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Timebanking: Serving More Clients Through Alternative Payment Options

December 17, 2015

The particular irony of working as a financial counselor is that we often come across people who have a critical need for our services, but cannot afford them (because they need financial counseling). While we may be able to donate our services occasionally, it is not something most of us can afford to do on a regular basis.

By offering financial counseling services through your local timebank, you have the opportunity to serve those who may not normally be able to afford financial counseling and still receive substantial compensation.

What is timebanking? Never heard of timebanking? TimeBanks.org defines it this way: “Timebanking is a way of giving and receiving to build supportive networks and healthy communities. One hour helping another earns one timebank hour.

Timebank hours can be spent on any service that another TimeBank member provides, and all hours are equal. It is kind of like bartering but gives you a much larger array of services to choose from since you do not have to trade back with the same person. Our timebank uses a software program to track and exchange hours.

Through the timebank, I’ve helped a client sift through the 529 savings plan investment choices in our state so she could make an informed decision about which funds to choose for her four grandchildren. I’ve helped another make adjustments to her monthly budget after the birth of her first child so she could avoid overspending. In return, I’ve been able to spend the hours I’ve earned on an excellent Sunday brunch, knitting lessons, and house cleaning services, to name a few.

Some people are working with financial advisors and just want a second, unbiased opinion, while others would not have reached out to a financial counselor if it was not available through the timebank.

Making it work for you: My financial counseling practice is a side business, not my “day job” or primary source of income. For some members of my timebank though, the services they offer through the timebank are the same ones by which they make a living. Our timebank has a part-time paid coordinator, and part of her job is to help TimeBank members figure out how many hours of their services they can afford to offer through the timebank. While timebanking can help you fix your car, build a website, or have meals made, it most likely cannot pay the rent on your working space or cover your light bill, and you still need to provide for your overhead. Your timebank staff (paid or volunteer) may be able to help you find a balance.

Learn more and find your local timebank: You can find more information on how timebanks work, the timebanking movement, and a documentary on timebanking at TimeBanks.org. You’ll also find a directory of timebanks around the country and world. Most states have at least one, and if there is not one near you, you can also find information and support on how to start one.

Guest Contributor: Rebecca Tobin Schrader, AFC®


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