Back in 2011, I was struck by the fact that the Freecycle group I belong to is an example of what an economy would look like with no explicit monetary system. There's a network through which people exchange goods - giving what they don't need, and taking what they do - but there's no explicit "this for that" trade involved. You give something to the group, knowing that at some point you'll get something back that's of value to it. You may not know what or when, but you trust that it will all work out.
However, Freecycle has one limitation: it only works for goods. People give stuff, and they get stuff in return. But what about services? Is there any kind of network where people can exchange those - say, giving five hours of babysitting to one person in the group, and getting back five hours of music lessons from another at some later time?
As it turns out, yes. Time banks are systems that let people pay for goods and, more usually, services with their time, instead of money. The basic premise of all time banks is "One hour equals one hour"—no matter how that hour is spent. An hour of time from a lawyer, whose normal hourly rate is $150 or more, is worth exactly the same as an hour of time from a short-order cook who earns minimum wage. In this way, all contributors are valued equally in a way that they aren't in the money economy. The vast inequality between rich and poor that causes so much trouble in our society just doesn't exist in the time economy.
In my latest Money Crashers article, I explore these fascinating yet little-known alternative economies. I explain how time banking started, how time banks work, the "core values" time banking promotes, and the pros and cons of the system. And I wrap it all up with some advice on how to find a time bank in your area and give it a try—or, if you can't find one, start your own.
Read all the details here: Time Banking Explained – How to Trade Services With a Time-Based Currency