Because Second Life is a virtual world, it becomes easy for a casual player (one is not making his or her living off of Second Life business) to get caught up in retail therapy. I have wasted so much money on items that I didn’t use for very long. It’s easy to forget that Linden dollars ARE real dollars. Once I started organizing a virtual budget, my impulse purchases became investment purchases. Here are some First Life tips on budgeting that have been tweaked for Second Life.
1. Treat your Addictions
I am addicted to skins. Rather try to eliminate this need cold turkey, I’m taming it. I subscribe to Skin brands that have a consistent history of giving gifts, like Izzie’s VIP group and WoW Skins VIP Group. I keep an eye on skin brands that frequently participate in events and sales, like Belleza Skins, which has Best Buys and Fifty Linden Friday promotions often. I give more leeway to my skin spending, in small doses, while cutting out clothing spending significantly to balance it out.
What ever your addiction is – shoes, hair, poses, furniture, etc – recognize it. Then, find a way to curb it with hunts, freebies, lucky boards, camping, groups, and sales. “Small doses” of your addiction work just as efficiently as large impulse buys, and they’re a lot better for your wallet.
2. Narrow Budgets by Category
When I bought my virtual home, I set a limit of $100 for individual furnishings, with three exceptions allowed for my most important pieces of furniture: a bed, a kitchen, and a work desk. In the end, I spent about $600 total for those important pieces and everything else in the house is low cost or free. Using my Premium Account has also helped out with budgeting in that my stipend is disbursed weekly. This way, I don’t blow my self-imposed allowance all at the beginning of the month. If there’s a sale that comes up, and I’m out of the money for the week, I let that sale go.
If having an overall budget limit for Second Life isn’t working, break it down into categories. To get started, begin with the expenses that are easily foreseeable, like “$xx amount for pet care per month, $xx amount for rent per month,” and then divide out the rest for your shopping and entertainment needs. For even more control, break down each category even further by identifying your most important purchases you’d like to make in that category. It will put everything into perspective.
3. Make a Wishlist
I use the Second Life Marketplace’s My Favorites list to keep track of everything that catches my eye. I also keep a big folder of demos in-world. Then, I periodically go through my Favorites list and my Demos folder to remove ones that I no longer want. This narrows down my purchases to things that I could like for a while, and weeds out the ones that can’t hold my interest in the long run.
In first life, the longer you wait to see if you still love something (that new career change, that potential spouse, or that pretty new pair of shoes in the window after a long time has passed), it’s more likely that you won’t grow tired of it later on. The same applies to Second Life. Most to the things you’re thinking of buying will be there later on. The next time you want to buy something, write it down, bookmark, and put it away. You’ll be surprised at the frequency at which you cross off items.
I still have some definite problems with limited-time sales and other shopping events, but budgeting my Second Life has already led to less regret and more bang for my buck. It’s a good start.