Are You More Harry or Hermione When it Comes to Money Management?
But the real magic of the Harry Potter series lies in its vulnerable heroes who repeatedly come up against adversarial forces and inner demons.
But the real magic of the Harry Potter series lies in its vulnerable heroes who repeatedly come up against adversarial forces and inner demons. The extraordinary powers they possess are secondary to the personality traits that come to define them.
In honor of the 20th anniversary of the publication of J.K. Rowling’s debut novel, we offer five Harry Potter-inspired traits to develop that can work magic in your financial life; no wand necessary:
Harry the Resilient
From his earliest moments of life, “the boy who lived” withstands physical attacks, extreme loss, neglect, ridicule and personal failure. Though he bears the physical and emotional scars of these events, Harry never gives up or gives in to sinister forces. Instead, he prepares to face his ultimate opponent, just as we should prepare to handle the financial Voldemorts that may lurk in our future, including car breakdowns, unemployment, economic recessions or health problems.
As with “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named,” the act of naming and confronting these often-taboo topics is the only way to defeat them. One doesn’t need a small fortune at Gringotts Wizarding Bank to start building an emergency fund, paying down debt, and ensuring adequate insurance coverage. When inevitable money setbacks do occur, remember what Harry’s mentor, Professor Dumbledore, tells him: “Scars can come in handy. I have one myself above my left knee that is a perfect map of the London Underground.”
Hermione the Studious
Money matters can be just as mystifying as the complex wizarding world. But as Hermione Granger shows us, there is power in knowing. Hours of library research allow her to defeat the Devil’s Snare, save her entire class from menacing pixies, and work out the magic of polyjuice potions. To begin detangling the complexities of budgeting, retirement, real estate and investing, try an online financial education resource like MyMoney.gov, which teaches basic concepts and terminology.
Also, just as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry empowers Hermione, a money management class such as Financial Peace University can enlighten you on the alchemy of compound interest and the shadow world of high-interest debt. Finding a financial Hermione in your life who is willing to school you on money topics could save you from a figurative financial troll and help give you the financial wings to fly, or “Wingardium Leviosa!”
Ron the Perserverant
What Ron Weasley lacks in natural talent and ability he makes up for with patience and perseverance. Through hard work and persistence, he advances from ham-handed Gryffindor keeper to Quidditch hero and from bungling schoolboy to adept magician. But perhaps his biggest feat is winning Hermione’s heart, a hard-won pursuit that takes years sacrifice and self-discovery.
We can imagine that in Ron’s grown-up adventures with Hermione and their two children, and in his career in the Ministry of Magic as Aurors, he is able to establish a life of financial security, a product of acquired discipline and perseverance. After all, financial security is the accumulation of almost daily choices: to choose needs over wants, to limit debt, and to manage risk. It requires the patience to see goals through and the discipline to stick with an investment strategy over the long term. A home budgeting tool can act as a Marauder’s Map of sorts, revealing every inch of your spending and savings to help you practice daily perseverance.
Dumbledore the Wise
Even as the world’s most powerful wizard, Professor Albus Dumbledore recognizes the value of passing on his wizarding wisdom to the next generation. If we possessed his divination abilities, we would see that transmitting financial wisdom to our children is immeasurably important to our financial futures. In a 2015 Pew Research Center poll, nearly half of adults admitted to helping adult children financially, sometimes at the expense of their own retirement and financial security.
Personal shortcomings didn’t stop Dumbledore, and they shouldn’t stop us from teaching children and teens to differentiate between needs and wants. Sans a sorting hat, help kids divide their money into categories such as spending, saving and giving. Help them set up a savings account and watch their knuts, sickles and galleons grow over time.
Hagrid the Courageous
“I am what I am, an’ I’m not ashamed,” Rubeus Hagrid proclaims. The half-giant, half-human dares to be himself even when his actions bring ridicule. In financial terms, “keeping up with the Joneses” – or Malfroys – is a recipe for overspending. Rather than attaching status and self-worth to material possessions, develop a Hagrid-like courage to stand tall in your own skin.
When in doubt, remember the advice of Professor Albus Dumbledore, which translates to financial matters as well: “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”