Adult Sports Eric Brown  

What I’ve Learned From Basketball’s Sexy Cards

Reading a blog article the other day brought up a bizarre recollection of collecting basketball cards (what the fuck?). While reading something recently, I was struck by the fact that after years of trading (at the young age of 12), I changed my strategy since it was no longer working. Now we are dealing actual money instead of just paper that may be money if the right buyer comes along. And a lot of that thinking has stayed with me up to this very day.

Back in the day, I was a complete trading card Slang. I used to collect baseball, football, NKOTB (doesn’t that sound a little dated? ), and pretty much whatever else my buddies were into at the time. Basketball, on the other hand, was my favorite. I’d give everything for a set of basketball cards 😉 I’d trade and trade until it occurred to me one day that all I was doing was tossing cards around with no clear purpose in mind. Yes, I was making some fantastic deals and amassing incredible cards over time, but it came to me that I had never been devoted to just one player, or “type” of a card, or anything else. Whatever I traded today would almost certainly be thrown away the following week, and it was like a never-ending game of simply throwing cards around with no actual game plan in place. Which was nice and enjoyable, particularly for a youngster looking for anything to do, but once I had a MISSION to complete, it completely transformed the game for me.

And that objective was to build my own little Michael Jordan card empire:) I decided if there were one individual who would ALWAYS be worth something and who wouldn’t like so many others, I’d select the greatest one out there:) And now my collecting had a goal: to acquire (and keep) as many Michael Jordan cards as possible. I could trade and sell anything else I had, but the goal was to let things decrease and dwindle (and be used as bargaining power FOR the M.J. cards) until all I had was a stack of the most desirable cars available. A collection of #23s.

Anyone who collects or used to collect cards may appreciate how much more difficult this aim has become. My transactions and the individuals I interacted WITH had to be reduced quite a bit since I wasn’t constantly looking for *any* card worth anything. Especially because everyone and their mother was after the same player – Jordan, of course, being the most popular person in town. My concept wasn’t exactly groundbreaking;) And that made it much more difficult when my pals refused to exchange the one or two cards I now solely cared about in their filthy little hands; hehe There was no internet or eBay back then, so the game was a lot simpler (and less fun?) than it is now.

However, after a few years, I outgrew the sport and went on to more important things, such as academics and girlfriends (Woot!). But those final several years of trading with my new strategy in place netted me more than 200 Jordans, giving me a far more substantial portfolio than I had begun with the help of (and which I still have in my possession today). The 2,000+ cards that I already have are still in my control. From the other players who presumably left at the same time I did, hehe, it switched tracks at the time I did. And how much do you suppose a bunch of 5,000 random cards might have sold? There isn’t much, to be sure. Replace the 200 Michael Jordan cards with the 200 prime and relatively expensive Michael Jordan cards! You were sexier. And your grandmother definitely could, too, since everyone knows that the top players are usually the most valuable in baseball or basketball card dealing. The same can be said about Babe Ruth and all of the other Hall of Famers, our parents, amassed 50+ years ago (who didn’t keep them for us so we could all be fabulously wealthy! hehe).

But the point I’m trying to make with this ridiculously lengthy example is that trading is fine and great and will get you where you want to go, but having a more clear, firm GOAL will get you much farther in the end. I’m the king of money hoarding, but it doesn’t feel as nice as *knowing* what it’s intended to be spent for when there’s no cause linked to it, even though the statistics stay the same.

I’ll give you a more straightforward and better example 😉 Remember how I won $150 for doing an hour-long phone survey the other week? And I got all giddy because that was the simplest and most enjoyable manner of ever being paid? Guess what occurred when I received it? Nothing. I put money in my bank account and forgot about it. It’s only waiting for its purpose to appear one day. And do you think I was overjoyed when I saw the $150 in my account? I’m not sure, maybe a seven out of ten? $150 lying around doing nothing vs. $150 invested in a worthwhile objective is much more palpable (and enjoyable) than having no purpose for it to exist at all.

So, like the basketball cards, I gave it a reason to exist. I used it to buy just the things I’ve wanted recently but couldn’t afford since they were too “want-like” rather than “need-based.” In effect, I designated it as my Splurge Account:) It’s the same $150 in there as it was in the savings account, but now it has a purpose! To fulfill my sporadic desires while avoiding a full-fledged guilt trip! So now I’m back to being delighted, and I’m more grateful than I was the day it arrived in the mail for having the chance to get it.

All of this is to say, MAKE YOUR MONEY WORK FOR YOU! It doesn’t matter whether it’s for debt, education, or a new sofa. I believe that if you can get into the habit of making your money do the things you want it to do instead of lumping it all together for the sake of saving, you’ll develop a far greater appreciation for it, as I did. Or maybe you’re doing it already since you’re a quicker student than I am? 😉

In any case, you know where to find me if you want to purchase a box full of insanely expensive Jordan cards. I’m curious as to how much money they’ve made gathering dust over the last 20 years or so.