Mark Boyle is chap from Britain who lives without money. I used to read his stuff in the Guardian, but I’d sort of forgotten about him until my friend Greg posted a link to his archived columns today. I hope Mr Boyle is still going strong.

What have I learned? That friendship, not money, is real security. That most western poverty is of the spiritual kind. That independence is really interdependence. And that if you don’t own a plasma screen TV, people think you’re an extremist.

Mark lived in a caravan, powered his laptop and telephone with solar power, ate homegrown and foraged food, and spent his time writing and using his laptop for activism. None of this cost a penny after the initial setup. I may be wrong, but I think he lives in an eco-village now, still independent of money.

Like many Escapologists (from no-money caravan dwellers to big-money extreme early retirees), Mark shows it can be done. With a little perseverance in one direction or another, we can break away from conventional habits and have more rewarding, more efficient, greener lives. It’s not just for our own benefit either: removing oneself from the cash economy is for everyone’s benefit, no matter what those growth-enthusiasts say.

All I am trying to say is that I believe money is like oil: if we are going to use it, let’s at least use it to build sustainable infrastructure for the future, and not meaningless tat.

This is probably a nod towards E. F. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful, in which the economist suggests we use fossil fuels only as capital investment: that is to use them only to build better, more sustainable energy resources and infrastructures. We’re starting to do that now, especially in places like Germany and Scotland but it took way longer than it should have done.

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Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

5 Responses to “Cashless”

  1. Sean says:

    How did he manage to get telephone service without money?

  2. I don’t know precisely, but a free telephone doesn’t seem difficult to me. In the UK, you can have a telephone without “service” (or “contract” as they call it there). You just buy the handset for about $10 or beg a free one from a friend: most people will have a drawer full of old mobile phones and will be happy to part with one.

    The same goes for the laptop, caravan etc: they can be bought for cheap, or in someway begged for, borrowed, or salvaged.

    He’d have to pay money to make outgoing phone calls, but he says that the telephone is for incoming calls only. (Besides, I imagine there’s a way of getting free outgoing calls via a VOIP thing these days if you’re clever).

  3. tom says:

    For more inspiration on this subject, check out Daniel Suelo, a truly “cashless” man:

  4. Tony says:

    how can one get the internet free without paying?…I know it’s free at the public library…but I mean using one’s own laptop or desktop…

  5. I don’t rightly know. Maybe he doesn’t have Internet access on his laptop at all: one could work offline and then upload everything at free public networks when the opportunity arises. Or maybe he acquired a charged pay-as-you-go broadband dongle, either for free or paid for as part of his initial startup. The answer might be in his columns.

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