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With all the other economic questions being asked about the wizarding world that Harry Potter lives in, it's gotten me to wonder about this.

While Harry is wealthy, and the Weasleys are apparently not wealthy at all, I can't help but to wonder just how important money is in the wizarding world. If someone can cast as spell and create a structure, or have a tent that's easily moved around, but still has spacious living quarters in it (no tardis jokes, please), how much does a wizard or witch need money?

I know they need it for items that can't be created without skill, like wands, and for some magical ingredients, but it seems like one could easily create food and other necessities of life through transformation spells.

And, related to that, what would be the cost of living in the wizarding world?
I would think the ease of travel from one place to another would keep the cost of living close to the same throughout the wizarding world. But has anyone actually compared the cost of living for wizards and witches with the cost of living for muggles?

I know that's two questions (how important is money and what's the cost of living), but the two seem intertwined. Has JKR said anything about this or has anyone written anything about either one?

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    Food is one of the five principal exceptions to the LAWS OF ELEMENTAL TRANSFIGURATION!!!! EVERYONE knows that! – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 17 '12 at 20:42
  • I don't know it! Ya got links for proof? – Tango Jan 17 '12 at 20:44
  • Well, yeah, now that there's an answer! – Tango Jan 17 '12 at 20:52
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You said "but it seems like one cold easily create food and other necessities of life through transformation spells". In case of food, that is definitely NOT true:

"Your mother can't produce food out of thin air," said Hermione. "no one can. Food is the first of the five Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfigura --" "Oh, speak English, can't you?" Ron said. (DH pg. 292/240)

Later, in Chapter 29, Neville explains how they discovered the passage from the Room of Requirement to The Hogs Head, and Ron remembers the earlier scene:

... Aberforth. He's been providing us with food, because for some reason, that's the one thing the room doesn't really do." "Yeah, well, food's one of the five exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration," said Ron to general astonishment.(DH pg. 578/465)


Also, from Gamp's_Law_of_Elemental_Transfiguration Wikia, the following are deduced (but not directly referenced in canon as exemptions)

  • Clothing: Even wizards of great skill — Remus Lupin and Molly Weasley included— cannot seem to conjure up new robes and are instead stuck with old, patched ones, ones that are too short, or ones that are hopelessly out of style. If clothing were not one of the exceptions, Lupin would have long ago conjured a new wardrobe, and Ron would have avoided his dress-robe embarrassment at the Yule Ball.

As far as shelter - I don't see any useful reason for it to not be magically creatable in canon. I think this is more of a case of Rowling being completely woefully ignorant of basic Economics (as evidenced by her non-HP writings) than anything else.

Although, it's possible that you can't transfigure something as big/complicated as a house without some MAJOR transfiguration talent.

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    And that just shows you how hard it is to check on anything in the HP world when your sister who owns a bookstore has borrowed your HP book and you haven't seen it in over a year! – Tango Jan 17 '12 at 20:48
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    So this stomps on the food point (and the unspoken Clothing one), but doesn't really answer the question(s). – Xantec Jan 17 '12 at 20:52
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    @Xantec - I refuse to addle my brain by doing financial calculations based on written word by someone who doesn't do numbers OR economics :) Seriously, the only answers to most of Tango's concerns seem to be "plot hole" and "JKR didn't think of it". – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 17 '12 at 20:54
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    If you're going with the "plot hole" and "X didn't think of it" criteria we might need to scrub a good number of the questions on the site – Xantec Jan 17 '12 at 20:59
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    @Xantec - I didn't say it's a bad question. I said there's no full good answer I'm aware of :) I'll leave it to She Who Must Not Be Named to see if I missed some obvious (or hidden) canon info. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 17 '12 at 21:00
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How Important is Money in the Wizarding World?

Not as important as in the non-wizarding world. The Weasley's get by with ~7 kids (I lose count of who is still at home), and don't have oodles of cash. Whilst their clothes are slightly ragged they can be altered and so on, the house should fall down, but some patchy magic holds it up. They get by. I get the impression that for a similar non-wizarding family would struggle. In essence, your only expense is Food and Clothing (and you can make do on the later case), also there is, to my knowledge no such thing as a mortgage in the wizarding world....

  • I always kind of thought of the Weasleys as the Waltons of the magical world. – Tango Jan 24 '12 at 8:51
  • The who? I'm missing that (american?) reference... – AncientSwordRage Jan 24 '12 at 8:52
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Waltons This show was based on the memories of Earl Hamner (the producer) when he was growing up less than 100 miles from where I live and during the Great Depression. With 7 kids, they got along okay for not having money. (In real life, there were 10 kids and the actual house is significantly smaller.) – Tango Jan 24 '12 at 8:57
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    That's interesting, I immediately thought of the Waltons as in the owners of WalMart who are all billionaires and I was incredibly confused. – Probst Apr 29 '15 at 21:55
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The answers provided are very helpful in respect to general living; I should leave it at that, but I would like to add that money has other uses than just essential living needs:

Power

The Malfoy's are an extremely wealthy family, and Lucius did not seem to shy away from using his wealth to his advantage:

“What private business have they got together anyway?”

“Gold, I expect,” said Mr. Weasley angrily. “Malfoy’s been giving generously to all sorts of things for years. . . . Gets him in with the right people . . . then he can ask favors . . . delay laws he doesn’t want passed . . . Oh, he’s very well connected, Lucius Malfoy. . . .”

-Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (the Woes of Mrs. Weasley)

Business

The Weasley twins were able to start their own Wizarding Joke shop (Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes) after they were given a lump sum of money from Harry, as well as selling a lot of their supplies to students and other mail-order clients.

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    Except that both of these only works if there is a value to money in the first place. – Taemyr Jul 9 '14 at 11:38

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