Facing Fears Surrounding Money By Going To £0?

So what would happen if I ran out of money, with no job and no freelance work booked? It’s something I’m afraid of but it’s never happened to me. What would happen if I went to that point on purpose to conquer my fear of going to zero? It would be a lifestyle experiment.


Stuff that I may have absolutely none of soon.


In my last post, I asked myself why I gave up a steady job as a University Lecturer in order to live in a van, with no current income planned? Let’s be clear about this – I also refuse to draw benefits. What right do I have to ask for state benefits when I can work, but have chosen not to? This leaves me in a very insecure position, with a van to run and only a couple of hundred left in the bank.

One reason that I quit my job is that even though it was only part time, it still didn’t leave me enough time to spend being creative as a singer songwriter. I had spent 5 years working on the same album in fits and starts, but after giving up my teaching job in March, I finished the album within the space of a month by working on it full time. Soon, I’ll start the process of promoting and releasing it by working full time at that… but first, a lifestyle experiment.

Here are some lifestyles I could have:

  1. Being employed part time = have enough money but not enough time for creativity (I already gave up this lifestyle at the end of March 2014)
  2. Having no job = have enough time for creativity, but where will the money come from? (this is where I am now)
  3. Doing freelance work = likely to be the same as option 1. In my experience, being self-employed takes up more time than a part time teaching job. (done this before)
  4. Being picked up by a record company or publisher = Being paid to be a singer-songwriter – but only if the deal is right! (If it’s going to come along, it will come along in it’s own time.)

I’m currently living in option 2 and wondering if a better version of option 3 is possible. Is it possible to make a good living from freelance work and have enough time to be a singer-songwriter? It would have to be done by either living on less money, or earning more per self-employed-hour.

But all 4 ideas are about earning enough MONEY to live on. There is another option – go Moneyless.

The Moneyless Man (Mark Boyle) lives without money and has devoted his life to helping others do the same. He lives an modest life and has everything he needs, but he gets what he needs without using money.

At first, I couldn’t see what the difference was between getting what you need with money or without it. Then I took a closer look and realised that money encourages a lot of negative tendencies in people that don’t exist with trade. Money can be hoarded (it’s called “saving”), an obsession with profit or gaining status through money is likely. People are constantly afraid of running out of money.

I am constantly afraid of running out of money.

I’m not planning to go moneyless, but what would happen if I let my money run out on purpose? Once my bank account reached zero I could begin to seek sources of freelance income, but not until then. The rule would be that even if I was struggling, I could neither borrow, beg nor steal, neither could I start living on hand-outs. I would have to earn, trade, or womble (to womble: to make good use of the things that the everyday folks leave behind) in order to make a living and work upwards from there.

The purpose of the challenge would be to try and dismantle the fears that I have around money. I can’t decide if I want to go moneyless or not, but if I AM to keep using money, I must stop being afraid of it. I could start trying to build a freelance business for myself right now, whilst I’ve still got money in the bank, but if I did, I’d always be afraid of going to £0. If I take this opportunity to go to £0 now and find that I can work up from there, then I can stop being afraid.

Just to be clear, this is not about some middle class kid irresponsibly running out of cash, having a hard time for a month or two and then thinking they know all about what it is to be poor. I would never presume to understand how poverty affects people just because I’d carried out a brief lifestyle experiment. This challenge would be solely about facing my own personal fears and issues surrounding money.

So what do you think? Should I do it? Comments welcome.







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4 responses to “Facing Fears Surrounding Money By Going To £0?

  1. Have often wondered about this dilemma myself… Absolutely no money is just not an option clearly : petrol, mot, tax. Insurance, mobile, guitar strings blah blah. Even if all food etc can be obtained without. Fine not claiming benefits but does one also opt out of NHS and police protection etc on the same principle? Money from gigs etc… Does one declare it? (unlikely to ever be enough to start paying tax on it, but still…). So my feeling is that the freedom to create and concentrate on music can only exist with at least a small source of reasonably regular or predictable income. If you can get that from busking and gigging all well and good,… but all year round?
    My most productive creative times are when I have stuck to a fairly rigid “work” schedule for practice and composing. 2 sessions of 2 hours a day… with no distractions. More and I start twiddling my thumbs and lose concentration, less and creativity stagnates and frustration sets in. I think that, for me, this would be compatible with regular part time work. But it’s not a recipe for all I’m sure! In my case, I am be-partnered and be-catted so it’s all hypothetical anyway. One can but dream…

    • People have such different ways of working don’t they. I’ve heard about songwriters who write 9-5pm from home. I have “phases” or “seasons”, so have been most creative when my working life has seasons too.

      Vehicle and technology are the things that most readily lock us into the money system, but I’m hoping to show myself that the lock isn’t as tight as I fear.

  2. aaronrscott

    I think that is incredibly brave. I had no idea that it’s possible to live without money.

    I can totally identify with the fear, it’s a large point of stress in my life, even though I earn a good income.

    From a selfish perspective, I want to understand what it’s really like, without going through the experience first hand!

    I hope you try it. A part of me wonders if you could put those few hundred dollars in a hard to access place, so that you have a safety valve.

    • Thanks Aaron. I don’t think you should worry about what you call “a selfish perspective” – sometimes weblogs like this are for exactly that purpose 😉

      My initial idea, which I haven’t carried out as of yet, was to go abroad with no cash, but have some sterling in the UK. That would mean that I could pretend I had no money, but the pretence would be quite effective. But it turns out, I’m just letting my UK bank account run down and am still here at the moment.

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