Current Page: World | Tuesday, January 10, 2012
German Grandmother Lives Without Money for 16 Years

German Grandmother Lives Without Money for 16 Years

Many people across the globe live on pennies a day. It’s involuntary – homelessness, poverty, hunger and all the deprivations that go with having no money. But what person would choose a life where you live on nothing at all – literally, not a cent – to your name? reports that Heidemarie Schwermer, a 69-year-old German woman, did exactly that – for 16 years. The grandmother of three is the subject of the documentary film, “Living Without Money,” by award-winning Norwegian filmmaker Line Halvorsen. The film, produced in 2010, is currently screening internationally and is also available on DVD (

“I do this because I clearly feel it doesn’t work the way it is,” Schwermer says in the film’s trailer.

The film, which will be screened next in Cape Town, South Africa, Jan. 30, details Schwermer’s experiment to live completely without money for 16 years. The experiment stemmed from Schwermer’s Tauschring – a swap shop where people could trade their items for other’s goods or skills. According to Oddity Central, the store, named “Gibb und NM” (Give and Take), was an attempt to help the Ruhr area’s large homeless population in Dortmund.

The grandmother herself had come from a background of deprivation as a refugee in World War II. When her Tauschring was successful, Schwermer decided to quit her job, give away most of her possessions and move out of her home, according to Shine.

She told the Austrian Times that she “had become irritated by the greedy consumer society” she was witnessing.

“After my apartment was emptied, I jumped around for joy,” Schwermer says in the film’s trailer.

Schwermer lived nomadically, trading different services for food and shelter. She detailed her experience in three books, beginning with The Star Money Experiment.

When Halvorsen heard Schwermer’s story, he was inspired to create a film chronicling her money-free life.

“Heidemarie's unique story made me want to create a film that challenges the viewer into questioning their own relationship to money and possessions,” Halvorsen told Shine.

The Bible says the love of money is the root of all evil. Schwermer would agree.

“Money distracts us from what’s important,” she says in the trailer.


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