Tip 3. Analyse your time and finance budgets.

Where I live we have The West Bridgford Skills Exchange, a local alternative economy. The idea behind the system is that knowledge, skills, goods and services created in our community will stay in our community.

The system is simple. The members of the group input their skills, services or goods for loan on a Google document. Other members can view this document at any time. If they need a service, they contact the provider and the deal is done. For every hour of work a 'gem' is handed over to the person who provided the skill or service. When you join the scheme 10 'gems' are given so that you can start trading immediately. When you want to leave the system, you need to pay the 10 'gems' back this then means that you neither owe something to the community nor is anything owed to you.

What you need to join:

  • live in West Bridgford
  • be trustworthy and interested in your local community. References may be asked for.
  • a computer so that you can open a google mail account.
  • With the credit crunch hitting us hard. For many of the items in you weekly spend you could use Gems leaving you more £££'s in your purse to pay for petrol, energy bills and the mortgage. (something that is sadly not on the Skills Exchange, although advise on how to reduce your energy bills and alternative ideas to petrol is available on the scheme!)

"I don't have the time to do something extra" I can hear you say.

The whole idea is that you CREATE time by doing something for others that you are already doing anyhow or really enjoy doing: Child minding, driving to work, dog walking, letter writing, cooking etc. If you cook an extra portion for someone, you will receive a gem. It has saved the recipient time but you were cooking and washing up anyhow. Now you can spend this gem on something that you might want to make life nicer or easier: a hair cut, a lift, an alternative therapy...?

If you like the idea and there is not a Skills Banks, LETS system or any other alternative economy in your area, why not get a group of friends (12 minimum) with a good variety of skills together and start one up yourselves. It is fun and very satisfying, so why not give it a go!

If you want have any questions and you would like to know how I set up Chippers 14 years ago(our local skills exchange running at the time) just send me an email and I shall try and help you. karina.wells@ntlworld.com