Prepayment for Community Services


by Grace Rachmany

November 11, 2020

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Prepayments and Debt: Energy vs. Services

When we issue vouchers for future services, that’s a kind of debt or IOU.  Some projects and intentional communities are looking at issuing vouchers for future services as a way of funding their current activities. But what are the long-term implications? Different kinds of debt feel and behave differently. Here are some ideas we considered in the discussion.


  • If I take the money, give you a voucher, and buy land, and grow food, I am creating a long-term producing system. If it fails maybe I could sell the land and pay you back at least in part. A solar power farm is similar, but probably has less risk and an electricity voucher is something everyone needs and wants.
  • If I take the money, give you a voucher and buy seeds, now I’m in a different kind of debt. If I have a drought or a bad harvest, and I need to now buy more seeds for next year based on more debt, I am in a deteriorating cycle.
  • If I take the money and promise you a massage or some other time-based work, that’s another kind of uncomfortable debt, where I could be in a similar negative cycle and end up owing lots of massages and being in a future situation where I have to work double hours just to pay my day-to-day expenses.
  • If I borrow money in a mutual-credit system, we can forgive one another at the end of the year. There’s no actual money here but we (as a community) could decide to forgive debts and decide on people’s credit limits on an annual basis.
  • If I borrow money from a traditional bank and default there’s impact on my credit score, but nobody feels bad about it. Maybe it hurts someone or maybe it’s good to extract from banks. That’s up to your ethics.