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The Moneyless Man: A Year of Freeconomic Living [Hardcover]

Mark Boyle

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Book Description

Sept. 1 2010
The astonishing reality of living without our most important resource. Imagine a year without spending any money. Former businessman Mark Boyle did just that and here is his extraordinary and compelling story. Going back to basics and following his own strict rules, Mark learned ingenious ways to eliminate his bills and flourish for free. Encountering seasonal foods, solar panels, skill-swapping schemes, cuttlefish toothpaste, compost toilets and – the unthinkable – a cash-freeChristmas, Boyle puts the fun into frugality and offers some great tips for economical (and environmentally friendly) living. Highlighting the huge wastage inherent in modern Western living – we throw away a third of our food – Mark explains how to feed yourself for free with "the four legs of the food-for-free table". From making paper out of mushrooms and to constructing a rocket stove from discarded catering cans, Mark advocates a return to local economics where we can see the consequences of what we consume. Heart-warming and witty, learn how Mark's mission affected his relationships. What did his parents think of his crusade? Can you keep a girlfriend when you are moneyless? Do your friends keep in contact when you can't go out for a beer? A testament to Mark's astounding determination, this thought-provoking book will make you re-evaluate your relationship to your wallet. Mark Boyle has founded the worldwide ‘freeconomic' movement. An economics graduate and former business director, he is Irish and lives in Bristol in the UK. His website (justfortheloveofit.org) receives up to 30,000 hits a day and has become a hub for community sharing with over 17,000 members worldwide (many in the US). His story has been reported worldwide and he is an excellent self-publicist. He has been covered in media including: Wall Street Journal, CNN, Huffington Post, New York Metro, BBC World Service, Guardian of London, Sky News, The Times of London, The Star of Canada, La Presse of Canada. Mark is lined up to be interviewed on CNN shortly as The Connector of the Day – a slot which goes out to 300 million people worldwide. He also plans to do a moneyless tour of the US to coincide with publication, where based on previous coverage, he expects major press interest. As he will be hitch-hiking (illegal in the US) and promoting this, he expects more publicity if and when he is arrested.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (Sept. 1 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1851687815
  • ISBN-13: 978-1851687817
  • Product Dimensions: 25.3 x 15.6 x 2.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #368,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"The fascinating story of an important social experiment, told with humility, insight and great humor. Mark is a brave and big-hearted character whose example is an invitation to all of us to change the way we live – not just because we should, but also because we might enjoy it. Essential" Chris Cleave, New York Times #1 bestselling author of Little Bee

"Intriguing. It makes several very important points. A powerful look not so much into the past as into the future." Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy: Economics as if the World Mattered

About the Author

Mark Boyle founded the worldwide “freeconomy” movement. An economics graduate and former businessman, he is Irish and lives in Bristol in the UK. His website (justfortheloveofit.org) has become a hub for community sharing with over 20,000 members worldwide, many in the USA. His remarkable journey has been featured in a variety of media including The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Huffington Post, New York Metro, The Thom Hartmann Program, BBC World Service, The Star of Canada, and many more.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  35 reviews
67 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real eye-opener Oct. 7 2010
By Dr. Cathy Goodwin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Since I work on the Internet, where every other post is about "creating wealth" and "overcoming your money blocks," this book was really refreshing. It's well-written and easy to read. The author manages to avoid seeming self-righteous; he focuses on what he did and even admits that, at times, he was a little too concerned with following his own rules. I especially liked the parts where he talks about finding genuine joy in what he was doing: eating delicious food, hiking and having time to think.

The obvious challenge is, we can't all do this. Someone has to write and publish the books. Some of us are simply less talented than others. Our modern life is set up for car travel, even if you hitch hike or get rides with friends.

Additionally, if we buy fewer products and services, we are displacing ordinary people from jobs. The only way to make this work on a large scale is to establish communities, as he discusses.

On the other hand, we can simplify our lives. I stopped watching television a long time ago (although I did go to a sports bar to watch the WNBA finals this year).
I don't drive a car, but to make this option feasible I live in a big city with a lot of other things that create a big carbon footprint.

Ultimately the book makes a powerful statement that's quite memorable. The author's matter-of-fact British style helps a lot. It will be interesting to see what he does next and whether the book can make a difference beyond a book and a few feature stories.
50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Inevitable Comparison Sept. 3 2010
By Chris Bowen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I had just finished reading, "Twelve by Twelve," by William Powers. It's his account of living in an off-grid structure that is twelve by twelve feet. I loved the book. The fact that Powers was able to make toilet composting and foraging dramatic and fascinating speaks a lot to his ability as a writer. The same can be said of Mark Boyle's book. After reading an on-line article about his experience and watching it pop up over and over again on my list of Amazon recommendations, I caved in and purchased the book. I was a bit hesitant. I mean, how many books about composting and tea made from nettles can one guy read?

I'm glad I bought the book. And, I'm glad I read the two books back-to-back. Two great takes on one fascinating life strategy. Where Powers left me feeling very spiritual and took great pains to avoid judgment, Boyle gave me a constant sense of urgency and felt compelled to keep reminding me of my carbon footprint and wasteful ways. The book could have been too preachy, but Boyle is able to make his points over and over without putting the reader on the defense. That's effective writing. I also enjoyed Boyle's side-bars from everything to making paper to websites that promote swapping items as apposed to making more of something. I recommend both books. And, I recommend reading them close together. It was a great reading experience.

Chris Bowen
Author of Our Kids: Building Relationships in the Classroom
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Nov. 16 2010
By Heather A. Conrad - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Like other books in this genre of "A year doing x", Moneyless Man is part diary, part treatise and part self-help book. This one is a fascinating read. Mark Boyle appears to be a remarkable individual. Passionate to the point of fanaticism, yet touchingly sincere and exceptionally conscientious. In fact, I felt for him with his outsize conscience but then realized he has a terrific sense of fun and camaraderie; and in the course of his year without money he created some stunning achievements. He's very persuasive about the central issues: What is a life joyfully lived? What is the basis of human relationships, and humans' relationship with nature? These questions sound abstract, but Boyle manages to make them very earthy with his real-life experiment and his deeply honest tale.

Because Boyle was a business major at his university he has a good grasp of economics and a gift for making difficult concepts simple. Along with the wealth of information I gleaned from this book, finally understanding the credit crunch of 2008 was another benefit. Good reading. Important stuff.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Kindness of Strangers and Their Money (How he did it.) Aug. 20 2011
By Woods Woman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
He won't buy gasoline or a car, but he will accept a ride from someone who is buying and using gasoline for their car as he hitchhikes back home for Christmas. He won't buy tools for cutting trees, but he will borrow them to cut firewood as he lives through his first winter in a gifted, used fourteen foot camper trailer. He will accept handouts of things he would have bought the year previous his adventure, so going moneyless for a year is sounding to me more of someone who's more against global economics and the troubles it will produce on many levels (from unfair trade to carbon foot prints) than local economics where food and energy is produced locally and where it's impact (good or bad) is felt almost immediately.

He's learned that it takes a group of people to survive as he did better than on your own. That's one of the reasons he's such an oddity, I believe. When he ate moldy bread, a friend cared for him as he recovered. It was the kindness of strangers that carried him home for Christmas and back home to his camper.

The book reminds me more of someone living the hobo / squatter life for a year than someone trying to leave as small a carbon footprint as possible. It does have some good tips though on living the hobo / squatter lifestyle. It serves as a reminder that we are better off in groups during times when we are forced off the grid through disasters or extended periods of unemployment.

I like the book, but know better than to ever do something like this alone. And he's not going entirely moneyless either. He's using other people's money to get them to do things for him. That's why I gave it three stars, too. Two stars for the story and one star because I like the way he writes.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Expected detailed description on Daily Life March 7 2013
By Johnny 88 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I heard Mark Boyle speak on NPR and was compelled to buy this book because I was hoping it would be detailed in how to live without money for a year. I was very disappointed. The book is 201 pages of large print. In this short book, it covered mostly the idea of human impact on the earth and what can be done differently in broad strokes. If that is what you are looking for I give the book 3 stars.

I will give you some examples of what I was hoping for.
During this year of no money he gains weight. This is despite being vegan, living off of mostly food he grew himself , foraged, or dumpster dived AND was extremely physically active. He would do 120 pushups every morning and ride his bike 60 miles a week. On the back cover of the book there is a picture of him with his shirt off and he is a beefcake. How did he accomplish this from a diet of chard and dandelions??? He did not write in detail on what he ate. Cooking? Again unclear - it almost seemed that all of his meals were steamed vegetables. For an entire year!!!! Then this gets into really how many meals was he provided as a barter exchange - again I have no idea because Mark did not elaborate. I would have been interested in what work did he do, and what kind of food did he get in exchange - I was hoping for all the nitty gritty. Finally, he had a vegetable garden going as he started his endeavor. Mark does not explain anything about the work done on this garden prior the start of the money less year. On page 135 he lists all the potential food he could eat during the summer. Nice list, but that is not telling a story. And what about the story during the non-summer months? The list has 31 items grown - does that mean Mark grew them all? That is an amazing feat in itself - but again, Mark does not elaborate.

I feel Mark glossed over various details to make it seem much easier to live with out money than it actually is. Some more examples: He supposedly drank from a river possibly exclusively. It did flood, and typically when rivers flood they get very murky - any issues drinking muddy water? Not mentioned.

He lives in a small trailer. Late fall and all of winter it is cold and dark around 6pm. How did he deal with this? Apparently a piece of cake. He has a hand crank flash light, and that is about all we know. How did he keep warm? What kind of clothes did he have? Bedding? He does not elaborate. If it is cold and you crawl into bed at 7pm - then what? Wake up 8 hours later in the dark at 3am? Mark does not explain - other that it is no problem. I suspect he was warming up as much a possible in peoples homes, or some building he was helping out at. I truly believe the cold and dark for months would be a struggle. He does not even allude to this, so I wonder if it is because he wants to maintain the impression that this lifestyle is so doable.

Towards the end of his moneyless year, he sets out chopping wood in March, so he would have it for fuel in case he decides to go for a 2nd year. What is unexplained is why did he have to do that for year 2 if he did not have to for year 1. Did he use up ALL the wood/fuel from other sources in year 1? No explanation.

He gets lonely and puts an ad out to find a date. Does not say where he posted the ad, and did any ladies respond. If none did - tells us about it. If some did, what did you do on your dates? How did it go? Who were the girls? Mark gives us nothing.

Mark writes about the great thing about hitchhiking is meeting great people. He does some hitchhiking, but does not give us a crumb on any of these great people he met.

He has skills in raising food and foraging. Not a peep about how he learned these skills.

I thought I was going to read a book full of daily life details on such an interesting undertaking. But what I got mostly was theories on what is wrong with the world, how it could be different, and only broad strokes on the daily life being moneyless.
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