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Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the newest hit in addictive video games. It’s fun, it’s slightly challenging, and it’s visually appealing. But did you also know that Animal Crossing teaches you a ton of stuff too? It’s fun and educational at the same time!
Entertaining Animal Crossing Teaches Valuable Lessons
It’s weird that you can learn things from a silly video game, isn’t it? Animal Crossing is such a fun game, but it also teaches you so many cool things! It’s is loaded with subtle lessons on a variety of topics – from patience to building friendships, home décor to money management. And since this is a finance blog (mostly), we’re going to focus on what Animal Crossing teaches us about money.
What Animal Crossing Teaches About Money
Yes, a video game can teach you finance! And you wondered why I liked the game so much. Animal Crossing is filled to the brim with lessons on money management. It covers debt, mortgages, crowd funding, making money, savings and interest, investments, and more.
This game has heaps of content related to money – and it’s so fun that you don’t even realize you’re learning about it! Seriously, I live and breathe finance and it took me two whole weeks of playing to realize how everything in the game is a life lesson on money.
Debt and Mortgages
One of the very first things you need to do in Animal Crossing is get into debt to buy a house. Okay -you don’t really NEED to, but a house will give you so much more storage! And who wants to live in a tiny little tent anyway? So, you go to Tom Nook and he graciously lets you complete your first upgrade for Nook Miles – something you earn by doing tasks. This lets you build your very own house on the island. What a great deal!
You’ll soon learn that the one tiny room isn’t enough – you need more space! So, you go back to Mr. Nook, and he offers to let you expand your home…for a price. It costs a whopping $168,000 bells (the currency in Animal Crossing) to expand your home for the fist time. Fortunately, you don’t have to pay it all up front. Tom Nook is generous enough to offer you a loan (mortgage) so that you can expand your home.
But that debt stays with you. And you have to pay it back if you want more room in your house. The one tiny room only holds so much, you know. Expansion is the American Dream, and once you have the one room, you have to have more! So you pay off your loan as quickly as you can, so that you can keep expanding. It’s a never-ending cycle of debt and repayment, just like real life.
But alas, that first loan was only the beginning. Every new expansion is going to cost you more and more. As your living situation, improves – things get more expensive! That’s lifestyle inflation in a nut shell, isn’t it? The thing is, you don’t have to make all these additions on your home. But it’s so hard not to! Who is satisfied with just one small room when they can have 4 rooms, an attic, and a basement (and all that sweet sweet storage space that comes with it!)?
My current loan for my fourth room was nearly $800,000 bells! I can’t even imagine how much basement and the attic are going to cost. I don’t need them to play the game – but I sure do want them, regardless of how much they’re going to cost.
It’s much easier to eat the price of these increases in living standards in a video game, but this happens to us in real life just as often. Once we’ve lived with a certain amount of comfort, it’s difficult to go back. And it’s difficult to not want more, regardless of how much it might cost.
And that leads us to making the money to pay for the expansions. In order to do anything in Animal Crossing, much like in real life, you need to make money. Fortunately, its far easier to make money in the game. All you have to do is collect stuff and sell it!
And just like in real life, rare stuff makes you the big bucks. Anyone can catch a horse mackerel on any given day, but have you tried catching a Mahi-Mahi? That’s where the real money is! Collecting the smaller stuff will make you money, but it will be a little bit at a time. Grinding it out and waiting for that big win takes forever, but has a huge pay off! The real lesson is that either way – making money takes time. But its up to you if you want to grind through and make a little bit every day, or do a ton of work up front for a larger pay off later.
This is very similar to choosing to work for yourself vs. choosing to work for someone else. If you decide to be an employee, you’ll get paid the horse mackerels every day, and it will be fine. You’ll eventually make enough to pay off all of your mortgages and buy what you want. Starting your own business is more like waiting it out for the big fish. You’ll have to grind to make bait, and throw back a lot of the smaller ones, in the hopes that you’ll catch that big one. There’s a risk there that the big one won’t ever show, but the reward is worth it.
Yes, Animal Crossing does dive into the world of investing! Turnip investing! On Sundays, you can buy turnips from Daisey Mae, the local turnip dealer. You can sell these turnips at the Nook & Cranny every other day of the week. But the turnip prices fluctuate on a daily basis – you never know how much they are going to be worth on a given day. That reminds me of something…hmmm…what is it? Oh yeah -the stock market!
Stock prices vary on a minute to minute basis sometimes, not just daily. Sometimes you buy stocks at a great price and make bank, and other times you buy too high and can’t get your money back.
Turnip investing is much less complex than stock market investing, but the same concepts apply. You want to try to buy at the lowest possible price, and sell at the highest possible price.
So you want to build a bridge huh? That will cost $168,000 bells please! (I like the fancy stone bridges). On the plus side, you don’t have to pay it right away, and you don’t even have to pay the whole thing.
That’s what your villagers are for! Yes, you can crowd source infrastructure on your island! Unfortunately, much like real crowd sourcing, the NPC villagers are less than helpful. They will only give about $500 bells per day towards any infrastructure projects. At that rate, it will take forever to build new things. But, if you have multiple real people with different accounts and different homes on your island (like a family sharing a Switch, for instance), everyone who plays can contribute to the project. My boyfriend and I both play, so we are able to get our infrastructure built pretty quickly. It’s nice to be able to work together and share in expenses!
Another great aspect of Animal Crossing is that you get to have a savings account – that pays interest! Just like real life, the interest is incredibly low. It’s only .05%! Talk about realistic, huh?
Although you don’t reap any massive rewards from having a savings, Animal Crossing teaches you that it’s a good thing to have. You don’t want to be stuck without any bells on a Sunday when turnip prices are low, or when one of the many merchants comes by with a great deal on an item that you can’t get anywhere else.
I learned this lesson the first time I wanted to visit a friend’s island. My lovely boyfriend was far more interested in paying off loans than saving money, and when he played on my account, he’d always drain my savings to move the story forward (as I’m the main character his can’t do that).
One of my favorite parts of Animal Crossing is all the shopping – so I knew I’d want to bring tons of bells to her island so that I could return with all the cool stuff I couldn’t get on mine. But sadly, there wasn’t enough money in my savings- so I had to do some grinding before I could play with my friend.
Now, I’ve learned (and so has he!) that it’s vital to keep some bells in savings for instances like this. You never know when you will need those extra bells!
Spending all the Money!
Speaking of shopping – One interesting things that Animal Crossing taught me is how much I love shopping and spending money. I’m so lucky that I’m a little lazy and frumpy in real life – because I’d be buying all the clothes if they were as cute on me as they are on my character!
I also love buying random junk to give to my villagers as presents. It’s fun to give them stuff and see what they will give you in return – or see them wearing it later. Gift giving is a huge component of the game, and it’s so much fun!
Buying random junk to decorate my house with is just as fun. My bathroom has a little stream running through it, my bedroom is decorated as a literal trash heap, and my kitchen is an extra storage room for all the things. There’s so much stuff you can get in the game, and it’s so much fun to get it! I’m glad I have an outlet for spending money that isn’t real or I’d be broke.
What Else Can You Learn From Animal Crossing?
Animal Crossing’s educational value doesn’t stop with finances. You can learn about a variety of bugs, fish, and fossils as well! One of the goals of the game is to fill your island’s museum with specimens, and the wise owl curator will tell you juicy (real!) tidbits about anything that you bring him.
What Have You Learned from Animal Crossing?
I’m only three weeks into it, and I’ve already learned all this awesome stuff. Ok – to be fair, I knew most of it already, but having this little activities and side quests makes the game infinitely more exciting in my opinion. What cool educational tidbits in it make it more fun for you?
And if you don’t have Animal Crossing yet – it’s not too late! Grab it and start learning about money the fun way today!
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.