Harry Potter and the Investor’s Secret

by | Jul 27, 2007 | Weekly Column | 1 comment

harry-potter.jpgIt’s a momentous time in the book publishing world. J. K. Rowling’s seventh Harry Potter book finally came out. So did the second edition of Conscious Finance.

For some reason, the second of these two events didn’t get quite the same attention as the first. Maybe it’s our marketing. Perhaps we should have chosen a title like Conscious Finance for Wizards or The Enchanted Guide to Wealth and Success. We might get more attention if our book promised magical ways to get rich in a hurry, cure overspending instantly, or get rid of the anxiety often experienced around money. Certainly, there are books that make promises almost this extravagant. Some of them have sold exceedingly well.

To be honest, though, I think the reason Rowling’s books have sold just a few more copies than Conscious conscious-finance.jpgFinance is their content. I haven’t read the Harry Potter books, but my wife and daughter have. From what they tell me, it’s just possible that the stories about wizards and magical creatures are a tiny bit more dramatic and exciting than our book about building a healthier relationship with money. My first clue was the audible groan and quick change of topics to horses when I suggested my daughter might read Conscious Finance when she finished with Harry.

Most of us would love to have magical powers and be able to get whatever we wanted by simply waving a wand. It’s only natural to want an easy route to success or a quick fix. The promoters of get-rich-quick books and workshops take full advantage of that wish.

Yet the surest ways to build wealth don’t include betting the house on the newest, surest stock, using inside information, or owning highly leveraged real estate. Most of those who try to time the markets and gain fortunes overnight forge a proven path to poverty. Instead, the wise way to build wealth is to use a common-sense strategy of diversified investments, held for the long term. It’s routine. It’s mundane. For everyone except those of us who love left-brained number crunching, it’s boring.

That’s certainly not as exciting as using magic. Still, remember that Rowling’s books are set in a school. Before her young wizards and witches get to reap the exciting and dramatic rewards of using magic, they have to learn their skills—complete with homework and disciplined practice. Even magic, it seems, has its mundane and tedious side.

Lesser authors who are envious of J. K. Rowling’s success might see the rewards she has gained and ask, “Why weren’t we that lucky?” We can be in awe of the incredible numbers of books she has sold, her fame, and her wealth. In the same way, those of us with modest incomes and lifestyles can envy the rewards enjoyed by successful people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, or even our friends and neighbors who seem to have more than enough.

What we often fail to notice is the work and commitment behind those successes. Much of J. K. Rowling’s “luck” was earned by telling a great story set in a well-crafted imaginary world. Yes, maybe that world is filled with magic, but she built it the old-fashioned way—by sitting at her desk and writing, one word at a time.building-wealth.jpg

When it comes to building wealth and using money to enrich your life, there’s no magic involved. It’s something that ordinary people can do, if they are willing to learn the basics, practice some self-discipline, and commit to investing in their future. That takes a bit longer than using magic, but the rewards are every bit as satisfying.

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