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Friday, December 4, 2009

Create Your Own Money, Co-ops & More

Co-ops, Community Currency, Private Lottery Pool, Barter

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether
it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying
the wrong remedy”
--Ernest Benn

Gold is up to over $1200 per troy ounce, the dollar is in the dumps and banks aren’t loaning cash to small businesses. The government is doing what I reported on a few issues ago…letting the dollar tank so it repays debt with cheaper dollars – good for the gov’t, not good for borrowers or citizens.

The ancient Chinese had a system for creating investment nest eggs to start or expand a business…private lotteries. Say you have 12 like-minded business owners who each contribute $1000 to a pool or the equivalent of $12,000. Once a year they would hold a lottery and one recipient would get the $12K – something, which never required repayment and the rules stated that person could not enter into the drawing again for two years but still had to pony up the $1000 ante for the next drawing. Not a bad deal when you have 12 or more, trustworthy compatriots.

In a similar fashion, folks have started their own credit unions over the years as means of fostering low lending rates (see below if you wish to start your own credit union). Many groups have also started various kinds of co-ops over the years including electric, water, food, babysitting, advertising and so on.

Starting such co-ops save money for members. Another means of stretching tight or non-existent funds is to start your own currency (yes, it’s legal). Popular in small towns and neighborhoods (think Ithaca dollars), developing your own ‘community currency’ as another means of getting goods and services you need.

Barter & Swaps

Whenever times get tough, barter seems to make a come-back. Bartering is a good means of protecting yourself against inflation and since no money changes hands, there is usually no tax bite!

Even large companies participate in barter internationally; usually called ‘counter trade.’ One fellow started a wedding gift barter exchange service, collecting a 10% cash fee on all trades…many folks get duplicate presents and it makes sense to swap them. In some parts of the country there are work-barter clubs. Swapping services is another great means of saving money and getting work done, say on your home, for your dentistry needs and more.

You can join a formal bartering group or use Craigslist to exchange goods.

For more information on barter clubs, co-ops, and community currency, see our website and click on the appropriate tab (community currency, for example).
We’re working on a hybrid co-op and community currency program, which will hopefully develop around the end of Jan or Feb (a tie in to our Living Better on Less Program workshops)

Another prediction…Sen. Carl Levin & others, who serve us unfaithfully, are attempting to initiate new laws, which would virtually outlaw US citizens from owning a bank account overseas. If you’re planning to move cash offshore, do it now and consult a CPA. Banking alternatives include the corner MoneyStore operations seen on too many corners AND they’re expensive to even cash a check…a better alternative for check cashing is WalMart which charges $3 in most areas. They also offer some of the least expensive money orders, especially compared to the post office.

Keeping your finances under the radar isn’t always easy…use cash whereever possible and dump your credit cards as the Feds now track all credit card activity through FinCen and other Patriot Act ‘laws’ which subvert your privacy. The IRS now tracks ownership of US citizen credit cards that are held by offshore banks…they recently went after American Express to reveal the names of such account holders.

NOTE: Gold, just like everything else financial, will probably continue its upward path for awhile longer but will eventually become a bubble and burst. When fiscal restraint returns to the government, that might be the time to dump precious metals.
Against the Fed's still-hidden insolvency, unemployment is now touching the 18% rate – not much shy of the 25% unemployment rate that defined the Great Depression. And with no signs small business are going to create jobs – that means the penniless U.S. government's only remaining tool to fund make-work government-backed jobs is good old fashioned money-creation. As this becomes clearer, precious metals will continue to attract more and more buyers
Starting Up a New Credit Union
First, know that this is not a casual undertaking. You are establishing a bona fide financial institution that exists to provide valuable financial services over an indefinite period to an ever-growing group of individuals.
Accordingly, the organizing and chartering process alone can take months --and even years-- so philosophical and financial commitment is essential on the part of all sponsoring groups.
Also, having a potential membership base of at least 3,000 individuals is strongly suggested.
The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) charters federal credit unions. A charter is a license to operate the credit union. Below are some resources to assist those who are considering the formation of a federal credit union. The list is not exhaustive, but outlines the steps necessary to begin the chartering process.
After you have reviewed these materials and determined you are able and interested in forming a federal credit union, you may initiate the chartering process by submitting a written request for preliminary approval of the proposed field of membership (see options and sample wording in Chapter 2 of the Chartering and Field of Membership Manual) to:

National Credit Union Administration
Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives
1775 Duke Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
If you are interested in organizing a credit union, please take the time to review the following:


Do you keep livestock? Horses, goats, pigs, and the like…you can save a lot of money and locate hard-to-find items for such from our favorite supplier-Jeffers. For a free catalog, go to: or call 800-533-3377

Everything you ever wanted to know about raising goats…Goat School
Basic goat care, goat meat recipes, goat cheese and more. Find their schedule and fees at:

Emergency Essentials – hot off the press catalog
Helping people prepare is what they do & they’re offering some mighty fine deals on long term food storage packages, wheat grinders and more. Go to:


Over Valuing Your Items
Studies conducted over the years have proven most of us tend to over value our belongings, yet, are not willing to pay someone else the price of their goods…one of the reasons why garage sales produce such little income for so much work and WHY I seldom list items on eBay for others…most everyone thinks their item is worth a small fortune! As a former appraiser (I quit doing these as few people weren’t willing to pay my hourly fee even though I had to sign off on documented appraisals for the IRS and insurance firms) I frequently found people would get angry when I appraised something at a lesser value than they deemed proper.
Keep in mind, an appraiser (even those on the Antique Roadshow) looks for fair market value (what an item will go for in a given market) or replacement value (what an insurance company thinks it will cost to replace something). Auction values are a guesstimate of what something will sell for!
Values for nearly everything are in a constant state of flux.


Saving Money on TV Viewing

For the most part, TV viewing is a waste of time. I’m not interested in the latest celebrity scandal (Tiger Woods) and I’m not the typical male caught with watching sports (just another big business) but I do enjoy watching the news & a few programs so I use a digital converter box. The big challenge was the antenna. An indoor antenna was good for about four stations.
Using an outdoor antenna got me 20 stations! I like to buy locally but found the best deal for an outdoor system on eBay - $51 delivered & no sales tax. The unit included a splitter so I could hook up two sets and 35’ of cable and had a radius of 100-miles (I needed at least 45-miles). Similar antennas at Radio Shack would have cost me nearly $150 as their pre-boxed sets did not include cable, splitter or signal booster.
Sometimes it pays to use eBay!

I’m getting really cheap!
I realize more folks today are eliminating their landlines in favor of cell phone use only. I haven’t done that due to business reasons. However, I ordered only the basic line service – no extras, which I had previously paid for such as voice mail, unlisted number, etc. I hooked up a digital voice mail system of my own which I purchased (NIB) from the Salvation Army for $5!
What struck me though were the amount of phone solicitation calls we began getting within hours of the new line becoming active! No doubt, the phone company must make serious money from renting those lists. We did place our number on the DO NOT CALL registry through the FTC site.


“What kind of government is this? It’s getting more like California all the time”
--Woody Allen

The Decade from Hell

The Dec 7th issue of Time Magazine featured a provocative piece about why the last 10 years have been such a disaster for most Americans. Economic narcissism, irresponsible deregulation, terrorist attacks, mass shootings, endless political scandals, greed…or the great meltdown, as they termed it.

It is true that our standard of living for average Americans has fallen, good jobs have evaporated and more of our citizens are living below the poverty line.

It seems too we’ve had a plethora of natural disasters, such as Katrina, which have strained an already inept government. To my knowledge, no one from failed Wall Street entities has served any prison time either, while many of us took severe hits to retirement portfolios…many of those crooks walked away with millions!

It should be clear to most of us by now that citizens are not a priority to government leaders. Politicians and Wall Street, through greed, neglect, self interest and deferral of responsibility have let this country down and have exacerbated our problems.

What puzzles me most is WHY do we put up with crappy leadership; why do we continue voting the same idiots into office? The path of least resistance I guess. To watch the Time magazine video, go to:

That’s for this week. Don’t let the holiday rush get you frazzled!

Yours for better living,
Bruce “The Poor Man”

Feel free to share this with a friend!


Unknown said...

I agree with you, as the economy gets worse more and more people will turn to bartering. I know a lot of people that har started to barter in order to keep costs as low as possible. Therefore I am currently bartering on it is a great site where I can trade anything I have for anything I want.

Mark Herpel said...

We offer Community Currency Magazine online to all.