Can We Live Without Money?

3 min readMay 17, 2024
Money and happiness

Why do we need money? Why do we become slaves to the system? Can we free ourselves?
Can someone live without money? Apparently, there are people who live without money. (please search on the internet) There are even books about it. For example, in the book “Life Without Money” (written by leading activists, including Harry Cleaver, Ariel Salleh and John O’Neill) the book brings together a diverse range of voices who make powerful arguments against the ability of money-based systems to improve lives and prevent environmental disasters. This provides a straightforward strategy for weakening capitalism by refusing to deal with money, and offering a model of government that is free of money and collective sufficiency.

The money-based global economy is failing. The credit crisis is undermining capitalism’s ability to ensure increased incomes and prosperity, while market-led efforts to combat climate change must be resisted by the business world as the environmental crisis continues.
The contributors to Life Without Money argue that it is time for radical, non-market models to be taken seriously. This book brings together a diverse range of voices who present a powerful argument against the ability of money-based systems to improve lives and prevent environmental disaster. This provides a straightforward strategy to undermine capitalism by refusing to deal with money, and offering a model of government free of money and collective sufficiency.

A few years ago, I read Mark Boyle’s first book, The Moneyless Man, with fascination and admiration as he asked himself this very question. Boyle attempted to answer this by challenging himself to live without money for a year. He bought nothing: no food, clothes, transport, energy or nights out at the pub. No books, music, holidays, no tools or equipment.
It seemed impossible, however, that Mark Boyle not only went through that year without any money, he continued his penniless lifestyle for the next two years. In times of economic crisis like today, is there anything we can learn from ‘Man Without Money’?
You may ask how Boyle achieved his goal without suffering from hunger and homelessness or relying on others to support him financially.
You need to read the book (free through your local library) to get the complete picture. However, here are a few ways to live for free, inspired by The Moneyless Man and Boyle’s follow-up book, The Moneyless Manifesto. There may be some wisdom for those of you who are struggling to make ends meet.

Skip the Diving
I am often horrified at the things I hear about being thrown in skips. It’s so wasteful! I am not a big skip-diver, although I always take a peek and once discovered several boxes of brand-new plates and bowls outside a restaurant that was being renovated.
If you do the same, you are likely to discover all kinds of treasures but do ask permission before taking anything.

Free Food Prevents Food Waste
There are a number of initiatives that enable you to help yourself to free food that would otherwise go in the bin. Olio is probably the best known, but community larders and community refrigerators are popping up all over the country.
There are several issues with food waste, both moral and environmental, so if you can prevent it while saving yourself money, all the better.

LET Schemes
LETS schemes are “Local Exchange Trading Systems … local community-based mutual aid networks in which people exchange all kinds of goods and services with one another, without the need for money”.
The idea is that you can earn credits by doing tasks for others and then spending your credits requesting an exchange of time or skills from other members.
LETS schemes exist nationwide, although some areas are a little sparse and patchy. If you like this concept, you can find your closest scheme here. The more people join, the more successful they will be.
Most of us wouldn’t be able to go to the extremes. Mark Boyle did and live entirely free of money, but we could probably make it with less. I hope these ideas are useful to allow you to live well, whatever your income.

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