I thought I could sell enough to cover it. The price was too good to be true. It’s a card I thought I really wanted. I can afford it, right? No, no I couldn’t. I used to pride myself on being able to control my collecting urges, by pulling back from entering an outrageous eBay bid, or wiping out my impulse-buy Watch List. Thank god my wife isn’t an accountant, or worse, a loan shark. I would have broken kneecaps by now. How could I spend so much money on a baseball card? What driving force in my brain clicked the left mouse button; clicking myself deeper in debt?
Collecting baseball cards can be an expensive hobby. Collecting baseball cards through the internet can ruin a collector. On the internet, money becomes some number deducted from, or in my case added to, another number. Throw in a credit card or credit account, and you have trouble. Click a button on eBay, and you have a shiny new card. You may have added to your Bill Me Later account, but it’s Bill Me LATER, not NOW, right? Eventually, the account must be paid off, and that may mean the new card, or other prized cards must be sold. Even the big boys, who win specialty auctions of 19th century cabinet cards of Hall of Famers, have to sell their prized wins through the same auction house months later due to over-spending or bad financial planning. It’s been said that rare or expensive cards don’t have owners; they have renters.
The urge to buy it now is strong. Every collector feels the rush of seeing a nice looking card at a price that’s high, but almost within reach. One can’t blame the marketplace for over-spending. Unless you’re a super rich, single tycoon, it’s best to keep the trigger finger in the holster until you can figure out a way to pay for that appetizing box of Allen & Ginter or Bryce Harper autographed card. It’s best to prepare for a large card purchase by picking out a few in-demand cards to sell. Picking your 1988 Topps collection will not work. The cards must be hot in the hobby. Selling a few cards a month will guarantee available cash for when your dream card or hobby box pops up for sale.
Look at your bills: electric, cable, internet, cell phone, rent. Give yourself a reality check before shopping for cards. You can stare at the shiny PSA 8 1963 Topps Pete Rose rookie only until the mortgage bill slaps you in the face. Make a budget in your mind of how much funny money you have to spend every month.
Another way to avoid card debt is making sure the item is on your want list. Paging through eBay on a Sunday afternoon can be like walking into the baseball card store of your dreams. The eBay watch list will balloon with impulse buys faster than Violet Beauregarde after chewing blueberry pie gum. Whittle the list down to what you really can not live without. I wish I followed my own advice. The card I couldn’t afford has been sold, unfortunately for less than I bought it. Lesson learned.