Stephenie Meyer’s The Host: Three Big Money Lessons from a World Without Bank Accounts or Currency

Posted in Banking , Entertainment Finance • March 24, 2013

Fans of Twilight author Stephenie Meyer have a new event to look forward to, with the release of The Host, a movie adaptation of her 2008 novel of the same name. But the storyline of The Host departs from the usual fare of werewolves and vampires that have been the calling card of Meyer’s wildly popular Twilight saga — and enters the realm of aliens.

The Host takes place after the Souls have invaded Earth and taken over all but a few scattered pockets of humans that must hide to survive. While this sci-fi movie has a similar premise to others of the body-snatching alien genre, it is offers a much more altruistic and peaceful species of aliens. The Souls are peaceful and selfless, and this is reflected in how they have set up their economy.

Welcome to a New Age: The Economy in “The Host”

In The Host, an alien race known as Souls has invaded Earth — and human bodies. “This is the future,” says the trailer, “and humanity is all but extinct. We have been invaded by another species who erase our minds to take our bodies. But there are a few of us left who still fight back.”

Earth looks largely the same, as the Souls adapt the lifestyle and habits of theirs hosts. Souls drive cars, they attend college, they visit the grocery store for food, they go to work, but with one major difference: There are no bank accounts, and no need for currency at all.

Each Soul has a Calling,” a job to which they are specifically suited. It could be Healer (the Soul version of a doctor), professor, or photographer, or gas station attendant. Souls don’t work for a paycheck, however; they work simply to fulfill their Calling and to contribute to their society.

When it comes to the necessities of life, the Souls have a “share and share alike” approach, taking only what and as much as they need, without exchanging currency, whether it is food, a place to live or a car. This system works because Souls are unfailingly honest — “Souls did not, as a rule, speak anything but the truth,” Wanderer explains in the book. “Between Souls there was never reason for a lie.”

The Human Resistance in The Host

The story’s protagonist is a Soul named Wanderer, played in the film by Saoirse Ronan, who takes over the body of a young human woman (Melanie) who had been part of the resistance.

However, as Wanderer finds out, being human isn’t easy. The process that should have wiped out Melanie has failed for some reason — and while Wanderer maintains control of her body, she can sense Melanie’s consciousness, hear thoughts Melanie directs at her and even access Melanie’s memories. “Human bodies take a lot of getting used to,” warns a Soul in The Host trailer. “They’re not like the others we have inhabited; their emotions are powerful.” So powerful that Wanderer finds herself learning to care for Melanie’s younger brother, Jamie, and her lover, Jared, and eventually seeks them out.

Wanderer finds the resistance hideout where Jared has ended up, a network of caves hidden in the Sonoran desert of Arizona. The a small group of humans have taken up inhabitance there, and subsist on whatever food and goods they can steal from the Souls, subsidized by the meager crops they are able to grow in the caves.

The humans have much less to go around than the Souls do, but the economy their small society operates is strikingly similar to that of the Souls, or a commune. Like the Souls and their Callings, each member of the resistance’s society is expected to contribute, whether that is by preparing meals, tending to crops or running dangerous supply raids. The supplies are rationed out and each member receives a fair share.

Financial Lessons from Both Societies in The Host

With our consumerist, money-driven society, it’s hard to imagine living as either the Souls or humans in The Host do, with no bank accounts to worry about, no money to earn or track, and no budgeting needed, but it sounds pretty nice. If you’re a fan of The Host or can see the appeal of an economic system like this, here are some ways to bring a bit of the “new age” to your finances.

1. Join a Credit Union

“People helping people,” is a common motto among credit unions, a motto that Souls would wholly support.

Credit unions are not-for-profit financial institutions that are owned and run by credit union members. Because they are not run for a profit, all earnings are used to improve the credit union, offer a wider range of services with lower fees and provide members with competitive interest rates and offers.

By joining a credit union, you become a member of a financial cooperative that works together to help each member see success in their own finances.

2. Give to Charity

Both the Souls and humans in The Host freely share what they have with others. In the Souls’ world, nobody wants for anything, and problems like poverty, illness and hunger don’t exist. Why not find a charity or cause that you feel strongly about and donate your time or money? By giving to charity, you can bring our world that much closer to the kind of harmony the Souls enjoy.

3. Take a Do-It-Yourself Approach

The small group of humans in The Host are expert DIYers. Not only do they grow their own food, but they do so in a cave with the help of a complex system of mirrors that direct sunlight down on their crops. They make their own goods like soap and shampoo, and live by the saying, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

You could try bring a bit of this attitude home by growing some of your own food — even if it starts as a simple basil plant in the kitchen window. Or you could jump on the recent bandwagon of mixing up your own cleaners, detergents and other household goods. Taking the do-it-yourself approach is often cheaper and can be a great way to add to your savings account.

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