Tag Archives: collector

Finance 101: Emotions and Goal Setting

When my coworker Sigmund Ausfresser posted his article for the week on Monday, I almost had a heart attack because I thought he managed to grab my idea before I was able to put it up for my own deadline later in the week. Thankfully after reading through it, I learned that his content was mostly different than what I plan to write about this week. Instead of struggling to pick out a specific format I want to sell out of, I (and I can only assume many other Magic enthusiasts out there) have previously been emotionally conflicted with selling out of cards for a myriad of other reasons.

One of the more frequent mistakes I made as a budding Magic financier several years ago was letting my emotions and desire to show off my “victory” in my trade binder before I had actually made any money in reality. I remember one of the first singles purchases I ever made online with value in mind was pre-ordering two sets of Inkmoth Nexus for $20 each through eBay, on the night that the card was spoiled. My rationale for making the purchase was definitely flawed at the time because of my semi-casual bias towards infect, and my desire to make some sort of infect deck work in standard. I thought that it would be in every single Standard deck ever, and I knew I would be able to flip the second playset that I had purchased with ease at my local card shop that I had recently started attending in the previous months.

By the time the set was released and my cards were shipped to me, Inkmoth had made it to approximately $10 a piece. My years of calculation and planning had finally come to fruition. The first bud of a future Magic finance empire had finally begun. I would take the world by sto- …..

Except, there was one problem. I never actually ended up selling those Inkmoths. Well, I shouldn’t say that was the problem specifically. You don’t need to sell cards to achieve a goal, and I didn’t even sell cards back then: partially because I didn’t know how, and partially because I actually played Magic. However, I didn’t trade the playset of Inkmoths away either. I let them sit in my trade binder for weeks, even during the several requests of “Would you trade your extra set away?” that I was approached with during the first few weeks of the set’s release. Eventually, the hype over the new infect land had faded, the the price moved to reflect that.

Why? Well, I was proud. Those Inkmoths represented a story to me, even though my initial reason for buying them was “I think this card will be worth more by the time it arrives in my hand, and I will be able to get more trade value out of it if I buy now.” They were a reason for my 17 year old self to humblebrag to the other guys at my shop, and a constant reminder to myself that I had made a smart buy every time I flipped to that page in my binder.

The lesson here, if it’s not too visible already, is to remove emotional attachment from your cards when you’re planning on buying them for strictly financial purposes. As Magic players, we tend to have a tough time with this because the cards are tangible, and we can see our rewards in front of us while using cognitive dissonance to shove aside the failures and bad thoughts. We got into this game on an emotional level, and can have trouble separating business and pleasure when it comes to what we’re willing to sell, whether it’s in our personal collection or investment portfolio.

Personally, I’ve been very loose with my goals when it comes to how much money I want to make through my various streams of revenue in Magic. As a broad goal, I would love to just be able to pay for my graduate school degree, and maintain a sizable collection to use as inventory at the same time. Interestingly enough, players who need to liquidate their collection for unexpected life expensive and are selling at a discount are much better at this aspect of goal setting than I am. Some people need to sell specific decks to pay for rent, to buy a car, or help afford a trip to their next Grand Prix. Due to the fact that I’ve been very poor with goal setting and not having any immediate bills to pay, I’ve grown apathetic in how many cards I currently have listed on TCGplayer, my Facebook posts in the buy/sell/trade groups, and buylisting as a whole. With no immediate need to acquire funds, I’ve gotten really lazy when it comes to selling cards.

Goals in Goal Setting:


If you were forced to go to some sort of goal setting orientation at a job, school, or something else, you’ve probably heard of SMART as an acronym for determining goals that you can stick with, instead of just saying something vague like “I want to sell Magic cards and make money” as a goal.

You’re going to want a particular exit price in mind when you buy cards with the intent to sell. If I buy 5,000 copies of Seance, I need to be immediately ready to sell them (emotionally and physically) if I pick $.50 as my buylisting sell point. I don’t recommend picking a spec and saying to yourself “I’ll sell this when it goes up.” When I bought into He Who Shall Not Be Named, I chose $6-7 as my price point that I would sell out at, after buying in at $3. It can help to write down your projected sell point on the sleeve of the card so that you don’t forget in the long term.

Be firm, and stick to the decision you made a year ago, if and when the card actually reaches that price point that you picked when you purchased it. If you bought into Snapcaster Mage at $35 in late 2014 and decided you would sell at $60, then you need to be steadfast and hold yourself to that number, or else you risk the demand for the card declining over the next several weeks and days. (Yes, I get that Snappy peaked at $80 or something ridiculous, but it’s one of the exceptions to the rule)

Screenshot 2015-11-25 at 7.21.39 PM

Going back to the “paying for a college degree with Magic cards” goal a few paragraphs ago, I’ll use myself as an example for how a more specific goal would help encourage me to list more cards at a time and keep a more constant flow of income happening, instead of just relying on the local players who irregularly ask me to piece together decklists for them.

If I pick a more specific, measurable, and achievable number for a month’s worth of TCGplayer sales, I’ll be able to constantly keep track of where I am in my goal, instead of just guessing on the vagueness of an unclear finish line. To start us off, I’m going to try and have 150 TCGplayer orders in the month of December. If I really work towards it and start listing a larger portion of my collection, this is almost certainly a realistic number for me to achieve, as it boils down to 5 orders a day. Depending on where we end up at the closing of 2015, we can increase or decrease that number based on how close my estimate is to my real potential.

End Step

Having a personal goal to stick to that’s specific, measurable, achievable, and time-bound should help to increase my personal productivity, and remove some of the emotions from the equation to help me focus entirely on the business aspect of Magic. Even now, there’s still a lingering emotional satisfaction when I buy a collection, sort everything out, and have the pile of all of the relevant and listable stuff on my desk. Sometimes it takes me much longer than it should to actually incorporate those new assets into my existing inventory, simply because the cards are tangible in front of me, and the changes in numbers for my bank account are much less so. Here’s to hoping that I manage to fix this personal problem, and help you set some goals in Magic finance as well.

Coolest Ginger You Know (Part 1)

By: Houston Whitehead

It only takes a few games of Magic to start applying subconscious shortcuts. In society, stereotyping is a cognitive shortcut to help gauge understanding of an individual.  Though stereotyping is frowned upon, it’s virtually impossible to remove its process from your brain.  What’s interesting is the vast difference between self-stereotyping (self-image) and projected stereotyping (defining those around you relative to personal experiences). Since everyone’s life experiences, ideas, and understandings vary, the only opinions worth caring about are probably just your own.  Obviously careers in the public eye turn these theories on their head but that’s beside the point.  That said, my goal today is to thoroughly introduce myself the MTGPrice.com readers through my personal perceptions, opinions, experiences.

Since I am a player, trader, collector, writer, and content creator, I feel it would only be appropriate to introduce myself under each hat.

About Me…fear the beard

…as a Player


  • I picked up my first cards during Lorwyn Block in High School. Newly made friends inaccurately introduced me to an already complicated game during Web Design III class.  Since the school kept deleting Doom and Pocket Tanks from our computers, it was time to try out strategic cardboard.  Again, my friends didn’t understand many of the rules so our already terrible tribal decks had zero chance of redemption from play skill. My whole collection was from buying a pack or two with loose change from my car during random afterschool visits to a baseball card shop.
  • A couple years later I was looking for some extra money and found my shoe box full of cards and traded them into a local shop. Of course, I was ripped off by the manager and offered $100 credit or $50 cash.  I was offended at the cash offer and told him I’d think about the credit offer.  I saw a guy from high school playing MTG at a nearby table and found out I was playing the game ALL WRONG!  With this new information my competitive nature was intrigued and I’ve been healthy addicted to cardboard crack ever since.
  • The style of decks I prefer to pilot can best be described as synergistic. I’m addicted to value and prefer to cast and/or recur out of my graveyard whenever possible.  This usually lands me in a variety of midrange strategies.  That said, I will always have a special place in my heart for spell-heavy mono red burn.
  • I participate in the following formats: Standard, Modern, Legacy, EDH, Legacy Pauper, Pauper Cube, and most Limited formats.

…as a trader

  • I trade for three reasons. First, I trade to complete a deck I would like to pilot. Obviously the most common reason for trading. Second, I value trade to turn my soft cards into solid cards. Standard Examples: Soft = Thunderbreak Regent & Scry Lands. Solid = Fetch lands & Thoughtseize. Third, I trade to collect which I will talk about later.
  • My goal for each non-value trade is to make 10% profit. It doesn’t always happen and every trade is different but having goals helps keep me from getting emotions involved in trading.  Otherwise, I would just trade everything they want to them.
  • Speculating is one of the most enjoyable parts of trading for me. I even have a binder where I keep all my specs at.  Many friends ask to go through my specs/staple binder and either shoot a chuckle or gasp my way.  Truly a binder full of free entertainment.
  • I prefer to trade using eBay Completed listings but also accept MTGPrice.com’s Fair Trade Price. Many other online vendors flex their prices via stock quantity or what a Pro wrote about this week.

…as a collector

  • First goal when a set is released is acquiring a playset of all dual lands in Standard. I don’t care if they are expensive. Knowing you already have the duals makes building a deck x10 easier. That should-probably-might be a real statistic.  This also enable you to help your friends that might be on a tighter budget or want to try out a deck before they invest.
  • i’m a dog for full art. From full art foil Lightning Bolts to the newest Game Day promos, I aim for a playset of each. The JSS Promos will be the hardest for me to acquire but I enjoy the thought of adding them to my collection.
  • Pauper foils are a new addiction that has bleed over from foiling out my pauper cube. I made a pauper gauntlet with the eight best decks in the format and am slowly foiling out each deck when I find pieces I need.  I will always be a lover of Pauper and if you can’t afford a Legacy deck, I truly feel legacy pauper has wider decision trees than Standard or Modern.

Next week I’ll share detail about me as a writer and as a content creator.

As always thanks for reading