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Why do we want to live without money?

By:  Nans Thomassey and Annie Warmke

This is a brief description to some of the questions and challenges the four of us considered as we began to plan the THANKS FOR NOTHING month.  We’ll post daily updates online in the Blue Rock Station blog (, the FB Blue Rock Station Green Living Center page, and the THANKS FOR NOTHING FB event page.  We can also be followed through Annie Warmke’s page on and on Annie’s page at (simply living group, or rural couchsurfing).

Nans & Fanny

Can we feel happy without money?

This is the question that struck us a few months before when we received a letter from Annie telling us about her “thanks for nothing” project. We always thought that any one happy with the least would be the richest person ever. But, is it possible to live in such a state of mind? For us, living with no money is a way to reconnect to each other.

Jay & Annie

Can we be happy with less?

This is the question we began to ask ourselves last summer as we sat at the Overlook drinking tea and savoring our life together.  We, too, have often thought that the less a person has, the happier richer they would feel.  Our goal is to dig deeper within ourselves (Nans and Fanny’s co-experience with us will keep us honest) to learn more about who we are, rather than who we are told we are.  We’ll be putting a lot more thought into everyday life, and that is bound to help us to test our happiness factor and sustainable life theories in a good way.

What does living with no money mean to us?

Nans & Fanny

All types of domestic energy have a cost that is directly related to money (paper issued by government). At our home in the French Alps our energy needs are electricity for lights, hot water, entertainment, telecommunications, Gasoline for the car, natural gas for cooking, wood for the woodstove,  and food to feed our bodies.  The most serious issue of energy (living in France, in the coldness of the mountains, in the winter without any place to garden)is  that we have to address, “How can we seriously experiment living with no money, and still have food to eat?”

Jay & Annie

At Blue Rock Station, our farm in rural southeast Ohio, our energy needs are basic electricity for lights, hot water, and telecommunications (for our business), plus gasoline for transportation (one hybrid vehicle, a gasoline 4-wheel drive for winter and a diesel mule for farm work).  We also rarely use natural gas for a small oven, and about half of our food is cooked in a tiny convection oven, with the other half cooked on top of the wood stove in the living room.  About 80% of the food we eat and about one quarter of the food consumed by the farm livestock is produced on this farm, and the rest is brought in from other farms or the feed store.  Our most serious issues are transportation, and living without electricity after dark.

What do we mean by “our Happiness Factor”?

Jay & Annie

Frankly, we like the word “content” much better when measuring and savoring what happens in our day-to-day lives, but “content” doesn’t have the same “sizzle” as the word “happy”.

Our goal is to savor the moments that make up the day, enjoying the way it feels to be clean after our evening shower, or getting under the warm covers in a cold bedroom.  As we savor the moments of the day there is a feeling that comes into our brains, our souls, our actions and this is how we measure the Happiness Factor.  Usually we use a scale of 1 to 10 with “10” being the happiest, and “1” being the least happy.  We hope for at least a “5” each day.

When we talk about the Happiness Factor we’re really measuring:

Our health

Our expectations of our lives/ourselves

Our learning possibilities/education

Our family and living situation

The health of our community – both nearby and those we identify with in a broader sense

Our prosperity – financially and physically

Our cultural foundation

The trust we feel in ourselves, those around us and in the world


What is the field of experimentation?

Nans & Fanny

We want to experiment living without money in our house - this includes not “spending” energy for fuel, food or transportation.  But we have some limitations because Fanny is working three days a week one half an hour away from the house and needs to drive her car to her place of employment. No car sharing is possible as well as no alternative means of transport (walking, bike, train). The gas for cooking is contained in a big box in the garden and was purchased well before we planned to participate in the THANKS FOR NOTHING month. We plan to use the cooking gas because we are not equipped to cook with wood.

Jay & Annie

When we first began to create some guidelines for our THANKS FOR NOTHING month it was clear that we weren’t really digging deep enough within ourselves to learn more about living a simpler life.  Once Nans suggested living with the rhythm of the winter it was clear that this was what was missing from our experiment.  While we need to run our business during the daytime (this includes using electricity for computers and the telephone), once the sun goes down we plan to use tiny solar lights for playing games, reading and viewing things that require intense light.  There are several solar lights already being used outdoors for the walk to the barn and the privy but we’ll be moving them around to provide more lighting in the house until bedtime.

Our granddaughter, Catlyn does not want to participate in the month’s activities so we’ve named her room “America” and she will be using electricity within the confines of her living space.  She will also need transportation to and from her college classes three days per week, and Jay will be traveling two nights per week in a one-hour commute to the class he will be teaching at a technical school.  The only other time vehicles will be used is in case of an emergency.  I will not leave the farm unless someone besides Jay provides the transportation so this means ride sharing.

What are the main guidelines of our money-less life?

Nans & Fanny

Money is a short cut between people’s exchanges. If we spend time experimenting on how to get rid of money for a period (we still need to be warm, to get food, to eat, etc) maybe we can find the answer to the question, “Is there a way to meet our everyday needs without money?” Let’s try the “doolar”, our local swap economy. Doolar as good food, good wood and a good mood.

Jay & Annie

Our plan is to only spend money that comes out of the checking account automatically.  That includes payments for insurance, utilities, and telecommunications.  If we do use gasoline for the vehicle engines it must be measured because we are not going to put fuel in any of the gas tanks during January.  This is going to take quite a bit of planning and thought – old-fashioned gas rationing in fact.

This will be a month of being on vacation from money – no reading catalogs, shopping online, or even thinking about money, the stock market, or anything related to money.  That’s a mighty big goal – rethinking is what will be required.  Instead I want to ponder the “Happiness Factor” and the economy it brings to our lives.  Again, more intense re-thinking.