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How To Make Money In Animal Crossing: New Horizons

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Getting Started
Aug 25, 2020
There’s a bit of tension within the Animal Crossing games. On the one hand, you have relatively free rein to explore a town, make friends, and live life as you see fit. On the other hand, you start out with a fairly sizable debt to Tom Nook. You can choose to whittle that debt down little by little or ignore it altogether. Those are certainly options, but I prefer to focus on paying it off as quickly as I can. I don’t like having that number hanging over my head, and, more importantly, I like having all the housing upgrades that come with solvency – even if they mean more debt. Here’s how I’ve been paying off my expenses in New Horizons.

The early game
New Horizons starts out with a slightly different proposition: You don’t pay off your initial travel expenses with bells (Animal Crossing’s currency). Instead, you redeem Nook Miles at a kiosk in his tent. These miles can be earned by completing challenges, which are highlighted on your new phone. This portion of the game is quite self-explanatory. You’re essentially rewarded for nearly everything, and the miles will come pouring in. There are several simple ones that require virtually no effort, too. Do these if you’re looking for some easy ways to earn miles in the beginning that may not be quite so obvious.

- Make a post on the town’s bulletin board, which should be right by Nook’s tent.
- Use your phone’s camera to take a picture. It doesn’t matter what you snap.
- Go into your passport, add a quote and a custom title.

Moving right along
All right. Once you pay off your first debt to Mr. Nook, he offers you a home upgrade. You may as well take him up on the offer, since tent life is not an ideal permanent solution. At that point, we switch over to the more familiar denomination. You still earn miles for completing challenges, but your debt can only be resolved with fat sacks of those precious bells. Like Nook Miles, there are loads of different ways to earn bells. Some are more lucrative than others. Here are some of the things you should be prioritizing if you want to live debt-free ASAP.

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Foraging for fruit
Selling fruit is an easy way to make bells in New Horizons’ early hours. You don’t need any special equipment; simply shake a tree and the fruit will fall. Bring that fruit to Nook’s nephews, and they take it off your hands in exchange for bells. Easy enough. The problem is, you don’t get much for your efforts. Earning 100 bells for each piece of native fruit is nice at first, but you quickly outgrow it. It’s time to branch out!

New Horizons lets you charter a plane to a randomized island, starting on the second day after you begin the game. Tom Nook gives you a free ticket when the option is made available, and you can redeem 2,000 Nook Miles at his kiosk to purchase additional tickets. I wouldn’t go all-in on these tickets, but it’s not a bad idea to buy a few; things like pocket organizers (which allow you to carry more items) and the item wheel should take priority, though.
Go to your island’s airport, and tell the dodo at the counter that you want to fly. Follow the instructions, and use one of your tickets. Now cross your fingers.

If you’re lucky, you’ll arrive at an island that has a different type of fruit from your home base. The potential fruits are apples, cherries, oranges, peaches, and pears. You can also find coconuts on these remote islands. Did you find a new fruit? Great! Bring it back home and plant it (dig a hole and then bury the fruit in it). After a few days, you have a new fruit-bearing tree that produces a more lucrative harvest; the non-native fruits can be sold for 500 bells a pop. Since each tree bears three fruits simultaneously, you’re looking at a fairly significant upgrade over what you started with – 1,500 versus 300.

Coconuts are a little different. They’re only worth 250, the trees only produce two coconuts at a time, and the trees have to be planted on the beach. They’re a nice visual upgrade for your shores, but don’t think of them as investments.

It's also a great idea to talk to your friends and see what fruits they've discovered. Visit their island, either via local co-op or online, and you can trade.

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Not another bug hunt
The next way you can earn bells requires some gear. Specifically, you’re going to need a net. Once you have one, you can able to scour the lands for all kinds of creepy-crawly things. It’s worth noting that the next few methods of making bells have an optional detour. Bugs and fish can be donated to Tom Nook initially, and then eventually to the museum curator, Blathers. Blathers will take the first specimen of each type of critter and add it to his collection. You don’t have to do that, but I personally like having a completed museum. It can sting a little when you give up a specimen that’s worth 10,000 bells or more, but there’s always more where it came from.

All right. Back to the bugs. You see these things all over the place. Get close to them and swing your net to snag ‘em. It can be a little tricky at first, and you’ll probably swing, miss, and scare off more bugs than you’d like. Hang in there. You might consider practicing with butterflies, since they don’t vanish into thin air when you whiff. Once you feel confident, look around flowers and the forest floor for bugs. If you hold down the A button, you enter into a stalking mode. You move slowly, but you aren’t as likely to scare your prizes away with your big ol’ footsteps.

Bugs and fish appear on their own schedules. Animal Crossing taps into your Switch’s clock settings, so the creatures you can get vary depending on the month and time of day you’re playing, as well as the weather. Your Critterpedia app is a handy reference that shows when different creatures are available, with entries added automatically after you find or catch one for the first time. It also shows whether your catch has been donated to the museum, which is particularly helpful if you’re sharing an island with other players.

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There are a few bug types that don’t show up in the open. For example, wasps appear when you shake a tree that contains one of their nests. When it falls, you only have a few seconds to get into position and swing your net at the swarm. Miss, and you get stung – and have a swollen eye to show for it. Pill bugs and centipedes appear sometimes when you hit random rocks. When you shake trees, sometimes a spider or a bagworm will slide down on its thread before going back into the tree. If your net isn’t already equipped, you can get it ready, shake the same tree again, and catch the bug. The most annoying bug to track down, at least in the spring, is the mole cricket. You hear his buzzing sound, and he isn’t anywhere to be seen. Walk to where he’s chirping loudest, and start digging around with your shovel. Eventually, you’ll dig him up. None of these hard-to-find bugs are particularly valuable, and I’ve only sought them out to hand over to Blathers to watch him squirm.

OK, if mole crickets aren’t worth tracking down, which bugs are a priority? Here’s a quick rundown of the five most valuable bugs that I’ve come across. Keep in mind that this is for the period that I’ve been playing, which is spring. More bugs will be coming with new seasons, and they’re likely to be valuable as well.

  • Tarantula – 8,000
  • Emperor butterfly – 4,000
  • Peacock butterfly – 2,500
  • Orchid mantis – 2,400
  • Tiger beetle – 1,500
In my experience, the value of the other bugs drops precipitously after these five. Because of that, I haven’t found bug-hunting to be a particularly good use of my time. The tarantula is quite a prize, but they only appear in the evening and they’re fairly rare finds – and they knock you out if you miss your swing. Emperor butterflies are more common, and I’ll definitely chase them down when I see them. Otherwise, I tend to focus my attention elsewhere.

Here’s a complete list of all the bugs I’ve managed to collect thus far, and their value:

  • Bagworm – 600
  • Centipede – 300
  • Citrus long-horned beetle – 350
  • Emperor butterfly – 4,000
  • Hermit crab – 1,000
  • Ladybug – 200
  • Man-faced stinkbug – 1,000
  • Mantis – 430
  • Mole cricket – 500
  • Moth – 130
  • Orchid mantis – 2,400
  • Peacock butterfly – 2,500
  • Pill bug – 250
  • Snail – 250
  • Spider – 600
  • Stinkbug – 120
  • Tarantula – 8,000
  • Tiger beetle – 1,500
  • Tiger butterfly – 240
  • Wharf Roach – 200
  • Yellow butterfly – 160

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