Save With Timebanking

Apr 27, 2012 by

Timebank to save moneyEach of has different skills and abilities based on talent, education, experience, and age. I might be good at setting up a new computer. (I’m not, but I might be.) You may have experience with and enjoy gardening. And a stranger to us across town may have some free time and a fuel-efficient car.

How can we all help each other and save money in the process? By joining, along with hundreds of others in our community, a timebank.

Timebanking Basics

Here’s the idea:

  1. I spend two hours helping you set up your new computer.
  2. You log in to our timebank website and transfer two hours from your account to my account.
  3. I don’t own a car, but need someone to take me to a local retailer to pick up a new BBQ grill. I search through the timebank’s database for members offering transportation and up pops contact information for the stranger across town. We connect, and she spends an hour helping me with my errand.
  4. I log in to the timebank website and transfer one hour from my account to her account (plus I give her some gas money—separate transaction).
  5. Some weeks and services later, I discover I’ve drained my timebank account. I log in and search for members wanting services that I’m offering. We connect, I do the service, and I’ve got hours again in my account that I can ‘spend’ on other members.

Timebank members earn deposits—measured in hours—by spending time helping other members with tasks they can’t or don’t want to handle alone. A task could be something as simple as heavy lifting or pulling weeds, or as complicated as setting up a wireless network or installing a remote car starter.

Benefits of Time Banking

I see at least four significant personal benefits of timebanking.

  • I get stuff done for free that might otherwise cost me money or be very inconvenient if not impossible (like lugging a BBQ grill on a municipal bus).
  • I expand my network and meet people in my community I’d likely never have met.
  • I can devote my time to tasks I do well—whether I’m doing them for me or another time bank member—and delegate tasks I don’t do well or dislike.
  • The hours I’m paid to do services for other timebank members are non-taxable. Woo-hoo!

And I suspect a vigorous timebank would tend to strengthen a city’s sense of community by fomenting a neighbor helping neighbor spirit. I think there would also be benefits for the poor and seniors who either can’t afford or are physically unable to do some things that could be done for them by timebank members in exchange for their own time. For example, a 75-year old retired accountant may not be keen on yard work but might be an excellent resource to the timebank in helping members prepare tax returns. He might just end up with the best looking yard in town!

Learn More About Timebanks

  • TimeBanks USA‘s mission is “to nurture and expand a movement that promotes equality and builds caring community economies through inclusive exchange of time and talent.”
  • Time Trade Circle is a real live timebank in the Boston metro area. There’s a short video below about Time Trade Circle from the Center for a New American Dream.

What About You?

I’d definitely join a timebank if I there were one in my community (though I’m not sure there’d be much demand for my chief avocation—staring out a window and thinking).

Do you have experience with timebanking? What were the positives and negatives? Would you join if a timebank were available in your community?

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