How Money Works
When it comes to income there are three constants in your empire that contribute to it, which can be broken down when you hover over the money tab at the top of the screen. The first is your domain, that is all the lands that you personally own. Domain income will pay the most of what the barony or county generates, as you are the owner of said lands. With that in mind it is important to focus on your own domain when you want to build a building, as you will see the biggest return on investment. To see a detailed breakdown of what your county is making click on the ribbon of your county or go to the realm tab and over to domain. Hover over your income and you will be given a simple breakdown of your income sources from your buildings and negative or positive influence percentages that effect the total number, such as local events or your stewardship level.
Due to the static nature of the domain limit, you will need to rely on vassals for expansion and income growth, which leads to the next income type Vassal Taxes. Vassal Taxes are the taxes generated from all your vassals. Each vassal provides a certain percentage of their income in taxes to their liege. This percentage is modified by a number of factors including; vassal contracts, buildings within their domains, and as well as the development and control ratings of their counties. There are also several events and characteristics, but these are the least controllable factors when it comes to taxes. The third constant is church holdings, but is not necessarily a guaranteed form of taxes. Church holdings are taxes paid to you from the holder’s realm priest, who leases out any holding in your domain. This is only possible if your faith has the theocratic religion tradition. Any faith from the late clergy edition does not acquire taxes from temple holdings, as these are personally owned by the holdings’ owner. There is one more, even though it is not listed in the top money breakdown, but your steward by default has his counselor tithe set to collect taxes, which based on his or her level, can provide a heavy boost to your overall tax collection percentage. It is well worth having a high level steward at all times for this reason alone.
Non-constant money collection include looting and ransom during wars, are some of the best ways to earn some extra cash. When taking over a holding there is an associated loot number that you will get when the siege is over. You are bound to get some prisoners whether through battles or taking over holdings. These prisoners can then be ransomed for various amounts of gold depending on how important they are to your enemy.
It doesn’t matter how much money you have coming in if you have more money going out than coming in. There are three main factors in money going out and you can control all three fairly well. Buildings are the more simple of the first two factors. They have their entire cost up front, but often take years to build. Once complete they will be generate whatever benefits you see from the description, which almost always involves money even if it is just a small amount.
Your military is a tad more complex, as military units have two maintenance costs. One for when your armies are not raised, and one for when they are. Levies, thankfully, do not cost a penny when they are not raised. You could have 100,000 levies during peace time and it would not hit your wallet at all. However, when you raise your armies they will begin to incur a monthly maintenance cost for as long as they are raised. Minute arms are a bit different. For starters they require gold to recruit, as these are more professional soldiers, not just commonfolk. Once recruited they will have a unraised maintenance fee per month. That fee is exactly one third of the cost of the raised maintenance fee amount. This is extremely important to consider at all times, as it may feel like you can support a large number of minute arms during peace time when the money is good. Once you raise your armies you will be hit with a three times higher maintenance fee on top of the cost of levies. To see your military’s monthly maintenance during peace time and war, click on the military tab and look at the bottom of your screen. The monthly amount is in red and is currently for raised or unraised. The amount below it will be how much you will have to pay and how long you will be able to support these armies. The average war in Crusader Kings III can last years, even in the early campaign, so knowing how long you can support your armies is crucial.
The last expense is Titles. Titles can created when you have enough lands to de jure claim it. Titles will always cost you gold and the cost goes up the higher the title. However, creating a title will give you the prestige as well as a process claim on any lands underneath that title that you don’t already claim.