Alternative Currencies and Methods of Exchange

Here at Realize Homestead, we don’t accept US fiat dollars 💵 in exchange for our goods and services.
(okay, there are a few minor exceptions…)

We also try not to use USD to measure the value of things, instead opting to use the almighty chicken egg 🥚 as a universal measure of value.  (Specifically, a local, farm-fresh chicken egg)

If you want to participate in some exchange of value with us, then here are some alternative options in order of our preference;

  1. Gift exchange – In a gift economy, transactions are not carefully measured or tracked. Instead, everyone participates in an ongoing potluck of producing and giving. The gift naturally flows towards those who need it. If you received a gift from us, pay it forward! If you have a need we can fill, just ask!
  2. Direct Barter – We each have something the other wants, and conveniently their roughly the same value and we’re ready to exchange them at the same moment in time. In that case, let’s do it! Just let us know what you want, and what you have to barter!
  3. Local Currencies – Traverse City has a local currency called Bay Bucks. (You can get them at Oryana Food Co-Op, the de-facto bank) Currently, they’re tied to the value of the USD which isn’t ideal but makes sense during their adoption phase. There is also a regional currency, Common Good, that has both digital and physical versions. We accept these and other local currencies for exchanges, just let us know which you plan to use in advance.  
  4. Tradable IOU slips – Maybe you have a unique skill or product that you can offer at a later date/time in exchange. Simply create an IOU (I owe you) slip with your name, phone number, and description of your product or service as well as a volume (1 hour, 1 item etc) and sign it. Then we can exchange this with others and whoever wants to redeem the IUO for its face value can contact you. All currencies essentially boil down to this; an IOU that can be redeemed in the future. Here’s a printable template created by Examples: Source:
  5. Time-banking hours – If you haven’t already, you can join the Northern Michigan Time Bank and begin exchanging your hours. While they discourage converting hours into physical products, it’s still a great alternative to be aware of!
  6. Mutual Credit Clearing/LETS – It’s basically the same idea as the IOU slips above, except there’s a shared book of accounts that allows these IOU’s to be swapped and redeemed seamlessly. Picture a new mutual credit currency with all accounts having a zero balance. The first transaction could look like this: Alice pays Bob 20 credits for a haircut. Alice’s account now has -20, and Bob’s has +20. The total of all accounts added up equals zero. So it’s simply a record of who owes some amount of value, and who is owed some amount of value in aggregate. I’m not aware of one of these operating in our region, but if you want to start one, then LETS do it!


The Long-winded Explanation for the Curious:

(I’ll fill out this part later…)

Why all this hassle? Economic Sovereignty/Economic Democracy.

Currency as store of value

Currency as measure of value

Currency as means of exchange

Economic sovereignty is central

Local feedback effect

Building social bonds, and community of practice

Fiat Currency Risks; Scarcity and Inflation

Case Studies; Lebanon and Sri Lanka


Other ideas