Personal Finance Lessons In Classic Literature

When you think of classic literature about money, you think of high society glamour, indulgent parties, and stories of the multigenerational wealth of families. What’s not to like?

We can learn personal finance lessons in classic literature. We find stories of conspicuous consumption, overspending, too much debt, poor investing choices, and errant estate planning in abundance through the classics.

Personal Finance Lessons In Classic Literature Will Enhance Your Library and Knowledge About Money


The Custom of The Country by Edith Wharton

Undine–beautiful, vain, spoiled, ambitious, and selfish–likes to get her way. Her parents are used to giving in to her harsh consequences to themselves. She believes she is entitled to a rich, luxurious lifestyle and intends to live it to the fullest.


Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

The merchant calls in her debts. Emma pleads for money from her lovers and others, but they turn her down. Creditors repossess her house, and they are in ruin. She swallows arsenic and dies a horrible death.


The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

We learn that Gatsby’s money is ill-gotten through bootlegger dealings. All of the novel’s characters, especially Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan, have sacrificed their morals. Despite their wealth, they cannot obtain happiness. Gatsby does not fulfill his dream of being with Daisy, a parallel to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s American Dream of those wanting to acquire wealth.


Miser And His Gold, Aesop’s Fables (In Its Entirety)

When the Miser discovered his loss, he was overcome with grief and despair. He groaned and cried and tore his hair.

Sometimes reading classics can provide memorable lessons that are less intimidating to the reader than your money mistakes that can be challenging to face.

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