Some advices in keeping the size of your collection under control

We all have experienced it (and even said out loud to ourselves or others on the Internet) – “Just this one more figure”. That is the famous “slippery slope” or “rabbit hole”. Soon there is a pile of boxes and numerous figures and it is a challenge to just find a place to pose it. Seeing social media groups all around, some people cannot even display all their figures. Some others, in COVID times or other hardship moments, need to sell their collections as to meet their needs.

Here are some tips in making sure that you control your impulses and not the other way around:

  1. Create a physical limit for the collection
  2. Give more value to what you already have
  3. Unleash your imagination and have fun creating a great display for your collection
  4. Create an annual budget
  5. Do not pre-order immediately (ok… unless you are a Hasbro collector: ) )
  6. Have your significant other with a more detached and less emotional attachment to the figure/character to give an opinion about the figure and to remind you to stay in rules 1,2,3
  7. Do not make exceptions

1- Create a physical limit for the collection

It could be an entire room or just a wall (like me). It is important to create a couple of rules that reinforce each other and this one helps greatly to stay on budget. This is subjective, but when it comes to collecting, in my opinion, less is more. In this hobby, it is too easy for collecting to become a compulsion instead of fun joyful entertainment. Put physical limits to it and even better if you do it before you even start collecting.

2- Give more value to what you already have

– “I find that everybody has a number and it is usually an exact number. So what is yours?”

– “More”

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps – Exchange between Jacob Moore and Bretton James

This goes along the first rule. Collecting can get addicting, there is a physiological reaction in your brain when you buy a new collectible. Your brain releases dopamine. Thus, it is important to balance the act of simply buying new collectibles with the art of displaying them nicely. I believe we have all seen photos of collections with a multitude of figures, but no display, no posing, no lighting system, collectibles all placed together that you can barely see most of them. There is almost no effort in displaying the collection, but in buying more. It is important to also give value to what you already have then give more value to what you do not have and want to buy. Become a curator, which means that you will be careful in choosing what fits your collection and when you might want to change the collection entirely.

3- Unleash your imagination and have fun creating a great display for your collection

This is simple and quite effective. Instead of focusing on the next thing, have fun with what you already have. Learn DYI mode andcreate a diorama or background for your pieces. This is one of the reasons that we started CollectiblesHQ. Check here for poses and get inspired in how to better display your collection. In summary, have fun with what you have already.

4- Create an annual budget

“Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”

Joe Biden

This subject could be an entire post. So to give a proper advice, this will be longer than usual. I will use some fancy language, but stay with me, it is not that boring : )

Budget is about priorities and following the rules you set. The recommendation for any household to know how much on average is their monthly mandatory expenses (i.e. rent, real estate payments, groceries, education, insurances etc). To be on the safe side for those “rainy days”, you need to have between 6 to 12 months as savings that you can quickly access in a day or two (i.e. checking account). As an example, if a household spends USD 3,000 per month for their mandatory expenses, then it should have at least between USD 18,000 to USD 36,000 that it can access quickly. Thus, this is not to be used to buy a car, a new figure or other superfluous expenses. This will protect you when those pesky life events happens. In this way you will not be caught off guard and in need to “fire sale” your collectibles nor be in a rush to find a new job if you get fired.

In addition, make an annual budget that can be revised by the end of every year. Within the year, you can revise for exceptional reasons such as when income is expected to increase or decrease for a period of 12 months or more (i.e. new job; promotion etc). Keep in mind when making a realistic budget for the year that many behavioral studies have shown that we have a bias to think in terms of marginal cost instead of total cost. In our specific case, this means that most decide thinking in the terms of one more collectible instead of taking the decision that if he gets this collectible, it will mean 20+ more in total. Thus, the decision is not if you are going to spend USD 10 or USD 300 in a new collectible, but if you are willing to spend USD 2,000 or USD 10,000 overall. The decision to buy your first collectible will LEAD to buying others. Budget accordingly and it is ok to review the budget once or twice in a year if circumstances change. Finally. do not think in cash flow terms, but overall cost per year. Most people think in terms of cash flows, this means that they buy something if its installment plan fits their monthly budget. DO NOT DO THIS. You will likely overspend. Always think in terms of total cost.

  1. Does this figure fit my annual budget?
  2. How many others I will buy because of that?
  3. How many more can I still buy if I buy this figure? Does this break my annual budget?
  4. Do I really want it?

Make an annual budget, so you will know the total cost per year that this will cost you. This might make you think more before jumping into a new collectible.

5- Do not pre-order immediately (ok… unless you are a Hasbro collector: ) )

This might not apply for everyone as pre-orders might not exist or be too fast before a collectible runs out of stock. However, if this is possible, not only this gives you time for your mind to cool off from the hype, but in most cases, the option to buy the figure will be available for some time. Besides cooling off the hype train, this will give you more insight of the new figures that are going to be announced and better plan which ones you really want.

6- Have your significant other with a less emotional attachment to your collection give an opinion about the collectible

This has worked very well for me. My wife supports me in this hobby, but it is not her thing. So she can always give me a logical and cold advice on how good or not a certain figure looks; reminds me to think about the overall collection and presentation and; to not skip the most important rule in my home. That is to not pass the physical space allocated for my collection : )

7- Do not make exceptions

Make a realistic rule and keep it to it. It is easier to keep a rule if you follow it 100% of the times than 98%. When you make the first exception (“I will only do this once”), it will get easier to make another exception down the road, and another, and another. Life only gets more complicated, so you will always have a way to rationalize to not respecting your rules. You will rationalize why that exception is worth it. My point is, i will be much less stressful and time consuming in the long term if you keep it to the rules.

That is it : ) To wrap it up, I will finish by saying to the contrary to what some YouTubers usually recommend, but it is not random that many later on admit on their videos or podcasts that they have spent too much or have too many things. When in doubt, do not buy it. Err to have less than more and focus and give more value for what you already have. Focus on your existing Collection instead of collecting.

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