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How to survive with no money

Updated on January 10, 2012

It's everyone's nightmare - you lose your job and then you have to somehow survive with no money, or minimum money from the state. How do you do it? Is it even possible?

This is a resource page for those who are trying to cope with no money.



During the 1990's recession, all sorts of bartering organisations sprung up to help people to cope, which still exist. Essentially, they allow you to barter for both goods and services. Here are some of them:

Local Exchange Trading Schemes (LETS). These organisations allow you to barter services. You join up and list a service you can do - say you are great at book-keeping or being a tree-surgeon etc. People who need that service will then call you up, you do some work for them, and then earn points in the scheme. You can then cash in the points by using them to buy other people's services. LETS schemes are great for the little emergencies in life - there is nothing worse than being broke and having a plumbing emergency and finding you haven't the money to get the toilet fixed. If you are in a LETS scheme and have built up points however, you can just call in a plumber from the LETS scheme, using up points you've built up offering your skills. There are LETS schemes across the world. In the UK there is a similar scheme called TeamUpHere as well as LETSUK.

Freecycle. Freecycle allows you to get goods for free. It's essentially a giant recycling service where people who want to get rid of stuff simply list it, and those who want it come to collect it. Again, Freecycle is available all over the world and is good for getting goods that you need that would be too expensive to buy.

Earn money doing odd jobs

Even in the recession it's possible to earn money doing jobs that many people won't do - cleaning, shelf-stacking and so on. Thanks to the internet, it is also possible to earn money online doing a variety of things - writing articles and reviews, doing affiliate marketing or through advertising on websites.

You can also join websites like which allows you to offer gigs for $5 at a time. The gig can be anything - writing an article, making someone a logo, doing a voice-over, creating a facebook fanpage for a business, anything. Browse the site to see what other people are offering and then think about what you are good at and set up a gig. Do read their terms and conditions - though the site is called Fiverr, it's the buyer who pays $5. The seller of the service gets $4 as Fiverr keeps a dollar for being the platform and middleman. They pay you via Paypal and Paypal will convert it into your home currency, allowing you to withdraw the money into your bank account. People from all over the world make money using Fiverr.

You can also try Zeerk, which is like fiverr, but you can charge more for your gigs.

If you are unemployed, one thing you will have in abundance is time. Don't waste it watching TV or lying in bed. If you like writing, why not use some of your time to earn money online with a free site like Hubpages for instance? You have nothing to lose but a bit of time, and potentially a lot to gain.


You can also collect vouchers and coupons to use in lieu of money. Most supermarkets will accept vouchers at the till even if you haven't bought the product - all that's required is that the store stocks the product (which means that someone else will have purchased it, which means they can redeem the voucher with the manufacturer).

How do you find these vouchers?

Here are some UK companies that provide vouchers:


Fixtureferrets (supermarket vouchers)

Growing your own food

If you have a garden or allotment, it's possible to be quite well fed on food you've grown yourself. True you won't be eating much meat, but you won't starve.

You don't even have to buy seeds (though they are cheap) - you can use the seeds in vegetables you've bought for dinner. A single tomato for instance probably contains enough seeds to produce many plants. Potatoes can be grown by simply keeping the tubers in a plastic bag till they sprout and then planting them. Most gardeners are willing to swap seeds so you should be able to get seeds for a variety of vegetables this way.

As for compost - there is absolutely no need to buy compost from a garden centre. You can produce your own (preferably over winter) by heaping all the garden clippings (grass, the results of pruning hedges etc) onto a patch of soil. They key to home grown compost is that the heap needs to be built directly onto soil so that the worms can do their thing, and you need to build the heap quite big so that it gets warm and moist inside, the better to turn the garden material into good quality compost. By spring, it should be ready to fertilise your garden.


If you live in a densely laid out city, it's not actually necessary to run a car. See if you can get hold of a bike from the Freecycle system and use that to get around town. If you are unfit, all that bicycling can come as a shock to the system -  but one pleasant side-effect of being broke is that you will get fit fast, and without having to pay a fortune to all those weight-loss programs.

You can also get around by walking. It's a forgotten art, but it's free and it's healthy. 


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