During Trying Economic Times, Some Small Towns Turn To Their Own Currency

Who hasn’t grabbed a handful of Monopoly money and just wished it could be used to purchase things in real life? A few towns are doing that with their own currencies, and it’s helping to keep things bustling within their communities.

CNNMoney looked at 11 such places and how their local money works for residents. Of course, one should not take special cash from one town and try to use it elsewhere, but some of these systems seems pretty neat.

“BerkShares,” Southern Berkshire, Mass: Started in 2006 in this small mountain town, Berkshares can be used by residents at more than 400 local businesses. For $95 in U.S. currency, locals get $100 in BerkShares. Businesses exchange the money at the bank for a 5% fee, which keeps circulation going.

“Ithaca Hours,” Ithaca, N.Y.: This town’s been doing its own money thing since 1991, and has been pretty successful at it. More than 900 participants accept Ithaca Hours locally for goods and services, and some employers even give them as part of their wages. One Ithaca Hour, symbolizing time spent helping the community, is $10 U.S. bucks.

“Cascadia Hour Exchange,” Portland, Ore.: Known as CHE, this Portland-based system has been around since 1993 but gained a lot of steam in the last year. Its aim is to increase bartering among the locals. They also represent hours, with each one equaling 10 U.S dollars.Members pay $50 to join, and then can negotiate prices for goods and services with other people or businesses that accept them.

For more examples of these pioneering programs, check out CNNMoney.

Funny money? 11 local currencies [CNNMoney]