When Hobbies Attack

I collect Magic the Gathering cards. Any long-time reader knows this. In fact, I collect quite a few of them. In January 2017, I bought around 100,000 of the things with plans to go through them, add a few to my collection, and sell the rest at a profit. I bought another 35,000 or so with the same plan. And in the intervening time, I chipped away at the collection, organizing it by set and by color and then alphabetically.

In many ways, I’ve enjoyed it. I find organizing things relaxing, strangely enough. (Probably one of the reasons I’m a librarian.) And it was a lot of fun to find cards stuffed away in that collection that were worth money. You come across seven $10 cards at once, and it feels kind of like you were mining for gold and it paid off.

But at the same time, 135,000 cards take up a lot of floor space, and Denisa’s patience is not infinite. I finally decided it was time to try to sell some of the cards and free up space. It takes time to go through organized cards and pick out the valuable ones, however. Hours later, I had my package all ready: $400 of cards in one batch, and $150 in another, going to a different vendor.

For the first bit, I felt inordinately pleased with myself. I was, after all, selling the cards for more than I’d paid for them, and that’s even after having taken out a bunch for my own collection. Mission successful! My card catalog is nicely stocked, and I did it all while turning a profit.

But then I did a bit of math. 1.5 years of work. Say an average of . . . 3 hours a week on it? That’s 234 hours. I “made” $550 for 234 hours’ of work. That’s an hourly rate of $2.35.

Let’s just say that I make significantly more than $2.35/hour at my current job.

Basically, I realized that I’ve still been approaching my hobby as if I’m a starving college student. Don’t get me wrong: I still enjoy going through cards and organizing them. But after doing all of this, I’m just not convinced the approach I was taking is the one I want to be taking long-term. I’m only through half the collection, and I think I’ll just skim through the rest to find any cards I need, and then sell it off quickly, just to clear the extra cards out of my house.

Space is worth money too, after all. Right?

In any case, it’s a new lesson learned. Any hobbies you’ve discovered changing your approach to as time goes by?


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