What is Local Exchange Trading?
LETS is a voluntary, non-profit making association of local people which enables them to exchange skills and services without using cash. This is a modern and versatile version of the bartering system.
Instead of cash, it has its own unit of exchange; in Richmond LETS the unit of exchange is the Cobble.
Members enter the goods and services they are offering or seeking in a Directory, and contact each other if they want to engage in a transaction. When someone provides you with goods or services, you pay them in Cobbles, and your Cobbles account is debited; when you provide others with goods or services, they pay you, and your Cobbles account is credited.
Because no interest is charged on debit balances, you needn't worry about going into 'debt' - you can 'spend' what you want, and earn credits to restore your balance at leisure.
Richmond LETS also organizes social events where friends and family are very welcome.
How does it work?
Suppose you have a lift to the station at a cost of 5 Cobbles (C5) plus petrol costs; your account is debited by this sum. Your driver will go off and spend his C5 with other members on garden plants, home-made chutney, DIY help or whatever. Meanwhile you can reduce or eliminate any negative balance by charging other members for your goods and services. You might make C10 from babysitting, C25 from selling a bookcase you have made and C15 from hiring out your carpet cleaner.
Because the central accounting system keeps track of your credits and debits, you don’t need to do a straight swap. You can 'buy' from one member now and 'sell' to someone different later on; this is one reason why local exchange trading is so much more effective than the traditional barter system. To help you regulate your trading you can make Cobbles payments online, and view statements of your transactions and your current balance.
You can make Cobbles payments online, and view statements of your transactions and your current balance