I was reading someone’s blog post the other day, and randomly this flashback of collecting basketball cards came to mind (wtf?). I wish I could remember what I was reading, but whatever it was got me thinking about how I changed up my game plan after years and years of trading (at 12 years old, none the less) cuz it just wasn’t working anymore ;) And a lot of that mindset is still very much with me today. Only now, the stakes are higher, and we’re dealing with paper that IS actual money, over paper that *could be* money if given the right buyer, haha…
Back in the day, I was a total addict to trading cards. I’d collect baseball, football, NKOTB (that kinda dates me, doesn’t it?), and pretty much anything else that my friends were doing at the time. My favorite, though, was basketball. I’d trade the $hit out of basketball cards ;) I’d trade and trade and trade, until one day it dawned on me that all I was doing was passing cards around with no real goal at the end. I mean, yeah – I was making some killer trades and getting incredible cards saved up over time, but it occurred to me that I wasn’t ever loyal to just one player, or “kind” of card, or anything. Whatever I traded today, would most likely go out the window next week, and it was like a never ending pattern of just passing cards around w/out any real game plan going on. Which was fine, and fun, especially for a kid trying to keep himself occupied, but as soon as I had a MISSION to go for it totally changed the game for me.
And that mission was trying to create my own little empire of Michael Jordan cards :) I figured if there was one guy that was ALWAYS gonna be worth something, and who’d never just disappear off the face of the Earth like so many others, I might as well pick the best one out there :) And the end game of my collecting finally had a purpose now: Collect (and hold onto) as many Michael Jordan cards as I possibly can. I could trade and sell everything else I had in stock, but the trick at the end was to keep having those dwindle and dwindle (and to be used as trading power FOR the M.J. cards) until all I’m left with is a stack of the most valuable cards around. A portfolio of #23s.
For anyone who collects cards, or used to collect, you can imagine how much harder this goal became. Since I wasn’t always going for *any* card worth something anymore, my dealings and people who I dealt WITH had to be slimmed down quite a bit. Especially since everyone and their mom were going after the same player themselves – Jordan being the most popular guy around, of course. My idea wasn’t *that* novel ;) And making it hard when my friends refused to trade the one or two cards I now only cared about in those grubby little hands of theirs, haha… and back then there was no internet, or eBay, to make the game easier (and less fun?) like there is today.
After a few years, I quickly outgrew the sport though, and moved on to other important things like grades and girlfriends (Woot!). But those last years of trading with my new system in place racked up more than 200 Jordans all in all, leaving me with a MUCH more solid portfolio than I had started with (and which I still have in my possession today). Of course I still have the 2,000+ cards of the other players that probably left the game around the same time I did, haha, but it would have been a lot higher had I not switched tracks when I did. And how much do you think I could have sold a lot of 5,000 random cards for? Not a lot, that’s for sure. Now switch in the 200 prime, and somewhat valuable, Michael Jordan cards! A LOT more sexier, I can tell you that. And your grandma could probably too – everyone knows the best players are always worth the most in trading baseball or basketball cards. The same with Babe Ruth & all the other Hall of Famers our parents once collected 50+ years ago (who didn’t save them for us so we could all be filthy rich! haha…).
But what I’m trying to get at with this freakishly long example of mine, is that trading, just like with saving money, is all good and dandy, and will accomplish the stuff you set out to do, BUT, having a more direct, solid GOAL, gets you much much farther in the end. I’m the king of hoarding money, but when there’s no reason attached to it, it really doesn’t feel as good as *knowing* what it’s supposed to be used for. Even though financially the numbers remain the same.
I’ll give you a better, and more direct, example ;) Remember the other week when I got that $150 for doing that phone survey for an hour? And I got all excited cuz it was the easiest, and most fun, way of ever getting paid before? Well, guess what happened after I got it? Nothing. I just saved it into my checking account and let it sit there. Waiting for it’s purpose to show up one day. And how excited do you think I was for that $150 in that account? I don’t know, maybe a 7 out of 10? Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE me some money, but $150 sitting there doing nothing vs. $150 applied to an awesome goal, is MUCH more tangible (and fun) than having no reason for it to exist at all.
So, just like with the basketball cards, I gave it a purpose. I allocated it to just stuff that I’ve been really really wanting lately, but which I could never budget in because it was too “want-like” over “need-based.” In effect, I made it my Splurge Account :) It’s literally the same $150 there, as it was in the savings account, only NOW it has a reason to be there! To satisfy my random cravings without giving me a full guilt trip! So now all of a sudden I’m back to being excited again, and actually a lot more thankful for having the opportunity to receive it, than I was the day it came in the mail.
All this to say GIVE YOUR MONEY A PURPOSE! Whether it’s for debt, college, a new couch – it doesn’t matter. If you can get into the habit of making your money do the things you want it to do, rather than lumping it all together just for the sake of saving, I think you’d come to have a much better appreciation for it like I did. Or maybe you’re already doing that cuz you’re a faster learner than I? ;)
Either way, if anyone wants to buy a box full of awesomely valuable Jordan cards, you know where to find me. I wonder how much they’ve earned over the past 20 or so years collecting dust?
PS: Yup, those are my cards up top!
UPDATE: I already splurged and got this dope backpack I’ve been wanting for a while now :) (the blue & black plaid one)
PS: Some of my favorite tools:
|Personal Capital (FREE) -- If you’re looking for a robust financial tracker, Personal Capital is the way to go! They’re like Mint, but on steroids and have much better tools for investment and net worth tracking. // Full review|
|Digit (FREE) -- A super easy (and automated) way to save. Every day Digit analyzes your income and expenses and will push money aside for you any time it sees extra sitting there. I've saved over $4,000 myself using them so far! // Full review|
|Acorns -- Having trouble finding money to invest? Check out Acorns – they round up all your transactions to the nearest $1.00 and drops the difference into an investment portfolio for you. Easy way to start investing! // Full review|