Nothing wrong with being a beginner, newbie or rookie - we all have to start somewhere, don’t we? After all, from small beginnings come great things. When I look at my extensive personal collection, my mind frequently wanders off to where it all started, the days that I was a rookie collector myself. The new world of collecting I had just entered just seemed overwhelming and the other, more seasoned collectors kept amazing me with their vast knowledge and the ease they would talk about collecting related topics. I’ve always learned a lot from fellow collectors, and I feel that now it’s my turn to help out beginner collectors. Which is why I summed up below what I think are the most important pieces of advice when you start collecting.
Never dive into your savings to buy a collectible!
I must admit that I did this once…and deeply regretted it afterwards. The purchase wasn’t worth the guilty feeling nor the stress about (not) being able to pay my bills that hit me afterwards. Savings are meant for a rainy day and not to splurge on something you don’t really need. If you’re tempted to hit the ‘buy’ and ‘proceed to payment’ buttons, take some distance. Give yourself a short break away from your computer (or the store you’re in) to put things back in perspective and return to your senses – this always helps for me!
Plan your budget and keep record of your purchases
Cash is king and so is planning your budget. What really helps is keeping an excel file in which you keep record of your past purchases, monthly costs (e.g. in case of payment plans for pre-orders), and if you’re a real accounting pro, the purchases you expected to make in the (near) future. Include price (to be) paid and date and it will become a lot easier to maintain a healthy financial situation and anticipate on future purchases. If you have deep pockets or just won the lottery, you can obviously ignore this piece of advice.
Never buy something because it’s hyped but that you don’t truly like
Trust me, you will regret your purchase the instant you receive the item, because it just misses something: the ability to excite you. We’re only human and we’re all easily influenced by peers, but what really helps is to once in a while remind yourself of the following: it’s all about you and what matters is what YOU feel and what YOU like! You do not need other collectors to approve of what you collect or judge your personal taste.
Narrow down your preferences
It’s impossible to own everything, so it will be good to narrow down your preference before you start a collection. When I started collecting, pretty much every collectible appealed to me, as the sheer novelty of my new hobby instilled a lack of focus in me and made me a bit greedy. For a while I just kept on buying, until I realised that I had spent a lot of money on things I didn’t really need or even like that much. My advice is therefore to get an idea about the type(s) of collectibles you intent to buy and how you plan to display them Before you just blindly start buying. This way you won’t end up with a bunch of mediocre stuff that will end up in your basement or storage room for years.
Take good care of your collectibles
The value of your collectibles is greatly affected by their condition. And apart from their financial value, seeing something you treasure deteriorate before your eyes just simply hurts. Figures can be susceptible to environmental factors like a.o. sunlight, heath, A/C, dust and grease, and can cause colors to fade and materials such as plastics to crackle, become brittle or even break. So, get to know the enemies of your collectibles in time and take timely and appropriate action! Prevention is key: take collectible care serious from day one and not once your treasures visibly start deteriorating, because then it’s too late.
Always go for quality over quantity
I can be short on this one - having more isn’t always better. Especially when you just start a collection, it can be tempting to build up a collection (too) fast. Whatever you do, just don’t rush into buying lesser quality items just to fill up a shelve and take your time instead. You have years of collecting ahead and believe me, (slowly) building up your collection is part of the fun.
And the most important advice? Don’t take anything for granted and treasure everything you own, every day. Especially your loved ones. Happy collecting!