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Taking my Collecting Toward Self-Sufficiency

November 21, 2010

As I made note of in Post #1!, I am working towards making my hobby of collecting sports cards and memorabilia entirely self-sufficient from a financial perspective.

Life is expensive enough without being a collector, and with the way I have decided to focus my collection, the expenses on that end of things are no small matter either.

I have been collecting since I was 7 years old and over the 20 years that I’ve been involved in this hobby, I have amassed a huge assortment of cards and collectibles.  It wasn’t until after I moved home from university that it really donned on me as to just how much “stuff” I had and how little space I was going to have for it in the long-term.  I also realized that commuting up to four hours a day while working as an intern for a professional baseball team was not likely to provide me with the money needed to maintain and build a collection of any long-term value.

With physical space and financial resources limited, I concluded that I basically had two options: A) I stop collecting entirely and see if I can get back into when it made more sense; or B) find a way to make things work within my situation.

Since quitting the hobby was in no way appealing to me, I chose Option B.

So how am I going about making enough money from my collection to continue with its growth? 

Here’s a brief rundown of what I did, what I’m doing, and what I plan to continue with in the future:

  1. I took a very close look at what I collect and why I collect it.  Any items that I couldn’t think of a solid reason to keep I placed in one set of boxes, items and projects that were of some importance to me were placed in another. 
  2. Since I was familiar with eBay from using it (excessively) to buy items, I taught myself the basics of how to sell and began selling the ‘non-keepers’ in eBay auctions.
  3. When the ‘non-keeper’ boxes continued to grow I set up an eBay store to move more of them out.
  4. In operating my eBay store I treat buyers as I want to be treated when I buy items: my listings are consistent in their format and clear in their description; I organize the cards in a logical fashion before they go in the envelope; I ship only in bubble mailers; and I keep the charges to a minimum.
  5. I set measurable targets that I work towards.  A certain number of new items listed in the store each week, month, and year; a certain amount in sales each week, month, and year; a certain number of blog posts; etc., etc.
  6. I find easy and inexpensive ways to promote the store with the goal of generating sales.  This blog is a perfect example.  Other outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, our website, eBay Marketing Tools, and a number of online trading card forums serve the purpose of generating awareness as well.  The best part is that all of them are either cheap or FREE, and all provide access to a potentially huge audience.
  7. I have become much more selective in what I purchase and when I purchase it.  I am, however, far too impulsive far too often, which is something I need to address moving forward.  Keeping detailed records of my expenses has been instrumental in getting closer to achieving my goal and helping me keep my spending in check.
  8. I make very effective use of my time.  All told, I probably only put about 10 to 20 hours of work into my hobby weekly, and I try my best to ensure that almost none of that time interferes with my normal daily responsibilities related to my work and family.  I accomplish this by getting up early every morning to spend an hour or two taking care of as much collecting related stuff as possible and I use my lunch hours at work to keep on top of the bookkeeping end of my hobby, as well as to write blog posts and newsletters. 

While I’m sure there are minor things that I’m overlooking, this is basically what I’ve done to get to the point that I’m at today.  While complete financial self-sufficiency has not been achieved as of yet, I am getting very, very close.  I’ve had some months where I’ve achieved exactly that, but still too many where I haven’t for the annual sales tally to exceed the expenses.

By continuing with the work I’ve done to get to this point and also educating myself on how I can work to improve things, I feel confident that I can achieve my goal relatively soon!

Coming up on Wednesday, I’ll be doing the first box break review on the blog, with a look at the box of 2010-2011 Score that I opened at the Panini booth at the 2010 Toronto Sports Card and Memorabilia Expo.  You can read my review of the show here.

Until then, all the best in your collecting pursuits!



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