How does it work: FAQs

When people are first introduced to Time Banking, they usually have a lot of questions about how it all works, how they can set up a Time Bank in their own neighborhood, and what types of services and things they can exchange in a Time Bank.

Why is everyone’s time given the same value?

At first glance, it seems crazy that someone is paid the same for web design and pulling weeds, but this turns out to be the core of what makes Time Banks really work. In the “Yin” or “caring economy” everyone’s time is valued equally – just like it is inside a family. You wouldn’t ask your cousin to give you two hours of dog walking for every hour you spend fixing his computer. Putting a price on people’s time separates us by making some people more valuable than others. TimeBanks excel in building relationships because they place an equal value on everyone’s time.

TimeBank hours aren’t meant to replace standard dollars. They are designed to counterbalance the market economy where people may have invested in special training to make their time more valuable. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just taken over too much of our experience of the world. Almost everything is monetized. We are building a parallel economy where people take care of each other as families. We build extended families by geography, not bloodlines.

Isn’t Time Banking like bartering?

It is, but the big difference is that you don’t have to pay back the person who does you a favor. It is a “pay-it-forward” system. That’s one of the reasons why people find it so much easier to do things for others in a Time Banking system. You don’t have to figure out what to give back to the person who helped you. You can choose how to pay it forward doing what you want, when you want.

Can I trust the people in a Time Bank to come into my home?

TimeBank Indy does not reference check or do background searches on all applicants.

The decision to provide and receive services is the responsibility of the participants based on a relationship of trust, mutual support and respect. This is fundamental to our goal of strengthening community and consistent with our values.

“It takes a village to raise a child, but what does it take to raise a village?” – Edgar Cahn


We encourage all participants to use common sense and safety measures to protect their person and personal property. For instance, ask for and check references, do not allow unknown persons into your home without having another friend or family member present, search online for information regarding a person offering professional services, and interview/meet with a trading partner in advance of the trade.

For services requiring unsupervised contact with finances or vulnerable people (youth, elderly, disabled), or driving, our Terms of Service outline the rights and responsibilities we ask of one another including the use of background checks and references. We have developed a screening checklist for our members, including contact information for third-party services that provide cost-effective background screening. We will cover this in more detail during our Orientation Workshops.

What if someone falsely bills me?

TimeBank Indy is built on mutual respect and trust and this type of thing is very rare. In benchmarking with other Time Banks, we were unable to discover a single incident except when someone has made a mistake and debited the wrong member’s account. If you think that that someone has falsely billed you for services, all you have to do is call your Coordinator who will straighten things out.

Can people cheat?

Whenever one person earns TimeBank hours doing something, there is a corresponding debit for the same amount in someone else’s account. This makes it pretty easy to know if someone is cheating or not. No one is anonymous in a Time Bank, so people don’t cheat.

What happens if you go into debt?

Having a negative balance is not a big deal in a TimeBank account. After all, people have to receive in order for others to give. We ask that individuals not go farther than 10-20 hours into debt, however this is flexible and situation dependent. This is why we look to each neighborhood of group of neighborhoods to have a Coordinator who lives in the area and has personal knowledge of the people involved and their situations.

People who have a history of earning lots of hours are generally allowed a bigger debt limit. Generally, not much will happen other than a call from your Coordinator to remind you that you will need to earn some hours before you can start spending them again.

Time Bank Indy has a special Community Fund contributed by individual members that are set aside for community projects or to help out members who are going through a difficult period.


Sounds like you’ve thought this through!
Where did you learn all this?  Where can I learn more if I want?


"When I came here, I was looking for community. Then I realized I was helping to create one!" ~ Ryan Albright
“When I came here, I was looking for community. Then I realized I was helping to create one!” ~ Ryan Albright

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