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The many meanings of money

Money is so much more than a means of settling debt or a measure of your claim on the productive wealth of the rest of the world.

If we are to design alternatives to money we need to understand not only the classical functions but the secondary effects and meanings which are not always recognised. I just jot some of the following sentiments which might be expressed when I give money to someone.

  • I have given you money equal in value to the product/service you have me, so we are even.
  • I give you this money in recognition of the value you bring to me / to the universe.
  • I am recognising / rewarding you for the value you create
  • You need this money more than I do
  • This is an incentive for you to continue doing what you do.
  • This proves I am wealthier / luckier / better than you.
  • I reimburse some costs you incurred on my behalf
  • I believe in your ability to return it with interest.
  • I don't know/don't have time to get you something personal
  • You know better than me what you most need/want
  • This settling of account is enforced by the state (legal tender money)

Comment below if you think I missed any!

Most transactions will have many of these meanings. But if we look at these in isolation, note that many of these meanings could be expressed in other ways.


everything i thought of fits into one of those! really enjoying the blog andwould love to have you along at Boodaville to give us a workshop sometime. or maybe i could get you in to the posh private school wherei work. i always start the businessstudies course (for 14-16 yr olds) with a homework reflection question "what is money?" but i'm not as good as i want to be at answering the question the following class!

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