I Have Completely Run Out Of Money – £0 Challenge

I have now completely run out of money. I have no money in my pockets or wallet and my bank account reads £0. Now literally penniless, going busking will probably be my first step to working my way up from zero.

How did I spend the last of my funds? Simple – the vansion needed fixing. The repairs (by a trusty local mechanic mate) cost me nearly all my remaining cash. I put some fuel in the tank, spent the final tenner on food and that’s it – no more money.

So phase 1 is completed – deliberately letting my money run out. This process aims to let me confront my fears about money. Has it worked?

IMG_2392Yes. Even phase one has taught me a lot of unexpected lessons.  One realisation I had is that even without money I could make a great music video, with your help. If you’re interested in being IN that video, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XNDwS7wUwE and get involved!!

There were also points at which I felt very afraid. I panicked in a restaurant with friends and couldn’t bring myself to order a meal, because it just seemed like such a waste of £15 to go out for food when I was so close to £0. I also refused to let anyone else buy me dinner because that ran against the spirit of the challenge.

But today is £0 day and I’m not afraid. Why’s that? Two reasons:

  • Firstly, over the past month I’ve learned to live happily on less money than ever before. I haven’t had to give anything up, I’ve just cut down on getting them by buying them.
  • Secondly, I have more faith than ever in my ability to make my own way in the world. I no longer worry that I will starve or have to go without something that I need.

Notice that I’m not using phrases like “making enough money”, or “earning a living” anymore. This experiment is already showing me that getting what you need to live isn’t necessarily about money, it’s about resources. So what’s the difference between getting what you need with money or without it?

Well, the money system controls me because I need it to “pay my way”, or “earn my living”. The money system is controlled by bankers, businesses and a consumerist economy that’s wrecking the planet. So being less dependent on money is a way of being less controlled by that system as a whole. You see, the more dependent I am money the more time I’m forced to spend earning it, giving me less time to offer exchanges. Giving and receiving goods and favours forces us to have more contact with the community around us, which is great news in our individualistic, isolationist western society in which so many people are lonely.

I had wondered if the £0 descent would leave me deciding to go moneyless, but it hasn’t taken me that far. However, I do sense that I have changed in some fundamental way and I won’t be able to go back to the way I was living before. Phase one has made me think twice about buying anything. If there’s something I need, I’d only buy it new as a last resort, because the options of exchange, reusing and wombling seem more ethical to me.

One of my friends keeps telling me that the biggest problem facing humanity is overpopulation. I haven’t looked into this issue, but it sounds about right. We’re using up the planets resources and soon there won’t be enough for everyone. Not only that, the current population, especially the west, is constantly wasting what we have now. When’s the last time you wore through a pair of jeans, cut them into shorts, then rags, then used all the rags? The idea of it even sounds strange to most westerners. Most of us get rid of our clothes when they look a bit shabby or we’re bored of them. So every time I buy something 2nd hand, that’s good for the planet, but if I can take it from a bin, even better! There’s actually honour in going through rubbish and picking up things in the street.

Here are some of the things I got without buying them from a shop:

  • Found in the street or rubbish: Biros, elastic bands, cakes, noodles, rice, pancakes, cereal and milk, biscuits, buns, doughnuts, soft drinks (and many other high calorie foodstuffs), jumpers, t-shirts, flannel, guitar picks (made from someone’s old bank card), plastic water bottles to keep in the van, books.
  • Traded for: Food… I haven’t had much luck with direct trading. It seems that give and take doesn’t work out in neat transactions without money.
  • Borrowed: Hairbrush, towel, books, straw hat, houses and flats (housesitting).
  • Was given: Laptop bag (3 days after mine broke), carubina keychain (1 week after mine broke), foam mattress for the van, ripped jogging bottoms (I made the legs into tube-scarves), stick of deodorant, toothbrush, food.

The key factor however, has been learning to wait. If something of mine broke, or I needed something new, normally I’d just go out and buy it. Waiting to find an alternative usually took only a few days.

I struggled the most with the concept of borrowing. Normally I would buy something even if someone was willing to lend it to me, because I’d worry so much about breaking or losing the thing. Housesitting has forced me to simply get over it – I haven’t broken anything in someone’s house yet so it’s obviously not as likely as I’d feared.

So what will I do now? Will I launch into earning lots of money or will I choose to scrape by day by day?

BTW: This post has been posted a little late. The actual date that I ran out of money was June 18th. Watch this space to find out what I did next?

Listen to Kimwei’s original acoustic music at reverbnation.com/kimwei , watch at youtube.com/kimweidotcom , interact at facebook.com/kimweidotcom , everything at kimwei.com



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2 responses to “I Have Completely Run Out Of Money – £0 Challenge

  1. I nearly ran out of money this month and it did cause me to worry, perhaps I should try what you’re doing sometime. I like having some money because then I can get food or a bed for the night or whatever I want on a day to day basis. But I would like to be as little dependant on it as possible.

    I think over-consumption is the first problem we should focus on, then over-population. It’s true that the global emergency is exacerbated by both but over-consumption is plain old selfishness whereas over-population means that more human beings get to be alive! If we all consume like the average US citizen we need twenty planets to support us, but if we all consume like a Kenyan then our planet could support twenty billion of us.

    But since half of all pregnancies are unintended and many people start families for the wrong reasons (social pressure, boredom) then there’s definitely room for improvement in population control, however I do think if someone sincerely wants to have kids for the right reasons they should do it with all their heart, and make our next generation lovely.

    • Hi Richard. A very sound argument. Like I said, I haven’t looked into the facts but I know David Attenborough thinks we’re over-producing humans and that guy knows his stuff. Over-consumption in the west is so normal that consuming what we really need to and not much more is actually called “minimalism” these days. What’s really strange is that we’re still being constantly encouraged and co-erced into over-consuming on a daily basis, by business that seek to profit by it, despite the effects this has on the planet. I’m just writing a new post about my trip to Harrods last week… an interesting day out..

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