Getting by without money in Spain
The money economy is one of the givens of modern life. For the ordinary person with bills to pay, getting by without money is almost inconceivable. Even someone who tries hard to escape the money economy is faced with taxes, utility bills, and the like. Personally, though, I find the lure of non-money economies seductive. That's why I've been very interested in this Spanish site whose name means "without money."
After I wrote my post Frugality Goes International on the Turkish frugality site tutumluol.com, I looked around for other foreign frugality sites. The next one I found was sindinero.org. It's different from Wise Bread. Although they are interested in frugality too, their key interest seems to be a bit beyond that--as implied by the name of their site.
I recently interviewed Juan Manuel Sánchez, one of two bloggers for the site, about their site's mission and any tips they might have that might apply outside Spain. Here's what he had to say.
1) The focus of your site seems to be on doing things with no money, rather than simply doing things with less money. Why is that important? Do you think an incremental approach is useful, or is "no money" an all-or-nothing proposition?
An incremental approach could be more useful, although it depends on individual needs. I mean... we have users who simply want to save some money (like families who need to adjust budgets), but there're also visitors very committed to the "no money" idea.
We're very focused on the "no money" philosophy, because we don't believe in capitalism (and making money is the main purpose in this system)...but we assume the reality we live in... and money rules people's lives. So... some of our proposals are thoughts on how to do things with less money, but we're not specialized in this area (moreover, there're many sites working in this way).
2) I've written in the past about economies that aren't based on money (gift economies, command economies, barter economies, etc.). Do any of these match the sort of economic system that you're interested in? Can you describe, or give a name to, the sort of economic system that matches your vision?
Barter economy, no doubt. In Spanish, we call it "trueque", and it matches perfectly the economic system we're interested in. But we think that it shouldn't be just an anti-crisis product... it should be more than it. "Making money" activity would disappear, and the world would be more concerned in human being's real needs. Anyway, "trueque" is becoming very popular...above all, in the internet... the number of "trueque" sites is growing and growing... very probably because of the crisis (I'm afraid it could be just a new fashion in the net... I hope to be wrong).
3)How do your ideas mesh with Spanish traditions? Does what you're trying to do amount to a return to old traditional values where you live, or is it something new?
To be honest, we haven't taken into account any Spanish traditional value...we live in big cities like Madrid and Barcelona (unfortunately, we've grown with McDonald's, Burger King, Hollywood movies, etc. etc.) and we haven't known these traditions. What we're trying to do is not really new... you could find many similar experiences throughout the world. But, maybe (at least in Spain), we're the first ones trying to organize and promote all these ideas in the net... in the way we do...
4) Where you are, which of life's needs are toughest to manage with no money? Housing? Food? Clothing?
Very easy to answer: housing. During the last years, Spain has suffered a terrible "real state" bubble. Prices have grown enormously, producing very bad consequences for young people. Moreover, in Spain, buying a property is an old tradition... so, imagine how frustrated are these persons willing to buy a house (but not able to afford the purchase). But there's a way to react to this problem (becoming more popular) : "okupación"...which means entering an empty building and transforming it into a social centre (and a place to live in... with no money).
5) How much does "do it yourself" figure into your ideas of getting by with no money?
How much? I'd say, a lot. "Do it yourself" helps a lot, although it requires having some skills that some people don't have. It requires a lot of discipline, as well... but you know... if you're not very skilled, you can call somebody able to help you, in exchange of something (another service or product). ¡¡Trueque again!!
6) Do you have a favorite idea or two from your blog that might have broad application internationally?
For travelers: Couchsurfing and Hospitalityclub. I think these social networks are being very successful... internationally.
For language learners: all these sites (social networks again) that contact people to exchange languages using skype and similar services. Thanks to all these websites, you don't need to travel to China to learn Chinese... just "bring" a Chinese speaker to your home and talk with him or her.
Anybody else out there interested not just in living frugally, but in taking a shot at getting by without money? It's something I'm interested in.