It may look cutesy and inoffensive from the outside, but when you delve beneath the surface, the world of Animal Crossing actually revolves around cold, hard cash (more on how the game works in our full review). Much like your average University course, Nintendo's perpetual debt simulator bridles you with an ever-increasing loan from the day you move into town, and with everything from a massive flat screen TV to a bed in the shape of a pineapple staring at you from the shelves of the general store, only to be gone forever if you don't buy it now, you'll be quickly find yourself haemorrhaging Bells (the game's currency) no matter how well you budget. And that's before we even get to the murky world of Tom Nook's house extensions, which simply give you more space to fill with more stuff, bought from the shop run by his two sons. Their Mafia-like grip on the town's apple-based economy is astounding...
Anyway, we're digressing. Wouldn't it be nice to afford that wrestling ring without having to worry about making your next loan repayment? How about dropping insane amounts of Bells on a Sweets Dresser without a care? Or picking up that cute elephant shirt you've had your eye on, just because? Fortunately Animal Crossing doesn't seem to have been affected by the recession, as there's plenty of get-rich-quick schemes you can try your hand at - and through weeks of hard work here at Everybody Plays, we've even gathered up five of the most fool-proof methods for you:
As you stroll around your town admiring the greenery and your loyal citizens, you may have noticed a number of rocks lying around town, which seemingly serve no purpose aside from getting in the way of your plans to erect a stop signs or a fountain. But while they may all look identical from the outside, two of the rocks in your town have serious money-making potential, and there's no way to tell which ones until you hit them with a shovel. Strolling round town, you might notice a boulder where there wasn't one the day before - this is your cue to whip out the shovel and press A to smack it into a million pieces, revealing a gemstone worth some serious dough underneath. Rubies, sapphires and the like will net you 2,000 Bells, whilst Silver and gold will earn you 3,000 and 4,000 respectively, which is more than enough to cover that table you've had your eye on, even if it won't put much of a dent in your mortgage.
But that's just a single rock. The second daily rock has much more earning potential, as it'll churn out as much as 16,100 Bells each day to be exact, although you'll need more of a plan if you want to get the max money out of this one. You see, once you locate and whack the lucky rock with your spade, an invisible clock begins to tick down and each subsequent hit sees another bag of bells come flying out. If you're quick enough, you'll be able to get 9 lots of money out of the lucky rough - but every time you whack the rock, your character will edge backwards slightly, costing you precious seconds, and making it harder to get enough hits in in time. So we have a solution - simply dig a row of three holes behind you and the rock, as shown below. It acts as a buffer, keeping you in the best position as you hammer A to bang out all the Bells you can:
Money DOES grow on trees
As does furniture, apparently. It may be a bit time consuming, but every day it's worth going on a tour of your town shaking each and every single tree (except those with visible fruit on them),as often, a bag of 100 Bell coins will magically float to the ground. Each day, you'll be able to get a total of 2,000 Bells from your trees, as well as two pieces of furniture which you can then flog to Re-Tail, the second hand shop, for more money. Occasionally, your tree shakes may also make a spider or bagworm drop down, which you can catch in your net and sell on for 300 Bells each.
Shaking trees is not without it's perils though, as some have beehives hiding in their branches and disturbing them will send a swarm of angry bees flying after you. If you don't duck into a building in time, the bees will chase you down and sting you, leaving you with a swollen eye that doesn't really do much except alarm your townsfolk when you first chat to them. Quickly pressing the start button and choosing 'Save and continue' will also miraculously scare off the angry bees too, avoiding the swollen face to boot. Another way to tackle the bee problem is to leg it a fair distance away, pull out your net and swipe at the swarm to nab yourself a bee - the timing is a bit difficult, but it's well worth trying as Reese will buy bees for a whopping 2,500 Bells a pop. Don't forget to pocket the beehives they leave behind too, as they go for 500 Bells as well.
Getting your 5-a-day
Fortunately, eating in the world of Animal Crossing is more of a hobby than a necessity, which means that the fruit trees that litter your village are more a source of income than sustenance. When you begin your game, you'll be randomly assigned a town fruit that natively grows on all your trees, and Reese at Re-Tail will buy them for a relatively paltry 100 Bells each. Every so often, you'll shake down a shinier looking version of a regular fruit - a perfect fruit - which sell for a whopping 600 Bells each, but to maximise profit, you'll want to plant it and grow a "perfect tree" instead, in turn producing more perfect fruit to sell. Unfortunately, perfect fruit trees are a bit on the frail side and only produce a finite amount of fruit before they kick the bucket - although you can still make a killing off them before then.
If you haven't already, you should speak to Isabelle at the Town Hall until she offers to share some of the fruit her mother sent, netting you your first batch of foreign fruits which, once planted, will give you a constant supply of foreign fruit to flog for 500 Bells each. It's worth noting as well that fruit is one of the few stackable inventory items - simply drag them on top of each other to put them into bunches of nine, which will let you carry more between trips back to the store to trade it in.
Do you know anyone who plays Animal Crossing? If you do, it's well worth a trip round to their town, either over the internet or via local wireless, as you may find their trees have different native fruit to you - all you have to do then is do some swaps (or surreptitiously nick a few when they're not looking), plant the fruits and reap the resulting rewards. It's also a good idea to head across to yours and your friend's islands via your town's dock, and fill up your pockets with tropical fruit - each town's island is randomly assigned a "tropical" fruit, such as a lemon, mango or lychee, as well as one palm tree fruit, both of which you can bring back to your town and plant for a constant supply of tropical wares - although the palm tree fruit needs to be planted on the beach rather than on grass. Palm trees only produce two fruits at a time, either coconuts or bananas depending on what you planted, each of which can be cashed in for a tidy 250 Bells.
Everybody needs a hobby
This one's probably the easiest way to make a decent living in the early days - although even then it requires a small financial investment to get you started. You've probably noticed your town is crawling with fish and insects from the world over, as well as having more fossilised remains than London's Natural History Museum buried beneath the ground. After buying yourself a fishing rod/butterfly net/shovel from the Nook kids' store, you can start pocketing the village's wildlife, before carting them off to Re-Tail in exchange for cold, hard cash. Of course, there's also the town's museum to fill with fossils, insects and fish, but they're not as needy as you, right? After all, they're not the ones kipping in a tiny tent and not allowed to buy wallpaper.
Fossils are a little bit more complex - keep your eyes peeled for little star-shaped cracks on the ground, of which there can be up to half a dozen a day. It's a bit of a trek, but you'll want to cart them all over to Blathers the owl at the museum and have him assess them to tell you what each fossil is - identified fossils are worth far more than those left unidentified, which will net you a pitiful 100 Bells. To put it into perspective, your average mammoth skull is worth about 3,000 Bells, which makes the extra traipse well worth it.
We've also heard that you can make a ton of Bells selling your fossils in the flea market spaces in Re-Tail, with some going for over 10,000 Bells - which is far more than you'll ever get out of Nook or Reese. We've never tried it but it might be worth a punt, especially as you can sometimes pressure the characters into buying certain items.
Visiting the Island
Our final money making tip is also by far the best. In less than a week, you can go from a pauper who can barely afford the boat fare to a millionaire, all thanks to the local island's bountiful beetle population. Before you can start raking in the Bells, you'll need to have unlocked the island first, so this perhaps isn't the best of tips for newcomers, but unlocking the island is pretty straight forward. In order to be able to set sail to the tropical paradise, you'll first need to have moved out of your starting tent and into your first house, and then paid off your initial 39,800 Bell loan. When you next load up your town, Tortimer, a rather old tortoise in a Hawaiian shirt, will show up and tell you about the island while your game loads - after which you can run down to your dock and chat with him some more, unlocking the island for the following day. Depending on how quickly you pay off your loan, you can probably get the chance to visit the island within a few days - for a fee of 1,000 Bells for the boat (don't worry, you'll make it back in no time).
Once you've unlocked the island, you'll have access to what is far and away the easiest way to amass large amounts of Bells very quickly - and we're not just on about rare fruit either. The answer lies in the beetles, or Bells-on-legs as we prefer to call them, that come out and cling to the trees come nightfall. Far rarer than your average beetle, these juicy creatures retail at Re-Tail for up to 12,000 per insect. Considering you can fit a maximum of 40 in your take-back-with-you storage box, you can easily make around 200,000 Bells per trip within half an hour or so - which makes the ferry fare seem like a pittance. To make the most of your bug catching time though, you'll need a strategy.
First off, we'd suggest waiting till 11pm before you catch the boat out - some of the biggest money beetles won't show their creepy faces till then, although it is still possible to make a decent pile of cash without them. After you've borrowed a net free of charge from the tropical gyrating fire hydrant thing next to the door, you're ready to start patrolling the trees after rare beetles. Bear in mind, these beetles are easily spooked, particularly if they're one of the rare ones, so you'll want to walk as slowly as you can manage past each tree, tilting the Circle Pad as little as you can, and holding the A Button to raise your net and creep along stealthily, ready to swoop. The island itself has a limit to the number of beetles it can spawn at once, and is often taken up by common-as-muck green Fruit Beetles, which you'll want to scare off or catch and release to make space for more interesting specimens. Sometimes, there may even be no beetles to be seen - although you can always head back inside then out again to reset things.
In particular you'll want to keep your eyes peeled for Golden Stags and Horned Hercules, worth 12,000 Bells, Giant Stags and Rainbow Stags with their price tag of 10,000 Bells, and Cyclommatus Stags, Horned Atlases and Horned Elephants, which weigh in at 8,000 Bells. Goliath Beetles and Scarab Beetles are also worth looking out for as they go for 6,000 Bells too, and tend to be a bit more common. A bit of fishing can also boost your profits too, although you'll want to only go for the ones with a visible fin above the water, as sharks can go for between 8,000 and 15,000 Bells, depending on type.
And there you have it. While these five ways aren't the only ways to make a wodge of cash in the game, they are probably the easiest if you're just starting out, requiring little in the way of investment, and giving you a great return on your time. Lending a hand to your neighbours, who nearly always have deliveries that need doing or games of hide and seek to play will often net you some new clothes or furniture - which, lets face it, you probably don't want anyway - which you can then sell on to Re-Tail instead. Once you build the Dream Suite from the public works projects list, you can also upload your town to the game's online servers every single day, which will net you a tidy sum of 5,000 Bells each time. Finally, it's worth noting the Bell Point in the Post Office will also give you interest on your savings on the first day of every month, and even though it's a rubbish rate, every little helps.
There's also the Stalk Market, where you can buy turnips from an old boar called Joan every Sunday morning and sell them on to Re-Tail for prices which change every day - it's possible to make a killing here by buying low and selling high, although in all honesty we've never quite figured it out. Ideally you should be looking to buy them for around 90 Bells or below and offload them on Reese before the following Saturday, after which point your turnips will rot and no-one will buy them. The price fluctuates daily and can apparently reach as high as 500 Bells each, although we've never seen it get that high - whenever we decide to buy turnips it never seems to go above what we paid. It's also worth checking in your friend's Re-Tail stores too to see if they get any better prices than you do. There's a definite risk to playing the Stalk Market - a risk we personally can't be bothered with, but it can be a very easy way to make a ton of money if you can time it right.
So there you have it - the five easiest ways to make money in Animal Crossing: New Leaf. It may take some scrimping and saving in the early days, but once you've bought the right tools and unlocked the island, you'll be rolling in Bells in no time. Now if only we could build ourselves a Scrooge McDuck money pit to swim around in...