Living simpler & deeper with The Moneyless Man

the-moneyless-man One man goes on a mission to live a year without money; James  tells us how it’s done.

If we take green living seriously, we all must examine every aspect of life, from consumerism through to energy use and our personal economic and social attitude. This is what Mark Boyle has done, to an extreme level – he has forsaken our regular monetary exchange system, and has lived and looked outside its constraints (and luxuries) for a year (and more) and written it up in ‘The Moneyless Man – A Year of Freeconomic Living’.

“Money no longer works for us. We work for it. Money has taken over the world. As a society, we worship and venerate a commodity that has no intrinsic value, to the expense of all else. What’s more, our entire notion of money is built on a system which promotes inequality, environmental destruction and disrespect for humanity.”

moneyless-man-bookcover What you didn’t know about mushrooms

It is an illuminating tale of the practicalities and difficulties of managing life without the lubrication we all moan about, struggle to earn (or revel in its abundance), and the network of transactions we associate with money.

Here on GP we’ve written about making your own soaps and cleaning solutions; Mark goes much further and describes how he makes toothpaste from cuttlefish and fennel seeds, and ink and paper from foraged mushrooms. He forages for food, grows his own, barters his time and energy in exchange for sacks of wheat (and is living on a farmers land in exchange for time given to the farm growing food).

He shuns buses and public transport, relying instead on his legs, his trusty bike, and occasionally sticking his thumb out.  There is a wealth of practical ‘how to’ information interspersed throughout the book. He includes tips on low impact transport, hitchhiking, keeping clean without toiletries, a hay fever remedy, making booze for free, and even offers up advice on menstruation!

He writes memorably about getting from Bristol to his hometown of Ballyshannon in County Donegal in Ireland (a distance of some 500 miles) by hitching.

Celtic Tiger Economy

Ironically, I lived just outside Ballyshannon myself a few years back, and resonate with how Mark painfully describes how the traditional way of life in Ireland has changed, all due to a growing economy and society’s shift to being part of a market-led and pressure-driven system, where we have less time for anyone else’s well-being. Rural Ireland is not anymore the peaceful haven of stone cottages with turf smoke lingering in the air; it is now the land of a virulent Celtic Tiger economy and its depressed aftermath.

“Another major motivation is much simpler and more emotional – I’m tired. I’m tired of witnessing the environmental destruction that takes place every day, and playing a part, however small, in it. …. I’m tired of seeing families and lands destroyed in the Middle East so that we in the West can fuel our lives on cheap energy. And I want to do something about it. I want community not conflict…”

moneyless-man-hiking Here in Bristol, Mark is a local hero: as well as being a warm and genuinely compassionate guy, he has set up the freeconomy network,  ran freeskilling evenings in a local café, where anyone could learn or teach a new skill ranging from yoga through to beer-making and identifying trees, and organised the Freeconomy Feast in November 2008, which fed 1000 people a meal from foraged and found food (for free), and provided entertainment and inspiration for at least 4,000 in a single – entirely moneyless – day!

Freeconomic Community

This is all detailed in chapter 14, but take my word for it, it was a hell of an achievement. I know he has even bigger plans in the pipeline: all proceeds from this (already best-selling) book will go to the creation of a Freeconomic Community, living communally together, based on values of mutual co-operation and trust, out of the regular economic system.

“ Living the slow life is definitely more time-consuming but I’d rather have it consumed this way than in watching a reality television show in the room we call ‘living’…if I didn’t really believe this, I wouldn’t put myself to so much trouble.”

Despite all this frenetic activity promoting the freeconomic life, Mark lives simply and frugally in a small caravan. He is the living proof that we don’t need to dispense with all the trappings of modern life, such as a phone (incoming calls only!) and a laptop – just power them from renewable sources. He has carved out a media career writing and philosophising about his efforts, and has been much sought out by the media.

I was bemused recently when I saw him on a daytime TV show where the presenter wove her piece around the question of whether a ‘moneyless man’ could be a good catch! Mark played along, using even this rather inane opportunity to cheerfully get the message across with a grin and his wonderfully distinctive Irish brogue. Many of the media images of him show him shirtless, chopping wood or just loving being in the natural surroundings of his home.

Far and wide

He lives deep in the English countryside, between Bristol and Bath, but his message is spreading far and wide. ‘The Moneyless Man’ has just been published in Korean (surely it must be coming out in both Hebrew and Arabic soon?), which shows how this simpler, more thoughtful and more turned on lifestyle really touches a nerve.

Watch video on Mark’s life:


Read this book if you care about the human impact upon the earth, if you are similarly angry and frustrated about this corrupt, oil-based economic system we live under, and read Mark’s book if you too want to make a difference.

‘The Moneyless Man – A Year of Freeconomic Living’ by Mark Boyle Published by 2010

Facebook Comments



Get featured on Green Prophet Send us tips and news:[email protected]

6 thoughts on “Living simpler & deeper with The Moneyless Man”

  1. I am following mark for past 2 years and love this guy. He is doing his bit of highlighting the issues we all human are effected and needs change to live happy and not a level of happiness based on whether you are billionaire or millionaire or just having few thousands dollars. We all have to do our bit .One can be happy with having needy things without money which money can buy now a days. I am not 100% moneyless but have cut down my spending to half and probably many have done such ways and that’s why the economy at present is rightly down worldwide and i hope such economy based on unequal money to people collapse completely so that we can live on resources based economy. Marks book “The Moneyless Man” proceeds will go to buying land for the First Freeconomy Village where all will be welcomed.Today 2.5 billion people have access to marks website which have more or less the same whats in the book for free. How will other 4.5 billion people get to know what mark has to say? .All things needed to publish is not available now so he has to do the same what slaves did in the past by buying their freedom with money and we are now slaves to money / bankers as mark rightly says. Most idea are robbed by other authors from the site of mark knowingly mark will not sue them as its against The Freeconomy concept. i wish all check his website (click my name),called “just for the love of it” before commenting . Money if used and not abuse or misused can be excellent but that’s not happening and wont happen.Key to happiness is to settle for needs and not greed’s (luxuries).

  2. James, Mark and all,

    I am half-way through this very important book (which is also a great read) and I dare say that even if you do not choose to follow the money-less path, it does make you reconsider your life choices.

    Visionaries are few, but they can make a big difference – this book (and possibly its author) definitely falls into this category.

    I love my comforts too much to go money-less, but now I know there is another way and I will probably change some of the ways I do things in life thanks to this very inspiring read. Well done.

  3. Peter says:

    as amazing and interesting as your freeconomic life has been when you hitch you do so because there is a road, when you use your labour on a farm you do so because there is a farm … i could go on but my point is you are doing something as a response to the situation you find yourself in, using knowledge that that situation has given you to change how you interact in that situation … i assume – perhaps wrongly – that you are not advocating everyone adopt your lifestyle because this would end your lifestyle, rather you are trying to make the point that we can all change our interaction with the world in order to make it more sustainable: both the world and our way of living in it (or on it) …

  4. Mark Boyle says:

    Hi Karin

    Yeah you need to follow what is important to you. When you say economic security, I assume you mean financial security? It sounds pedantic, but is actually a huge difference. Economics is not primarily concerned about money, its about how we meet our needs. Money is but one way of doing, a way I’ve argued is jeopardising your children’s ecological security (and therefore economic security).

    I’m actually very ‘economically secure’. In terms of security though – say you were ‘financially secure’, with say £100,000 in the bank, and the UK suffered hyperinflation such as other countries have, and your £100,000 could only buy a weeks groceries, would you then feel ‘economically secure’, meaning, would you know how to meet your needs following a monetary collapse?

    The word economy is one of the most misused in the English language, a bit like love. Most love is need masquerading itself as something as it. Anyway, I digress.

    Thanks Karin and James.

  5. James Murray-White says:

    a boat in a shed without a loo, sounds extreme K! don’t blame you. But Mark is the real deal, & a great inspiration, whether or not we follow him down the moneyless path….

  6. I’d say he’d be a great catch! I dated a moneyless man once, a freekonomic type, but with $5 in his bank account and living in a boat in a shed with no toilet, when he asked me to bear his children, I said I’d have to pass. At the end of the day, economic security is important to me.

Comments are closed.