Time Banking: A Totally Cool Concept For a Better World

We all have talents. No matter who you are, where you live, or what socio-economic group you live in, every one of us has something to offer. Sadly however, not everyone has the ability to treat their talents as a commodity. Thankfully, that’s where time banking comes in.

Time banking is a concept that is spreading out across communities and across the USA (I’m not sure if they exist in other countries but would love to hear if they do) that allows communities to form together and trade services, connecting people, filling needs, and creating growth, all at the same time.

Here’s how it works.

Step 1: Find a time bank near you and join up. Time banks are usually community oriented so if you can’t find one in your area, you can always start your own.

Step 2: Post up the services that you have to offer. Time bank services are pretty much across the board from childcare, to auto servicing, to tree trimming and beyond.

Step 3: When someone needs the services you have offered, you will be contacted through the time bank and the information will be relayed. For every hour that you work with them, you will earn one Time Dollar, which is worth one hour of someone else’s time that you can spend as you need.

Step 4: The next time you need help with something, check your bank of hours, call or log on to your local time bank, and find someone who can help you. You’ll “spend” your time dollars and they’ll earn some. It’s that simple.

I love this idea for so many reasons. For starters, in a down economy it means that people who may not have the means, but have the time, can still “hire” people to help them out. Also, it strengthens community bonds by introducing members of a community who may not otherwise have ever met. Now that guy you always saw at the store is no longer a stranger, but Bob, the man who came and painted your cabinets.

But most importantly, Time Banking seeks to show us that all people have value, regardless of how much they make or how large their house is. Everyone can do something, and as a result, Time Banking seeks to show that every member of our society is useful. And while getting some things done around the house without having top shell out cash may be a sweet deal, I think that showing someone they have worth beyond money may be even sweeter.



Robin Hardy
Robin H8 years ago

This seems overly Utopian to me. What happens if people start using this as a way to gain access into people's houses and take advantage of them?

Steve Gomer
Steve Gomer8 years ago

Pia Klit P. says

In Denmark where I origin, a thing like this would have to be taxed. You're not allowed to do professional favours for friends and neighbours without having to pay tax of your "income". It would be considered the same as moonlighting and work under the table, even if the 'payment' is returned by a like favour.

A shame as it'll stop any public movement towards exchanging services and goods.

she is right. this kind of thing is taxable here in America as well. Whenever you exchange services for another service, it is supposed to be reported to the internal revenue and taxes are supposed to be paid. If one fails to report and pay taxes, it can be considered as tax evasion, and you can wind up in jail.

Maria Westin
Past Member 8 years ago


Erica T.
Erica T.8 years ago

I am a time broker in the UK at Paxton Green Time Bank (www.pgtimebank.org). I have been involved in Time banking for 5 years on the members side until a month ago when now I have a paid post.
For me as a time banker I have seen how it is an effective tool to weaver communities together, Our members get Time Credits (Time Dollars) for doing task from Praying, Chanting, and meditation to sawing, dog walking and book keeping.
One of the main core values of Time Bank is the community social networks that it creates. Many Time Credits are earned and spent for creating and participating in social events like community fun days, coffee mornings, and social clubs.
The great thing about time bank is that every one can participate. Imagine your elderly neighbour earning a credit for praying for her sick time bank friend, then her spending that credit so that she gets pushed in her wheel chair to her reminiscence group and the wheel chair pusher spending his credit for having another member accompany him to a housing meeting.
There is so much more to this than just exchanging the professional talents but allowing our communities to be strong with these small tasks that elevates isolation and loneliness.

bruce h.
bruce h8 years ago

Wow, a new name for an ages old concept and practice. Bartering has been going for millennia, even before the invention of 'money'. Bartering systems were alive and well in the 60s and 70s among the 'hippie' and 'counterculture' communities as well as mainstream society. In small towns, large cities, and college towns and rural areas. Along with coop markets, worker owned businesses and the like. It always amazes me when people come up with these great "new" ideas and practices!

Jennifer M.
Jennifer M.8 years ago

In three (or more?) seperate rulings so far, the IRS has determined that TimeBanks are different from barter systems mainly because the unit of exchange (the Time Dollar) has no monetary value (in that it represents an hour of time, regardless of the service rendered). There are other reasons given, too, but that's the one that sticks out. Granted, the rulings are local, so there's no umbrella ruling for all TimeBanks.

Liability is always a concern for people - most TimeBanks have some kind of waiver that people sign, and some go so far as to get insurance. Amazingly, in the 20 year history of Time Banking, there's never been an incident that resulted in a lawsuit. I don't know if it's just that the members are self-screening, or what, but TimeBanks really seem to build trust.

Stephanie R.
Stephanie R.8 years ago

I run the Dane Co. Timebank (http://danecountytimebank.org) and am on the Board of TimeBanks USA (http://timebanks.org). I love it! It really does bring people together and provide a tool for people to realize the goals they have for their communities.

So far it's not taxable although we realize they could attempt to change that at any time - but I think that the nature of timebanking provides a compelling case for keeping it untaxed, especially since it's so effective at getting more of people's needs met with less money - more effective than how taxes are spent on this purpose.

It's not hard to start a neighborhood timebank and if there isn't one near you, check the TBUSA website to learn how you can get one going.

Robert R.
Robert R8 years ago

On Long Island (NY), the "underground economy" is alive and well. Drives the Feds nuts.

People know how to evade "the man with the whip".

Also, we don't say, "under-the-table". We say "off-the-books". Pretty much the same thing.

Cindy M.
Cindy M8 years ago

These are also programs which make people feel better and help them to be social. Like say an old lady who only knows how to knit and doesn't ever get much company. She would now feel useful/helpful, and would have more company. Much better than a money exchange!

Cindy M.
Cindy M8 years ago

I believe China has started something like The LETS program, as stated in Mark H's post here. And these types of programs are proving to be win-win. For example: There's much abuse which goes on in elderly care. But with LETS, people seem to get much better care! It's better in many ways, and even if it does become taxed, it's still better than a money exchange in many ways. Not only does it allow able bodies to help and get help when there's no jobs to make money to pay for service, it gets us involved in our communities, which is all around better for us all! Also, do realize that the banks which control The U.S. Treasury don't allow enough money to circulate to pay off all our debts. Add that fact with all the millionaire/billionaires, and even hundred/thousandaires, who hoard money that's included in the end figure, and also all the people who are able to pay off their debts, to all the remaining people who'll never have access to earning that right of ever owning, or even living in, a home. It's NOT that people are lazy and would prefer to live in poverty as opposed to having a respectable job that pays decent--which makes zero sense--it's that the money's not available. These forms of bartering would prove that fact and save lives while improving communities.