PBS Kids GO! It's My Life
Spending Smarts: Crazy for Collecting

These days, many of us choose to spend our money on "collectibles" like action figures, toys, packs of cards, or anything that's supposed to go up in value over time. Collecting can be fun, but it can also be very expensive. Let's take a closer look at how companies get young people to fork over big green for collectibles.

Who says it's rare?
Let's say you're into collecting game cards. You can probably get a pack of cards for a few dollars, or maybe an individual card for a quarter. Then there are some cards that are $5.00, $10.00, maybe even $20.00, just for a single card! These cards may be "limited editions," "rare," or considered special or better than "common" cards. But who decides that they're rare? "Rare" cards are just a trick that card makers use to get you to spend more and more money. The fact is that while these cards are not made in the same numbers as the "common" ones, there are still thousands, even millions of them out there, so they're not actually rare.

What are you really buying?
You may think you need an expensive special card to win your next tournament or game-but aren't games supposed to be about skill and strategy? If someone can be the best at a game just by spending more money than everyone else, is that really the kind of game you want to be involved in? Also, think about this: what is it you're REALLY buying? In the case of collectible card games, you're buying little pieces of thin cardboard that cost the company very little to make. If you stop to think about it, you might realize that some kinds of collecting are about spending all your money, not about having a fun and challenging hobby.

Value doesn't always increase
When it comes to buying collectible items, you should also know that the value of an item can go down just as easily as it can go up. Let's say a certain type of comic or anime figurine is all the rage, and they're fetching $20.00 or $30.00 from collectors. A few months later, people may move on to the next big trend, leaving you with things that are "out" and nobody wants to buy.

Remember: Trends come and go, so you should spend your money on things you really like, not what "the crowd" is into. If you buy only those items that truly make you happy, you'll probably enjoy your hobby for a long time.

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