A Guide to the Art of Time Banking – a Labor-Time Based Bartering System
Yurts at Poncha Pass - Colorado Yurt Rentals and Sustainable Building Workshops - Photo of Chris in ground of Earthship

Written by Chris

May 21, 2022

The art of time banking is that in realizing our most precious thing in this life is time and with this, that each of our time is therefore worth that ultimately equal amount.

Thus, time banking at its essence is an agreement based on your word for an hour of your time served toward the effort of achieving each other’s goals.

Why it Works:

You Earn a Living Wage – These days, after taxes, one earns $15/hr at Walmart (May 2022). What is your time worth? We pay high amounts for Child care, maintenance on our vehicles & homes, and for food. Maintenance at a car shop for an hour can easily be over $40.  If we all work for each other and save $40 per hour in the process, we are in essence paying ourselves that wage. My friend builds fences and bids his projects which I help him on. He takes home all the earnings instead of having to pay me out as a carpenter and instead helps me build yurts for which I don’t have to employ someone either. We are saving a carpenters worth of wages between us.

Choose Your Passion- Finding the right passion and network to time bank within may allow you to choose passion over necessity in many aspects of life. You may find yourself helping a friend achieve their goals and saving a living doing it. I’d rather do that than work for corporate without the same mission to better my community.  

  • What is one thing you know another friend needs help on, that you know little about and think you might enjoy assisting them with?
  • What project do you need done and willing to pay someone in time to do?

Industry Multiplier- In construction, let’s say I can achieve 3x of work in 3 hours. If I work with a friend for the same time, one would think we might achieve 6x over the same time period, when in fact it might be closer to 9x. Working in teams allow for efforts of higher complexity like holding a board in place while fastening or moving larger equipment for example. It allows tasks to happen seamlessly while quite literally might be impossible at the individual level.

                  In child care for example, what if 5 mothers/fathers rotated care through weekends or events where a “day care” or “sitter” might otherwise be required. If these families have other work or commitments, moving child care to a single day for four other days free from the commitment is literally a 4x multiplier. Would you watch 4 kids for afternoon to save paying 4 times babysitting?

  • Where else do you see this existing in society?

Smoothing the Curve- We don’t always have work we can do while working on a project. Supplies, permitting, and contractors are just part of logistics that affect all of us and our efforts within the building world. If I am building and waiting on an electrical inspection, I’m stuck on moving forward with a project until the county schedules me. Others experience likewise in this world of logistics. If I can work on another person’s project and bank hours while waiting on my own, I can save up that time and then hit the effort with two people a following week. In this method, we smooth the curve of feast or famine between times of when work is available to us and our schedules.

Non Taxed Gains –  We all work and when we work for a company or receive any sort of paycheck, roughly 20% of your work or value is taken each time off the top and sent to the government. Good or bad, this is fact. A carpenter’s wage is say $~35/hr (May 22). If I and a friend trade carpentry hours, we are getting that labor for $35/hr and not having to pay it. We save the full amount and in essence see a wage of $35/hr for ourselves that is equivalent to non taxable savings.

How do we time bank:

  • Set the boundaries early and make it clear. What are your rules for time banking? Case by case basis within the agreement.  Start times, food, conditions of exchange, time lines, etc.
  • Make it so that there is a shared and recorded record, typically shared Excel drive.
  • Set a limit to spread of differentials of time banked, how many hours owed is ok?
  • Bank within an industry when at all possible or get creative.

If you are interested in time banking and bringing it to your community, I invite you to join the movement: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1060772241527140

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