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There’s such a thing as being really frugal but can you truly survive without money? How would you acquire the things that you need? Could you feed, clothe, and provide shelter for yourself without going to extreme measures? Would you find it freeing to be rid of all the material things weighing you down physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially?
One man, Mark Boyle, decided to conduct a yearlong experiment living without money. In his book, The Moneyless Man, he states, “I don’t see myself as a hugely spiritual person in the traditional sense. I try to practice what I call ‘applied spirituality’, in which I apply my beliefs in the physical world, rather than them being something abstract I talk about but rarely practice. The less discrepancy there is between the head, the heart, and the hands, the closer you are, I believe, to living honestly. To me, the spiritual and physical are two sides of the same coin.”
Mark’s strong beliefs about the world around him and desire to live a simpler lifestyle led him to conduct an experiment where working for and using money was strictly forbidden. He was able to acquire the things he needed by foraging, dumpster diving, and skillsharing. Although his modest dwelling wasn’t furnished with the latest flatscreen TV or gaming system, he did have access to a laptop computer and solar panel which he used to record his day-to-day experiences. This allowed him to share his experience with the world.
He notes just how long it takes to wash and dry clothes in the winter, to travel across Ireland by hitchhiking, and warming his modest dwelling using a rocket stove. He speaks highly about the people he encountered throughout his journey and the ways that they made an impression on him. Although Mark did without money, he certainly was rich in so many other ways. That’s what made me want to read his book in the first place. His head and his heart were in the right place throughout his year of moneyless living. There’s a lot to be learned from his experience, that’s for sure.
A year is a long time to do without money. Yet, millions of people live on less than the equivalent of one US dollar a day. Mark sums up the lessons in the last chapter of his book. Here are a few that I can appreciate:
- Don’t underestimate others. There are far more supportive people in the world than you can imagine.
- Communal-sufficiency is better than self-sufficiency. Small numbers of people who work interdependently are ideal because they have more to offer one another.
- You have to be prepared. Although Mark believed that things like carpentry and vegetable-growing were essential, he soon learned that “physical fitness, self-discipline, genuine care and respect for the planet and the species that live on it, and the ability to give and share, are the ‘primary skills’ for this way of living.”
- Community is security, money isn’t. Giving freely with no expectations of receiving strengthens faith.
- Money isn’t everything. Living without money allows you to take advantage of local goods and materials, makes you more aware of your community’s needs, and gives you a deeper appreciation for the things you do have.
If you’re overemployed or underemployed or unemployed, there is a lot you can learn from The Moneyless Man Mark Boyle. You can pick up a copy of his book on Amazon or better yet, see if your local library has it for you to borrow. Chances are, you’ll be like me and disappointed every time you have to set your copy down without finishing it.
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Filed Under: Frugal Living
About the Author: Charissa Arsaoui is a freelance writer with a love for thrift. She contributes to many different personal finance blogs.
This seems like one of those things that works, as long as everybody doesn't do it. To hitchhike, somebody else needs to pay for cars. To dumpster dive, somebody else needs to buy things and throw them away. It's still a pretty interesting idea.
This experiment is extremely facinating and, whether he chose to do this for the experience or for the authorship rights, I am sure that he transformed as a man staying disciplined to his focus. Does the book mention what the first things he did the week after his experiment concluded? Was he nomadic throughout the duration of the project?
I appreciate your thoughts and summary.
To your success,
Andrew Shigeru Christison
Hmm... How much did he make with the book deal? I'm always skeptical about these kind of stunt - eat with in 15 miles, etc.. Did he do this just to write a book? I'll have to get it from the library.
This is really fascinating. It reminds me of the documentary "No-impact man". It sounds crazy to do stuff like this, but it reminds you to be aware of how much you really consume without even thinking about it - whether that's garbage or money.