The Money-Less Man: How long could you live on NO money?

Here is another excellent book for my frugal bookshelf – The Moneyless Man: a year of freeconomic living by Mark Boyle.

It was written as a response to the author’s observation about how disconnected we are to what we consume. We rarely stop to think about where the products we purchase come from, who produced them, what their social and environmental cost was or how destructive some of our shopping habits are. As he says, ‘If we all had to grow our own food, we wouldn’t waste a third of it…If we had to make our own tables and chairs, we wouldn’t throw them out the moment we changed the interior decor’.

He decided that for one year he would not receive or spend money. He lived off grid in a caravan he got from Freecycle. He parked it on a farm in return for his labour. He built a compost toilet and grew much of his own food. He also ate waste food rescued from supermarket skips and foraged wild food. He relied on a bicycle for transport and, since he couldn’t pay anyone when it needed repair, had to do himself. He made home-brew – the point wasn’t to be austere and joyless, and fun was allowed!

Although I couldn’t see myself living in this way, reading this book made me realise how much I could do without and still live a happy and comfortable life with less damage to the environment. The story of Mark Boyle’s year without money is extraordinary and hugely inspiring.

You can, of course, order it for free from the library, but if you choose to purchase it through my link I will receive a small commission.

15 thoughts on “The Money-Less Man: How long could you live on NO money?

  1. A step too far for me. Let’s be honest here …….several steps, but nevertheless it is a thought provoking idea.

    As you indicated in one of your recent blogs, if we take a hard look at our expenditure, we could all do without many of the things we consider necessities (after all, unless it is required for work, we don’t actually NEED an Internet connection at home but I certainly wouldn’t want to do without it. In reality, it’s all about making choice as an individual. Life is for living and priorities differ. For myself, I would forgo many things (and indeed have done so) before giving up my regular wash & blowdry. I am very fortunate in that my daughter-in-law has her own hairdressing business and she insists that I pay a lot less than the going rate. I know that she would do it for no payment at all, but I refuse to take advantage.

  2. I think this is an interesting idea and know of others who have done this for a period of time. However, it isn’t something I could do at this stage of life (I would never find my wheelchair or glasses or massage for pain relief on Freecycle, for example and I already pare down other expenses so I can pay for those which are not covered by insurance).

    • Elizabeth, it’s definitely not for everyone. What is interesting is how resourceful people can be when they need to .

  3. I love reading about other people’s journeys and experiences, very thought provoking thanks. I’ll order it from the library as I’ve just finished reading stuffocation and I’m trying not to buy any more books or clutter!

  4. Oh dear, not for me although I am having a no spend on useless things for lent.. but I like my luxury of a warm, and hot water home, with a comfy bed and toilet near for my night time visits!!

  5. That sounds right up my street – thanks!

    A few years ago I borrowed “How I lived on a pound a day for a year” by Kath Kelly.
    She was working in Bristol, but saving for her brother’s wedding, so after bills, rent etc were paid she pledged to live on no more than £1 a day for all her other outgoings.
    It was an amazing read for one who dreams of being such a free spirit. She even managed 2 holidays – including one in France, on her self-imposed budget!!

    On a scale of economy, I wondered if I could feed and clothe my family of 7 on £7 a day/£49 a week!!
    Now I’m down to 4 people at home in the week which would be £28 a week (£4×7). I’d say my food budget alone is very close to that at the moment, but then lunch money for the 3 teens goes and doubles it! 🙁 Wish I could get them to take packed lunches, but going out of college to get lunch with their friends is an important stage for them too!
    Just as well we don’t really buy much else, other than topping up oyster cards! 😀

  6. It’s a really good book, I’ve had my copy for quite a while.

    We are pretty much setting ourselves up to be able to live on as little as possible for the future. I grow our own vegetables and fruit, (we have a polytunnel, net tunnel, veggie patch, fruit orchard and nut orchard), we raise chickens for eggs and meat, have access to pheasant and rabbits on our hillside and in our woodland, we have 45 solar panels, with a battery back-up for night time. We gather rainwater in a huge underground tank for all outdoor jobs (plant watering etc) …. but even with all this I doubt we could ever live without ANY cash …. even for just a year!!

  7. I might read as a way to get more creative ideas on reducing my current spending, but I still know I am a slave to consumerism. Still, there is a lot to gain by bringing back many concepts of a barter economy, and I am always happy to share my skills (limited), and accept to others willing to lend a hand. I think that builds healthy communities, however a community might be defined.

  8. due to my medical issues there is not a chance I could last very long without money…here in the US it’s needed for co-pays, prescriptions and so much more…that being said…I am becoming more frugal every day…making do and doing without …this year I’m going to start a little container “salsa” garden…

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