Jump to content

Mark Boyle (Moneyless Man)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mark Boyle
Boyle in 2009
Born (1979-05-08) 8 May 1979 (age 45)
Alma materGalway-Mayo Institute of Technology (BA)

Mark Boyle (born 8 May 1979), also known as The Moneyless Man, is an Irish writer best known for living without money from November 2008,[1] and for living without modern technology since 2016.[2] Boyle writes regularly for the British newspaper The Guardian, and has written about his experiences in a couple of books. His first book, The Moneyless Man: A Year of Freeconomic Living, was published in 2010.[3] His fourth book, The Way Home: Tales from a life without technology, was published in 2019.[4] Boyle lives near Loughrea, in the west of Ireland.[5]

Early life[edit]

Mark Boyle grew up in Ballyshannon, County Donegal. He took a degree in Business at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, before moving to Britain in 2002.[6][7]

During the final year of his degree, Boyle watched the film Gandhi, about the life of Mohandas K. Gandhi. He has frequently cited this as the moment that changed his life.[7][8]

Early career[edit]

During his first six years in Britain, Boyle lived in Bristol and managed two organic food companies. In 2007, after a conversation with a friend during which they decided "money... creates a kind of disconnection between us and our actions", Boyle set up the Freeconomy Community.[9]

Moneyless lifestyle[edit]

A few months after creating the Freeconomy Community, Boyle set out on a two-and-a-half-year trek from Bristol to Porbandar in India, the birthplace of Gandhi. Inspired by the nonviolent salt march led in India by Gandhi in 1930, and by the woman in America known as Peace Pilgrim, he set off in January 2008, carrying no money and only a small number of possessions.[10][11] However, he was forced to turn back only a month into the trip, as language barriers and difficulties in persuading people he would work for food and a place to stay halted his journey shortly after he arrived in Calais.[12] One of his travelling companions had travellers cheques for emergencies, which allowed them to travel back to the UK.[12] He had not planned the trip, believing it was best to let fate take its course.[12]

Later in the same year, Boyle developed an alternative plan: to live without money entirely. After some preparatory purchases (including a solar panel and wood-burning stove), he began his first year of "moneyless living" on Buy Nothing Day 2008.[13][14]

Boyle has received considerable positive and negative publicity for his moneyless lifestyle, appearing on television, radio and other media in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Australia, South Africa, United States and Russia. Much of the attention has focused on his day-to-day routine, including food, hygiene, and traditionally expensive aspects of life, such as Christmas.[15][16][17][18][19]

Mark Boyle is one of a small number of well-known individuals who have lived without money in recent times. These include Heidemarie Schwermer [de], Tomi Astikainen [fi] and Daniel Suelo.[20][21][22][23] However, Boyle frequently reminds his readers that a moneyless life is not a new idea; indeed it is the system of money itself that is the new development, having existed for only a small fraction of humanity's c. 200,000-year existence. Other observers note that for nearly all of recorded human history (the c. 5,000 years since the invention of writing) there has been a system of money or currency in place.[7][24]

Freeconomy Community[edit]

The Freeconomy Community was created to allow people to share, moving away from exchange economies towards a pay it forward philosophy. The original www.justfortheloveofit.org site shared similarities with websites such as The Freecycle Network, Freegle and Streetbank, and in 2014 Streetbank and Freeconomy decided that "the two projects would be so much stronger if they came together" and merged.[25]


Alongside the online component of the Freeconomy Community, several areas including Bristol and London hold Freeskilling sessions, where freeconomists take turns to pass on their skills in free one-off evening classes. Past topics have included subjects ranging from charity fundraising and anger management to bicycle maintenance, bread-making and campaigning skills.

Freeconomy Blog[edit]

Boyle has been the primary author of the Freeconomy Blog since it was launched in 2007. Guest writers have recently included fellow moneyless people Heidemarie Schwermer, Daniel Suelo and Tomi Astikainen.[26]

The Freeconomy Village[edit]

Boyle is currently working with others to set up the UK's first land-based Freeconomic community. Other founding members include Shaun Chamberlin, author of The Transition Timeline (2009), and Fergus Drennan, also known as the BBC's 'Roadkill Chef'.[19][27][28]


  • The Moneyless Man – Boyle's first book, The Moneyless Man: A Year of Freeconomic Living, was published in June 2010 by Oneworld Publications.[3] The book documents his first moneyless year, including many of the practical and philosophical challenges he faced. The author's proceeds go to the Freeconomy trust, towards purchasing land for the foundation of the Freeconomy Community.
  • The Moneyless Manifesto: Live well, live rich, live free – a follow-up guide to beginning your own moneyless journey, which he also offers free on his website (http://www.moneylessmanifesto.org/why-free/).
  • Drinking Molotov Cocktails with Gandhi – published October 2015. In this book, Boyle argues that our political and economic systems have brought us to the brink of climate catastrophe and peaceful protest is no longer enough to bring about change.
  • The Way Home: Tales from a life without technology – published June 2019.[29]
  • Ben Fogle: New Lives in the Wild Series 13, 2021


  • "If we grew our own food, we wouldn't waste a third of it as we do today. If we made our own tables and chairs, we wouldn't throw them out the moment we changed the interior decor. If we had to clean our own drinking water, we probably wouldn't contaminate it."[8]
  • "The degrees of separation between the consumer and the consumed have increased so much that we're completely unaware of the levels of destruction and suffering embodied in the stuff we buy."[8]
  • "If you don't own a plasma screen TV, people think you're an extremist."[8]
  • "It was really important for me to give up bank accounts so I closed my bank accounts so there was no safety net. I think that's the key. I think if I had a safety net I would not have got the benefits that I got from it. It was the fact that I knew I was living moment to moment, day to day."[30]
  • "I don't romanticize the past or the future. I know which way of life brings me the most peace and satisfaction."[31][32]
  • "Having lived entirely without money for three years previously, I was under no illusion that the so-called simple life was going to be the Romantic, bucolic idyll it’s all too often portrayed as. So I woke up the next day with mixed feelings. On the one hand I felt that sense of liberation that comes from no longer having any bills; on the other, that feeling of apprehension that comes from burning your bridges to modernity. Would unplugging from the industrial world mean I’d lose all touch with reality, or finally discover it? I was about to find out."[33]
  • "I've lived with tech and without, and I know which one brings me most peace and contentment."[34]
  • "I eat good food and have a warm, aesthetically pleasing house. I always make sure I have two or three years’ wood supply in and I’m ahead of the game in terms of planting, drying and prepping food. There is a timeless simplicity about my life."[35]
  • "I never actually liked anything about social media but continued using it for work. There is only so long you can be critical of the very thing you are using, so I said goodbye to the people I would never see or hear from again, quit each of my accounts, and went for a walk in the woods."[36]
  • "There's going to be 10 billion people very soon, the world's kind of an artificial intelligence world. I didn't really see this as a place I wanted to bring up kids in."[37]
  • "I've lost girlfriends in the past because of the city, it makes me feel angry at the big bad world that just keeps winning."[38]
  • "Keep loving as much as you can in life."[39]
  • "This is what is traditionally known as a hungry gap, where there's less food available. In the modern age, we don't really experience that because we go to the supermarket, but when you live as I do, the hungry gap is a real thing. It reminds us that food is not a given thing in life. When spring comes, you really appreciate your food."[40]
  • "Some people would find it difficult to do everything by hand as it can be very hard work – though I love it."[41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mark Boyle, "My year of living without money" The Guardian, 9 November 2009
  2. ^ Mark Boyle, "After two years off-grid, I'm embracing daily letters, good sleep and my DIY hot tub" The Guardian, 30 March 2019
  3. ^ a b Mark Boyle (16 September 2010). The Moneyless Man: A Year of Freeconomic Living. Oneworld Publications. ISBN 978-1-85168-781-7.
  4. ^ Mark Boyle (4 April 2019). The Way Home: Tales from a life without technology. Oneworld Publications. ISBN 978-1-78607-600-7.
  5. ^ Bryony Stone, "What do we own? Living off the land in Galway with the Moneyless Man" Unlimited, 16 August 2016, retrieved 17 May 2017
  6. ^ Conor Pope, "Putting cash in the trash", Irish Times, 9 August 2010
  7. ^ a b c Mark Boyle, "Mark Boyle – The Moneyless Man", The People's United Community, retrieved 14 February 2011
  8. ^ a b c d Mark Boyle, "I live without money – and I manage just fine", The Guardian, 28 October 2009
  9. ^ Matt Ford, Free and easy? One man's experiment in living without money", CNN, 18 May 2010, retrieved 29 September 2011
  10. ^ Kimberley Mok, ""Freeconomy" Pilgrim Begins Walk From Britain to India", Treehugger, 1 February 2008
  11. ^ BBC, "Penniless India trek is under way", BBC News, 30 January 2008
  12. ^ a b c Steven Morris, "Passage to India curtailed in Calais as language barrier trips campaigner", The Guardian, 1 March 2008
  13. ^ The Mirror, "Meet the man who lived on no cash for a year", The Mirror, 25 November 2009
  14. ^ Simon Newton, "Man To Go Cashless For A Year" Archived 29 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Sky News, 29 November 2008
  15. ^ Matt Ford, "Free and easy? One man's experiment in living without money" Archived 14 February 2011 at the Wayback Machine, CNN World, 18 Many 2010
  16. ^ Jessica Salter, "The man who lives without money", The Daily Telegraph, 18 August 2010
  17. ^ Mark Boyle, "Mark Boyle's 'Moneyless Man': Why I Live Without Money (VIDEO)", The Huffington Post, 23 September 2010
  18. ^ Mark Boyle, "The man who lives without money", ABC Environment, 12 April 2010
  19. ^ a b Tiara Walters, "Priceless liberation", Times Live (South Africa), 31 October 2010
  20. ^ Heidemarie Schwermer Living without Money
  21. ^ Stefanie Marsh, "Living without money", The Times, 24 November 2009
  22. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 31 March 2022. Retrieved 9 May 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  23. ^ Christopher Ketcham, "Meet the man who lives on zero dollars", Details, July 2009
  24. ^ David Fleming, "Money, The Fallacy of" LeanLogic.online, retrieved 15 June 2020
  25. ^ "Streetbank and Freeconomy unite to become the one-stop shop for neighbourhood sharing" Streetbank.com, retrieved 15 June 2020
  26. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 February 2011. Retrieved 15 February 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  27. ^ Shaun Chamberlin, "Dark Optimism – Projects Page", Dark Optimism (blog), retrieved 14 February 2011
  28. ^ Mark Boyle, "Celebrity Short With Mark Boyle", World News, retrieved 14 February 2011
  29. ^ "The Way Home: Tales from a Life Without Technology review". The Irish Times. Retrieved 22 June 2019.
  30. ^ "'Moneyless Mark' the Donegal man who plans to live in money-free community". Donegal Democrat. 20 May 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
  31. ^ https://www.rte.ie/news/ireland/2019/0425/1045504-mark-boyle-life-without-technology/
  32. ^ https://www.galwaybeo.ie/news/galway-news/irish-man-who-gave-up-8817482
  33. ^ https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/mark-boyle-quit-technology_uk_5e5fd9b6c5b6732f50ec0622
  34. ^ https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/mark-boyle-quit-technology_uk_5e5fd9b6c5b6732f50ec0622
  35. ^ https://www.thetimes.com/world/ireland-world/article/how-moneyless-man-mark-boyle-has-branched-beyond-technology-86j8wqlx3
  36. ^ https://www.thetimes.com/world/ireland-world/article/how-moneyless-man-mark-boyle-has-branched-beyond-technology-86j8wqlx3
  37. ^ https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/irishman-vasectomy-big-bad-world-romantic-struggles
  38. ^ https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/irishman-vasectomy-big-bad-world-romantic-struggles
  39. ^ https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/irishman-vasectomy-big-bad-world-romantic-struggles
  40. ^ https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/irishman-vasectomy-big-bad-world-romantic-struggles
  41. ^ https://www.independent.ie/business/personal-finance/save-while-saving-the-planet-how-to-be-eco-friendly-at-home/40347627.html

External links[edit]