Q) if I have no Lets currency, how can I trade?
Everyone’s account starts at zero – (presently 20M is credited to you on joining). All LETS currency is only created by trading. You just earn credits to balance your account.
For the system to work, about half the accounts will be in debit at any one time. You can start spending immediately. Your account can go into debit but no interest is charged, and there’s no fixed repayment schedule. There are no credit or debit limits, but to deter freeloading the balance and turnover of all accounts may be published twice a year.
Q) what exactly is lets currency, and what is it worth? One LETS currency unit is loosely equivalent to £1. It does not have exactly equal value to the pound sterling, because it can only be used within the scheme. You price your goods and services in LETS units.
The units you earn and spend only exist as figures in the LETS accounts. They are simply a way of measuring the value of services given.
Q) do I need to find a direct exchange?
Not at all. The LETS accounts allow you to earn Lets currency from any member,
and spend it as and when you like on the scheme.
Q) do I have to trade with any member?
There’s never any obligation to trade. It is entirely up to you whether to respond to a particular request. If you’re ever unsure about a person’s qualifications to do a job, either ask them direct, or call the LETS membership secretary. Make sure that you are both clear about the price and standard of workmanship expected.
Q) how do I price my skills/goods?
The choice is yours. Look in the directory to see what others are asking for their services. Or you could base your charges on an average hourly wage, market ‘going rates’, or leave them open for negotiation. Low prices may attract trade and likewise if your prices are too high you may get less trade. You are entitled to charge more for difficult jobs, or a high quality of service. Whatever rates you decide to charge, you can always revise them for the next Directory.
Q) I don’t feel I have anything to offer
Many people’s reaction! One main advantage of LETS is that it helps people realise they do have things to offer. Whether they have skills or not their time, energy or resources will be of value to someone. Just a few examples are shopping, a pair of muscles, cooking, cleaning, providing child care, house minding, gardening, decorating, lending home equipment or tools.
Start by asking yourself what you enjoy doing. Or sit down with a friend and tell each other what you are good at. For ideas, take a look at the Inspiration List which contains lots of examples of things which have been traded through LETS. For help in identifying your abilities, try using the Skills Discovery Process Sheet.
Q) I still need cash
LETS can always be used along with cash. For a business, up to 50% can be asked, but otherwise mostly Lets (eg 25% cash, 75% Lets), or enough to cover the cost of materials, petrol or other cash costs. Only the Lets part is recorded in your account.
Q) what if I’m not satisfied with someone’s work? To minimise the chances of misunderstanding, be sure to agree clearly in advance the price, time scale and standard of work. If in doubt, ask about qualifications and/or experience. You could also speak to others who have used that person’s services. The LETSystem, like any other directory, cannot take responsibility for the quality of what is on offer, so if in doubt, check it out first. If you have a problem and are unable to reach agreement, contact members of the Core Group for help.
Q) what if there’s no-one in my area?
If you are the first LETS person in your area we should be able to support you or help you find people locally to trade with. You may wish to start your own system. LETS is all about making links within a local community, and the wide range of benefits on a system can appeal to all kinds of people.
Q) I’m working full-time. How could I benefit?
A LETS usually offers all kinds of things you just couldn’t get in the shops or through Yellow Pages (a “granny” for the children, ironing, lawn mowing etc). There may be jobs around the home you don’t like doing, which are being offered by someone on LETS. Use the time this saves you to do something you prefer.
Offer goods on Lets, or earn credits by offering the use of equipment which others might not have, such as a washing machine, a computer, video recording, a tent. If you have money but no spare time, you could exchange cash for LETS and help the system’s running costs.