Mark Boyle
Boyle in 2009
Born (1979-05-08) 8 May 1979 (age 44)
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

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

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

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

The Freeconomy Community was created to allow people to share, moving away from exchange economies towards a pay it forward philosophy. The original 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

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

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]



See also


  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", retrieved 15 June 2020
  25. ^ "Streetbank and Freeconomy unite to become the one-stop shop for neighbourhood sharing", 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.