A year without money
'The Moneyless Man' describes living for a year with no income and no expenses -- Dumpster diving, growing and foraging for food, riding a bike and using solar power.
This post comes from Mark Frauenfelder at partner site Credit.com.
In these lean times, people want to reduce their spending. It's easy to cut back on nonessentials such as video games and restaurant meals, but once you eliminate discretionary spending, you're stuck with an essentials budget that's hard to reduce. At least that's what most of us think.
Mark Boyle had different ideas. He'd been working as a businessman in the organic foods industry in England, and had become concerned about his relationship with money. To him, money was a negative influence: "It enables us to be completely disconnected from what we consume and from the people who make the products we use." He also believed money was largely responsible for environmental destruction and that banks spur this on by "pursu[ing] infinite economic growth on a finite planet."
So in 2008 Boyle decided to try living for a year without money. His self-imposed rules were simple: He would close his bank account and not spend or receive money (including checks and credit cards). He would live off-grid -- meaning he would produce his own energy for illumination, heat, food preparation and communicating with the outside world.
Boyle sold his houseboat and used the proceeds (a few thousand dollars) to get ready. Here are some of the things he did:
- He bought a $300 solar panel to keep his laptop and cell phone charged (accepting incoming calls didn't require subscribing to a cell phone plan).
- He obtained an old trailer for free from a woman who wanted to get rid of it.
- He made a deal with an organic farm to let him park the trailer on the land in exchange for a few hours' work each day.
- He built a compost toilet near his trailer to harvest the "humanure" for his gardening needs.
- He set up a solar shower, which consisted of a black plastic bag and a rubber hose for bathing.
- For heating the trailer, he bought a wood-burning stove made from an upcycled propane tank, and for cooking he built a "rocket stove," designed to produce high-heat using small pieces of wood.
- A bicycle provided transportation.
Started on Black Friday
He started his year of moneyless existence on international "Buy Nothing Day" (the day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday -- the biggest shopping day of the year). And he wrote about his experiences in his new book, "The Moneyless Man: A Year of Freeconomics Living."
Even though Boyle launched his experiment at the beginning of winter, when gardening and foraging for food was out of the question, he discovered that food wasn’t a problem. He found all he needed, and more, by Dumpster diving for products that supermarkets were required to throw out after the sell-by date expired. In the summer months, farming and foraging yielded additional food.
Transportation became an immediate problem. His bike tires punctured so frequently that he soon ran out of patching material. He posted about the situation on his blog, Freeconomy, and, fortunately, a company that makes solid, puncture-proof tires sent him some in exchange for a mention on his website. Post continues below.
Once Boyle got started, he fell into a routine. It was quite labor-intensive -- he had to wake up early and, in the winter months, put wood into the stove to heat up the trailer. Then he would have to go out and fire up his rocket stove to cook his food. If he needed to go into town, he had to hop on his bike and pedal 18 miles. He was busy from sunup to sundown.
Discovering simple pleasures
Summer was easier. In the book, Boyle recounts the pleasures of "long evenings walking in the woods, camping by the beach at the weekend, cooking food that you've grown and picked yourself, cycling, listening to acoustic music by a camp fire, wandering in the wild foraging berries, apples and nuts, skinny-dipping in the lake, and sleeping under the stars."
At the end of the year, Boyle organized a festival for 1,000 people who came to enjoy free food and drink, made with the help of friends who foraged, Dumpster dived and bartered for the food, as well as fermented the beer and wine that was given away. The festival, along with his experiences over the year, prompted Boyle to make the decision to remain moneyless after the year-long experiment. He used the advance from the book to establish a trust to purchase a plot of land for a moneyless community.
Inspiration for living with less
I suspect that most people who read this book won't want to go completely moneyless. But it could inspire them to think about ways to reduce spending. For example, you can prepare more of your meals at home from fresh ingredients rather than eat at restaurants. You can play board games at home with friends and family instead of going to the movies, and you can invite friends over for impromptu amateur music jam sessions instead of going out to concerts and nightclubs.
Before Boyle started his experiment, he had prepared himself by learning "carpentry, vegetable growing, permaculture design, medicine, clothes making and repairing, cooking, bushcraft, and teaching." It turns out that these skills, while valuable, were of secondary importance to the "primary skills" for freeconomic living: "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."
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Boyle sold his houseboat and used the proceeds (a few thousand dollars) to get ready.
See, THAT'S what all the homeless people are doing wrong. They should sell their houseboats and use the money to prepare to live without money. It's all so clear now.
I'd like to point out this isn't living without money. It's living on someone else's money.
Someone's elses land, someone else's trailer, someone else's, someone else's food, someone else's bicycle tires.
So this is just glorified freeloading. Been around for years. Completely unfeasible on a larger scale.
And the guy on here who thinks we should live like the Indians did. Are you kidding? Do you think there's enough animals and other resources for over 300 million people? Can you imagine what it would be like to have that many people hunting, fishing and foraging for food. Again, it would come down to burning wood for heat and cooking, and how long would that last.
It's nothing but a pipe dream.
I agree with a lot of the other comments. I enjoy reading about people living off the land except this particular guy is a real crock. Only a year, with a few thousand dollar head start, probably with the intention all along to write a book and make money off of it? psh
Right now there's a guy around off the coast of Mexico that truely gave up monetary living, literally building his own lil' island using purely plastic bottles as the base to keep him afloat. Growing his own food and purifying his own water on his plastic bottle island haha. How about you give that dude a shout out MSN!
Perhaps he didn't truly go "money-less," but he went a lot further than anybody else on here (including myself) could have gone.
Anyway, whatever, good for him and the book, movie rights, blog, etc., will mean money in the bank in 2012. Next step--get a life with another human or at least with some human contact.
I saw somewhere in these posts a nasty remarks about "lowering his standard of living", using it as a stunt to make money, using money to buy a generator....
You miss the point dumbos!
Living is what you do with other humans...not what what kind of BMW you have. Until we remove ourselves from thinking we are somehow superior to others because we own more stuff--we will keep breeding unhappy people who live in quiet desperation and fear that somehow someone is going to get a bigger slice of pie than them (and after all they worked SO hard to get their pie). Self-righteous prix.
So retreat into your McMansion and keep putting SHXT on your grass to keep it green and driving $50,000. cars. It will stop one day and you won't have a clue as to what to do next. I was in London 15 years ago and gasoline was well over $6.00 gal (yes I converted liters to gal and pounds to dollars). What will happen to your utilities, food, transportation, plastic mfg cost (EVERYTHING) when the US starts paying a realistic price for oil?
What happens when your ego is sold off for pennies on the dollar? Your Escalade or your Benz won't start! You might think about this guy with the $300. solar panel. The "solution" can only be found in your HEART. Politics ain't gonna get anything done. Its only until we redefine "success" that the US will come out of this dark place.
Good luck to you! I'm sure it will bring you great comfort to be "right"--when you are starving and freezing in the dark!
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