Collecting Sports Cards on a Budget

Unfortunately, most of us cant afford to rip a box a day. For the everyday collector there will inevitably be dry spells in which we can't afford to buy packs, boxes, or singles. Here's a few things you can do to pass the time when you can't afford your favorite pass time:

Organize Your Collection

This one is simple, go through all your cards and sort them by year, brand, player, team, or whatever way you break down cards the best. Each collector has a different way in which they organize their cards. First go through your commons and see if there are any pleasant surprises. Some of those pleasant surprises might be:

  • Short Prints
  • Variations
  • Errors
  • Numbered Cards
  • Rookie Cards of players who have become stars since the last time you saw the card.

After that, go through your Good Stuff. Here's how I organize the best cards in my collection:

  • Separate boxes for each player I collect (Joe Mauer, KG, Randy Moss, Cris Carter, Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, etc).
  • Separate 2-4 Lane Boxes For Sets I have put together (Topps Magic).
  • A Box for Sets I Haven't Finished Yet (Topps National Chicle.)
  • A box for Misc. Rookies (Barry, Elway, Marino, LeBron, Ichiro, and other High Quality Rookie).
  • A box for cards that I intend to sell or trade.

Create a Checklist of Cards You Want

Using Word or Excel, create a Checklist of Cards you would like to own one day. This is fun to do and gives you something to look forward to. The best collectors all have a vision of where their collection is and where it is going. Instead of trying to collect every Topps set ever made, why not just focus on collecting every Dallas Cowboys Topps team set ever made? I find that doing this also helps avoid impulse purchases. Collecting impulsively always leads to problems down the road.

Take Stock of your Prospect Cards

Heyward ImageCreate a huge stack of all your Bowman Prospects and start searching. Who knows, you might have a Jason Heyward sitting in one of your shoe boxes. The great thing about products like Bowman and Donruss Elite is that a bad pack today could end up being an amazing one down the road. If your not a huge prospect fan, maybe it's time you gave it a try. Start with your favorite team and learn who the "potential stars" are. Baseball America and MiLB.COM are excellent prospect resources.

Price Your Cards

Go through all your "Good Cards" and find out what they currently book at. This is a good chance to see what your entire collection is worth and it also gives you a chance to measure whether your collecting strategy is paying off. If the majority of your cards have lost value, it might be a good idea to look into what you might be doing wrong. On the flip side, if a ton of your cards have gone up, see if you notice a trend. In building your dream collection, it is important to learn from your biggest mistakes and successes.

Find People to Trade With

There are plenty of different ways to trade. Probably the best way is to find a solid trading website and learn the ropes. We have a great online trading community here at The Cardboard Connection that features trader feedback and a built in trade manager - so be sure to check it out if you haven't already Other good ways are to find local people to trade with. It might seem like no one around you collects, but you'd be surprised. The key is to go to places where other collectors hang out, like Hobby Stores and Card Shows. Maybe even consider starting your own trading group that meets once a month. There are plenty of people as desperate to find people to trade with as you are, it's just a matter of finding each other.

Learn How to Sell on eBay

Collecting is all about creating a constant cash-flow that allows you to continue buying. eBay is the best tool to help you do this. Go through your collection and pull out all the cards you could live without and sell them on eBay. Remember, eBay is the largest secondary market in the world, so there's a good chance someone out there is looking for the cards you are selling.

Scan Your Cards and Create a "My Collection" Folder

I just recently did this with my "Top Tier" cards. This is the best way to show off your collection without having your cards constantly "handled" by friends who don't know the value of what they're holding. Scanning your cards makes viewing your collection as simple as clicking on a folder.

First, create a main folder called "My Collection", then created sub-folders inside it. My sub-folders are as follows: Joe Mauer, Vikings (Randy,AP,Favre,Carter), Basketball Rookies, Football Rookies, Baseball Rookies, and Hockey Rookies. They sell programs that essentially do this on-line, but they are expensive and a hassle. You can also put your "Want Checklist" inside this folder. This is a great way to see the big picture of your collection in a simple, easy, and accessible way.

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