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Whether you’re just deciding to start your collection or you’re a seasoned veteran, we have a few tips that may help!

Everyone has that one thing they’ve invested countless hours into researching deep into the night. Sometimes that research takes the next step and becomes a collection. Whether it’s books, classic coins, art, wine, glassware, model cars, vinyl records, trading cards, stamps, dolls, clothes or any other collectible item, collecting can give us a chance to express ourselves through our possessions. We can use it to spark that small bit of joy we get when making fun purchases, or we can use it to show others who we are and what we’re passionate about.

Furthermore, collecting can be more than simply compiling knickknacks on a shelf. While each collector will have a different approach and philosophy, there are some tips nearly everyone can use to collect more efficiently and effectively. Here are five ways to enhance your collecting experience.

  1. Know the Market

The best way to make sure you’re getting the most out of your collection is by familiarizing yourself with the market. Whether you’re combing for rare finds on the primary or on the secondary market, this is the best way to protect yourself from being taken advantage of. Additionally, most collections will push you into the secondary market, meaning that you won’t often be paying MSRP for an item. You’ll likely be paying a price negotiated between you and the seller. Knowing the market value of the item you’re looking at specifically can help you buy confidently. Additionally, if you’re selling, whether to offload, clear some space or put some more money in your pocket, a firm grasp on the market can help you be sure you get a worthwhile price for your item.

  1. Make Purchases on a Budget

Understandably, collecting can be addicting. Building your collection brings happiness, and it can be easy to go overboard every once in a while. That’s why it’s important to account for your collection in your budget and financial plan. Now, this is not a death sentence for your collection. A proper budget should carve out a portion of your funds for fun and entertainment, but letting your collecting expenditures cross the line and consume money from other categories of your budget can be dangerous. This is especially true if it happens consistently, or if you’re living on a fixed income. Prior to making purchases, be sure that you can financially withstand the toll it may take on your wallet. No matter how great a deal you might be getting, it’s often no substitute for comfortability, debt elimination and saving for the future.

  1. Patience is Paramount

Sometimes it’s just better to wait. This is true in life, and it’s true in collecting. As you explore and hunt for the treasures, white whales and grails of your collection, you will, without fail, come across many pieces you’d love to own. While it can be satisfying to check those items off your list, it’s important to remember that you’ll likely see them again. Additionally, even if you come across something special in the wild, it may not be priced fairly. This is where knowing the market comes back into play, giving you insight into what a fair price may look like, as well as the rarity of that particular item. And yes, it might be tempting when it’s sitting right there in front of you, but succumbing to immediate desires can be a slippery slope. The more you go over budget or over your “trigger price,” the easier it becomes next time, and you could end up feeling regret when you almost certainly come across it once again, potentially for a more competitive price.

  1. Be Creative

It might sound obvious, but the best thing about collecting is that your collection belongs to you! Remember that your collectibles can be a reflection of the things you like and are interested in, not what’s trendy and popular. That can be evident both in the collection itself and in the way you collect. For example, if you collect coins, postcards or public transportation tickets, you can collect from cities you actually visited as opposed to simply ordering them from overseas. It’s also possible to find new and unique shops in different cities that may couple your collector’s item with a story. Maybe you met someone new, or maybe you picked the item out of the bottom of a chest in an antique store across the country. Collections can be microcosmic depictions of our personalities and experiences, and above all, yours should be about what kindles happiness inside you.

  1. Have Fun

Collecting should never be stress or anxiety inducing. It should put a gigantic smile on your face when you’re rearranging, reorganizing, cleaning, using or just looking at it. Of course, part of having fun is ensuring that you never cross a financial line with your collection, potentially causing issues in other areas of your life. It can also mean leveraging your collection to put you in situations that you find comfortable and enjoyable. For example, your desire to collect might take you to a convention or a show where you can meet others who share your interests, possibly leading to new friendships and relationships. Moreover, it can take you to new parts of the world, spark conversations you never thought you’d have or introduce you to new niche interests. Additionally, you’ll inevitably bear witness to the collections of others, but it’s crucial to avoid comparing your possessions to your peers’. Your collection will grow with time, and the more you lead with passion, the more satisfaction you’ll feel.