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  1. #1

    How to Collect on a Budget - CONTEST ENTRY

    _____If youíre at all like me and the vast majority of collectors, the only zeros in your checking account balance is what it shows after youíve paid your bills for the month. It can be a very difficult to manage your finances, especially with a family. Every expert will agree, however, that the age-old adage ďAll work and no play makes Jack a dull boyĒ holds true in every regard Ė if at all possible we should have some sort of entertainment budget each month. The problem is that because itís more fun to buy baseball cards than pay insurance premiums, it can be all too easy to overspend on our favorite hobby which can lead to stress and other negative consequences in other aspects of our lives. Iím here to share with you several of my strategies and secrets to enjoying the hobby on a budget. Youíre certainly welcome to try any and all of them yourself. With a little patience, a little work, and a little luck, you can see your collection grow without seeing your wallet shrink!


    _____The first area many people miss out on is the opportunity to win free cards from contests. Contests are held daily in some form throughout the collecting world. Topps frequently holds contests on Twitter, along with several other independent sources. Panini usually has at least one contest a week on their blog. There are contests right here on Sports Card Forum that you can enter. The amount of work required varies, as do the rewards. Topps and Panini, for example, give away memorabilia and autographed cards alongside entire boxes of product. Other contests may have a single card up for grabs, and most commonly here on SCF you can win Card Cash. Check your local card shop, too, as many of them run contests at varying intervals with prizes. My old card shop had a bonus lottery-style drawing at the end of each month for an assortment of packs. My current card shop has Pack Wars on a monthly basis where you can win a wide range of prizes. This month there is an unopened 2012 Black Friday promotional pack, a John Kerry cut autograph, and several other excellent prizes to be won.
    _____Now, entering contests may seem like common sense. However, most people do not enter these contests. Let me reiterate Ė most people DO NOT ENTER. They dismiss the contest as too much work, or why bother if it is an easy contest because theyíll never win? I canít guarantee that you will win if you enter. I can guarantee that you will not win if you do not enter. Iíve had varying degrees of success with contests in my short two years of collecting. My best win was a 2012 Elite autograph of Ryan Tannehill with a twist Ė it was a personal edition of the card unavailable in packs. Iíve since traded the card for baseball cards, since I donít collect football cards.
    _____This brings me to another point about contests. Just because the prize isnít up your alley doesnít mean you shouldnít enter. Iíll enter contests for football, basketball, hockey, even soccer and golf cards. If you manage to win, someone somewhere will likely want the card and youíll be able to trade it for something you do collect, or you can sell it to them in an absolute worst-case scenario. You may think it isnít fair to be Ďstealingí these sports cards from hobbyists that actually collect that sport. It is a noble thought, but I view myself more as a general sports card collector than just a baseball card collector. Besides, there are plenty of people that collect more than one sport and it never hurts to have more than just your primary sport to expand the number of hobbyists youíre able to trade with.
    _____Contests are the first and easiest way to make your collecting budget go farther. Theyíre hopefully free to enter, and if you enter enough of them youíre bound to win eventually. Perseverance is key. Donít get discouraged after a few (or even more than a few) contests that you donít win. While you mathematically can win them all, it is highly unlikely that you will win even the majority of them. Just be excited when you do win and keep entering!

    Free Money

    _____Wait, what? Free money? Yes, if youíre on a cardboard budget there are ways to drum up extra revenue without doing much more than your daily activities. You could apply this to any aspect of your life Ė groceries, clothing, etc. I choose to use the extra money on baseball cards. Most of the extra revenue comes in the form of gift cards to various locations Ė, Target, etc. If youíre on a strict $20 a month budget for baseball cards, coming up with an extra $200 a year in gift cards through various programs can really expand your collection in a hurry.
    _____One way to earn these gift cards are through certain reputable sites that essentially pay you to be a consumer. There are two that I use and can attest to their legitimacy. and Swagbucks both have rewards programs for using their search engines. You wonít see instant gratification with them, but with a little bit of presence and perseverance, you can very easily earn a $5 Amazon gift card each month from those sites. There is the potential to earn much more, but it depends on the amount of effort you put forth. There are other rewards available on Swagbucks, namely Paypal. Who doesnít love Paypal? To date I have personally earned over $300 in absolutely 100% free gift cards between these two sites. Some months I put a lot of effort into earning more gift cards while other months Iíve done next to nothing. The sites themselves are fairly self-explanatory as to how to earn their points and how to redeem the points for gift cards. If youíre curious how they can do that, they have sponsors that pay them to target advertisements at consumers like you and I. Instead of keeping that revenue for themselves, they share it amongst their users to attract users in the first place. So it is up to you if you want to line Googleís pockets or your own for using the internet.
    _____If youíre fortunate enough to have a Smartphone, there are a few Apps that will let you earn free gift cards. They vary depending on the platform you are on, but the three that I use on my Android are Shopkicks, Checkpoints, and Nielsen Mobile Rewards. Shopkicks and Checkpoints are apps that will give you points for walking into certain stores with the option to scan items with your smart phone for additional points. Again, it is targeted advertisement with revenue sharing. If youíre going to Target anyways, why not earn some gift cards while youíre at it? Nielsen Mobile Rewards is another animal altogether. By downloading the program youíre consenting to let Nielsenís application collect data on your phone usage for use in their research. If youíre not comfortable with that, donít use the application. Iím a pretty easy-going guy and donít mind if someone is observing that I occasionally search the internet for a place to eat, use my map a lot because I get lost, and make about 1 phone call a month. Again ,it is up to you, but the program is a lot easier to use since it just runs in the background and each month you get points as long as it remains installed on your phone. Iím closing in on redeeming for a $50 Amazon gift card after roughly a year of use.
    _____There are other rewards programs that can be used, Iím just sharing with you a few that Iíve found and have had success with. Iíve used one of my hotel loyalty programs to earn gift cards and I could use the points I earn for using my credit card each month. The opportunities are out there, and maybe you already do all of these things but choose to use your gift cards on something other than baseball cards. Thatís great. If you donít, consider looking into one or all of these programs and before you know it youíll be checking out at Target with a blaster of 2013 Allen and Ginter and having the cashier scan a gift card you just redeemed for on your phone. It is a pretty awesome feeling.


    _____This one is by far the hardest. Finding a budget and sticking to it. It may be easy for some collectors and more difficult for others. A kid with an allowance each month is going to have a lot easier time sticking to his budget than an adult who could potentially spend a lot of money on cards but needs to practice self-restraint. Figure out what is a reasonable amount of money each month to spend on cards and stick to that. If you have problems sticking to that, consider either using only cash and setting aside a certain amount each month and when itís gone it is gone, or setting up a completely separate checking account with a fixed amount allocated to it each month. I use a free online checking account that gets a small direct deposit each month. When it is gone, no more cards until next pay day! Also, it can help if you set a goal for yourself and save a portion of your budget each month. If your goal is to purchase a hobby box of a certain product, plan your budget out several months in advance, allocating a certain amount each month towards that box.
    _____You can also look into selling some of your collection if youíre looking for creative ways to stretch your budget. Donít buy cards thinking youíre going to turn a profit, thatís counter to the entire spirit of the hobby. However, if you are lucky enough to pull a nice autograph from a star player and donít have anyone to trade it to, many people prefer to only deal with monetary transactions for cards. Since the money came from cards, itís only fair to me that I be allowed to put that back into the purchase of more cards. It isnít a strategy I use often, but if I find I have some higher value cards I have a problem trading, Iíll just sell them to make it easier. Then I can go and purchase something that I may want.


    _____So there you have it. This article is by no means the be all, end all of how to collect on a budget. But if youíre like me and arenít fortunate enough to be able to afford a case of every new product that comes out, maybe you can utilize some of these tips to pick up an extra blaster here or there, or win a free card from time to time. Often there isnít a significant time commitment, so you donít have a whole lot to lose, if anything. So give one or all of the aforementioned suggestions a try!*

    *Disclaimer: If you are underaged, do not sign up for or download any of these apps without your parent's consent!

    The Ryan Tannehill Personal Edition autograph I won from a contest off of the Knight's Lance, Panini America's official blog.

    Part of my entry for the annual Gint-a-Cuffs contest. Alas, I did not win this year. I took second to last. But, you have to enter to win!

  2. #2
    I recently got back into the hobby since collecting as a kid. I got carried away, and spent a lot more dough on cards then I should have, now I gotta cool it for awhile. 20 Bucks, or even 10 goes a long way at your local hobby shop. From now on I won't be going crazy like I did in the beginning, I'll buy individual packs and individual cards every now and then. I find the most fun I've had in collecting so far is buying boxes, but it's just simply to expensive.

  3. #3
    I had the same experience, Andrew, when I got back into the hobby! It was a ton of fun, but I was burning a hole through my pocket like craaazy. Now I look forward to a box for maybe my birthday and/or Father's day, or any time I manage to save up enough through the techniques/tips I mentioned above. It makes opening a box that much more enjoyable because of either the occasion or because it's something I was saving towards!

  4. #4
    I really enjoyed reading this article, SWOWannabe. I am so frustrated because my local hobby shop mainly caters to high-end clientele! He only sells individuals packs of products that are under five dollars, everything other product must be purchased as an entire box!

  5. #5
    Thanks for the positive feedback! I really enjoyed writing it and am glad at least a few people read it and could relate/learned something! As for the LCS requiring you to buy an entire box... that is rough. I'm very blessed to have an absolutely AWESOME LCS near my house with just an outstanding owner. Just the other day he ran his monthly Pack Wars, and I absolutely love how roughly a third of the rounds are "kid friendly" i.e. he picks products that are $1-$2 a pack. I got more of a kick opening those products than the $4-$5 a pack rounds! One such product was 11/12 Score Hockey. Huge base set with a rookie and maybe an insert per pack. Well, there was a fine young man around the age of 7 perhaps, and that is his absolute most favorite set in the world. The LCS pointed this out and just about everyone donated their stack of cards they opened after the round to this young gentleman. It was really cool. Of course, the guy also had the hottest hand in the store that day and pulled three or four hits, including a Tony Hawk relic out of a 2010 Allen and Ginter blaster. But I digress. If anyone else has any tips or suggestions for collecting on a budget, I'd love to hear them as well!

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by emfritz10 View Post
    I really enjoyed reading this article, SWOWannabe. I am so frustrated because my local hobby shop mainly caters to high-end clientele! He only sells individuals packs of products that are under five dollars, everything other product must be purchased as an entire box!
    That silly on their part. A store can make more money if they open up a box and sell each pack individually.

  7. #7
    Since the LCS is not convenient for me to get to I buy most of my cards at target or the bay.
    Drug and smoke free trading.

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  8. #8
    Good stuff! Thanks for the entry, published here:
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    Enter the 1st leg of the UD RAK 'Em Up! contest!
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  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by mrveggieman View Post
    Since the LCS is not convenient for me to get to I buy most of my cards at target or the bay.

    same here walmart or on here
    have 5308 different cardinals cards
    Total Different Cardinals Autos: (210 MLB Players) Total cardinals autos: (310)
    Total baseball Autos: (724)

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