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The Man Who Quit Money
Mark Sundeen
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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Some people seem to be intrigued by the choices Daniel Suelo has made. Others are angered. Why? How did you react to his story?

  2. What did Suelo give up to live as he does? What has he gained? Do you think the tradeoff was worth it?

  3. Henry David Thoreau believed that “work is the tasks that give life meaning, regardless of whether money is earned.” What is your definition of work? Do you think Suelo “works”?

  4. Suelo quickly became disillusioned working at a homeless shelter because “he was paid to be helpful. It wasn’t coming from his heart.” Do financial incentives always compromise good intentions?

  5. Most of us perform moneyless acts every day without taking note—for instance, taking care of our children, or visiting a sick friend. What “jobs” do you perform for which you don’t receive money? How do the rewards and frustrations differ from those of “real work”?

  6. Contemplating a life without the safety net of medical care, Suelo says, “If we’re following our path, then worrying about what could or should happen is a worse illness than what could or should happen.” Do you agree? Is there any wisdom the rest of us can draw from this point of view?

  7. At one point in the book, Mark Sundeen observes, “Begging may be the most shameful act in America.” Why do you think this is?

  8. Suelo’s religious path has taken him from Christian fundamentalism to atheism to Buddhism to a belief that all religions teach the same truths. How do your beliefs affect your ideas and behavior regarding money, possessions, and reward?

  9. Suelo says that money is an illusion––an idea reinforced by the collapse of financial markets, real estate prices, and currencies. And yet the things we buy with money––food, clothing, shelter––and clearly real. What do you think? Is money real?

  10. What are some steps you’ve taken to live a more simple or meaningful life? Have they succeeded? Why or why not?

  11. What do you make of Suelo’s observation that “Chance is God”? Do you agree? Have you ever tried to put this idea into practice? What happened? Are there things you would never leave to chance?

  12. Suelo’s decision to quit money is part of life–long spiritual quest. What was he seeking? Do you think he has attained it? What is your quest? Have you attained what you were seeking?

  13. Suelo has yet to find a significant community that shares his desire to live without money. What belief do you hold so strongly that you would be willing to “walk alone” in order to live by it?

  14. Before he quit money, Suelo says, “My hardships were long–term, complex anxieties: What am I going to do with my life, how am I going to pay rent or pay insurance, what’s retirement going to be like, what am I going to do for a career, what are people going to think if I do this or that.” Now, he says, “My hardships are simple and immediate: food, shelter and clothing. They’re manageable because they’re in the present.” Do you think it is possible to achieve Suelo’s peace of mind without making his extreme choices? Why or why not?