Thursday, January 7, 2016

Cardboard Guilt

Today's post may come across as a bit negative, but I want to talk about a feeling that seems to creep into my head at least a couple of times a year, a feeling I've dubbed "Cardboard Guilt".

As a collector, maybe you've experienced this feeling in the back of your mind from time to time.  Maybe you've subconsciously felt it without even realizing it.  Perhaps you've never felt it at all and won't be able to relate.  What I'm talking about, obviously, is a feeling of guilt over money spent on this hobby of ours.  Let me set the stage a bit...

I've been very fortunate in life (and worked extremely hard too) to end up with a career that's challenging, interesting, and as a side bonus pays well.  My wife and I own our own home, I have zero student loan debt, zero credit card debt, heck even my car is paid off.  I'm meticulous about saving, for retirement, emergencies, and then some.  I'm a big fan of travel, and have been lucky enough to take at least one significant vacation every year since my wife and I have been married.

I keep a hobby budget to curb my spending, and am pretty good about staying within it most months.  I've never extended myself in the hobby to where I couldn't afford it, never put cards on a credit card, never missed a monthly bill for anything, etc.

So why then, with all of that being said, do I sometimes feel guilty about spending my hard-earned money on sports cards?  It's not all the time, but it's a recurring feeling that has popped up in my mind over the years that I just can't seem to permanently escape.

It might stem from the fact that in almost every other aspect of my life I'm a minimalist.  Anti-clutter.  The opposite of a hoarder.  I like clean, concise and simple.  I think it goes deeper than that though...

The more I chew on it, the more I think it may have to do with the lack of real meaning or sense of direction in the hobby for me sometimes.  What exactly is it that I'm trying to do here?  I'm sure many of you are this way, but here's how my card buying tends to go in a nutshell:
  1. I pick up some cards (singles, lots, sets, binders, boxes, whatever) that I'm really fascinated by during "the hunt"
  2. I enjoy the card(s) for a few minutes, scan and inventory them, perhaps do up a nice little blog post here on them
  3. From there, they go into a binder, or a box, or a pile where they're rarely looked at and then...
  4. Repeat step 1 in a seemingly endless loop that's been going on for about 9 years now...
So, I ask again, what is the point of all this?  It passes the time, sure.  The sorting and organizing and list-making satisfies my mild OCD, of course.  But what is my end game?  Do I plan to just go on like this for decades more?  Where will I store 10,000 Red Sox cards?  What about when it hits 15,000?  20,000?  When you have so many cards that you can't even remember what you have, are you really enjoying them all at that point?  If something were to happen to me, would my poor wife be stuck with an entire room of cardboard to figure out what to do with?

Maybe it's the fact that I've been sick, maybe it's the winter blues, but these are the thoughts I've been mulling over the past few days.  Am I crazy?  Can you relate?

12 comments:

Tony Burbs said...

Funny, I was just having these sort of thoughts today. I've never put my fiscal stability at risk over trading cards and I rarely, if ever, buy anything that isn't heap singles. Yet, I still feel like I'm being hopelessly irresponsible when I pick up too many 50 cent cards. But, I think my issue stems from the fact that I'm just a cheapskate.

Tony L. said...

I'm just a cheapskate myself, and I hate feeling like I should have bought the same card from someplace else and saved a few cents. But, I do try to keep a tight rein on my own card spending and make sure my wife at least knows about each purchase.

CardinalsFan16 said...

I have a similar situation. I still have about 10 years left on a home loan, but also have 2 children. It scares me to think what they will have to pay for college in a few years (daughter is 11, son is 8). I keep my card budget below $300 each year, but think of my kids almost every time I buy cards. They both share my love of baseball, but I feel I may be trading a part of their future for some cardboard. At least I know someone will be around to inherit my collection.

Kevin Papoy said...

The very purpose of a hobby is to be futile. You enjoy the moment, and then it's gone. It's the same thing when you go see a movie or you buy a book or a magazine. If you start seeing those as a waste of money (and time), then it's no longer a hobby...I suppose it's all about finding the right balance and getting rid of any guilt, especially when everything else seems in order !

Mark Kaz said...

Shane, my good man, you have perfectly captured my feelings of "guilt" that come along with the hobby on occasion. Especially your four-step 'rinse and repeat' scenario. The thrill of the hunt, chasing the seemingly unobtainable or unfeasible is what keeps us going. But, the actual getting of that sought after thing rarely comes close to matching the excitement or wonder the 'wanting phase.' I can't tell you how many cards I've yearned for over the years, only to get them and, as you stated, shuffle them away into a nameless stack or unmarked box or a dusty binder. I mean, when you size it up this way, it really sounds like some sort of sickness, I guess! Good thing we're all here to support each other and, more importantly, make each other feel better about our guilt! But, as I always come back to, we could certainly be snagged up in a much worse vice than collecting cards!

CrazieJoe said...

As much as I collect Jays and Leafs, it truly is steps 1 and 2 of your cycle that is the fun of the hobby to me. I enjoy the "chase" and the unexpected, it is that time (and the organization because I enjoy the order of it). For example, I have a lot of 15,000 cards I picked up for $70cdn - for the price, the fun I will have simply going through the cards, not knowing what is there or what I will be able to add to my collection, is really what I spent the money on, not the cards. For $70, I can "open" a 20 pack of cards each day for 2 years. The fun of this is why I started my blog - partly to share with anyone who wants to read, but also to document my fun to look back on. Great post - thank you.

defgav said...

Well said, Shane. I often feel this way too.
It feels like I have more money to spend on cards because I don't have kids. But sometimes I think it'd be nice to have kids to pass the collection down to someday rather than leave the burden to my next of kin to worry about selling. Hopefully I end up with a nephew or something who likes baseball before it comes to that.
Sometimes the thought hits me to sell off everything but a handful of personal favorite cards. But that feeling usually passes by the next day.
Sometimes I get downright ecstatic over landing a cool new card and it really reaffirms my love of the hobby.

shlabotnikreport said...

This type of thinking is what lead to the realization that I needed to get my collection under control, and to try to get rid of those cards that will just end up in a monster box where it ultimately doesn't matter if they're there or not. If there's not at least the possibility that I will go back and look at it someday, then is there a point in having it?

This is partially what lead to a mass abandoning of a number of sets I was ostensibly in the process of completing. I'll use 2000 Topps as an example... I'm fewer than 20 cards away from completing that set, but what is to be gained by completing the set? It's not a favorite of mine, so I won't really get a sense of satisfaction. I doubt that a complete set of 2000 Topps is worth much more than a near set of 2000 Topps, so it won't affect the value of my collection ("value" being an academic consideration for me, but more of an issue for my estate)... So why even bother completing it? And the ultimate answer is "I won't".

GCA said...

Non-collector people ask me all the time - "What are you going to do with all your cards?".
The real answer is not about what to do with them now that you have them, although I do pick out a binder or box once in a while and sift through them just to enjoy them.

The real purpose (and my answer) is "Add to them!". But it's not the having, it's the getting. The reason I collect is an inherent need to build set, team and player collections, and to complete them as much as I deem necessary.
Now, after a while, if space becomes a problem, you can thin out what you have if some of it no longer appeals to you. Or you can rid yourself of that six box pile of extras if you can't seem to trade them piecemeal for what you still lack.

All this is more practical for me being a single guy with spare rooms (1½ so far) to store my collection...

I only feel guilty when I go to the National and spend three figures and have to curb spending a bit for a couple months afterward. Otherwise, I don't usually put out big chunks at one time. $60 to COMC or SportLots now and then is fine. And the occasional couple boxes two or three times a year.

I do feel like I've been procrastinating about inventorying my collection for the insurance company. One good fire and I'm back to card #1...

Fuji said...

Can I cut and paste this post? I've been dealing with this for awhile now. In short.. I totally can relate to this.

Lonestarr said...

Yes, I also know this feel. Usually when it happens, I just sorta tune out the hobby for awhile and drift more heavily towards the other things I'm into (art, video games, reading, anime, pro wrestling, etc) until I get the itch again. Sometimes you gotta take your foot off the gas for a bit & remember why you love it in the first place. It's terrible for blogging regularly, but good for the ol' sanity.

Billy Kingsley said...

I sometimes feel like I should be doing something different instead of adding cards. I have a lot of health problems and cards are usually the only thing that makes me anything even resembling happy. But I do have a lot of them already...sometimes I think I should be donating (more) to charities, or saving it for the future, or something. But on the other hand, I've already coming within literally 5 minutes of not having a future so what's the point of denying myself something that has consistently given me joy since I was 4 years old?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...