Nothing Leprechaun Gold Can Stay: Financial Lessons From “Harry Potter”

• Witches and wizards apparently operate in a cash only society. Maybe you too can get by without a credit card!

• “One can never have enough socks. Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.” –Dumbledore, who should start celebrating Hannukah

• The wizarding world does not seem capitalist; in fact, it seems barely post-industrial, perhaps in line with JRR Tolkien’s shire. Everyone is pretty happy even though no one makes it onto Forbes’ Fictional 15. More leaning back, drinking butterbeer, and watching Quidditch for us all.

• 1 Galleon = 17 Sickles = 493 Knuts. This must be mocking the pre-1971 British currency system, where 2 farthings = 1 half-penny, 12 pence = 1 shilling, 5 shillings = 1 Crown, and so on. Decimalization FTW.

• Keep your money safe by hiding it in a locked vault at the bottom of a goblin bank protected by blind dragons. Or the modern equivalent: a CD.

• According to Wikibooks, “the use of magic will significantly distort the economy from what we Muggles expect, because chattels can be created and changed to other chattels effectively at no economic cost; so it is entirely possible that the Prophet can still turn a profit at a cost of 5 Knuts (or even 1 Knut) an issue.” Or maybe print is even dead in fake Britain.

• Always tip your owls. What does your owl do with its coins? Same thing it does with vole bones, we assume.

• Beware of boards. Institutions beholden to Boards of Governors will inevitably make poor decisions, like to kill innocent hippogriffs or put pink-wearing sociopaths in charge.

• “As much money and life as you could want! The two things most human beings would choose above all. The trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them.

• Writing a children’s story about an orphan forced by mean relatives to live in a cupboard under the stairs and never given enough to eat made JK Rowling the richest author in the world but first her advance was only £1,500, and that was after she had been turned down by 12 publishers, so keep at it, y’all. MFA, NYC, whatever.

 

PS: “JK Rowling is to write the screenplay a for a new Harry Potter-style adventure about Grynt Cashfarm, the wizard who created money. Set 70 years before the Harry Potter stories, Fantastic Piles of Money and Where to Find Them, will be a dazzling, CGI-laden spectacular about one wizard’s limitless appetite for wealth.”

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15 Comments / Post A Comment

jfruh (#161)

There really is all this class/money stuff about Ron’s family being poor (supported on a civil servant’s salary, no less) and Draco’s family making fun of him for it and Harry having grown up deprived of material things by his middle-class aunt and uncle but then discovering that he actually has wizard-wealth but not a lot of understanding of what tha tmight mean in practice … but it never really takes shape into a coherent system, does it? Sort of how there’s the “MInistry of Magic” which is supposed to be a kind of parallel Wizard government but it’s never clear exactly how they’re chosen or what relationship they have exactly with Muggle authority.

Do they ever explain how people like Hermione, raised in the Muggle world, go about obtaining wizard money? What did she pay for her books and supplies with? Is there a special scholarship? All the wizarding people tend to be pretty baffled by British cash.

Allison (#4,509)

@jfruh how does the money work is my number 2 question about the books. Number one being where do wizard kids go to school before Hogwarts? How do they learn to read and write?

aetataureate (#1,310)

@Allison Wasn’t Harry just having a normal life before they came to get him? I didn’t think the family kept him out of school or anything.

RiffRandell (#4,774)

@aetataureate Yes but Harry was in the muggle world. Where did Ron go to school? I doubt normal school because he seems to have no experience in that world.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@RiffRandell OH I SEE I SEE. I get it now. Okay. Yes, the idea of poor Mrs. Weasley teaching all of those children anything is hilarrible. The whole boarding-school angle of it lampshaded what a Big Deal it was for everyone all together — I wonder if wizard kids went to their own day schools before that.

Elsajeni (#1,763)

@jfruh Isn’t there a mention in one of the “back-to-school shopping” sequences of Hermione or her parents stopping at Gringotts to change money? So, most wizarding people may not be familiar with Muggle money, but the goblins are comfortable enough with it to set an exchange rate, at least.

Edit re. wizard elementary school: as I recall, fandom consensus was that wizard kids were taught mainly in homeschooling groups, or by private tutors if destined for Slytherin.

calamity (#2,577)

@jfruh I’m pretty sure you can exchange Muggle money to wizard money at Gringotts. I want to say Hermione mentions doing this in the third book, when she and Ron and Harry meet up at Diagon Alley.

Liz the Lemur (#3,125)

@Elsajeni This thread is relevant.
“I’ve never even seen a movie. Seventeen years old and I’ve never seen a movie and I still don’t know what math is. Hermione says it’s called maths, but that doesn’t explain much. I don’t even know how many maths there are. Well diary, if I don’t die I will write back as soon as I find out what maths are.”

http://the-toast.net/2014/02/05/ron-weasley-diaries/

madeline (#6,071)

@jfruh I’ve always wondered about scholarships for Muggle-borns, too. I mean, if your parents are planning on sending you to pubic school, how do they suddenly come up with the cash for a boarding school. I wonder if there are Muggle-born students who do not come to Hogwarts because they cannot afford it. I have trouble believing that a Board of Governors with Lucius Malfoy on it would be keen on giving out scholarships to Muggle-born students.

grog (#2,222)

Somewhat off-topic, but I’ve been reading Harry Potter to my 2nd grade son for the past few months. I can’t tell you how happy it’s made me that he’s so into it, but we’re already halfway through the 6th book and I’m dreading the end because I don’t know what to read next.

Lord of the Rings and Hunger Games are a little too dark. Magic Tree House is a little too young. I read the first book of Percy Jackson & The Olympians and it wasn’t great.

Does anyone have any suggestions for our next series? I hate to lose the quality time I’m getting with him and Harry.

bgprincipessa (#699)

@grog How about A Series of Unfortunate Events? They’re a ton of fun, and there are 13 books! It says age range 8-12, so maybe a bit over your son but I have read them all, and they are not dark.
http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Wreck-Unfortunate-Events-Books/dp/0061119067/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1393524860&sr=1-2&keywords=series+of+unfortunate+events

WayDownSouth (#3,431)

@grog how about the “little house on the prairie” books?

@grog Redwall series? I was pretty into those when I was younger and you can do a lot of cute voices (gotta love moles!). I also loved loved LOVED Roald Dahl around that age, but not a series. Still, “BFG” is sort of the greatest.

Beaks (#3,488)

@grog Highly recommend Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching novels (The Wee Free Men is the first one). They’re great fun and definitely not dark. Patricia Wrede’s Dealing with Dragon series is good, too. Or classic Doctor Dolittle?

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