Being in banking, I often find money on my mind. And I’ve realized that currency is quite peculiar. It’s a substitute (and checks are substitutes for substitutes!). It really has no value in and of itself.
On a very practical level, money has value because we assign it a value. We exchange money for effort, time, and labor – you work a certain amount of hours, or complete a certain number of tasks, and you’re given money for it. You in turn purchase other material goods (or some kind of service) in exchange for money.
But money is just an indirect means of acquiring those things. If there’s no food or cars or medicine or whatever, money becomes useless. It is the work you’ve done, or the material goods or the services that you want, that have value.
That just struck me, recently. It throws further into relief the futility of miserliness – if all you do is hoard money life is very sad indeed.