8

In the Chamber of Secrets, it is stated that the Weasleys had only one Galleon and a tiny pile of Sickles.

Since a wand costs seven Galleons, how on earth did the Weasleys afford to buy a new wand for Ginny?

As a side note, what about the four sets of Lockhart books (for the twins, Percy and Ron, not counting Ginny as Harry gave her his set) which were presumably expensive too?

Note

For those who say that they must have converted their Sickles to Galleons, note that that would amount to at least 6×17=102 Sickles, which doesn't sound like a tiny heap.

  • 4
    It doesn't say that that was the only money in her bag. She might have had some money in there already. – Valorum Dec 9 '17 at 16:09
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    They've done used gear before, and Ollivanders was not the only wand shop. – Radhil Dec 9 '17 at 16:58
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    @Valorum Could be, but do note that people usually keep most of their money in banks and carry only a small part with themselves as cash. If their bank balance was so meagre, it sounds unlikely that they would have much free cash either. – Harry Weasley Dec 9 '17 at 17:04
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    @HarryWeasley - Sure, but we're talking about an economy where they (apparently) have to travel to a central location to collect their savings. It makes sense to keep plenty of cash on hand – Valorum Dec 9 '17 at 17:16
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    It's also worth remembering that Arthur had a job with the Ministry; he gets paid, and I doubt it's the wizarding equivalent of direct deposit. What you were seeing in the vault is their savings; they are living mostly paycheck to paycheck. For all that that sounds very bad, it doesn't mean that they are that badly off; they simply have no significant savings buffer, and Molly grabbed what she had (in the vault) against possible unexpected expenses during the shopping. – K-H-W Dec 9 '17 at 17:24
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Mrs Weasley planned to pick things up second-hand.

She answers this question directly.

"That lot won't come cheap," said George, with a quick look at his parents. "Lockhart's books are really expensive..."
"Well, we'll manage," said Mrs Weasley, but she looked worried. "I expect we'll be able to pick up a lot of things second-hand."
(Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 4, At Flourish and Blotts).

Since wands are a highly personalised item it's doubtful whether they could pick that up second-hand. But if they couldn't then it's quite possible, as Radhil says in the comments, that they could've used a cheaper wandmaker than Ollivander, who was the elite after all. Uniforms, pets and textbooks can all be bought second-hand on the cheap:

Mrs Weasley and Ginny were going to a second-hand robe shop.
(Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 4, At Flourish and Blotts).

As it happened, Harry helped the Weasleys out considerably by donating the Lockhart books he'd been presented with in Flourish and Blotts to Ginny.

The crowd cheered and clapped and Harry found himself being presented with the entire works of Gilderoy Lockhart. Staggering slightly under their weight, he managed to make his way out of the limelight to the edge of the room, where Ginny was standing next to her new cauldron.
"You have these," Harry mumbled to her, tipping the books into the cauldron. "I'll buy my own -"
(Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 4, At Flourish and Blotts).

This probably meant that Mr and Mrs Weasley had more money to spend on a wand.

Nevertheless, the fact that Mrs Weasley emptied her account of literally every coin indicates that money was very tight that year. It's possible that it wasn't quite as tight as the question suggests. Valorum's point that Mrs Weasley's earthly wealth may not have been in the vault is a good one. She probably brought whatever remained of the money she had extracted last time along and added to that money the one Galleon and several Sickles in her account.

What would they have done if they'd still not had enough for the wand and books? They would, as Mrs Weasley put it, "manage". In other words, they'd do what real life parents do when their children need essential items they aren't able to afford - scrimp and save, making personal economies and sacrifices if needbe for the sake of their family.

  • I think it unlikely that Ginny would have gotten her wand from someone other than Ollivander. After all, in Half-Blood Prince she appears to be the one who asks what people would do now that Ollivander's gone. If she had gotten her wand elsewhere, she should already know Lupin's answer. – Alex Dec 24 '18 at 6:02
  • @Alex Good point. – The Dark Lord Dec 25 '18 at 10:59

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