Here is a quick list of some of the big mistakes collectors make when starting out. Please take note and make sure you don’t make the same mistakes as others.

  • Don’t assume that your collection will increase in value. Fads come and go, the market changes, things fall in and out of popularity. Buy what you want because you want it, not because you think it will be an investment. Remember when people were paying hundreds of dollars each for Beanie Babies? You can get handfuls of them for $3 at any flea market today.
  • Get a resource book. It doesn’t have to be a price guide but find yourself some kind of book that will teach you the basics of what you are collecting. There is nothing more frustrating for a collector than making a huge mistake just because you aren’t sure of the details of what you collect.
  • Misreading eBay or other online item descriptions. Make sure you read all the text when purchasing an item online. Assuming that you know what you are getting just because the picture looks nice is a good way to overpay or otherwise cheat yourself. The same holds true for seller feedback so make sure you know who you are dealing with before you buy.
  • Limiting your shopping to the internet. Flea markets, antique stores, garage sales all sometimes have better deals than you can get online. Even when the offline prices aren’t as good, in person sales have an advantage in that you can touch the items and check for damages before purchasing so it might be worth a little extra. You aren’t paying shipping so it could all even out in the end.
  • Buying everything you see no matter what the cost. This can be the hardest thing for collectors and ties into the first reason in this list. A collector will often spend way too much on their collection, buying everything in sight, with the idea that it will all be worth more someday. Be discriminating and only buy the items that you really want. Don’t break the bank on a “rare” item if you don’t really like it. Bidding on something because everyone else is, is not a good way to spend money and only leads to regret later on.
  • Don’t collect without a goal. There are an infinite number of salt and pepper shakers out there. Even if you are collecting something very specific, like a set of toys, there is still going to be a lot of stuff to collect. Give yourself mini-goals instead of just buying everything at random. Just collect everyone from one series, one manufacturer or just items of a certain type and then branch out when you meet that goal. This not only curtails your spending but also makes it more fun to collect when there is an end in sight and you meet a mini goal.