Some days, it seems like I'm expected to do everything. I'm not being hyperbolic or dramatic — we all are.

We all do a greater variety of work these days than ever before. Sure, we all have to do our paid work (mine is writing, teaching and editing, and I love doing those things) — but more and more, it's more than a good idea to know how to do a host of other things, like market yourself online, do basic secretarial work, do your own taxes (more of us are self-employed than ever before) and do long-range thinking and planning for your job. And then there's the taking-care-of-life stuff: I do my own mending and basic sewing, I cook healthy and tasty dinners to avoid eating out, do yard work (and here I mean maintenance work, not a could-be-enjoyable gardening session), and do laundry, including all the extra work to clean "dry-clean only" clothes myself. On weekends I find myself attempting to become expert "enough" to tune up my own bike, de-clog a drain, construct a garden box or rewire a lamp. And I don't even have kids, which for parents mean adding another list of things to know how to do. (Parents, I don't know how you do it.)

If I had more money, I would pay someone to do some of these tasks, and keep only the ones that I enjoy or find interesting. But like many people I struggle every month to pay the bills, so the idea of adding another bill to the mix is not appealing. And these days, the DIY ethos is strong — and online videos can help you do all kinds of useful things. 

But groups of people all over the country (check out the ABC video story on Louisville above) have found another way to get done what needs doing without breaking the bank: time banking. It's basically an updated, web-savvy version of bartering that (seems to) work a bit better, because you get to bank the time you worked for anyone, and spend it however you please — unlike traditional bartering, it's not happening on a one-to-one basis, which can be great, but limiting.

Time banking allows a third- (or fourth- or fifth-) party to get involved; time banks can include from 15-20 people to up to a couple hundred.

Here is how it works, according to the site:

"I earn a time credit by doing something for you. It doesn’t matter what that “something” is. You turn around and earn a time credit doing something for someone else in your TimeBank Community. For example, an hour of gardening equals an hour of child-care equals an hour of dentistry equals an hour of home repair equals an hour of teaching someone to play chess. The possibilities are endless."

The idea is that you trade for what you need, and you do what you're good at. I'd happily do two hours of writing and editing for a plumbing company's website if they would unclog my drain for me — what would take them an hour would take me four, so this ends up saving time, or at the very least, you get to do what you like and what you're good at. 

It also allows people with more time — retired people or teenagers, say — to trade their abundant time for something of value. It also makes the asking easier, because it can be difficult for an older person to ask their neighbor to clean out their gutters for them, but with Time Banking, they can repay the neighbor's help by babysitting for them — or someone else who has credits in the bank. And maybe the gutter-cleaning neighbor gets someone to come by and help them clean their garage out. Everyone gets what they need by giving away what they are able to. 

This can work for groups as well: "Individuals, groups, organizations, government agencies, churches, businesses; they all can become members, and contribute time, energies, skills and resources."

It's a smart solution — because who doesn't need more time?

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Starre Vartan ( @ecochickie ) covers conscious consumption, health and science as she travels the world exploring new cultures and ideas.

What is time banking?
Use time, instead of money, to get what you need.