Living Outside the Financial System

Living off the grid seems to be a bit of a trend lately, and it’s one that will likely stick around. As things get more expensive and consumer oriented, it’s not a bad idea to shirk the system and find alternative ways of doing things.

We see people doing this with housing, careers, and even their food sources. We are now seeing more and more people doing this with the financial system.

It makes sense. The financial system that has been built up over the past few decades is flawed. Credit cards charge insane interest rates and annual fees. Banks charge you an account fee just for the pleasure of borrowing your money. You are paying a substantial amount each month just to.. well, have money (or not).

Here are some huge benefits to living outside of the traditional financial system:

Saving Money

The vast majority of the developed world has a credit card, a debit card, and banks with a traditional bank. Recently, there has been an onset of free banking options being introduced, as banks have realized that free accounts give them a competitive edge. Even more interestingly, there have been a few services that have opened up that aren’t banks, but allow you to do all of the “banking” you need.

One such service is Bluebird by American Express. It’s not a bank, but allows you to direct deposit your pay, put money away in savings, transfer money, pay for things – it’s pretty much a full service non-bank. You save a lot of money while doing so, and you don’t have to be tied down to a brick-and-mortar bank.


There is a reason why there are jokes around bankers hours. Banks are known for their inconvenient hours. Nowadays, they larger ones are making an effort to stay open later for.. well, the entire world who works and does things during the day that doesn’t allow them to show up at a bank at 11:00 AM. However, even with extended hours, it’s pretty inconvenient.

I believe that most things should be able to be done online. I should be able to deal with my finances solely online; I should be able to grocery shop online (one day!) and take courses online. It’s far more convenient.

These non-banking solutions help you save time (and inevitably money) by allowing you to do everything you need to do through apps and the internet, and, if absolutely necessary, the phone.

This freaks a lot of the older generation out, but when you get used to it, it’s freeing!

Doing Things Differently

Just because most people do something one way, doesn’t mean it’s the best way to do things.

The financial system was developed and was a good way of doing things for it’s time, but it’s time has long passed. The world changes and evolves minutely; things that were relevant a decade ago become irrelevant and inconvenient and expensive.

The principles behind Mr. Money Mustache kind of push readers to do things differently, to not get sucked into what everyone else does because it just doesn’t work for everybody. I love this principle. I live by it all the time; it’s the norm to take money from your parents to put you through school, or take out student loans to get your education, but it’s a norm that I don’t subscribe to.

Do things that work for you, not because everyone else does it that way.


Have you ever considered living outside of the financial system?


Living Outside the Financial System — 19 Comments

  1. I have. I am. Doing my own thing couldn’t be more fulfilling and satisfying. It was hard at first but you need to gamble a little and persevere. Surely all my efforts have paid off. Now, I wonder why I haven’t done this 10 years ago.

  2. I like the philosophy. Particularly when it comes to debt, operating outside the financial system I think would be beneficial to many folks. I know in some cultures family operates more or less as lender to family members. What a concept!

    • That’s a good concept, if you need a lender. Just like many cultures have multi family homes so there is built in elder and child care.

  3. MMM is a great read!

    And my uncle lives so far off the grid, he doesn’t even have an email! For me, I respect the stock market too much to push it out of my life. I live a charmed life on the grid and I’d have it no other way.

  4. I’m not sure I could to be honest. I like the idea of simplicity and being free of technology, but just the idea of it. I don’t like bank fees and other random nonsense, but for now I think we have to play that game IF we are interested in building credit, getting loans, buying a house, etc. I don’t think there is too much of a way around that as far as I know. I do like that we are getting more options for more choices that fit our lives better. Different strokes for different folks. :)

    • You’re right – I don’t know that any service other than banks would be able to help you with those things.

  5. I’m a bit confused by the title of the post compared to the content. I don’t really see online banking as “outside the financial system.” But anyway, I also agree that you should be able to do most things online. I get frustrated when some companies lack an online presence or an online scheduling option.

    • It’s not so much online banking as.. “non banks”, I guess you might call it. They aren’t banks in the traditional sense.. just services. It’s hard to explain it, and I suppose I didn’t do a very good job at doing so! Haha.

  6. Personally, I’ve lived within the system. However, I do like the general concept of doing things differently if you feel it suits you better. No need to get roped into always doing things the way everyone else thinks is best, because we generally have different situations and needs.

  7. I think the closest thing to living outside the financial system is that I bank with PC Financial. Aside from that I haven’t really been able to distance myself too much, but I definitely avoid paying all fee’s if possible. Definitely a really interesting way of looking at things!

  8. I have often fantasized about living off the grid and live a very natural life. I have secretly envied people who can do this. It seems like something that is only a dream because I don’t know if I can ever give up air conditioning, internet, and other creature comforts. I do like hiking a lot.

  9. I sometimes envision living in a tiny house off the beaten path, surrounded by prairie and forest, but close enough to bike to a hip and hopping little town. I don’t think my vision exists! ;) As for banking, I love that banks now have a mobile deposit feature. The only time I ever HAVE to go to the bank is if I have a cash deposit to make, which is rare. I’m trying to become more mustachian – but it’s not easy for me!

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