Normally, your money is not inherently useful. Sure, you can melt down coins and make them into some sort of art project, or you can try to use your paper money to start a fire, but for the most part, money only has value because people agree that it does. The moment people lose faith in it, money will be worth nothing.
Not so with Practical Currency
. You can actually use it for something. Maybe it's some kind of food, medicine, or weaponry. It's not too different from a barter economy--it's still goods in exchange for goods and services--but unlike barter, it also serves as a universal medium of exchange (people who don't need the item itself will still accept it because they can trade it for something else) and a universal measure of an item's value.
In the real world, this is called commodity money
is a Super Trope
; Energy Economy
is a Sub-Trope
[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
- In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex an episode took place at a "wine fund" were wine was used as a investing or speculating vehicle, since wine is hard to reproduce synthetically and increases in value with age. not really currency though.
- The metabugs in Dennou Coil. Useful for making programs to muck around in cyberspace, and as such to playful kids they're quite the commodity money.
[[folder:Film - Live-Action]]
- In the Elvis Presley film Jailhouse Rock, his prison mentor is the richest man in prison, with hundreds of cartons of cigarettes in his cell.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- 2nd Edition Maztica Campaign boxed set. The Mazticans use cocoa beans and ears of mayz (corn) as money.
- Giff in Spelljammer use smokepowder as currency and prefer to be paid in it.
- Metro 2033 (and videogame) - ammo is used as money everywhere
- Much discussion of this in Making Money, including pointing out that gold is worthless on a desert island, that it's also worthless in a gold mine (where the medium of exchange is the pickaxe), and the contrast between what happens when you bury gold vs. when you bury a potato. Oh, and in the end they decide to base the currency on golems.
- Water in Dune.
- In the Uglies trilogy, "The Smoke" community uses instant food packs as currency, which makes newcomer Tally quite wealthy by the community's standards.
- In the TV series Love And War waitress Nadine is an aging socialite whose husband is in prison from the Savings & Loan scandal of the early Ninties. At one point she mentions she's going to visit him and bring 2 cartons of cigarettes in order to buy him his way out of his latest Noodle Incident.
- Gothic - in penal colony magic ore is used as a currency. It is supported by the fact that outside world desperately needs this ore and ready to give food, booze and hookers in exchange for it
- At least a couple Transformers continuities have Energon as both a currency and...Cybertronian Food, I guess?
- Ancient "coins" frequently were goods spontaneously promoted to this role by the barter economy just because they are compact and valuable. Such as knife billets or small furs. Precious metals became universal the same way, but mostly for decorative value.
- Some countries use cell phone minutes as currency.
- Colonial Virginia (at least) used tobacco as a form of currency.
- Real life ancient Mexicans like the Mayans and Aztecs used cocoa beans as currency. Therefore the rich could afford drinks like xocolātl(where we get the word Chocolate) more often.
- Cigarettes are a common form of currency in prisons.