Reading is a hobby that most of us enjoy and use to learn about life, history, and so much more. When we think of the literary classics, we may not always think about the lessons that can be learned about personal finance. Still, some aspects of personal finance can be learned from the greats of classic literature. There is lots to be learned from the literary classics, including “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.
“The Great Gatsby” By F. Scott Fitzgerald
There are not many literary classics that can capture the imagination as successfully as “The Great Gatsby,” but what can we learn about personal finance? The lessons learned by reading this classic by Fitzgerald are many. They include the need to make sure our love of money and position do not overtake every aspect of life.
What is the aim of Gatsby? Daisy is the ultimate aim of the titular character, and his only desire is to spend his life with the woman of his dreams. Gatsby has done much to improve his lot in life, including breaking the law and living on the edge of what is morally correct. We can learn from the book that forgetting about what we want from life outside of money alone is equally as important as driving for more success.
“The Custom of the Country” by Edith Wharton
This is perhaps one of the most important books available for those who wish to learn about the perils of not paying your bills and not working to improve your life. Personal finance plays a huge role in “The Custom of the Country” by Edith Wharton. It tells the tale of Undine Spragg and her battle to improve her future at the expense of her reputation and family. After marrying Ralph, Undine cannot accept that her husband’s comfortable life could lead to a better standard of life.
Undine continues to push for a more expensive lifestyle and does not worry about the bills she and Ralph are gaining until she is left divorced and unhappy. One of the story’s morals is to live within your means and not to expect to live beyond your means without consequences in the future.
“A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens
The impact of “A Christmas Carol” has been diluted by the numerous incarnations of this classic novel that have been completed in print, on stage, and for the screen. This can make it difficult for most of us to remember exactly how shocking the work of Charles Dickens was in its time. Dickens was a tireless campaigner for social equality after his family spent time in the Victorian workhouses.
Ebeneezer Scrooge provides the Victorian equivalent of mortgage loans. However, he is unlike the friendly credit union loan officer you would find today. In Dickens’ tale, Scrooge was more likely regarded as a loan shark. Scrooge is the epitome of a person valuing his wealth above all else and playing no part in the lives of his family or the wider community. Despite his vast wealth, Scrooge lives as a miser refusing to help others or even indulge himself with a good meal or fuel for warmth.
The Gold Bug by Edgar Allen Poe
Often referred to as the master of gothic horror, Edgar Allen Poe also had a flair for social commentary, as shown in his short story, “The Gold Bug.” This story of a man who has fought for a fortune in various get-rich-quick schemes and failed shows us how important it is to work hard and learn as we move forward. This is not the cautionary tale we may associate with Poe, but instead, a morality story of a man who discovers the path to success is not an easy one.
The story tells the tale of a man who is bitten by a gold bug that leaves him dreaming of building his fortune by completing a treasure hunt. Following the get-rich-quick schemes of the past, the gold bug pushes the man to complete a treasure hunt to amass a fortune based on what he has learned.
There is much to be learned about personal finance from literary classics. The authors of these stories looked to create tales with meaning.