What is a Time Bank?

It all begins with a simple premise: an hour is an hour. No matter who you are, what you do, or where you are, your time is valuable – just as valuable as everyone else’s.

Time bank members trade services
Time bank members trade services.

Time banks are being created all over the world to facilite the equal trade of goods and services among community members. Say you need help clearing out your garden before spring planting. The task will take about two hours. You call the time bank coordinator, who matches you with another bank member who is willing to help with yard work and your account is debited for two hours. A week later, you get a call from the coordinator. Another bank member needs several freezer meals prepared before her baby is born. You agree to take on the project, and report the time you spend cooking to the bank coordinator, who credits your account.Β Most people feel uncomfortable asking a neighbor for a favor. Time banks alleviate this barrier by formalizing reciprocity. Both you and the person helping you know that the favor will be paid back one way or another.

Types of Services

What kind of help can you get from a time bank member? Rules vary by time bank, but in general you can ask for help with anything provided it is not illegal. Typical requests for help include:

  • Childcare
  • Transportation
  • Yard work
  • Household projects and repairs
  • Professional services
  • Lessons, tutoring, classes

How Do I Join a Time Bank?

The hardest part is finding a local time bank. If you live in a larger metropolitan area, chances are there is a time bank in your area. Time Banks USA maintains a directory of time banks in the U.S. Contact the coordinator, who will ask for some basic contact information, your availability to provide services to other members, and the types of work you are willing to do.

Share Your Experiences

Are you a member of a local time bank? Over the coming weeks we will be publishing interviews and profiles of successful time banks. Leave a comment if you would like to share your story or to nominate your time bank!

Written by Tricia Ballad


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