These economic times have forced us to look at collecting differently. In the past we might have been able to collect purely from the heart and without a second thought. However, for many this simply isn't possible right now. One look at the amount of sales posts on the boards and you know you aren't the only one. In this series I will help you evaluate what you have, clean out some baggage (physical and emotional), get better deals for what you want and bring in some balance to your collection. I won't ask anything of you that I won't ask of myself. You might feel daunted or depressed by such a task but much like a diet or new exercise program it's always easier with a buddy and we can get through this together! Hopefully we can get you fiscally fit and happy by the holidays.
Let's start with the "B" word: I know it makes us cringe but it's time to talk...budget. If you're going to continue to purchase new dolls you need to have a good idea of how much you are able to spend. Take into account the immovable objects such as mortgage and electricity. Then add in the more pliable figures like food, transportation or entertainment and a cushion of sorts, and this gives you a place to start. Only you know this figure so I'm trusting you to be honest with yourself. Now divide that amount between how many checks you receive in a month and that's what you get to put aside.
Many of you already have this but I advise you to create a separate account for "collecting" money. Whether it's an actual bank account or a PayPal account, deposit whatever you have set aside for dolls and make the resolve to not add to it until the following paycheck and even then, only for the amount you figured out earlier. If something you want comes up for sale and is more than you have in there at this moment then you need to pass. (I advise not using a payment plan for more than 1 item a month. Although it can be handy for big ticket items that come up unexpectedly, before you know it you can owe money all over the place and be frantically scrambling for cash and we're trying to eliminate that stress.) Keep in mind, whatever you don't spend this month rolls over to next month and in a few months you just might have saved enough for that big ticket item without any of the guilt of overspending.
Next we're going to prioritize. Make a list of dolls, clothes, etc. that you want with greatest importance listed at the top. It could be a repaint that you saw once and are hoping goes on the secondary market. It could be a convention exclusive. It could be an outfit you know is due to come out. Or it could just be a really great pair of boots. Whatever it is, do some research to see how much it will be to acquire and then earmark your money accordingly. You would hate for your beloved item to come up and not have the money for it.
Say you gave a good hard look at your finances and just can't afford to spend anything on dolls right now. Don't be discouraged! You can still have fun without burdening yourself. Now is the perfect time to go through your collection, choose some items that you don't play with and see if someone wants to trade for an equal value item. I love trading with my friends. You both get something new without the stress of selling and at no extra cost except shipping.
So we've started on our journey! You have your homework. I'll see you back here next week where we'll cover taking an objective look at your collecting habits. Til then!