Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Six Financial Tips That You Can Learn From Harry Potter

We've loved him since the day we first read about him as that brave, green-eyed wizard with the lightning bolt scar. We crossed our fingers for him as he faced the Sorting Hat and smiled proudly as he landed in Gryffindor.  We listened as he hissed in Parseltongue, and prayed for the semblance of light as he faced the kiss of the dementors.  We cringed when he battled dragons, held our breath when he swam with mermaids, and cried as he won the Triwizard Tournament and lost a good friend forever.  Our anger simmered as he wrote with the “I-must-not-tell-lies” quill, boiled as we discovered Voldemort’s soul-splitting horcruxes, and exploded as Snape (seemingly) broke our trust and Avada Kedavra’d the kindest blue-eyed wizard of all time, Dumbledore. And, last weekend, we cried, laughed, smiled, cringed, and used up an entire box of Kleenex in under 130 minutes as we watched our favorite young wizard grow up before our eyes, literally.

Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived. We’ve sat on the edge of our seats, following his adventures for more than a decade. But now that the our favorite seven Harry Potter books and anticipated eight movies are officially over, it's hard not to feel like it's the end of an era. And, in a sense, it kind of is. Where else will we find secret passageways within portraits, a room that appears only when you need it the most, and stone statues that come alive to defend the most beautiful castle in the world?  

But rather than wallowing away in the end of something wonderful, we can ask ourselves what there is to learn from Harry's timeless adventures. Believe it or not, Harry was quite the financial analyst. Sure, he trained to be an Auror (a job in which he had to protect the wizarding world from the Dark Arts) but he was also quite the savvy businessman.  Even in his youth, he dealt with investing, choosing the right bank and the responsibly of dealing with a generous inheritance.  Don’t remember J.K. Rowling using that financial terminology? You just have to read between the lines. Follow along to read six financial lessons that we learned from our very own biz wiz, Harry Potter. 

1.       Find a Safe Bank For Your Galleons

Gringott’s Wizarding Bank, where most magical folk stash their savings, is owned and operated by goblins. Its main offices are located in Diagon Alley and – according to our lovable giant friend Hagrid – Gringotts is the safest place in the Wizarding World (not counting Hogwarts of course).

What can we, mere Muggles, learn from this bank? More than a few things. For starters, it’s best to keep your money in an FDIC insured account. Make sure your cash is safely tucked away in a vault that is untouchable by anyone except you. All threats of identity theft should be closely monitored, so be sure to stick primarily to one branch. If you visit often enough, it will be easier for your personal banker or teller to spot an imposter (like when Hermione tried – somewhat successfully – to pass as Bellatrix Lestrange). Even if your local bank doesn’t have an underground rollercoaster to access vaults, a fire-breathing dragon, or a multiplying gold charm, be sure to go to a bank that keeps your finances secure. 
2.                   Don’t Give Up on Your Small Business Dream

We’ve all heard the “If you have a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life” expression. And what better characters to exemplify this life lesson than our favorite witty redheads - Fred and George Weasley? These twins are hilarious, and went a long way to make their dreams of owning a prank store a reality. They start off small – advertising their hilarious aging spells and fireworks across Hogwarts. Then, by the sixth book, the infamous boys launch their successful dream business, “Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes.”  If your own small business would make your life bright, keep in mind that sometimes to achieve greatness, you have to start with a bang. Like, say, a free giveaway of popping fireworks! Giveaways are a great way to promote your product. When they decide to ditch Hogwarts and crazy cat-lady Headmistress’ Umbridge, they set off a rainbow of fireworks that multiply in starry sky. The twins gain a lot of recognition and cheer, and Gryffindor students react by demanding their attention-grabbing pranks. Muggle lesson learned: start small, promote wide, dream big. 
3.                      Find a Trustworthy Investor

The Weasleys got the money for their shop from loyal pal Harry Potter, who donated 1000 Galleons of his Triwizard Tournament winnings.  Because Harry gave them their start-up loan, Fred and George allowed him to help himself to as many love potions, pimple banishers, and extendable ears that he liked – free of charge. They do ask Harry, as well as Ron and Hermione, to help spread word of their shop around the castle. This form of word-of-mouth advertising, especially from your investors, is essential to operating a successful new business. This applies for us non-magical folks, as well as the witches and wizards who have an extendable ear or two. So remember, if you’re looking for someone to invest, find someone you trust – who believes in the success of your business. Whether you’re trying to sell edible dark marks or Pygmy Puffs – you won’t regret this business decision. 
4.                   Don't Steal; You'll Get Caught 
Mundungus Fletcher, one of the original members of the Order of the Phoenix, is known for having a case of the sticky fingers. He forever longs for the five-finger-discount, a discount that involves him sneaking valuable items into his cloak without shedding a single gold galleon. Fletcher is not trusted and not particularly liked. Harry even caught him red-handed once, selling items which had been stolen from his godfather, Sirius's, house. One of these items was even a locket, a locket that contained the purest of evil – a horcrux. Muggle lesson: don’t steal. Seems pretty basic, but with this economy and job market down in the gutter, people all too often stoop to these levels, not realizing how negatively it may one day affect their lives. And while American prisons don’t have chilling dementors floating around, possible jail time for theft doesn’t sound like a walk in the park. 
5.                   Monitor Your Finances, Even If You’re Wealthy 
Harry’s got several things from his parents: his mother’s almond-shaped emerald eyes; his father’s undeniable knack for getting into trouble; and a hefty inheritance check. Sure, he spent the first 11 years of his life living under the stairs in a teeny closet-sized space. But even after his first visit to Diagon Alley, when Harry was first introduced to the stacks of gold coins in his Gringott’s bank account, he chose to use his money wisely. And that’s a lesson that witches, wizards, and muggle folks can all take home with them. No matter how much you want that cherry red Ferrari or that Nimbus 2001 broom, frivolous spending won’t get you far. And besides, waiting for the broomstick-of-your-dreams from your godfather (rather than buying one yourself) means more anyway.  
6.                   Money May Make the World Go Round…But It Sure Doesn’t Buy Happiness

Most readers would agree that the happiest family in the Harry Potter series was the Weasley clan. Sure, they lived in a cramped, cluttered, and crooked burrow. And yes, they recycled their school books, used near-sighted owls, and (unfortunately for Ron) shared non-unisex dress robes. But, it seems safe to say that they were happy. The Malfoys, however, with overflowing bank accounts, their battered servants, and their cold glances are some of the unhappiest characters in all the novels. That’s not to say that we Muggle-borns shouldn’t reach for the stars in our money-making endeavors. We should. It’s just a reminder that some things (say a nurturing family, a set of professors who would quite frankly die for you, and two best friends who would stand up to the world’s greatest evil on your behalf) are worth more than all world’s gold.  

Published: Business Insider

1 comment:

  1. Very useful tips on financial planning. I think you have done great job by including most effective financial tips.

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