Harry Potter's magical money lessons
Hiding your mother's locket inside a cave where you liked to torture people seems like the Dark Lord equivalent of using a pet's name as your checking account password.
At its core, the Harry Potter series attests to how good always triumphs in the face of evil, encourages us to overcome our demons and reiterates that we get by with a little help from our friends, but buried within J.K. Rowling's epic are a few valuable money lessons as well.
Read on to find out what the Boy Who Lived and his magical cohorts have managed to teach us over the last 14 years. (Caution: minor series spoilers abound!)
Plan so your kin are financially protected when you're no longer here. Lily Potter may have provided Harry with invaluable magical protection when she sacrificed her life to save his, but she and husband James also made sure that their son was financially protected by squirreling away thousands of galleons in Gringotts Wizarding Bank prior to their untimely deaths. This small fortune paid for Harry's Hogwarts tuition and also financed his school supplies, swanky dress robes, a trip to the Quidditch World Cup and countless chocolate frogs.
Taking steps to formally bequeath assets to your next of kin is actually a recurring theme in the Potter-verse : In "The Half-Blood Prince," Sirius Black makes sure to specify in his will that Harry receive his house, a move that had both financial and magical benefits, and Professor Dumbledore legally passes on highly important items to Harry, Ron and Hermoine in his last will and testament as well. Their example stands as a valuable lesson for the 57% of Americans 18 and over who still haven't gotten around to drafting their own.
Protect your assets. For being the most powerful dark wizard of all time, Voldemort was surprisingly sloppy about guarding what was most important to him: those tiny bits of his soul (or as J.K. Rowling calls them, horcruxes) that were keeping him from being fully vanquished.
We'll give him points for trapping one inside a snake that never left his side, but hiding your mother's locket inside a cave where you liked to torture people seems like the Dark Lord equivalent of using a pet's name as your checking account password and is only marginally more secure than keeping your stuff in someone's else bank vault or within the walls of a mortal enemy's favorite place.
Voldemort would have been better off locking away one or two of those pieces of his soul in his own safe-deposit box, or even taking his horcruxes to the cloud, where he could monitor them constantly from any place with Internet access. Post continues after video.
Spend windfalls wisely. Small-business owners could learn a thing or two from entrepreneurial wizards Fred and George Weasley. The pair didn't squander Harry's gifted Triwizard Tournament winnings and, instead, coupled it with money they made selling patented practical joke products at Hogwarts to start Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes joke shop, the only store successful enough to survive in Diagon Alley after Voldemort's Deatheater flunkies took over town.
Learn from past mistakes. Of course, the Weasleys might have learned a thing or two about good investments from making bad ones, since they would never have needed Harry's winnings had they not entered into a foolhardy bet with Ludo Bagman at the Quidditch World Cup that cost them their entire life savings. (You'll recall: Bagman took their money before the bet, which the twins eventually won, but paid them back in leprechaun gold, which disappears after a few hours.)
Incidentally, in Rowling's world, gambling never pays. Just ask Hagrid, who gave up valuable information about how to get to the Sorcerer's Stone during a drunken card game with Professor Quirrell in order to win a dragon egg.
Money doesn't make you better than people … or particularly happy. The Malfoys may be able to buy their way onto Quidditch teams, influence Ministry of Magic court verdicts and, later on in the series, house an entire legion of Deatheaters in their expansive mansion, but they're also pretty awful people or -- at the very least -- internally conflicted about living up to unfair expectations while carrying around massive chips on their shoulders.
On the other hand, whatever the poor Weasley family lacks in finances it makes up for with sound familial bonds, an unflinching dedication to the greater good and an undeniably strong moral fiber.
More on MainStreet and MSN Money:
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Quotes are real-time for NASDAQ, NYSE and AMEX. See delay times for other exchanges.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Thomson Reuters (click for restrictions). Real-time quotes provided by BATS Exchange. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Interactive Data Real-Time Services. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by SIX Financial Information.
ABOUT SMART SPENDING
LATEST BLOG POSTS
The pay for serving and protecting your country isn't great at first, but military service comes with some decent retirement and education perks -- and substantial risks.