Timebanking: What is it?

I first heard about Timebanking a couple months ago and have been hearing more about it lately, so I wanted to bring it out for discussion.

What is TimeBanking?

Basically it is like a bartering system where you exchange your time for another’s time. If you paint for one hour for another time-bank member, you will have a one hour credit which can be redeemed having someone do something for you. So after your deposit you could spend your credit having someone walk your dog for an hour, give you a guitar lesson, tutor your child, or do just about anything else.

Timebanks.org describes timebanking as…

At its most basic level, Time banking is simply about spending an hour doing something for somebody in your community. That hour goes into the Time Bank as a Time Dollar. Then you have a Time dollar to spend on having someone doing something for you. It’s a simple idea, but it has powerful ripple effects in building community connections.

Each Time Bank has a website where you list what you would like to do for other members. You look up Time Bank services online or call a community coordinator to do it for you. You earn Time Dollars after each service you perform and then you get to spend it on whatever you want from the listings.

Timebanking in the news

Good Morning America ran a clip on time banks and explained how the process works… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uR8ArHGgA7A

Is there a Timebank near you?

The whole idea seems to be taking off – especially with the economic challenges of the last year or so. Timebanks are popping up all over the U.S. and the world. Timebanks.org has a directory of banks in the USA if you are looking for one to join.

Are you a timebanker? What has been your experience with the program? If not, do you have any interest in trying it?

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12 Comments
  1. Cam

    I’m skeptical too. Not only is one hour of service not necessarily equivalent to another (dog walking to painting). Not every person can offer quality skills to the pool. Sure I can paint a room (and certainly help), but it won’t look as good as if an out of work contractor did it.

    • bob

      I am not positive, but I think the idea behind it isn’t to try to get the most benefit for yourself, I think its more about being part of a community helping each other out.

  2. Cam

    @ Bob I hope I didn’t imply I wanted more benefit from the system. I was implying that as good natured as I may be, my hour’s worth of work may not actually be helping. But you’re right. I checked out the website and the idea is about encouraging people to help on a community level (and not necessarily on a global scale). But doesn’t that negate altruism? If I deposit hours without withdrawing any in return, I become “rich” and (I assume) am labeled as a “good person.”

    • bob

      @cam
      no I understood where you were coming from – I just wanted to clarify for anyone reading through… Yea, the system as a whole – if viewed in terms of common “value” is likely flawed, but my hunch would be that it would create some animosity if a lawyer could come in and offer legal advice for an hour in exchange for a math teach having to tutor for 10 hours. While I understand why our monetary system rewards some professions and not others, I kinda think it is cool that they are all on the same “playing field”

  3. Teejay @ rentacarmanila

    Nice idea. I believe I just read http://www.singleguymoney.com ‘s post about bartering. It wasn’t based on the time spent but rather a mutual agreement between persons.

    Here’s the post:

    http://www.singleguymoney.com/2009/08/modern-day-bartering-to-save-money.html

  4. marsha

    Anybody know anywhere where it’s happening in the GTA?