Bartering vs. Time Banking

Just think about the term for a moment: bartering. What comes to mind? Maybe because you're preparedness minded you think of shtf and items to trade, or maybe it makes you think of the "old days" when it was more common. 

While people do still barter I would say that it probably isn't as common as it used to be, but I do think there will come a time when many people will depend once again on bartering.
I’m pretty sure people have been bartering for things since nearly the beginning of time.

 In looking for the actual definition of bartering, with the handy dandy help of Google it says “exchange (goods or services) for other goods or services without using money.”. I’d say that is pretty self-explanatory.

Throughout the years people have used it to get what they need. At times this may have been for pleasure, but often it was necessary enable to survive as well. I began recently thinking more about this topic after I was doing some research. I was watching a video of an upcoming interviewee that was talking to her grandfather about living in the depression days and how his family bartered to just survive. He mentioned that in that time although everyone had their own gardens, many were out of work and had to barter for meats and other items they needed.

You know back then people got ration cards for certain items, but often had to even trade these off for necessities. Her grandfather even mentioned that his relative even traded off his shoe ration card and so he had to keep taping up his old worn out shoes. Here’s a link to that video, but I thought it was interesting to hear the perspective from someone who lived during the depression.

Honestly, it also makes me imagine how our generations would cope, through such a time. Let’s face it, times have changed and younger generations are used to instant gratification versus the hardworking mentality of the older generations.

Another example I read was about barter economies. The explains:

During the Depression the agricultural economy got so bad that many farmers were forced to trade their crops and other goods to people in town that they owed. Basically, people bartered, trading goods and services directly with each other rather than going through the intermediate step of converting the goods and services into a cash value.” 

On that site there is a man named Walter Schmitt that owned a blacksmith shop and took potatoes for payments instead of money. Helen Bolton remembered that the doctors accepted corn for payments. They would take it when it was worth 10 cents a bushel and then sale it when it got to 50 cents. This would allow the doctors to make a lot of money. That was a pretty clever plan I would say!

Bartering is not a completely lost art, but has somewhat been reinvented. Today, all over the world there is another concept that is used called Time Banking. Now a time bank is not necessarily bartering per say, but I do believe that are related (cousins at least!). 

Time banking also is apparently not really new, but it is newer as it pertains to being main stream.

A quick history lesson:

The website explains it this way, 
 Barter economies have been in practice throughout history, but the idea of using time as a unit of exchange only appeared shortly after the Industrial Revolution. The origins of time-based currency can be traced both to the American anarchist Josiah Warren, who ran the Cincinnati Time Store from 1827 until 1830, and to the British industrialist and philanthropist Robert Owen, who founded the utopian "New Harmony" community. While both systems are based on the principles of mutualism and the labor theory of value, Josiah Warren's currency was explicitly pegged to time as a measure of specific goods or labor. For example, 3 hours of carpenter's work would be considered equivalent to 3-12 pounds of corn. Meanwhile, Robert Owen's currency simply bore an inscription referring to a number of hours, which presumably could be exchanged for however many pounds of corn a farmer would deem adequate or labor of any kind.
Time banking is a neat really a neat concept. You trade some of your time doing something for another person, and then some else within the time bank community, donates some of their time doing something for you. Time is the currency. It’s like a “paying it forward” campaign.

But it really goes beyond that, time banking builds communities because besides the time exchange activities, they also have things like food and clothing swaps and even potlucks!
Edgar Cahn is credited with the invention of time-banking as it is today. He believed that there are 5 core values of time banking:

  1. 1.    We are all assets
  2. 2.    Some work is valuable beyond market price
  3. 3.    Helping works better as a two-way street
  4. 4.    We need each other
  5. 5.    Every human being matters

Time BanksUSA also began an initiative called Transition Town Media that focuses on “local resiliency in all areas of Media’s infrastructure: food & water, economy, transportation, energy, business, currencies, the environment, and — of course — community.” They even promote “yardens” by encouraging backyard gardening and by supporting local farmers and farms.

So how can this help you in your preparedness?

Bartering and time banking both help to build communities. It also is a way to find other like-minded people and give you the opportunity to learn new skills.

Bartering for the future?

Some of you may already be doing this, whether it is with friends, family, or people within the community. It is a great way to get items to build or expand your prepping projects. One place I like to check out is craigslist, if you didn't know, they have a barter section! There is also a site called, where you can just click on your state and browse through the barter listings. Also think also about learning how to trade up, to get want you want. If there is a big item you need, but don’t have something of equal value, keep trading up until you acquire the item you need.

Fast Forward, SHTF Bartering…

Here are a few articles I found on bartering and SHTF that might be helpful and give you some things to think about:

Top Post-Collapse Barter Items And Trade Skills


20 Of The Most Important Barter Items You Need To Have On Hand For When The SHTF


Bartering Safety Tips from The Art of Barter:

Don’t meet people alone.
Don’t barter at night.
Keep excess items out of sight.
Don’t give out personal information such as locations, whereabouts, etc.
Don’t meet people at your retreat. Find somewhere else to barter. Remember your security!
Use your instincts!

I highly suggest reading The Art of Barter Full Article from, the author Chris did a great job covering the subject.

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