3 timeless lessons Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations could teach you about financial planning

Charles Dickens mural in London

Charles Dickens would have turned 212 on 7 February 2024.

This world-famous author penned 15 novels in his career, and perhaps his most timeless publication is Great Expectations, the coming-of-age novel that follows Pip, a poor young boy who dreams of becoming a gentleman in London.

Although the novel was written nearly 200 years ago, Dickens’ protagonist has experiences that may even remain relatable to this day – particularly when it comes to money.

Keep reading to learn three timeless lessons that Great Expectations could teach you about financial planning.

1. It takes meticulous planning to achieve your biggest dreams

At the beginning of the novel, Pip is an orphaned boy living with his aunt and uncle on the marshy outskirts of London. Joe, his uncle, is a forger, and intends to take Pip on as an apprentice when he’s old enough.

Pip, however, has other plans. He has fallen in love with a wealthy girl, Estella, and fantasises about moving to London and becoming a gentleman in order to ask for her hand in marriage. To his astonishment, Pip’s wish is one day granted – a “mysterious benefactor” comes forward and offers Pip a substantial fortune to live out his dreams.

Sadly (spoiler alert) Pip’s plans go awry. His spending gets out of hand in London, and he finds himself in significant debt near to the end of the novel.

Although the book does end happily after Pip’s misfortunes leave him almost destitute, his story offers wisdom to anyone wanting to live out their dreams: just because you have the wealth to fund your goals, this does not mean you don’t need to plan them out carefully.

Fortunately, financial planning could help you pursue opportunities that are important to you while ensuring these endeavours are affordable for your family. We can help you:

  • Review your current financial circumstances
  • Look at the long-term impact of decisions you make today
  • Create a bespoke financial plan that puts your dreams first
  • Protect the wealth you have worked so hard to accumulate.


Unlike Pip, you don’t have to pursue your goals without help.

2. Gather all the information you can before making a financial decision

Pip is only a young boy when he receives news that an unknown benefactor has come forward, offering him the chance to live out his wildest dreams seemingly out of the blue.

In an ideal world, an offer of total financial freedom from an unknown source might be a wonderful opportunity. Snap your fingers, and all of a sudden, your money worries have vanished into clean air.

However, in the real world, an increasing number of people – even savvy individuals – are falling victim to financial scams. According to research by NatWest Group, 7 in 10 UK adults were targeted by scammers in the year to October 2023, and Barclays says that financial scams surged by 24% in the second quarter of 2023, compared to the same quarter in 2022.

Some scammers even use “deepfake” technology to convincingly impersonate trusted organisations, like HMRC or the NHS. They may then request their victim’s bank details or other important information and use it to defraud the person.

So, although Pip immediately accepts the offer of lots of money from an unknown source, taking a pragmatic approach to financial opportunities may serve you better in 2024. If you are approached by a “pension provider” or a similar “professional” with an offer, it may help to run their details past your financial planner before taking any further steps.

Working with a professional could help you to steer clear of any illegitimate financial transactions, allowing you to keep your money safe in a time when financial scams are becoming increasingly prevalent.

3. Surround yourself with those who have your best intentions at heart

When young Pip leaves for London, he becomes wrapped up in high society and feels he is simply “too good” for his family – even his uncle, Joe, who has always stood loyally by his side.

However, when Pip finds himself without money and gravely ill near the end of the novel, Joe is there to nurse him back to health. Despite Pip’s selfish actions throughout Great Expectations, it is Joe who has had Pip’s best interests at heart all along.

When it comes to your finances, surrounding yourself with those who truly support you and your goals is essential. Your family members, close friends, and trusted professionals could act as a support network that boosts your financial confidence and propels you towards your goals over the years.

Just like Joe in Great Expectations, an independent financial planner has your best interests at heart. We are here to:

  • Help you figure out your biggest goals for the coming years and make them a reality
  • Support you through times of difficulty as well as periods of celebration
  • Assist in protecting your wealth from unexpected life events
  • Listen to your concerns about the future and help to bring peace of mind
  • Nurture a long-term relationship with you that is based on trust, not transactions.


If you are looking to learn from Pip’s mistakes and make healthy, well-informed financial decisions in 2024, email us at [email protected], or call 01273 076 587.

Please note

This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

About the author
Picture of Oliver McDonald
Oliver McDonald
Oliver is the managing director and independent financial adviser at Engage Wealth Management.
Share this post