Amazing Kids! Magazine

Money, Bartering, Currency…Oh My!

By Cathy Yan, Global Village Column Editor and Amazing Kids! Adventures Column Editor


If you’ve ever bought something at a store, seen a paper bill, or found a penny on the ground, you have had contact with money. Money is an important part of our society and helps to improve our lives because it can be used to buy items or services we need like food and medicine. It is received from a boss or client in exchange for the work you are providing them. However, money is not all made the same. It can be the papers you are used to, but it can also be goods or services, like in a barter economy.

Countries around the world use different types and forms of money. The amount their money is worth is called the currency exchange rate, and is often compared to the US dollar. For example, one Canadian dollar is worth eighty-six cents of US money. This means if you had eighty-six cents in American dollars, you can buy something worth one dollar in Canada. When you travel to a different country that uses a different currency, you have to go to a currency exchange station, often found at a bank, to turn the money from your country into money that can be used in the nation you are in.

However, some countries around the world do not use the United States’ form of currency or money. Instead of using bills and coins, they trade services or items they have for the goods they want. Salt, silk, and even spices were all once regarded as highly valuable. In fact, at one point in time, chocolate was fit only for royalty! You may also have witnessed this type of interaction in your own life. If you’ve traded your lollipop for your sister’s brownie or washed the dishes for extra computer time, you have used bartering as a way of gaining the items you desire.

Sometimes, people don’t buy or trade things on an everyday basis. For example, you might get your groceries from the store, but many people around the world use subsistence farming to get food on to their table instead. Subsistence farming involves growing food for just your own family to eat, with the extras being sold on the market at the end of the year.

As you can see, the meaning of money varies from place to place, and is very flexible in value and form. However, while money is definitely nice to have, try not to place too much value on it. What matters most in the end is not how many toys you can buy or trade, but your friends and family and the luxuries you already have.