“I Used to Be an Anti-Money Anarchist”

by J. Money - Last updated March 22, 2016

Mark & Melanie Sorrentino

Okay guys, got a fun one for you today :)

I don’t even know what to make of it all to be honest with you, but I loved reading every second of this and thought you guys might too.

It’s an email shot over by a listener of our new podcast – M.O.N.E.Y. – and I find it all kinds of fascinating. Probably because it never ceases to amaze me just how different our lifestyles can be, yet still revolve around the almighty dollar whether we want it to or not! And Melanie here has been experimenting with it quite a bit lately, haha…

Please to enjoy – the most interesting email I’ve ever received!

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Story for J. Money, a man who appreciates working less when it’s possible & going with your feeling instead of all of the facts.

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J, you talk about having been a workaholic and finally making peace with chilling the f*ck out.

That is ME!!

Some background: I used to be a youthful anti-money anarchist. That mentality lead me to the notion that I needed to drop out of the money system. My plan to drop out of the system revolved around saving $$ (for the first time) so that my husband & I could live in the woods “for free”. < — my vague youthful thinking.

So when I was 26 (waitress) and my husband was 22 (grocery story worker) I came up with a plan for us. In the end we saved $24,000 in 18 months at our $hitty jobs. Saving money was a huge eye opener that money isn’t evil, I’m still me regardless of what the numbers say. It actually made me LOVE money but I couldn’t break the mental dogma so we kept with my original plan.

We bought land in another state and lived in a 150 sqft tiny house with no plumbing for 1 year. During that time I was working at the best restaurant in the tourist town 15 minutes from our land. I was a major workaholic. I kept pushing myself to work more and often worked 50-70 high volume hours a week. I think a major reason why I worked so much was to avoid the new lifestyle that I signed up for.

Here’s a video I made of our tiny house right when we first moved into it:

My husband has never been anti money and didn’t like living without plumbing. So when I completely burned out from overworking I looked at him and said, “Can we sell the tiny house and land?” He said YES! In that moment I knew I needed to wipe the slate clean on the anarchist bull$hit I was holding onto and the insane “clean eating” standards I’d been obsessed with for 15 years.

It was pretty much me saying YES to the life I want instead of the life I thought was “right.”

So I quit my job, we put the tiny house on the market and moved back to Dallas. For the next 18 months we live almost jobless and on less that $10,000 a year. For 18 months we dumpster dived stuff and sold it on ebay (mostly clothes). For 9 months solid we ate trash, dumpstering 99.9% of everything we ate so we wouldn’t have to pay for food. PLUS it completely chilled me out with distorted identity around being “vegan” or “paleo” or “clean eating”.

We had almost no expenses except our cheap apartment and gas $. We had no bed time, no morning alarms, no restrictions, no stress. It was amazing, I’d never had so little while feeling so free.

When being the dumpster diver became my identity I had to walk away from that too. At this same time I recovered from all of the pinned up stress and was ready to really make some money again. We changed our eBay business overnight and started making a real living wage without having to dumpster dive anymore. We buy stuff now but we’re making much better $$$.

There’s not really a conclusion to this story. I’m just writing to say that I feel ya when you talk about re-calibrating your values.

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She was right that I appreciate a good story! And that I’m all about going with your emotions even if they tend to fluctuate over time (which of course they will as we’re constantly evolving as people).

This is the stuff that separates Paula and I a lot on the show – where she’s the more analytical/ business type person and I’m the “do what feels good” type of guy. No one right way of doing things, but either can lead you to that ideal lifestyle, and even better if you can balance the two!

So thank you so much for the story, Melanie! Can’t say I woke up thinking I’d see that gem in my inbox, haha… Love the passion, and even more so that you changed it up when you realized it wasn’t working for you guys anymore. That’s hard to do – especially if you’ve been broadcasting it all over. For anyone wanting to follow Melanie’s journey, you can catch her on her blog @ anarchistkitchen.wordpress.com.

And for those interested in rocking an eBay biz as she alluded to, check out our recent episode with Jay and Ryanne where they tell us how they make $100k/year flipping items and renting out their AirBnB on our podcast. Again – so cool how many different ways there are to make a living!

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PS: Speaking of our show, thank you guys SO MUCH for all the support over the past two months! We recently crossed over 100,000 downloads and are learning a ton in the process… Both from our guests on the show, but also the uniquely different medium that is podcasting. Can’t say I’m used to it yet, but it’s definitely been interesting :) If you like talking about money as much as you do earning it, might be something to look into yourself! (Or to discuss any topic, for that matter).

Jay loves talking about money, experimenting, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his two beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!

Featured savings tip

You already know that banks pay $$$ for the privilege of holding your money…it’s called interest. But maybe you didn’t know this: that so-called interest can be as little as .01%. If your cash savings aren’t sitting in a high interest savings account that earns you at least 1%, you’re basically saying “no” to free $$$!

Now, obviously the 1% interest you get with a high interest savings account like the one at Discover bank won’t make you rich, but that extra 1% compounded over 30 years can grow into a *big* pile of cash. And if you wanna hit lofty $$$ goals, you should be looking for every edge possible.

Here’s another way to look at it: if you leave $50,000 in a regular savings account, that’s almost $500 you’re just throwing away, each and every year you don't setup a high yield savings account! Will you do 5-10 minutes of work right now to earn an extra $500/year for years to come?

If you said “heck yes”, then you can setup your high interest savings account here to start earning 1% on your cash savings.

{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lindsay @ the Notorious D.E.B.T. March 23, 2016 at 6:49 am

How amazing! I used to live in a 612 sg ft dry cabin for a couple years too. Then, I got married, and my husband was like, “Hell, no,” and so we moved to another cabin with running water. Joke was on him, though, because the system froze the entire winter and so we lived in a de-facto dry cabin for 9 months of the year anyways.

There are whole communities of dry cabins around Fairbanks. I still want to pick up one of the famous “Alaska Cabin Club” bumper stickers for my truck, with the slogan, “No water, no toilet, no problem!”

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2 J. Money March 23, 2016 at 1:30 pm

HAH! You are hardcore, friend – love it.

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3 Melanie Sorrentino March 23, 2016 at 1:35 pm

I love that bumper sticker! I’d love to know if you’re still living in a cabin. I only lasted a year but you never know what the future holds.

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4 Chris @ Flipping A Dollar March 23, 2016 at 7:11 am

Jay and Ryanne are awesome. Dumpster diving isn’t as bad as it seems and I agree. Recalibrating is a necessary part of life.

Having a good idea where all your money is at and what you plan on doing with it really helps you understand the impact of the change. We did that last year. Ended up getting new doors instead of saving for our major appliances. No regrets!

http://flippingadollar.com/paid-new-doors-using-part-time-ebay-money/

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5 J. Money March 23, 2016 at 1:32 pm

Beautiful!

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6 Melanie Sorrentino March 23, 2016 at 1:41 pm

I listen to all of Scavenger Life’s videos. When I first found them I thought the “scavenger” aspect of them meant they we’re dumpster divers like me. But after 6 months of listening to them and hearing a more strategic way to sell on ebay we started buying stuff instead of dumpstering stuff. Within the first week of changing over our business model we went from making $800 in a month to $800 in a week. And we’d been making $800 (or less) as our ebay income for 18 months! That taught me a lot about reevaluating assumptions of how to do stuff.

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7 J. Money March 23, 2016 at 1:47 pm

There she is! The woman of the hour! :)

Thanks again for letting us share your story here – so so fascinating.

Your new project (rich bitch cooking) reminds me of that book that came out last here in the $$ world – Rich Bitch by Nicole Lapin.

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8 Mortgage Free Mike March 23, 2016 at 7:28 am

Give this couple a reality show!

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9 J. Money March 23, 2016 at 1:34 pm

For real! I’d watch!

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10 Money Beagle March 23, 2016 at 8:17 am

It’s always interesting to read different perspectives and different stories. Money seems so universal but there are so many different paths and ideas on how to use it, obtain it, etc. that I’ll never tire of reading about it. Thanks for sharing.

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11 Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies March 23, 2016 at 8:19 am

My favorite part about this is how they ultimately don’t let anything define them. A flexible mindset and that drive and determination is a powerful combo. What a great story!

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12 Lady FruFru March 23, 2016 at 8:19 am

Amazing story. I think the point is that we are human and our opinions and needs change over time. Our goals and mindsets right now may not necessarily be the same in 1, 5, 10 years. I know mine are much different than when I was in my 20s (although apparently, I was born with the frugality gene since that has been consistent).

I’m also more of the “do what feels right” ilk but with a healthy amount of research on the side ;)

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13 J. Money March 23, 2016 at 1:35 pm

Yup! Which is funny how when it then ties to politics it’s like people are never *allowed* to change their mind? No way in hell they feel and think the same things after years and years in the office and in the real world! Not to bring politics into it here, even though we did touch on anarchy, haha…

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14 Melanie Sorrentino March 23, 2016 at 1:52 pm

This seriously took me almost having a nervous breakdown in order to get it into my head that I *need* to feel things out. I’m major analytical and my pride was completely wrapped up in “facts”. It was to the point that I was powering through any of my feelings that were in conflict to the facts. I feel way more balanced now, light years happier. Now when my analytical brain insists something is fact and of value I check it against how it makes me feel. If something feels off then I disregard the facts and move along. So far so good!

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15 Roy Largo @ Band of Savers March 23, 2016 at 8:30 am

Half of me would love to try this life style, but my better half would never go for it – especially with our kids. A few weeks ago when I started a list of my 100 things to do in my life I noticed that several of them were along the lines of living in a small handbuilt house out in the mountains, off the grid with next to no expenses. But in reviewing my wife’s list it doesn’t quite match up. It was nice to hear this story about how her dream didn’t end up living up to her expectations – makes me feel less concerned about it never being a reality for me.

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16 J. Money March 23, 2016 at 1:38 pm

Good idea having your wife start a 100 things list too! I tried to urge mine to but so far no luck… maybe my list scared her :) (though I suppose in that case it should give her even MORE ammunition to share hers so she doesn’t get roped up into mine – hah!))

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17 Melanie Sorrentino March 23, 2016 at 2:07 pm

My husband’s values and wants completely chill out any of my out wild ideas. Sometimes he goes with it even if it’s not his thing. Once I invited myself to bike the west coast with some gutter punks who have lived outside with their little kids. My husband saw nothing appealing about the trip what so ever but wanted to go to make sure I’d be safe. After 3 months of saving money and driving a million hours we were finally in Los Angeles to meet with our friends. Within 1 day of biking our friends got in a fight among themselves and our trip with them was over. Thankfully my husband was there because we went on our merry way, ended up randomly being cast in some lame TV show for 5 seconds, drove to small bike paths in many different states along the drive home. It was such a nice trip and I wasn’t disappointed at all.

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18 J. Money March 23, 2016 at 2:33 pm

You are so cray, haha…

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19 Fervent Finance March 23, 2016 at 9:09 am

I’m definitely more like Paula in the sense that everything I do is well thought out analytically before I jump in. I’m trying to get better at the shooting from my hip / going off of feelings. But personally, not that comforting.

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20 Rose March 23, 2016 at 10:16 am

The Millennial hippie lifestyle – LOL, it is all good as long as it works for you. I’d be recalibrating in a nano second, no doubt about that. I particularly enjoyed the colorful, creative touches and smart countertop built.

Granted, the anarchist notions reverberated with me too, but my core values allow me to live in comfort, without guilt. But I’d certainly love to borrow that clever woodworking and electronic kit savvy DH:).
A life that is lived strictly to be “anti” whatever is ultimately not a satisfying choice. It’s fun though to publicly make your point:). Society does shift and change continuously thanks to fearless people with the determination to effect change.

Money can’t buy you happiness or even health and contentment, but it can provide you with options and in the end game – a comfortable retirement. IMHO there is nothing so sad as someone who struggles for food, utilities and rent in retirement.
I want to sip my Margarita on the beach – watching the sunset, thanking my lucky stars.

Life is all about choices and recalibrating and growing as individuals – we all learn from our past experiences (hopefully) and move on to the next stage in our lives – that is a good and necessary thing. The alternative is stagnation and the death of our dreams.
Thanks J for a fun e-mail/post to brighten my morning.

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21 J. Money March 23, 2016 at 1:41 pm

You’re very welcome :)

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22 Melanie Sorrentino March 23, 2016 at 2:20 pm

“The Millennial hippie lifestyle” <— dude, ALL of my friends thought like this. I was completely sucked into this vague notion of what freedom would be. We'd sit around in the woods nested inside of the city and talk about ideal ambitions for hours but there was never a plan or any money. As soon as I got my head straight I was like, "F*** it, I'll do it on my own." Trying something for real will recalibrate a person quickly. Being all talk will making your mind concrete since there's not a reality check to put things in perspective. In the last 5 years or so many of my friends have traveled all around on pennies a day trying to still figure the The Millennial hippie lifestyle thing out. I've got other plans though. I wish them all the best!

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23 Amanda S @ Passionately Simple Life March 23, 2016 at 11:32 am

Love the recalibration aspect of it. I understand where she is right now in that as a waitress it is so easy to get caught up in working more and more and having that cold hard cash in your hands. There are times where I want to work harder for the next part of my life and forget to enjoy the roses right here! It’s the analytical part of me that see’s the numbers working but not the real life scenario that will play out.

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24 Harmony March 23, 2016 at 11:39 am

With so many of us engineering very specific escape plans, it’s important to consider that we may change our minds along the way. Fortunately, in paying off our debt and increasing our investments, we will have a lot more flexibilty. We will have more options and be able to ingratiate our fickle hearts.

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25 J. Money March 23, 2016 at 1:41 pm

Yeah you will!! Keep hustling, my friend!! Freedom is near!!

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26 LuckyOz March 23, 2016 at 11:59 am

To anyone reading this who wants to drop out and live rough, I recommend doing it while traveling. Go around the world for a few years cheaply, camping and hosteling. There are always going to be small jobs (restaurants, hostels, English teaching, farming) that you can pick up on the way to support the sparse lifestyle.

After doing this for a number of years, you will be left with more life experience than 99.9% of the world. Not sure I really see the point of doing it in 1 place locally. That seems to be more living rough to prove a non existent point.

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27 J. Money March 23, 2016 at 1:44 pm

Agreed! Traveling w/ low overhead is huge!! Fantastic way to learn and have an adventure… especially if you can do it before all the bigger responsibilities happen like having kids, “settling down”, career, etc… Which may or may not even come into the picture once you go around the world and “find yourself” – hah.

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28 Michelle March 23, 2016 at 12:09 pm

I absolutely love Melanie’s story. I could do the tiny house because I already live in one, but no plumbing is a deal breaker for me.

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29 Melanie Sorrentino March 23, 2016 at 2:22 pm

Thanks! If we do another interesting living situation in the future no plumbing will be a deal breaker for us next to too.

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30 Stefan March 23, 2016 at 2:25 pm

This is a great story! Reassessing where you are in life and what you want is crucial. Change is always going to occur, especially with the millennial generation, and you need to adapt. Great story and life lesson for many Melanie! Props to you too J. Money for highlighting such an inspiring story!

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31 J. Money March 25, 2016 at 9:33 pm

Glad you liked, man :) A rare nugget in my inbox!

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32 Mr Zombie March 23, 2016 at 2:57 pm

Awesome stuff!

It’s good to strip things back to the bare bones everynow and then to see what actually matters. You guys took it to the extreme :D And it’s all worked out positive. Cool ice cream shop ;)

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33 Chris March 23, 2016 at 4:38 pm

Dumpster diving is illegal where I live.

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34 Linda March 23, 2016 at 7:16 pm

I wish I had the courage to recalibrate like you do, but I think I’m scared to death of that much change. I need more stability in my life and only feel comfortable making small changes. Maybe becoming FI in the future will change that mentality. Here’s hoping anyway!

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35 J. Money March 25, 2016 at 9:32 pm

I tend to go in baby steps too – gradually letting things sink in as I move one direction or the other :) I admire those who can pull the trigger fast like that.

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36 Josh March 23, 2016 at 7:38 pm

I love the idea of an eBay store! I even bought my first item for it for $5 at a thrift store. A Babe Ruth collectible plate…only to realize they had dozens on eBay already. Haha :) It gives me confidence to know that anyone can start a business if they stay open to ideas. This internet thing might just catch on!

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37 J. Money March 25, 2016 at 9:35 pm

Hah!

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38 Kelly March 24, 2016 at 6:30 am

That couple had a good story J Money! It’s their version of recalibrating their values and changing their lives. I just wish the couple luck.

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39 Free Range Nation March 24, 2016 at 9:17 am

While I couldn’t see myself dumpster diving, I do think it is really cool that people reduce waste this way. I am however, extremely interested in getting into urban foraging. The thought of fresh, local, wild food sounds really healthy and it is a great way to learn about the local ecosystem and appreciate the environment for how it sustains us. There is a cool website called fallingfruit.org and if you input your location, it will give you locations of dumpsters and actual edible wild food and fruit trees in your area.

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40 J. Money March 25, 2016 at 9:36 pm

Woah fascinating! I just checked and apparently there are some good pecan trees near me! Haha… that is awesome.

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41 Broke Millennial March 24, 2016 at 11:27 am

This. Is. Awesome.

Talk about creating a wealth of life experiences. Neither lifestyles are ones I’d pick myself, but I have a lot of respect for Melanie’s ability to make a decision and go full force.

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42 Joe March 24, 2016 at 1:37 pm

Wow, that’s a bit too hard core for me. I’d focus on gaining some skills and making more money. I guess I could live like they did for a while, but I wouldn’t want to. It’s nice that they are learning from their experience. They’re young so they have a lot of time.

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43 Susan Fitzharris March 27, 2016 at 11:20 pm

You two are living my dream (although I am MUCH older) but your ingenuity is just incredible. This is exactly a quality upon which this country was founded. God Bless You Always !

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44 Kathy March 29, 2016 at 11:22 am

I notice they seemed to have plenty of money for multiple tattoos.

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