LETS, Timebanks and other means of exchange

Dollars, Euros, Pounds, … Have you ever heard of Time Dollars?

Traditional currencies all attribute value to the goods and services we produce. In our capitalist economies, the wealth we accumulate through our lives is directly related to whatever ‘value’ these ‘units’ possess at the point in time that we need them.

Our societies, as a result, tend to place value on some products and services, while undervaluing others. For example, an hour of lawyer’s advice is worth $300, while getting a shampoo and haircut is only worth $30. Buying a gold ring might be similarly expensive, but buying a silver one might be cheaper.

I’ve just been watching a TV program that introduces an alternative ways to trade, including LETS, and Timebanking.

Time Dollars are also a simple form of spending and creating worth:

For every hour you spend doing something for someone in your community, you earn one Time Dollar. Then you have a Time Dollar to spend on having someone do something for you. It’s that simple.

You can watch this video that introduces some of the concepts. The inline video is screwing up my theme. I don’t know why.

LETS is a Local Exchange Trading System that allows people to trade directly or indirectly. When a volunteer provides a service, they will accrue a credit that is recorded in a central location. This can then be spent by them to purchase another good or service. Timebanks are a similar way that allow people to accrue and spend time dollars.

The OpenMoney Website has a wonderful description of the nature of money vs. ‘openmoney’.

We believe that the problems that come from conventional money can be resolved with open money systems.


  • where conventional money is scarce and expensive, the new money is sufficient and free.
  • where conventional money is created by central banks, new money is issued by us, as promises to redeem – our money is our word.
  • and where conventional money flows erratically in and out of our communities, creating dependencies that are harmful to the economy, society and nature, the new complementary money re-circulates, enabling business and trade.

Many of us use forms of ‘informal’ money already, such as bonus points on our credit, airmiles, etc.. We are already ‘open’ to the idea that money need not be green (or substitute whatever color your national currency is), nor printed on paper or metal, nor created and allocated to us by others (through pricing, labor, or whatever).

Have you ever used a time bank or similar scheme? Are you currently a member? If not, check out the TimeBanks.org website for lots more information. Cash isn’t the only form of money that we can have.

Share with us some of your own ideas about barter, LETS, Timebanks and so on… What other schemes do you know about?

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