Guest article by Tyler Glover (Broscards)

Hello, my name is Tyler, and I’m a player collector on a budget. How many of you are in my shoes? Being a player collector in today’s hobby is harder than ever. Long gone are the days of three sets a year. Long gone are the days of a player having, maybe 20 rookies.  Take my personal addiction for example, Robert Meachem had 1222 rookie cards produced (including printing plates) before he ever caught a pass in a game! From 1 of 1′s, to autographs, to game used, to short prints it seems like my want list never ends. Being as addicted as I am, when I began this collection, I wondered when it would ever feel like I had a “respectable” collection. First, you need to know that it doesn’t matter who respects your collection if you do. However, there are several ways to improve it without feeling like you keep missing those big buys.

Besides eBay, sites like sportlots.com and naxcom.com offer alternative ways to acquire cards for a considerably lesser price. You can also go the trading route on sites such as sportscardforum.com. But if you still feel like you really need a boost to your collection, stop and take inventory. Look over what you have and see how many cards you have numbered to 100 or less, or see how many autos and game used you have total. How many cards do you have that are numbered out of the player’s jersey number? Keeping stats of a collection is one way to help you see constant growth. I personally have an excel spreadsheet and every time I add a card the percentage of total cards that I own goes up. Just seeing that percentage figure rise is one way to overcome the “milestone blues”, as I have learned to call it. A lesson I learned early on was that a base Topps card increased the percentage I owned the same as a 1/1 patch auto.

But there are other ways in which you can get that feeling of accomplishment regarding your collection. Print off your want list and read through all of it, marking all the cards that you can get for under a certain price; then make those your priority. Recently I did this with my Robert Meachem checklist and noted that although I have over 400 different cards, there are still 27 on my want list that I could buy for less than $10.00. With my budget of 200.00 a month, I could easily get all 27 cards in one month. If you ask me, averaging almost 1 new card a day is great!

Learning to really manage eBay is another great way to collect on a budget. Most importantly watch for listing errors. Once or twice a week I will search Meachum, Meachom, and Meachim just to see if anyone misspelled his name. I’ve actually won two 1 of 1′s for significantly less money that they would have sold for if they had been listed correctly. Having the right eBay timing is definitely something to learn to watch for. Generally speaking, a card will not sell for as much if it ends at 11:00am compared to 11:00pm. Finding those cards that are listed at awkward times is a great way to find a steal. Also, don’t forget eBay stores!! Although some store owners seem like they may be crazy, there are others that offer great combined shipping rates. If you can find a store owner that does this and also has several cards you need for sale you will save a ton of money on shipping costs.

I also try not to get sucked in to really bidding up pretty patches. Although they would be great to own, a three colors patch will generally bring 20% more than a 1 color patch. In the end, it is all about having a copy of every card. If you find a steal, you can always replace a patch card in your collection with a nicer one. Finding steals is always a great feeling, but 1 of 1′s rarely sells for a low price. Although “1/1″ means there is only one copy of that card, it generally does not mean that it will never be on eBay again. I have seen several copies of the same Robert Meachem 1 of 1 sell on eBay. In my experience, unless that player heats up in value, the card will not bring as much the second time. I keep a list of the 1 of 1 cards that I miss and what they sold for. I have purchased two of those cards once the original winner re-listed them and both times the price was lower than the original offering. Don’t get drawn in by the description, trust me the 1 of 1 you are drooling over will show up again. Just be patient.

When all is said and done, collecting is about the love of the hobby. Adding a card to your collection is only half the fun. The other half is the search and finding that “white whale” you have been dying to get your hands on. Managing your budget correctly can be challenging, but that is what makes it fun for me. In one year I have amassed over 30% of all of Meachem’s cards. Whoever said Raman Noodles and Easy Mac wasn’t a healthy diet for a college kid anyway?

Keep Collecting (affordably)