Save cash, do good: Join a time bank!

Time banking is a must do for anyone interested in doing good and saving money at the same time.

Time banks ask their members to provide services to their community neighbors, in return for Time Dollars. Those Time Dollars can then be spent on a service that you would like to have. The services range from giving someone a ride to the airport to cooking dinner for a family whose parents work late, but all services offered depend on who is a part of the time bank and what they have to offer.

A Time Dollar is basically equal to an hour's worth of work. If you do community service for the time bank for an hour, you then receive one Time Dollar and can then use that Time Dollar to "purchase" an hour's worth of work.

Local businesses are also getting on the time banking train. Loretta Bega is a member of a Pennsylvania based time bank and says that she was able to use her Time Dollars to get tickets to the symphony. I spoke with Loretta for an article I wrote on Mainstreet.com and she said her trip to the symphony was all made possible because they are also a member of her time bank. Volunteers stuff envelopes and act as ushers for the symphony and in return the symphony donates tickets to the time bank.

Business aren't only getting in on the act by volunteering donations to their local time bank. Many are beginning to offer discounts to anyone who is a member. The Visiting Nurse Services of New York Community Connections TimeBank in Upper Manhattan has more than 80 business partners as a part of its time bank, and every one offers something of value to their members. Discounter COSTCO offers a two for the price of one membership deal, CitiBank makes time bank members eligible for special checking accounts with no minimum balances, free international wire transfers, free financial reviews and a $500 discount on first mortgage closing costs. Enterprise Rent-A-Car offers 10% off all car rentals. And that's just for example. Time Banks are a growing trend.

To read more about how TimeBanks came to be, check out my related story.

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