First you need to look at your surroundings, and what I mean is your financial situation. Each person is different, some could be single, married no kids, or like me have four kids. I will try my best to combine all situations as I try to explain it. These steps separate a pack a month collector to a collector who can get what they want when they want it.
FIND YOUR MEANS
- Sit down and figure out your expenses. This sounds stupid, but married or not you need to make sure bills and obligations are made first. Cash Flow Form
- Look at what you have left, since I am married my wife and I create a monthly allowance allotment.
- Both my wife and I signed up for a pre-paid Visa card. Each month we place our monthly allowances onto our cards or set up direct allotments to go to the card. (You MUST research pre-paid cards! Some have hidden fees!) By not using the primary checking account you never really have to worry about that problem of going over your balance or keeping receipts.
- For example, we are going to use $25 a week, or $100 per month. Make sure you both come to an agreement on what you both can spend on your hobbies. If times get tough, and expenses suddenly change, redo the cash flow form to get a different allowence. We all know life isn't perfect, so these figures can always be flexible.
- What is great about this plan is if you don't buy any cards for a few weeks, or even a few months your balance increases. Or if you go to Target one week and pay $21 for a blaster box and nothing else, you have a carry over of $4 to the next week, now you have $29. It doesn't sound like a lot, but over time, it will add up. You figure some weeks you may spend more than $25, some weeks you spend less than $25, and some weeks you may not buy anything and go positive $25 more dollars.
Values For Your Buck
- I love getting retail blaster boxes, and here is the reason why. A typical hobby box at a card shop you may spend $60 on one type of card set and get one to five hits (autos/relics). For $60 in blaster boxes, for $60 you can mix or match. You can get a box of Topps Series 1, Bowman Platnium, Score Football, and a bunch of random packs. In most Topps blasters you get a Manufactured Patch Card, and you may get another auto or relic. Now you have a good amount of maybe four or five products. I am in no way knocking hobby packs/boxes but lets be real, the mid to upper level boxes go for $100 plus.
- I look around online for the best deals for cards that I really want. There are several great places to find the cards you are looking for, ebay, checkoutmycards.com, and beckett.com.
- Don't buy on impulse! Just because Beckett or ESPN says that a player is going to be the next Babe Ruth, don't spend hundreds, or even thousands of dollars for a card! Do you remember Strasburg's first Bowman auto going for $16,000, and now you can get his auto for around $200. For $16,000 just think of all the cards you can buy with that, or heck, a new car and have money left!
- I usually buy rookies who are in the mid to late rounds in the draft. Most of the time you can pick up a mid level current draft autograph for $1 or $2 on ebay. After collecting since 1985, the first rounder draft pick cards always priced at the ceiling the first time they are listed in Beckett or selling on Ebay. As time goes on, those first round cards begin to decrease in value, do to injuries, or maybe they are just not that good. Beckett very rarely will book a mid to late round draft rookie worth anything but common, thus card shops tend to want to get rid of those fast.
- If a mid or late round player hits the majors and becomes a star you will quickly see that rookie card you may have paid $1 for shoot up to $50. I would much rather gamble on 20 of those rookies than buying one current Beckett cover boy card.
- End of the sporting seasons, products will tend to be reduced. Usually you will begin to see 40% off stickers on many older series or year old products. This is where I jump, I don't mind collecting behind a previous years products at a cheaper cost because it fills my gaps and it gives me doubles for trades!
I have lived in many different cities all over the country and I have experienced this first hand in some of the card shops, owners having packs already searched for certain customers. I seen this happen first hand a few years ago, I went into a store and asked for a few 2008 Topps packs, the man grabbed them out of the box and gave them to me. I opened them in the store, no hits, just the average Topps cards. While I am opening them, another guy came in and the two enthusiastically gave a handshake. The man came in and said you got those packs for me ready? The owner rang him up and they went over the other side of the store to see what hits they got. REALLY? Did I just witness a shop owner who packed searched his cards for the hits to sell to this guy? I should have noticed when he was ringing him up, the Topps packs I bought were $2.49, the same packs he rang up for $5. Must be his hot pack charge! I don't trust any packs unless it came from a freshly opened box, or I trust the owner. (yes I do have one card shop I love and trust!).
Displaying and being proud!
- Now you have your cards at home, now what do you do with them? I hope you didn't say "shoebox". I buy 5,000 count boxes and I take pride in keeping my cards organized. Most card shops or Wal-Marts have 100 ct penny sleves for $1, or you can go on ebay and get 1,000 in some cases for about $8. It is all about shopping around. I usually try to have a couple extra 100 ct sleeves and one extra box at home in case of overflow or you need them.
- I put my cards in player ABC order using the 5,000 count boxes. I only do this for cards from 1981 to present cards. I use index cards to place their names on the top between players. I use different color index cards for different sports. White=Baseball, Green=Football, Yellow=Hockey, Orange=Basketball. It just makes it just a little more easier.
- I place any player who is a semi star, star, or hot rookie in penny sleeves and place them in ABC order.
- I have a separate 5,000 count box just for common rookie cards. I search each month just in case one of those players becomes a hit, then they will be given a penny sleeve and moved to the semi star/star boxes. In this rookie box I use index cards to separate years. I will usually no longer search for new star rookies in the 2001 year, but I would frequently search in 2010-2012.
- I have a separate box for relics and autos. I group them by sport, auto, patches, jersey, or bat. This is for finding the card much quicker and having not to search a 5,000 count box for a random auto.
- My vintage cards I use a separate 5,000 card box separated by year and brand.
picture of one of my auto/relic boxes
Cards shown on this wall are just A-M. It is just so much easier when some is looking for a certain player to find it in just seconds. I am spoiled, my wife gave me her office and I got to move the cards out of the dark basement!
- Find common interests with others. I am new to the blogging world, but you can tell who the trusted people are by their blogs verses meeting some untraceable random person online for a trade.
- Look around your friend base, you may have someone who secretly also enjoys cards for trading.
- Trading makes the hobby fun, always keep your traders happy, don't screw them your name will get around the card world!
- If you have a trading partner, don't be afraid to give them a little something else as a thank you. If they like a certain team, throw in a few extras of that team or player. Generosity goes a LONG way in the collecting world!
- Craigslist! 85% of the junk baseball card posts there are just that...JUNK! If someone discloses that he/she has 10,000 80s cards and only wants $40, that would be a decent buy to fill in player gaps you may have. If you see a post for 10,000 VINTAGE BASEBALL CARDS $$$$ for $2,000 and it says collected 20 years ago and doesn't know anything about them anymore...STAY AWAY!
- Flea Markets are hit and miss. The hits are people who bring their junk there for a weekend and want to sell it all. Those people you can wheel and deal because they may need the money quick. They fill up a truck and they don't want anything to come back home with them. Saturday their prices maybe higher, but come later on Sunday whatever is left is priced to move!. Second you have the weekend warriors who's job is during the week pick auctions to make money at the flea markets. These people know what are collectibles and will mark their cards near book level. These people tend to have a van that is full from top to bottom, like they just cleaned out a storage locker. Third, some flea markets have inside booths that are there year round. They may have locked cases, these people tend to have higher priced, maybe vintage cards, but normally the owners aren't there so there is no negotiations on prices. Usually they items are priced near book levels. Last one, and maybe the best is the weekend card shop guy. He is a wheeler and dealer. They may have dozens of dime or quarter boxes, and may offer more discounts for buying more. Their tables or sheds are usually stacked with boxes and cards everywhere. It sometimes looks like a baseball card bomb may have went off in there!
- Remember that hobby shops have overhead, they need to pay rent, electricity, taxes, and new inventory. Expect that their cards will be more than what you can find on Ebay.
- Card Shows are few and far between anymore where I live. The last one I seen was in 1998, but just like a flea market, you can tell the booths of the people who are looking to move product fast.
- Don't be selfish! Involve your wife, kids, family, friends, or even your new online friends. If you have a new friend online who is a set builder and he needs some cards that you have no need for, send them! Your new friend will be happy to return the favor if you are ever in need of a card or player! You would be amazed by generously giving someone something they are needing the generosity that they will usually give back. For those of us not in it for the money, but for the love of collecting, there is no greater satisfaction than helping others with their collections too!
- Don't be a hoarder! Do you really need 40 1989 Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Cards? Do you really need 50 Albert Pujols 2001 Upper Deck Cards? Don't be afraid to trade! I used to hoard cards in the 1990s, but really what did I need with 5 sets of 2004 Topps? Now I have trade binders and boxes, and I also have a 5,000 card box for cards I get through the year that I donate around Christmas to hospitals and children's homes. Trust me, once you get used to getting the fear you get with anxiety that you can't let go of your cards, you will begin to enjoy your hobby that much more!
This is just a very quick idea of what you can do to get a good collection started and one you can be proud of. I hope you enjoyed reading and I do hope you gained some knowledge into something you may have not known before! If you have anything else you would like to share to anyone else, please comment!