How Wizards Do Money: Sybill Trelawney

Sybill Trelawney

Sybill Trelawney knew she was going to retire before she did.

Most people know they’re going to retire before they do, but Sybill felt like she knew it, like it had been written in air and sent around the world via radio wave. She would retire in the early 2010s, and so she bid her farewell at the end of term in Spring 2014, the last possible date she could choose and make the prediction still accurate.

(Sybill preferred her predictions to be accurate.)

Sybill realized, once she left teaching, that she did not know where her money would come from. So she drank a cup of tea. She still didn’t know where her money would come from.

Hogwarts of course provided a pension for all of its retired faculty and staff, but that wasn’t quite enough for Sybill’s expenses; she no longer lived on Hogwarts grounds, for example, and found herself in a very cramped apartment that she made even more cramped due to a lifetime of possessions.

She had very little in savings; for the past two decades, she’d always known when her next paycheck would arrive. (As far as predictions went, it was a fairly unimpressive one—but at least it was accurate.)

So she invited her dear friend and fellow retiree Minerva McGonagall over for tea. (Minerva refused to let Sybill look in her cup afterwards; in fact, she quickly put her finger in and swirled the leaves around to end the discussion.)

“Sybill,” Minerva said, “you must have known this would happen.”

“That’s the worst of it,” Sybill said. “I didn’t!”

So Minerva, that afternoon and in the month that followed, taught Sybill about personal finance. She showed Sybill a magic charm that would automatically calculate how much money she had left in her bank account, and send her a Howler if it dropped too low. She taught Sybill how to draw up a budget, and how to enchant a scroll so that it did the math for her: she would enter her expenses in a neat row, and the scroll would add them up.

They sold a few of Sybill’s most unnecessary possessions—she had vastly more scarves than any adult woman could wear—and found an apartment that was slightly more comfortable.

“I won’t stay here for long,” Sybill said. “In 2017, Pomona Sprout is going to retire, and then she and I will move into a nice cottage together.”

Minerva gave Sybill a bit of the famous McGonagall side-eye.

“It’s true!” Sybill said. “And the Chosen One will replace her.”

“Sybill,” Minerva said, “honestly.”

But the prediction turned out to be right, in the end; and by the time Pomona and Sybill were happily sharing a cottage and Neville was chosen for the Herbology professor position, Sybill also knew exactly where her money would come from, every month, and how much she would spend. She called those “predictions” as well, even though it was mostly budgeting and planning ahead, but Sybill liked getting as many predictions right as possible.

Previously: Draco Malfoy


12 Comments / Post A Comment

Senna (#3,456)

Is McGonagall going to get her own entry? Because she is the best.

P.S. This series is fantastic.

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

@Senna McGonagall is on the list. I still have to figure out what to say about her besides “she does everything perfectly as always.”

Senna (#3,456)

@HelloTheFuture Haha truth. Maybe she realizes that she never ever wants to retire, so instead she goes on a relaxing vacation to Majorca.

Elsajeni (#1,763)

@Senna I can’t imagine she would fully retire — I see her as Professor Emeritus McGonagall, teaching, like, one NEWT-level class and taking lots of between-term vacations. (Incidentally, it just occurred to me that Hogwarts professors have an INTENSE teaching load, at least in the core curriculum. Students start picking electives at third year, but it seems like everyone is required to take the core classes through OWL level at least — so if you’re teaching one of those, you’re expected to teach 10 classes of first- through fifth-years, plus one or two NEWT-level classes, all meeting at least twice a week and doing homework that seems to mostly consist of long essay assignments? THAT IS NUTS. They ought to have, like, a Lower Potions professor for first through third year and an Upper Potions professor for fourth through seventh.)

Samantha (#6,738)

Nicole, I love that you’re writing these about supporting characters in Harry Potter. It would have been easy to just write them for the trio and Draco, and be done with it, but I love the depth that Jo went to with creating the characters, and it’s wonderful to see that expanded in a different direction.

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

@Samantha The supporting characters are what MAKE the HP books.

Samantha (#6,738)

@HelloTheFuture YES. Will you do any profiles for wizards who died? It would be cool to see one for Lupin or Snape.

@Samantha Or even Teddy Lupin, and how his parents set up their wills and trust, knowing full well that they had not-great odds of making it out of the war alive.

D’you think they could have gotten life insurance in those circumstances?

Samantha (#6,738)

@bowtiesarecool How would wizarding life insurance either work? Wizards generally live to be 100+, and seem to often be left alone in old age – it didn’t seem like there was much of a social safety net for the elderly.
But even if wizarding life insurance existed, who would sell life insurance to members of the Order? Seems like a bad bet to me.
Maybe Teddy just has a vault at Gringotts, like Harry inherited.
(Sidenote: How on earth does Gringotts make money? I’m thinking of the basic example of how a bank works, accepting deposits and giving loans and charging interest, but at Gringotts, all the money just sits in vaults.)

mary_garth (#6,699)

@Samantha I’m pretty sure Lupin’s would just break my heart. Isn’t he perpetually unemployed because of the werewolf thing? Though it’d also bring up the question of Wizarding health insurance, and whether the wolfsbane potion would be covered by Lupin’s provider.
Side note, I don’t think Teddy would have a Gringotts vault because of Lupin’s dire straits and Tonks…Tonks might have some money but since her mother was disowned she wasn’t inheriting a Wizarding fortune, like the Potters. Most likely Harry and Tonks’ dad (if he’s still living?) provide for Teddy financially.

Samantha (#6,738)

@mary_garth Yeah, I doubt that Lupin would have much money. It seems like there isn’t much in terms of wizarding preventative care – people only go to St.Mungo’s when they’re injured or ill, but there aren’t really details of the costs attached to that. Maybe Lupin had potions-adept friends to make Wolfsbane for him? Snape made it for him in the third book, right?
Tonks was an auror, though, and they don’t really give details of how well aurors are paid, but at least she had a steady income. Maybe she left Teddy some money?
Andromeda is still alive, too, so she’s probably taking care of Teddy, along with Harry and Ted.

ECW (#2,765)

YES! I love the small reference to one of the most under-utilized plot points in the book. Neville as the Chosen One!

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