many can claim all that he has done for the Peace Corps.

    I recently went camping and wouldn’t mind living somewhat off the grid. But, I would still need electricity and a running toilet. Yes, definitely.

  13. I am going to have to check that out about the guy in the cave! That’s pretty interesting.

    I’ve thought about putting up a line to dry some of my clothes as well. I remember when I was living at home with my mom as a teenager and getting the clothes off the line in the summer time. It smelled so nice. I didn’t much like doing it, but it does save money and it is green!

  14. Realistically this isn’t a lifestyle anyone would aspire to, and certainly not something we’d want to imitate in any way.

    Yet I think that living that way for a couple of months–and finding how little we really need to survive–might help us to let go of some of the stuff we like to surround ourselves with.

    Maybe there needs to be a camp offering this lifestyle, kind of like a detox for the consuming/suburban lifestyle. People could go there, detox, be forced to look inside themselves (heck, they’ll have nothing else to do in between searching for food) and when they come back they’ll have a new appreciation for life, without being so dependent on the things money can buy.

    Just a guess, but were this to happen on a large scale, a lot of mental health experts and drug companies would probably be out of business. That was actually the point behind the movie City Slickers.

  15. Living on zero dollars a day definitely is extreme and not very safe. But maybe people will pay attention to it and realize what is really important in life…