My favorite book series growing up was Harry Potter. It’s not even a contest. If you were a 90s kid and don’t love Harry Potter, that’s fine, just know you’re wrong and you should feel bad.
One place in the Harry Potter world that I always found fascinating was Ron Weasley’s home, affectionately called “The Burrow”. Harry would often visit The Burrow in the summer before they returned to Hogwarts or for the holidays.
It was a tower of ill-constructed home additions, piles of hand-me-down clothes, and a magical do-it-yourself wonderland.
My girlfriend and I are currently playing through the Harry Potter Lego Series on Playstation and it gave me the inspiration to jot down some lessons from the Weasley Family about muggle finances.
Here are 7 personal finance lessons from Harry Potter, specifically from The Weasley Family:
1. The price of your home isn’t important.
“It’s not much,” said Ron.
“It’s wonderful,” said Harry happily, thinking of Privet Drive.-The Chamber of secrets
Sure, more square footage and fancier appliances are great, but we habituate to our home improvements so quickly that most of the improvements don’t end up being for us, they are for showing off to our friends and family members.
Saving money on the big ticket items in life is an easy way to become wealthy. Your house is the biggest purchase you’ll likely ever make. Don’t be afraid to negotiate the purchase price and be willing to walk away. Even if it seems like your dream house, another one will pop up.
My biggest lesson that I learned the hard way when purchasing a home is make sure you love the location. That’s one of the only things you can’t do anything about after you buy it.
If you really want to remodel, try to focus on the bathrooms and kitchens as they give you the most return on your investment when you go to sell.
A house is a liability masquerading as an asset. Keep it clean, well-maintained, and don’t fix something if it’s not broken.
The price of your home isn’t important. What you fill it with is.
2. Stay curious.
“Harry, you must know all about muggles. Now tell me: what exactly is the function of a rubber duck?”-Arthur Weasley
You don’t know what you don’t know. Be humble enough and willing to learn from others. Especially in the realm of personal finances, careers, and education. These are the main things that will affect your wealth.
Money is such a taboo topic that it can feel weird asking people about their specific situations. You might feel embarrassed to seek help. Or you may simply be unsure of where to start.
That’s half the reason I write this blog; I like to help people learn more about personal finance. Click around and see if a specific topic catches your attention. Simply saving more money can be a great place to start. Check out my three-part series on different tips to save money.
Here are two other resources that I think are must-haves for learning more about money and retirement:
The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel
Everything You Need To Know About Saving For Retirement by Ben Carlson
3. A quest for money and power will end in dissatisfaction.
“Percy wouldn’t recognize a joke if it danced naked in front of him wearing Dobby’s tea cozy.”-Ron Weasley
Percy Weasley decided that his career at the Ministry of Magic was more important than his family. In his quest for Galleons and status, he lost sight of the fact that family is who you can always count on.
He gave up fun, experiences, and loving connections because he couldn’t take his eyes off the mirage he had conjured for himself. Thankfully, Percy realized the error of his ways just like Ebenezer Scrooge before it was too late.
Whether it’s help watching your kids when the babysitter cancels, help moving your stuff to a new city, or simply not spending time alone on the holidays, family is there for you when you need it.
Give back the same help and love because one of these days will be the last time you see or talk to each person in your family.
4. Make your own gifts.
“His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad,/ His hair is as dark as a blackboard./I wish he was mine, he’s really divine,/ The hero who conquered the Dark Lord.”-Ginny Weasley
Whether it be poems from Ginny, socks from Dobby, or knitted sweaters with big letters on the front and a box of homemade sweets from Mrs. Weasley, gifts that you make are always worth more than gifts that you buy for one simple reason… time is impossible to purchase.
Putting effort, thoughtfulness, creativity, and time into a gift shows the person you care more about them than some random 50 dollar gadget off Amazon.
It costs less, means more, and won’t get chucked in the garbage or donated in the next Salvation Army pile. It’s also usually better for the environment. Win-win!
5. Lifelong learning is more important than a college degree or trade.
“You know, George, I’ve always felt our futures lay outside the world of academic achievement.”– Fred Weasley
I get it. You need to pay the bills. Sometimes that means taking a job you don’t love. But it should never mean taking a job you hate. Not only will you dislike your time spent at work, you’ll sap so much of your energy that you won’t have the desire or be in the mood to work on passion projects outside of work either.
The Weasley twins got a basic foundation of how to use magic and then started tinkering themselves (following in the footsteps of Mr. Weasley) and never looked back to get their N.E.W.T.s.
The cycle is easy to fall into though. You don’t start out hating your job, but if you choose your education only for the money, and then it turns sour, you might end up being stuck in it because you’ve inflated your lifestyle without paying attention.
And if you haven’t kept the pencil of the mind sharpened after you left school, it may be your only marketable skill, be it accounting, law, or plumbing.
A great way to avoid being beholden to corporate overlords is by always being curious about other fields. Moonlight as whatever your second favorite topic is.
For example, you may be an English professor but like woodworking at night. It’s not a given that it will ever make you money, but the aptitude it takes to continue learning new skills and topics makes you naturally more employable in other fields.
This blog will never make me money and that’s okay. Learning to communicate, manage a website, understand investing better, and make branded social media content has been more than worth the absence of a monetary incentive.
Always living below your means is another hedge against only having one area of expertise but wanting to change. Check out my article about how to manage lifestyle creep so that you keep your options open in the event your job takes a turn for the worse:
When lifestyle creep becomes an issue and when it’s okay to spend more. (3 min read)
6. Do it yourself… most of the time.
“Your sons flew that car to Harry’s house and back last night.” shouted Mrs. Weasley
“Did you really?” said Mr. Weasley eagerly. “Did it go all right?”– The chamber of secrets
A healthy D-I-Y attitude can come in super handy and save you lots of money over time, especially when you want to add a patio to your backyard, the lawn needs mowing, or the driveway needs shoveling.
But just like Arthur Weasley never fully mastered how to make a flying car without giving the car a cranky personality of its own, there are times when projects are best left to the professionals.
Hanging drywall, electrical wiring, and indoor plumbing are all projects I have no interest in ever repeating.
There’s merit to wanting to learn a new skill, but when you need to hire a plumber because you replaced a toilet and poorly installed a taller wax ring after you put in tile flooring, you’ll be paying twice as much or more for the same job. (Speaking from experience here).
7. Time is money.
“Time is Galleons, little brother.”– Fred Weasley
The Weasley Twins knew the value of their time. Which is why they spent so much of it on exactly what they wanted to do.
They toiled endlessly testing their magic tricks and goodies on their fellow Gryffindors in the common room. They explored more of Hogwarts than any witch or wizard ever had. They used every trap door, secret passage, and forbidden forest path to come up with the Marauders’s Map.
But they weren’t getting into trouble for trouble’s sake. All of their chicanery resulted in one of the most successful businesses Diagon Alley had ever seen in the midst of what was essentially a wizarding recession.
The fact that Fred dies defending Hogwarts makes his death one of the most poetic. Despite his life being cut short, Fred lived what he could to the fullest.
No matter how rich you become, you cannot buy one more minute on this Earth. Use your time wisely. Don’t guard it jealously just to squander it on any ordinary thing.
Start a side hustle. Read a book (or Substack) about investing. Spruce up your resume. Track your finances. Learn to meditate. Write your autobiography. Call a friend.
Warren Buffett made most of his fortune well after the time most people retire thanks to time and compound interest.
The clock on the wall is laughing at us all.
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