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Cost of Living in the UK Plummets to $0

10/07/2011

Image credit: abcactionnews.com

That is, if your name is Mark Boyle.

In 2008, Mark Boyle set out to live the entire next year for free. He closed his bank account and boycotted money altogether. It took some cash to set up, of course–a few grand, which he acquired by selling his houseboat. He accepted an old trailer from someone looking to get rid of it, and for the next year, he grew/collected his own food, produced his own light, heat, and electricity, and worked a few hours a day on an organic farm, in exchange for keeping his trailer there.

Inspired by a documentary about Gandhi, Boyle was determined to become a “pro-activist”–to be the change he wished to see in the world. Except, he saw too many changes that needed to be made. He decided that money was the root of many of the global problems that face us.

Money allows us to distance ourselves from the impact of our choices. Consider the food that’s shipped thousands of miles. The mistreated sweatshop worker, beaten, toiling for 30 hours straight to make our consumer electronics. The impoverished countries where the corporations we finance dump their waste.

When I was a child, I had an aversion to money, too. I wasn’t able to explain it, logically. None of the reasons in the paragraph above occurred to me. But I took the first $5 my Dad ever gave me and immediately handed it to my best friend, who was sitting nearby. A couple years later, I talked about money during a sleepover with my cousin. We decided it was bad, and agreed that everyone should stop using it.

When I remembered these things as an adolescent, I decided they were ridiculous ideas. Money fuels our economy. It’s convenient, and necessary–or at least, it might as well be.

Then, yesterday, I read about Mark Boyle’s year spent money-free. And while I’ll probably be exchanging paper currency for goods and services for a while more, I think I’d like to work toward becoming as money-free as I possibly can.

Boyle’s moneyless year helped him conclude that “friendship, not money, is real security.”

It also helped him realize he liked living without money. He’s still living on $0 today.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. John Erickson permalink
    10/08/2011 1:59 PM

    What I’ve found interesting is the increase in trade in direct relation to poverty in the States. In the affluent areas around Chicago, “barter and trade” is nearly non-existent. Down here in rural Ohio, we’ve done quite a bit of trading. My labour has been traded for tools. My wife (as a chauffeur) has traded rides in her car for food from various Amish families. We’ve even done multiple-way trades, where I do something for someone, who trades with somebody else, who trades with somebody else, who finally gets back to us!
    Very interesting, as Arte Johnson used to say! :D

    • 10/11/2011 11:56 AM

      That is very interesting! I think the communities that will prove most resilient to a disaster (economic or otherwise) will be those that have focused most on the local economy. Depending on grocery stores and big box stores for supplies as oil reserves grow increasingly uncertain is a serious gamble.

      I’d love to get into some local trading and bartering. First I need to think of stuff to trade and barter!

  2. Raven Warren permalink
    10/08/2011 4:47 PM

    This guy is an inspiration! Today I went to a second-hand store and bought 5 articles of clothing (well-kept and some even new) for the price of one at a mall. After that, and hearing about the 0$ man, I decided that I’m only going to use thrift stores for a year. I want to try it as an experiment, and if it goes well I will keep it up! Why waste the money if we can find the same things and better for cheaper!? Thanks for sharing this, Scott. Wish me luck!

    • 10/11/2011 12:11 PM

      Good luck, doll! It’s amazing what gets donated to thrift stores barely used. For a little extra effort you can find stuff from any store at a fraction of the price. Plus it’s an example of the sort of local living John was talking about!

  3. Anonymous permalink
    10/10/2011 5:30 PM

    Oh god I want to read this book! Is it a book?

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