by: Mark Boyle
Imagine a year without spending or even touching money. Former businessman Mark Boyle did just that and here is his extraordinary story. Going back to basics and following his own strict rules, Mark learned ingenious ways to eliminate his bills and discovered that good friends are all the riches you need. Encountering seasonal foods, solar panels, skill-swapping schemes, cuttlefish toothpaste, compost toilets and - the unthinkable - a cash-free Christmas, Boyle puts the fun into frugality and offers some great tips for economical (and environmentally friendly) living. A testament to Mark's astounding determination, this witty and heart-warming book will make you re-evaluate your relationship to your wallet.
Mark Boyle, whose website justfortheloveofit.org is a hub for community sharing, did just that. How do friends and family react, what do you eat, where do you live? How does it affect your social life and relationships? How do you stay in touch with friends? In the process of finding out, Mark explores the troubling consequences of our obsession with money, seeking solutions to the problem of what money has become, and shows how we can reconnect with what we consume and the people who make the products we use. Encountering cuttlefish toothpaste, seasonal foods, skill-swapping schemes, and compost toilets, Mark even faces a cash-free Christmas. Following his own strict rules, Mark goes back to basics and learns ingenious ways to eliminate his bills and flourish for free, revealing indispensable tips for economical and environmentally friendly living. The Moneyless Man is testament to astounding determination through adversity and will inspire you to question what really matters in life.
336pp, 135mm x 216mm, Paperback, 2010
You can read a free sample chapter of The Moneyless Man here.
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 we want to be truly sustainable in the long term, I really believe that this is what we need to do. The modern conveniences we have grown to love, the washing machines, dishwashers and cars, come from an industrialised society, with the pollution and environmental destruction that go hand-in-hand with it. If I didn’t really believe this, I wouldn’t put myself to so much trouble.
My only frustration, I suppose, was that people around me hadn’t, understandably, really grown to appreciate how much more demanding this life was both of my energy and my time. They expected me to live the fast life alongside my slow life, go to meetings in the city two or three times a week and do all the things I had to do. Sometimes I wished they could swap places with me just for a couple of days. But I had made my bed; there was no point moaning about the state of the sheets.
I came across a Sioux Indian, John Lame Deer. He summarised how he felt about being made to use money – and hence become ‘civilized’ – by white men:
Before our white brothers came to civilize us we had no jails.
Therefore we had no criminals.You can’t have criminals without
a jail.We had no locks or keys and so we had no thieves. If a man
was so poor that he had no horse, tipi or blanket, someone gave
him these things.We were too uncivilized to set much value on
personal belongings.We wanted to have things only in order to
give them away.We had no money and therefore a man’s worth
couldn’t be measured by it.We had no written law, no attorney
or politicians, therefore we couldn’t cheat.We were in a really
bad way before the white man came and I don’t know how we
managed to get along without the basic things which, we are
told, are absolutely necessary to make a civilized society.
No matter what way of life you choose, lessons appear every day. The problem is, we’re not usually very receptive to them. Worse still, we often see the lessons as failures, hassles or even disasters, rather than as a chance to learn something new. In The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck said: ‘Life is difficult ... but once we truly understand and accept this ... then life is no longer difficult’. In some respects my year was difficult and in
others it was the happiest time of my life. In the summer of my experiment, I’d accepted that life isn’t always meant to be ‘perfect’ and that I had no god-given right to everything this society tells me I could have. I surrendered to the fact that life was just the way it’s meant to be at all times: perfectly imperfect. After that, accepting the little hassles, the little inconveniences that living without money inevitably throws your way became fun.
My experiment was a complete change in how I lived. I learned more things in that year than in any twelve-month period I’d ever lived through. Some so subconsciously that Ididn’t even know that I learned them.