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    I'm Obsessed With "Animal Crossing" And These 9 Money Lessons In The Game

    Don't spend all your bells at once!

    Lockdowns and quarantines aren’t as bad when you can host parties, visit museums, shop, and catch bugs…right? I am, of course, talking about Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the Nintendo Switch's pride and joy, which rose to fame during the pandemic.

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    The game's appeal? You run a little slice of paradise in the form of an idyllic island where you can buy and sell goods, customize the land, and keep adorable little animal residents happy. Escapism at its finest! Plus, the game allows you to visit other players' islands, making ACNH the perfect way to gather virtually while stuck inside.

    What surprised me most about this game is that to be successful, you need to have one very real skill — good money management! Here are nine financial lessons we can learn from Animal Crossing: New Horizons:

    1. The responsibility of homeownership

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    Firstly, I’d be remiss not to tell you about Tom Nook. When you first arrive at your private island, you’re greeted by the franchise’s infamous sleepy-looking raccoon. Tom Nook has a knack for guiding you through the game, but he also tends to keep you in debt.

    To upgrade from your flimsy tent and start your new life, you’ll owe Tom a whopping 50,000 bells (the game’s currency), which can be paid off in the form of a home loan. From this point forward, you can bet Tom will charge you anytime you want to add a new room to your home or for other island maintenance fees. Creating a furnished house is one of the most exciting parts of the game, but you have to learn to manage your bells, or you’re simply stuck in debt with nowhere to put all of your rattan furniture.

    2. Budget for what you value most

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    One thing we'll give Tom Nook is that he is a pretty cool landlord. While he's always ready to dish out a loan, you won't be held to any timeline. Throughout the game, you're free to make payments whenever you like, which means you can determine your financial priorities. 

    Decorating gurus may budget to pay off their home loans sooner so that they can acquire all six rooms of their house (plus fancy furniture!). Those who find the landscaping element of the game fun might budget to build bridges and inclines; or save up for larger outdoor items. Whatever you choose to do in the game, you'll have to budget your bells accordingly, because too many impulse buys at Nook's Cranny could throw you off your goals.

    3. The importance of managing a savings account

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    So how exactly are you paying off those bells? Fishing, bug catching, and digging up fossils are daily tasks that can earn you currency. Selling these goods is one of the best ways to grow your finances. Sure enough, you can deposit bells into a savings account and actually earn interest — just like in real life!

    You'll soon find that managing bells is essential to buying everyday items (fishing poles, ice cream cone lamps, or clothing as one does) and paying off loans to advance in the game. The longer you play, the more customizable your island becomes, and that savings account will become vital to funding the construction of a new bridge or moving one of your resident's houses.

    4. The risk and reward of the “stalk” market

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    Speaking of saving bells — a little something called the "stalk" market is the game's most efficient way to accumulate large sums of money at once. Rather than stocks, we're investing in turnips, sold every Sunday by a vendor called Daisy Mae. Those willing to invest in turnips can make a hefty profit, but it's not without risk.

    When Daisy Mae appears on your island, you can purchase as many turnips as you like in bulk. Their price varies from week to week, and your turnips will only last one week before becoming spoiled. The purpose of this odd opportunity? You'll be able to sell these turnips at Nook's Cranny (the general store) for a price that also varies, which means you may be able to sell them for a considerable profit!

    … Or you may invest 10,000 bells only to be paid 5,000 bells once you sell them. As silly as this is, the "stalk" market is the perfect way to begin understanding the risk and reward of investment.

    5. The ability to get creative when you’re low on funds

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    It happens to the best of us. In real life, if we are overwhelmed with expenses, we may take on a side hustle, cut out takeout for the month, or find things to sell on Facebook Marketplace. In the world of Animal Crossing, a good purge can also rake in the bells if you’re up for selling old items.

    You can also keep an eye out for the “Hot Item” of the day, showcased at Nook’s Cranny. This daily item can be purchased by store workers Timmy and Tommy for double their usual price.

    6. Understanding a seller's market is key

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    Over time, several recurring visitors will appear on your island. Some of these vendors will sell you items, while others can purchase items from you for a better rate than you'll find at Nook's Cranny. Saving the bugs you catch for when Flick, the bug collector, arrives ensures that you get top dollar for your creepy, crawly findings.

    Similarly, get strategic and save those pesky weeds you pluck from around your island for when Leif arrives with his flower shop. You'll be able to sell bundles of weeds for double what Timmy and Tommy can offer! 

    7. Hard work pays off

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    You may be living in paradise, but that doesn't mean you aren't put to work. A core component of Animal Crossing is "crafting" DIY items that you can then use on your island or, of course, sell. How does this work? Over time, you'll collect DYI recipes ranging from theme furniture to decorative knick-knacks. These items can be crafted using tree branches, weeds, rocks, and other elements found throughout your island.

    As you can imagine, this is more work but way less spendy than visiting Nook's Cranny and dishing out 50,000 bells for a sofa! Like in real life, DYI projects can save you money and pay off in the long run if you choose to sell them.

    8. You define your success

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    This is one of my favorite things about this game! There's no winning or losing; instead, you get to create your unique island vibe and accomplish the tasks you want to on your own time.

    For some, simply harvesting, fishing, and crafting DIYs are the best ways to unwind after a stressful day in the real world. For others, investing bells to make structural changes to your island or save for big items is what makes the game fun. Like real life, you are in charge of your short- and long-term goals and your success!

    9. Honorable Mention: The significance of supply and demand (à la Nookazon)

    Nintendo / Via

    As the popularity of ACNH grew, so did online third-party websites that help make your island management more efficient. Nookazon (not affiliated with Nintendo) reigns supreme when it comes to buying and selling items to other real-life players. Basically, this is the eBay of Animal Crossing

    The premise is simple: A player can create a Nookazon account and list their Spooky Tree decor, for example, at 200,000 bells. This price is determined by the seller and can be referenced against others selling the same item. Once a buyer is interested, a temporary code for the seller's island is shared, so the two can exchange said bells and Spooky Tree.

    Over time, as more sellers and buyers have joined Nookazon, items such as our Halloween-themed example become priced higher than the everyday "common" items. Yes, we’re talking about supply and demand. 

    And that, folks, is an entire economy.

    Are you an Animal Crossing player? Share your biggest financial takeaways from the game in the comments!

    And for more stories about life and money, check out the rest of our personal finance posts.

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