Like most millennials, I grew up with Harry Potter. I stayed up all night reading after every book release, engaged in a nonstop debate with my brothers about which house the Sorting Hat would direct us to, and nearly cried when I didn’t get a Hogwarts letter on my eleventh birthday. (Let’s be real: I sobbed.)
I recently re-read the series to prepare for the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and I noticed something that I had missed when I was younger.
When I was a kid, the Harry Potter series taught me about friendship, courage, and Quidditch. As an adult, I found the books to be chock full of financial wisdom.
Money can’t buy happiness
The Malfoys have seemingly endless wealth, but they are bitter, cruel, and very unhappy. On the other hand, the Weasleys are one of the poorest magical families in the series, and undeniably the happiest. Money really isn’t everything.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
When Voldemort splits his soul seven ways and hides the pieces all over Britain, he isn’t just performing dark magic – he’s also applying a smart financial strategy! Pouring all your wealth into one investment or asset puts you at greater risk than dividing it up. That way, if you lose one investment (or Horcrux) you won’t be devastated.
Be upfront about purchase or loan terms
The goblins that work at Gringott’s Bank consider some purchases to be rentals. A goblin-made object is the property of the wizard that purchases it, but should be returned to the goblin that made it after the original buyer dies. Wizards have a different perspective – the Weasleys have passed on a goblin-made tiara for generations. When renting or buying, make sure that both parties understand the terms of the transaction, or you could end up in a sticky situation.
Only do business with people you trust
When Fred and George Weasley look for startup funding for their joke shop, they bet all their savings on the outcome of the Quidditch World Cup. Though they won the bet, Ludo Bagman (the man on the other end of the deal) refused to give them their winnings or even pay them back. Lesson learned: never make a deal with somebody you don’t trust.
Leave an inheritance to your children
Lily and James Potter were killed when Harry was only one-year-old. Though they weren’t around to raise Harry themselves, they had left him a small fortune that allowed Harry to get a great education and enjoy a fairly normal adolescence (for a wizard). Planning for the worst turned out to be for the best.
Hustling pays off
Fred and George Weasley turn their love of mischief into a highly successful business in just a few years. They stick to their areas of expertise (jokes and mayhem) and a familiar audience (Hogwarts students), and they create a veritable empire. After securing startup funding from Harry, they spend their last year at Hogwarts perfecting their most popular products and building a fan base. Even though they’re short on time and money, the Weasley twins hustle their way to a business success.
Some rewards aren’t worth the risk
Hogwarts, Durmstrang, and Beauxbatons students submit their names to compete for the Triwizard Cup and its thousand-galleon prize, even though past competitors have died in the attempt. Mundungus Fletcher makes shady business deals and steals for a living, and he ends up in Azkaban prison for it. Sometimes, the risk isn’t worth the reward – working hard and being honest are safer bets.
Money means different things to different people
To Draco Malfoy, money means influence – it’s how he bribes his way onto the Slytherin Quidditch team. Harry, who discovered his small fortune after years eating scraps and wearing hand-me-downs, doesn’t judge people by how much gold they have. Ron, who never had access to money, can be touchy and resentful when the topic comes up. When finances and friends mix, consider others’ feelings as well as your own.
Keep your money in a safe place
For wizards, this means Gringotts Bank, which Hagrid sums up in a phrase: “Yeh'd be mad ter try an' rob it.” For all us muggles, a similarly reputable bank is an acceptable substitute.
Live within your means, esp. if you have kids
The Weasley family is big – seven-kids big. Magically-enlarged-house big. Too-many-people-to-fit-in-the-magically-enlarged-kitchen big. Though they rarely have the cash for extravagant gifts or vacations, all the Weasleys get a world-class education at Hogwarts, and they’re one of the happiest families around. By taking care of hand-me-downs, skipping extravagant purchases, and DIY-ing Christmas gifts and wedding decorations, they manage to stretch Mr. Weasley’s small government salary to care for seven kids.
Use windfalls, bonuses, and inheritances responsibly
When Harry learns that he inherited a small fortune, he doesn’t go spending it all at once. Even when he is tempted to blow it all on a Firebolt broomstick, he stops himself. Instead, he saves his money for necessities like cauldrons and apparition lessons. Don’t squander an inheritance, end-of-year bonus, or surprise windfall – if a 13-year-old wizard can control his spending, so can you.