We’ve all heard the cliché that time is money, but there is a network of groups around the world trying to turn that idea on its head. Time banks are small communities that band together to help one another out without ever exchanging money. For every hour you spend doing something for someone in your community, you earn one hour. Then you have an hour to spend on having someone do something for you.
Unlike bartering, which places a monetary value on the goods and services being exchanged (and taxes them accordingly), time banking favors are considered acts of charity. Let’s say you’re skilled at graphic design. You might help Colette design some fliers for her band for three hours of your time. You now have three hours you can spend utilizing the skills of the other members of your time bank (have your lawn mowed, get legal services, handyman work, etc).
You may be saying that all this sharing sounds suspiciously like communism, but there is a key difference here. Under a communist government, citizens are forces to give. They don’t have a choice in the matter as to how much they give or to whom they give. This, therefore, does not reflect on who they are; it says nothing about their identity or character. Under communism, the cheerful, generous giver and the stingy man are both required to give exactly the same amount – namely, everything they earn. In other words, this system would not hold up when scaled globally, but can work in small groups.
In this way, time banking to me is more like the Acts 2 church:
“All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” – Acts 2:44-45
Ideally, time banking can bring a community together through a spirit of giving, help you discover skills you didn’t know you had, and save you a ton of money.
If you’ve ever said, “I’ve got more time than money”, time banking might be a perfect fit for you. To find one in your area, check out timebanks.org’s directory.
Potential Monthly Savings: $10 – $500