Time banks

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

As the nation emerges from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, there are stories about enterprising Americans who are veterans of efforts to make ends meet when cash is in short supply. It's a simple concept that resembles bartering, but in this new version it is time that has value.

More than 100 time banks have been set up around the country. And, according to an Associated Press story, another hundred are being set up. Participants earn a dollar of credit for each hour of service they provide to other members. The AP's example: Jane babysits for John. John fixes Mary's leaky faucet. Mary drives Tom to the doctor's office and so on, each of them earning and spending time dollars.

(Time Banks USA, a Washington advocacy group, says time dollars are not taxable.)

While many of us provide these services without expecting anything in return, participants in time banks are getting help with housekeeping, repairs and other services while offering their skills to earn deposits in a time bank. A woman in Allentown, Pa., used her time dollars to help pay for her wedding.

Other benefits of time banking include networking, neighboring and building a sense of community.

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