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Using Your Card Capital Efficiently

As someone who has been collecting sports cards since they were 8 years old, I know the excitement that surrounds ripping packs. Admittedly, I still open packs but it is something I am doing far less of. I have realized that in order to get valuable cards through buying wax and hoping to make more than I spend is almost always the most expensive and least efficient way to spend your money. But what about those guys that find the $10,000 1/1 Zion autograph rookie card? That’s one guy or gal, opening one pack, and pulling the only 1/1 out of the hundreds of thousands of packs that Panini produces for the set. (Almost) All of us will not pull a card with that kind of value. What should the average person do with a limited card budget? How can you use your capital the most efficiently? I want to share with you the change in my card buying philosophy and why I think it is the most efficient and smartest way to use your hard-earned money.

Panini Prizm Draft Picks Basketball is all the rage right now and more specifically are the star rookies in this set. For this season, it’s all about Zion and the Luka Doncic card from last season is taking off. Currently, a hobby box is selling for $219.95 on Dacardworld. My question is does it make sense to drop $300 and hope for a Zion? An ungraded Panini Prizm silver of Zion Williamson sold on Ebay on 11/24/2019 for $62.52. You can spend a little over $50 and get exactly what you want or spend $300 with no guarantees that you will get anything valuable. You could get roughly 6 Zion silvers for $300.

My point is buying single cards is a more efficient way to use your capital. Let’s take it a step further. There are rumors that cards are beginning to be overproduced. We all know what this did to the sports card industry in the late 80s and early 90s. Currently, production is nowhere near where it was then however it is definitely creeping up. You might have a 1/1 but someone else has the pink 1/1 whereas you have the green 1/1. Card companies are pumping out more cards these days because they want to make as much money as they can. There arent any production numbers that the card companies release that I could find doing my research for this article. However, the rumors in the hobby are saying that production is climbing. Can we trust them to not overproduce? Are there any alternatives to protect the value of the cards that you own? Is there a more effective way to spend your card funds?

In my opinion, there is. The most effective way to use your card capital. Buy singles of vintage cards. For me, this is specifically collecting baseball cards from the 50’s and ’60s. I am currently working towards collecting the entire set of 1954 Topps. These cards are scarce because there was not a ton produced and many were destroyed through rough handling by kids or thrown. This scarcity is not artificial like today. It is a real scarcity. This is extremely valuable. The $250 you spent on that hobby box could have gotten you a 1954 Topps Ted Williams PSA 4 card instead of the pile of no names you got instead. Use your capital to buy vintage singles and you don’t have to worry about losing your invested capital in the next overproduction scandal. It’s the smartest and safest way to invest your sports card capital. 

Does effective capital management play a part in your collecting? Do you have a plan when it comes to managing your own funds to purchase cards?

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View Comments (2)
  • I work hard to stay on a budget with mixed success. When I go off-track, I’ll do some selling to bring me back to where I want to be.
    My worst money spent is always modern packs and breaks. 9 times out of 10 I don’t get the value for the dollar. My saving grace is that I do a good job of limiting these spends.
    My best money spent is single, graded cards, vintage or modern. I never regret those purchases and the cards almost always appreciate in value. I also feel good about spending on any ungraded, vintage purchases. Prices are reasonable and I love the cards. Plus the inherent scarcity. Win win!!
    To take the edge off the need to rip, cheap “vintage” packs do the trick – I presently have two boxes I’m ripping daily, two packs a day – 1990 Topps baseball and 1990T football. Cost me $15 each shipped! Can’t beat it. And with each passing day the cards are increasing in value and still cost so little. And they look great! It’s a fun, low-risk rip. I’ve done the same with 88T football, 86T and 89T baseball, and so on. Highly recommend this practice if you like to rip!
    Nice article, thanks for sharing!
    Steve

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