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While playing Europa Universalis 4 I often find myself starved for ducats to be able to afford buildings. However I can easily afford some fort and a decent army but that about it.

Lately while playing as some insert nation, I often get notification that some random nation "donate" 270 ducat to someone else who is fighting against that nation's rival/hatred whatever nation. The sad part is that often they are poorer or smaller than I am (Lithuania: me and some random Prince in Holy Rome Empire can afford a large generous sum).

Just to be clear. I am not looking for general economy advice as I know how LA affect tax and where to build production boost.

I know sometime ago there was a debate about if taking on loans is worthwhile on paradox forum. However with so many changes since then (state vs territory, estates, etc...). Are loans, take 200 ducat loan build two income boost builds then pay off loan long-term, still an economy viable option?

Is there any good tricks to save ducats?

  • Lithunia is large, is it not? What year are you in? Early in the game buildings are mostly useless I think. – mafu Aug 5 '16 at 21:52
  • Usually I build a tax boost in capital first since capital LA (Local Autonomy) is fixed at zero. Yes early game to 1600 time frame. Also it doesn't help that Lithuania is very likely to get dragged through a few wars back to back (Poland invasion of Teutonic, Muscovy - Hordes surprise attack, etc...). It doesn't help that most of Lithuania has wrong religious so unity is poor and high LA at game start. But even with a different start at 100% religious unity and zero LA issues. I still struggle to save some ducats. Usually I like to expand to gain some key trade post and stuff like that. – Vyndicu Aug 5 '16 at 22:51
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Army maintenance

You can save some gold by moving your army slider to the left. This decreases army maintenance significantly, which is important if you need/have a large standing army. Your armies will have very low morale from this, but it does not matter if you are certain that you won't be involved in a war soon - morale takes about 4 month to go back to 100%, so this is how long you have to plan in advance. Consider that after a war is finished, it is unlikely for anyone to start one again soon because it would break the peace treaty. Also remember that you can delay accepting an ally's call for war assistance for (I think) up to 2 month.

Mothballing your ships

While you are at peace, you should mothball the ships you won't need, namely your galleys and your heavy ships, and even your transports if you are not planning to move your troops around. Only your trade ships should be fully funded to protect trade and/or privateer. Depending on your fleet, this trick can save you a lot of ducats.

Loans

Loans are a two edged sword. You'll have a large advantage in fights (due to more troops/mercs) and especially early fights, but unless you get good compensation from the war (looting and peace payments) you'll be in trouble afterwards. Worst case, you'll even end up with a disaster.

Remember the AP hit they imply, too, for reducing inflation in the future. So it may be better to simply lose a war than take out too many loans.

Obviously, you absolutely must get rid of all mercenaries in times of peace rather immediately. The math is easy to calculate how long your expected peace period needs to be to discard them (if unsure, just get rid of them and hope for the best).

Advisors

You also need to get rid of costly advisors. Early game, it's not unusual to have none at all, and later, you'll want to use the cheap ones.

Value of buildings

Buildings are net positive only in the long run, so getting them early seems sensible. However, also consider that buildings in early times have a lot less value than in late times while they always cost the same to build.

For instance, influencing trade is a good thing, but if the trade value in your node is only 2 gold of which you now get 0.8 instead of 0.6, it will take awfully long until you get back the 50 (I forgot) gold a building costs to erect. Later in the game, the same node may hold a trade value of 15, and the calculation changes completely. Same thing with taxes.

So if you were to build something for its minimal gains, you would lose a lot of money you could spend on high impact factors when needed, for instance mercs or a larger army in general. Consider that this may leads to you winning a war more easily, so you get can claim more monetary compensation from the enemy than you could without the better military.

Even if it's just 10 gold you gain this way, it's likely a lot more than what early building gave you. Not to mention a lot more secure, too - having money makes you more flexible.

Applicability of this answer

It goes without saying that this answer does not apply to anyone attempting the Three Mountains or similar, but if you're a beginner and just having fun, I believe this should help you get a good start.

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    I'm not sure if this answer fits the question, as it is general advice which OP did not refer to. However, I believe it will be useful to others, unless other consensus is reached. – mafu Aug 6 '16 at 1:15
  • Mothballing your all your fleet except your trade ships can help too. – Laf Mar 8 '17 at 14:14
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    @Laf Sadly the community rejected your useful edit suggestion, so I inserted it manually. I also took the freedom to upvote one of your good answers elsewhere. – mafu Mar 8 '17 at 17:44
  • @mafu Thanks a lot, I thought it made more sense for you to keep gaining rep on your answer, since it was already very good! – Laf Mar 9 '17 at 14:23

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