A tale of three lakes

We’ve all seen our cash reserves dwindle after a particularly big expenditure or evenings of successive raids with little time in between. Flasks, gemcuts, enchants and gearing our alts becomes a pressure on our gold pile, and as it dwindles, so does our focus to replenish it.

I always see my own monetary system as a tale of three lakes, as pictured below:

The lowest lake represents my sources of income; making sure they stay in my reserves (my gold stock) is literally an uphill battle. This is because the third lake, “spendings”, is also a lower lake. And water (like money) streams downhill easier than up.

When you notice that your income lowers, and your spendings do not increase, it is time to start damming those lakes and fill up again.

The first lake: Income

This represents you making money ingame. And, like in real life, it takes hard work and a bit of luck. Grinding mobs for money, doing quests and farming sellable items.

Damming this lake involves finding efficient ways to make money. Check out what reputations you need for trade skills that would make you money, and then grind mobs that give rep (items) for this faction. Are there mobs that drop components for your tradeskills or are close to farmable nodes?

Enchanters could farm lower-level instances (which you can solo) and disenchant the blues. Herbalists could farm the Dead Mire, where the bog lords drop motes of life, large quantities of sellable junk and can be herbed pretty well.

Daily quests are a quick and dirty source of income, and often give reputation. Daily dungeon quests give Badges of Justice (Badge gear is economically cheaper than crafted/BoE gear) as well as gold, while the daily PvP quest may give extra incentive to get some action going on in the battlegrounds.

All of this is pretty basic material, but then, this is also the easiest lake to dam.

The second lake: Reserves

Ah, the nebulous waters of fortune. Once you made gold, you have to find a way to keep your gold. Especially because there are many temptations to spend your gold. Auctions for nice items churn out daily, raids require food and flasks, and alts scream for better gear to survive the perilous lower levels. And the Light forbid you have a Twink…

Damming this lake involves a bit of psychology. Most people have a bank-alt, a lower level character designed to hold items you may need later. Make sure that you send not only your sellable loot to that character, but also your gold. On a daily basis, even when raiding, you will never need reserves over 100 gold. This money is sufficient to buy raid materials, repair and do some moderate trade-skilling.

The remainder of your money should go to your bank alt. Have your bank alts do your auctions and store the items you want to keep. This not only makes sure your main(s) don’t have to go back to town all the time, it also reduces your exposure to the lures of the auction house.

Once your bank alt has a fair supply of money, you can “play the auction house” a bit, or use it as a safe deposit box.

Even better: have your bank alt make a guild, and use the Guild Bank tab (and money tab) to store money. Money in the Guildbank cannot be spent on the AH, making it even easier to keep your money in your pocket.

The third lake: Spendings

The third lake represents money flowing from you and into the economy. This is not always bad, just be sure to be conscious of what your spend. In essence, you should only spend money when:

  • You expect to gain a substantial return or
  • Your character improves significantly from the investment

This is most often done by “playing the auction house”. Most people just use the Auction House to buy and sell items, but it can also be used as a form of speculation. Buy Low, Sell High, goes as much in WoW as in real life.

There are many small tricks to make money, whether silvers or hundreds of gold. There are guides written on how to play the auction house, and economists could make as much of a detailed study on WoW economy as they would of the Federal Reserve.

Some examples of tricks and money-makers I know are:

  • When motes are a lot cheaper than primals of that type, buy motes, turn them into primals, and sell them.
  • Put enchanting materials on the auction house before you advertise your enchantments. If you manage to hook a customer, there’s also a big chance he’ll buy your materials.
  • Alchemists can buy cheaper primals (Earth goes for 4 gold each on my server) and transmute them (for instance, to water, which goes for 16-20 gold each). Once per day a 12-14 gold profit is a good investment. When you are a Transmutation specialist, the profits simply increase.
  • Alchemists who are Elixir masters can buy mats for their flasks, and sell the flasks. Make sure to make a small profit even without proccing multiple flasks. For example, my alchemist buys 200g worth of mats to make 4 flasks. I sell each for 55 gold Buyout. If I have no proccs, I make 20 gold if I sell them. If I procc once, I make 75 gold. Two proccs means 130 gold, and so on. Elixirs work in the same way, but with smaller margins.
  • Advertize your tradeskills, but be cautious. Spamming /trade or making overly long advertisments will not help your business. Keep it short and concise, and link only your most outstanding recipes. There are addons available such as TradeBarker, which will allow people to whisper you with a codeword with the type of item they want, and you will automatically whisper them back if you can make anything such as that.
  • Having multiple alts with complementary trade skills really helps in keeping your overhead low. I created an alchemist to make Natarumah mana pots and flasks, and later a jewelcrafter and an engineer, and each added trade skill to your account helps keep money in your pocket that would have gone to other players…
  • …which also have the downside that you need to invest in these characters first.

This is but a small sample of ways to keep some money in your pocket, as many players find their own ways and all of this is subject to the economy on your local server.

Saving up, why?

And it is best to start saving now, because Wrath comes out in November, and the last thing you want is being derailed from leveling and questing by being forced to suddenly farm money to fuel your forays.

My personal to-do list for november will be the following:

  • Get my druid to 70 and get her Epic Flying form, as well as the Cenarion War Hippogryph (because I feel I deserved it).
  • Make sure my characters each have as many [complete] quests in their quest log as possible before launch, to get a small headstart when the expansion hits.
  • Get all my needed attunements for (heroic) dungeons and raids required, and get my reputations up with any factions I feel I still need.
  • Collect enough herbs to powerlevel Inscription on two characters.
  • Collect enough materials for my existing trade skills to make sure I can make at least 10 skillups from them for each of my toons.
  • Create a leveling-specc for each toon, and my “wishful thinking” raid specc at level 80.
  • Buy or stock the materials for the 300-375 powerleveling of Enchanting and Tailoring, as well as the required primals, because I will be able to sell those to Death Knights power-plowing their trade skills.
  • Re-design my UI (and post it) and make sure all those addons are wrath-proof.

Anyone else have some simple money-making tips or good ideas to prepare for Wrath? And, will you make a Death Knight toon?


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