How to Live Without Money or a Job

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Is it possible to live without money or a job?

Sometimes things happen that cause us to lose our source of income. Maybe you just lost a job, or perhaps a business venture you’ve been working on tanked. Whatever the situation, you suddenly found yourself without money or a job and you need to figure out how to survive in a hurry.

A reality that must be faced is the world runs on money. And to acquire money, you need either a job or a business of some kind (or a trust fund). You can live without money or a job for a while, but not indefinitely.

If you’ve suddenly found yourself in a bad financial situation and you are wondering how to live without money or a job, you do have options.

1. Barter

People have been exchanging goods and services for other goods and services for thousands of years. It’s the oldest method of buying and selling there is. It’s called bartering.

Are you good at doing something? Maybe you’re skilled at repairing things around the house, or perhaps you’re good at painting rooms in houses. Whatever it is that you are good at, you may be able to trade your services for something you need.

Another option to consider with bartering is to trade things you may already own for something else. If you have some things you are no longer using, for example, you may be able to trade them or sell them for cash. It’s now very easy to find buyers for many different things thanks to buy and sell apps like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, OfferUp, and others.

2. Live with Family or Friends

If you don’t have a place to stay, an option to consider is to live with family or friends for as long as possible. This is easier to do if you are young since many younger people aren’t married and don’t have families to take care of. The presence of another person living with a family can sometimes be disruptive.

A way to be as little of a burden on family or friends as possible is to practice the time-honored tradition of couch surfing. The idea is to stay at one place for a few days or weeks and then move on to another person’s home for a while. Rinse and repeat.

Another option to consider if it’s warm outside is to ask family or friends if you can pitch a tent in their backyards. By doing this, you will only have to come inside the home to shower and use the bathroom, and possibly to eat. You won’t be as much of a burden to a family if they don’t see you all the time.

3. Work for a Place to Stay

If you are wondering how to live without money or a job, another strategy that may work for temporary housing is to work in exchange for a place to stay. Many people would love to have someone do chores for them around the home.

You could mow lawns, for example, or fix things. Maybe the walkways need to be pressure washed or the fence needs a fresh coat of paint. If the home is on a farm, perhaps you could do various farm chores like feeding the animals, picking produce, pulling weeds, and other things. There’s always work of some kind that needs to be done on a farm.

4. Check with Local Charities

If you are in a position where you need some resources in a hurry, it’s always a good idea to check with some of the local charities in your area to see what they have to offer. Some non-profit charities provide free meals, free clothing, and other things to those in need.

Also, don’t forget to check with religious organizations to see if they can offer any help. Many religious organizations offer many of the same benefits that other non-profit charities offer. It’s definitely worth checking with as many charities as possible to get all of the help that you possibly can.

5. Find Out What Government Benefits Are Available

There are many government benefits available to help those with financial difficulties – both at the federal and state level. Available benefit programs include:

  • Food
  • Housing
  • General Assistance
  • Healthcare
  • Education and Job Skills Training
  • Job Assistance

It’s important to point out that once you apply for benefits, it may take a while for your application to be processed. It’s not a fast process. This is the government we’re talking about, after all. Also, be sure to only apply for the government benefits that you truly qualify for.

6. Sleep Under the Stars

If the weather is warm outside and you don’t have a place to sleep for the night, consider sleeping under the stars. In other words, go camping. There may be a campground in your community that doesn’t charge anything or you may be able to camp out on the property of a friend or family member.

Many people enjoy camping. It’s a great way to reconnect with nature and to get away from things for a while. Instead of staring at a TV or mobile device, you can listen to the sounds of nature. It’s a great way to relax and gather your thoughts.

7. Use Free Public Library Resources

Public libraries provide many great resources that go beyond books. Many public libraries, for example, provide free internet access. Some have computers set up that you can browse and they may also have free wifi access. You may also be able to use a library’s computers for other things like working on your resume and scanning and printing things.

Free skills classes are also offered at many public libraries. Depending on where you live, your public library may have classes on computers, foreign language skills, and other things. Be sure to ask a librarian if you aren’t sure what resources they offer.

8. Grow Crops on Someone’s Land

Something else to consider if you are wondering how to live without money or a job is to ask people who have farms or gardens if you can grow some vegetables on their land. Some people may allow you to grow some food in a small section of their gardens.

Another option is to offer to grow a large garden for the landowner in exchange for a small percentage of the bounty. You will do all of the work including tilling the land, planting, pulling weeds, harvesting, and everything else. The landowner gets a bounty of free food in exchange for letting you keep some for yourself. It’s a win-win for both parties.

9. Take Advantage of Free Transportation

If you don’t have any money or a job, you’ll still need a way to get to places. You may need to go to a job interview, for example, or to find another place to couch surf. Depending on where you live, you may be able to take advantage of free transportation.

One way you can do this is to simply ask people for a ride. If someone you know is already going to a place near your destination, simply ask if you can ride along.

Many towns and cities also offer free transportation. In the small town I grew up in, for example, there was a free shuttle service that took people to and from the nearest community college. It enabled many people to attend school who would have otherwise been unable to.

Walking to and from your destinations is another option to consider if you don’t have far to walk and the weather is good. Although it may be hard to believe, only a small percentage of the world’s population has cars. The rest either walk to wherever they need to go or travel some other way.

Finally, riding a bicycle is another option to consider if you can afford one. Bikes are much more efficient than walking. Many communities also have special bike lanes beside their roads for people who are traveling by peddle power.

10. Find a Homeless Shelter

If the weather is cold and sleeping under the stars isn’t an option, you may need to find a homeless shelter. This is also an option for those who don’t have any family or friends who will take them in.

In addition to providing you with a place to sleep, many shelters also provide free meals and shower facilities. Some even provide other services like helping you find a job and an apartment.

How to Live Without Money or a Job – Final Thoughts

Finding yourself in a situation where you don’t have either money or a job isn’t any fun – but sometimes it happens. It’s important to realize that it is possible to pick yourself up from your situation and rebuild anew. It isn’t the end of the world.

Until you can put your life back together again, however, you are going to need a way to live without money or a job. While it isn’t possible for most people to completely disconnect from using money, there are available resources to help you with housing, food, clothing, and other things. It’s up to you to take advantage of them.

Cyrus Vanover

Cyrus Vanover, MBA, is a financial copywriter who has written for companies of all sizes. He is also the author of the personal finance book, "Earn A Debt-Free College Degree." His goal is to help families save money, make more money, and achieve financial independence. Based in the mountains of Virginia, he enjoys hiking the local trails, listening to 80s music, and reading books on military history in his spare time. Read more.