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


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