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In Chamber of Secrets, we see the Weasleys go with Harry to Gringotts and take out a few sickles and ONE galleon from their vault (which empties it).

Why use a vault for stuff that can be carried around in your moneybag?

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    If you consider that a vault big enough to hold an average-sized suitcase costs around £500 per year (which is a lot of money for someone who is "poor") and the Weasley's vault is big enough so you can walk into it, the vault is likely the reason for the Weasleys being poor. – Damon Mar 29 '15 at 19:27
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    @Damon: I think vaults in Gringotts are more likely purchased than leased. They'll have inherited it; they are an old wizarding family, and presumably the family hasn't always been poor. – Harry Johnston Mar 29 '15 at 22:54
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    There might be larger objects in the vault that we not know of. We have no idea of what's in there do we? – Don_Biglia Mar 30 '15 at 7:21
  • @HarryJohnston "To a goblin, the rightful and true master of any object is the maker, not the purchaser. All goblin made objects are, in goblin eyes, rightfully theirs." - From the answer on Why would Gringotts need a Curse-Breaker?. As Gringotts is run by Goblins I doubt the vault was 'purchased' in their eyes. – Robotnik Nov 29 '16 at 6:44
  • @Robotnik: not in that sense, no. That doesn't necessarily rule out a perpetual pre-paid lease of some sort. (Out-of-universe, I'd write that off as just another minor inconsistency. In-universe, though, there's no obvious reason to think that goblins view the right to use a vault in the same way as ownership of a physical artifact such as a sword or tiara, any more than we do. We would lease a vault and buy a sword, but if goblins do it the other way around, it makes just about as much sense.) – Harry Johnston Nov 29 '16 at 20:12
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In-universe, it seems likely that Arthur's Ministry salary is paid directly into his Gringott's vault, in the same way that most people's salaries (including mine) are paid directly into their bank accounts. Molly is picking up his monthly stipend.

Out-of-universe, it's merely another way of hammering home that the Weasley family is as poor as a church mouse that's just had an enormous tax bill on the very day his wife ran off with another mouse, taking all the cheese.

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    Your answer was witty and practical, but nowhere in the book do we find any suppoting evidence of it. Also, the Gringotts vault could't be opened withuot the presence of their owners, so unless Arthur Weasley went to Gringotts every month to open his vault, which he need not, as then he could collect the salary himself, I don't see how that would work. Anyways, nice one. Kudos! – therealharry Mar 29 '15 at 7:50
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    @therealharry - Well, we know that the goblins of Gringotts have access to people's vaults without having them be present (q.v. Molly taking money out of Harry's vault, Sirius using the money in his vault to buy Harry a broom). It makes sense for the Ministry to contract Gringotts to distribute salaries rather than taking money from their vault, bringing it to the ministry, only for people to return the money to their own vaults. – Valorum Mar 29 '15 at 7:52
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    yeah, thats correct too..ok, I accept! – therealharry Mar 29 '15 at 7:56
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    I suppose in the muggle world, this'd be termed as: "Employer [the Ministry] issues BACS transfers to employees' accounts - and either Molly has permission to access Arthur's account, or it's a 'joint' account of some sort" - it's always struck me that Molly's the "head of the household" - so it'd make sense... It's less common now, but in the 50s/60s it was traditional for the man to go out and work, give his pay cheque to his wife, she'd sort out the household affairs, then give him some beer money etc... Not quite sure why, but the wizarding world has always struck me of being that era... – Jon Clements Mar 29 '15 at 17:38
  • @therealharry There can be online transaction like Coin Apparition technology.. – I Love You 3000 Apr 21 '15 at 9:42
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I don't think that the canon ever specifies directly that the vaults are afforded on the account of present wealth, but rather, wizarding pedigree. It just happens that Weasleys have the latter but (presumably squandered) the former - they are one of the very few remaining pureblood old families.

“I think he would have envied anyone who had a key to a Gringotts vault. I think he’d have seen it as a real symbol of belonging to the Wizarding world. (DH)

.

“I have visited the Lestranges’ vault only once,” Griphook told them, “on the occasion I was told to place inside it the false sword. It is one of the most ancient chambers. The oldest Wizarding families store their treasures at the deepest level, where the vaults are largest and best protected. . . .” (DH)

As such, the most likely scenario is that the Weasleys have always had the vault (though maybe not always keeping it so empty); and the vaults aren't removed from a Pureblood old family merely on the account that they don't store much in them.

2

We never came to know exactly how much money was stored in Weasley's vault. As I recall from the second book, it wasn't much, but it was still a pile which might not be possible to carry in handbag (although it can be home).

The answer to your question: Security. A vault in Gringotts was more secure than a handbag or home. Certainly, it'd be an awful experience of losing entire fortune of family while forgetting that handbag in Leaky Couldron (I am not even mentioning robbery or pickpocketing here). The home or any other place also doesn't rule out robbery or theft. So for ordinary people, Gringotts was the best option unless you are Dumbledore who thinks that he can create a more secure protection than Gringotts.

  • ok...forget handbag...how about home? It would save a trip to Gringotts everytime. Its not like the Gringotts were paying interests... – therealharry Mar 29 '15 at 8:13
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    @therealharry The home doesn't rule out the robbery or theft. – I Love You 3000 Mar 29 '15 at 8:14

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