What is your relationship with money in Second Life?

As part of its 10 year birthday celebrations, Linden Lab reported that Second Life residents have transacted $3.2 Billion US Dollars for virtual goods. The most purchased items are women’s hairstyles.

Now consider that for a moment. $3.2 Billion US Dollars is an enormous amount of money to spend on anything, let alone virtual goods.

Visualising large numbers isn’t something we find easy to do. To help, 100 million US Dollars nearly fits on one standard pallet:

100 Million USD
100 Million USD

3.2 billion US Dollars would sit on about 30 standard palettes, with a bit (!) left over:

3.2 Billion USD
3.2 Billion USD

Now we’re getting closer to visualising what Second Life residents have exchanged… again, for virtual goods in its first 10 years. Would any of us, in 2003, ever have believed it?

So here is my question:

What is your relationship with money in Second Life?

Are we crazy to spend this much money on virtual goods and services? Do you spend freely, or are you a saver? Do you budget by spending to a limit? Does spending money make you happy, or guilty? What influences you to spend money? How do you determine what virtual goods are worth?

How do your spending habits differ between both lives, or are they the same? What have you learned about your spending habits through Second Life? Has your relationship with money changed as a result of being in Second Life?

I invite you to discuss these questions and more at our next Basilique Chat Salon, Wednesday, May 28th at 1pm SLT. (SLurl)

As always, whether you can attend or not, feel free to answer the bolded question any way you like in the comments below and I might bring up your views at the salon.

9 thoughts on “What is your relationship with money in Second Life?

  1. haha 😀 I like your visual representations here!

    I can’t commit myself to your next Basilique Chat Salon so I’ll share my experiences here 😉

    In both lives I’m tight-fisted. Always saving for a rainy day. I’ve never put a penny into SL, I can’t justify it – spending money on virtual stuff doesn’t appeal, even spending money on material things in RL that I don’t need rarely appeals. I do have some dusty, cobwebby and moth-eaten linden though, kindly passed my way from friends who are more generous than me. The first time someone gave me some L$ was because I helped her diagnose her computer problems – I was torn between feeling uncomfortable, and amused! Another time a friend decided to leave SL and gave me what was left in their account – I’ve hardly put a dent in what I was given, but I realise I could blow it on one (expensive) hair purchase.

    I also realise I’m probably not helping SL in any way by being the way I am, living off freebies and gifts. If everyone was like me then the virtual world probably wouldn’t exist at all. But thankfully it does exist and I like to think that what I do contribute is by the way of smiles and giggles 😀


    1. Thanks for your comment Brian! While I very much respect it, I find your point of view fascinating because I’ve never understood it! Still, I have admit that I wonder what SL would be like if there was no economy at all. We spend an inordinate amount of time shopping for things, organising what we’ve bought, and then getting the most of that investment in them.

      Perhaps I lack imagination, but nearly everything I want to do in Second Life seems to cost money. Even this blog post! That pallet of cash wasn’t free, it cost me 400L$! Thankfully it was copy or else I’d be really stinging 😉 And that is nothing compared to what I spend on clothes, fun things, decor and building materials. And don’t even get me started on the budget for our productions, in which case we are talking about real money (e.g. L$250,000+).

      When it’s all said and done though, I would easily give it all away – the thousands and thousands of items I’ve purchased – for the feelings I’ve paid nothing at all for. So, while it’s loads of fun to buy beautiful things, I can understand why you feel the way you do.


  2. when i was new to SL nearly 2.5 yrs ago i was determined not to spend a cent of real money on the game ~ i did buy stuff but only with what i got for winning contests & filling out surveys & guys would give me etc ~ i never bought L$ w/ US$ & i never paid tier or rent ~ in fact i made fun of those who did in the LL forum

    but then the sim where my sister & i lived sank beneath the waves & she asked me if i’d be willing to split rent on 1/4 sim with her ~ i was reluctant & figured my RL husband would object ~ but i have my own RL income & i love my sister so i agreed ~ for awhile i ONLY bought L$ to pay my share of the rent … time went buy & i had a Zooby baby & paid 1/2 on him w/ his dad ~ & then ltl by ltl i got sucked in to buying baby furniture & brain booster stars & a nice hair or outfit now & then ….. i also started DJing & had to pay my fee to rent the Neostreams relay server etc etc etc

    so yeah~~ ~ now i buy L$ monthly ~ mostly to pay rent but also to buy virtual hair & clothing sometimes .. its something i said i’d never do but now i do it ~ do i feel guilty about it? yeah~ a bit .. but not too bad ~ i spend less on SL than many ppl spend on booze & it’s fun ~~ it may be stupid & irrational but so what? i love my SL friends & the music we share & the fun we have ~ it may not be “worth it” but right now i dont care 🙂


    1. Thanks for your comment Jeanne. Your experience reflects many that I’ve heard since bringing this subject up with people in Second World. I’ll comment on that cycle I’ve observed specifically in the next post in this series.


  3. Having read this I thought it was extremely informative.
    I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this short article together.
    I once again find myself personally spending way too much
    time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!


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