Hey guys, just curious anyone else been battle some collecting addiction? Seems lately I’m buying way more then maybe I should. I mean I’m definitely not spending money to where it’s not allowing me to not be able to pay regular bills but it’s seems like weekly I’m filling my Amazon or eBay cart with like 300-400 bucks of cards and I’m already ready to drop money every paycheck to buy more. Not sure if it’s a mix of FOMO or also becuase I genuinely love the hobby? Which I do but seems like everything is more expensive right now and spending more then I should. How is everyone else doing?
Totally get this sentiment, I’ve found myself here a few times in both Pokemon and other collectibles.
There’s a few different pieces of this that could be delved into a bit, but ultimately I think if you recognize you are buying things just to “get the high” in a sense, want to stop but can’t or don’t know how, and then shortly afterwards move on to find the next thing to buy, you may be in a cycle of what you termed collecting addiction. It’s a tough thing to meter out, no doubt, and as far as I’m concerned it’s analogous to folks who find themselves in the vicious cycle of buying lotto tickets and digging themselves in a deeper and deeper financial hole.
The good news is the overwhelming majority of cards are not 1 of 1 (or even 1 of 100 or 1 of 1000 for that matter), so I think FOMO is (unfortunately) this incessant and annoying devil we choose to keep perched on our shoulder, when in reality, unless you are trying to purchase an item that is quite rare, chances are high you’re not going to actually miss out. That said, “spending more than you should” is really going to be determined by you; spending $100 a month on pieces of Pokemon cardboard for someone who is broke might be crazy expensive, while others can afford to drop thousands of dollars a month if they wanted and their financial situation isn’t really damaged.
I have found in my own life what helps me tremendously with Pokemon spending and enjoyment/hobby spending in general is writing this stuff out so I have some sort of budgeted plan. Even if you don’t stick to it as well as you’d like, it’s very useful to help quantify where you’re headed in reality rather than where you think or hope you may be going. Additionally, it gives you some standard (that you get to define based on your life situation) to actually know what is being deviated from, otherwise all these thoughts/questions/FOMO/“I’m an addicted financial disaster child” end up like a Tangela spaghetti noodle mess in your head. Then, if you go a few months and realize “wow, this really is a problem”, you can recalibrate your plan again to something more fitting, and continue to repeat that process until you have a refined plan as you continue to collect. The kicker is starting that process IMO; it’s always harder to create a good habit, but once you have it locked in it feeds off itself.
The other piece of advice I have gotten from more seasoned collectors is simply taking a step back and revisiting the things you have already acquired (this is why binder collections or wall displays, for example, can be so useful). It’s incredibly easy to get sucked into finding the next thing, but it’s really cool to view some of your favorite items periodically and just enjoy them. This may sound ultra nerdy but even keeping a log of when you bought certain items may be a fun thing to look back at 5/10/15/20 years down the line to see how much ground has been covered!
Tangentially related, there is a thread talking about collecting fatigue linked here, which may be useful to read. While not the exact same question, I feel like they’re both branches that grow off the same tree.
Hopefully some of this is useful. Best of luck!
This is such a valuable point. Pokemon has a very wide pool of participants and yet it is intensely stratified, and it all happened so terribly fast.
As a 15 year old I was in a very different hobby with a stable, narrower range but where spending $5K a month was business as usual, of course I couldn’t spend anywhere near that and the only reason I was able to participate was because I was a master flipper who acquired all the right connections, so the few thousand I could spend eventually turned into more.
Most of the wealthy participants here were old men but there were many younger ones as well, one or two my age and a few 20-25 year olds, and some of those were my friends. They couldn’t fathom how I was able to buy some of the stuff I did, and money woes was of course a silver lining of every conversation, no matter how much we talked shop. And this was over a $300 to $5000 difference, from people who were still climbing the social ladder, and not necessarily stuffing their faces with exposure to wealth as the internet wasn’t where it is today.
Compare that to 2023 Pokemon with its somewhat socially inclusive culture, where $50 a month people and $100000 a month people are frequenting the same discussions, the same social media, the same picture threads and so on, maybe even from a place of being “done” climbing the social ladder and so the differences you see are not only humongous, they feel fixed as well, and a constant reminder of a greater gap that goes way beyond Pokemon.
Not to mention you actually want your piece of the cake too, you want the actual cards, and you fear that prices could skyrocket out of your range at any moment. It’s an insanely potent FOMO mix, words can barely describe it. One really has to be steadfast and arm oneself against all the exposure and lines of thought that, perhaps especially, internet culture can foster. One really has to work against the tide, because although we now have a plethora of new problems we don’t necessarily have a new range of medicine.
I can definitely admit that at times in the past year or so, I’ve been addicted to some degree at looking at Pokémon cards and buying many of them. A lot of this I think has also been because I’ve continued to work from home, and I’ve had a lot of extra money and time to do so. I really enjoy it as well though, as I enjoyed collecting and playing TCGs through most of my childhood years.
I hit a lot of collecting goals recently, so I’ve slowed up quite a bit. What I would suggest if possible is to set a monthly budget if you can. For me, it’s usually 5-10% of my monthly income on average, and if I’m after a bigger card I’ll try and save up for a while instead. There’s just so many great cards to collect and enjoy, and the more you get into the hobby, the more you want to collect. So it’s definitely possible to feel addicted because of this. Just set some healthy guidelines for yourself and it becomes less of a burden. Take your time with it, treat it more like a journey.
One thing to always keep in mind as well is, unlike other addictions or hobbies, you can always re-sell your Pokémon collection if needed. There are so many collectors with an itch for these cards that I don’t feel bad buying them ever, so I always keep this in mind as I build my collection up. There are so many other hobbies where you can’t re-sell things that easily (or at all), so collectibles like Pokémon are uniquely positioned for this reason and others, which makes it an even more enjoyable hobby to engage in.
It goes without saying, but if you feel like you have a genuine problem and need help, you should seek out therapy to address the addiction and consult a financial advisor.
In the U.S., we have a national hotline for mental health and substance use referrals: SAMHSA’s National Helpline | SAMHSA
SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.
I would also recommend taking a one-month hiatus from purchasing. It was a breath of fresh air for me.
I would say yes I do have an addiction, but I’m in recovery. When I started working professionally, I made more than I needed and I spent everything. I became addicted to that lifestyle and it’s been difficult adjusting out of it. I’ve gotten better, but every day I need to remind myself to stick to our financial budget.
I also started entering all family and Pokemon revenues and expenses into a quick books file, so I know how much I’ve bought and sold. That helps keeping myself accountable.
This is also what I did, this is great advice. After November Black Friday sales/promos recently, I have taken a good 1-2 months away from the hobby in terms of buying cards. Just in the past couple weeks, my LGS stocked up a ton of new cards I’m after, so I’m going to be making an order soon. It’s been good to take a break though, as it allowed me to re-organize my collection and focus on my goals for the year ahead.
I can definitely relate to you with this. While I’ve never spent enough to impact my ability to pay my bills/expenses, I’ve spent enough to impact my progress with other life/savings goals.
Normally when I spend more than I want to it’s because I happened to be flipping through my binder late at night and ended up opening eBay. My logic at the time always ends up being something along the lines of “well this is a good deal, and I need this card eventually for my binder so why not just get it done now”
I also love the feeling of having things in transit, especially for binder cards. The entire process from ordering, waiting for it to arrive, and putting it in the binder is so satisfying. I have also found the workday to be much more enjoyable when it ends with checking my mail.
I would take a step back and look at your financial goals and see where this hobby fits into that. Then maybe take a pause from buying and let yourself reset. Anytime I plunge myself into something (gaming, collecting, etc) I have found taking a rest to be crucial to long-term/sustainable enjoyment. Often when I return to activity it takes much less effort to get much more fun than I was having before.
buying singles on amazon is a pretty good sign that you might have a problem
in all seriousness, i’d recommend another hobby to help distract you from this one. you’ll have less downtime to spend browsing the internet for new cards you didn’t even know you wanted
I mean I’ve never missed paying bills or anything like that and I make more then the average person for my state but like I’m always on Facebook market place, eBay, Amazon, and I consume so much Pokémon content from YouTube and just definitely feel like I’m always wanting more. I mean I promise I’m not selling my body for Pokémon cards I promise . But I do have a feel like I’m always wanting more. I mean I know if I didn’t have a fiancé and house I probably would drop 300 a week on cards which would be way out of my budget and put me in a bad financial spot. I also feel like it’s part of the fomo where I almost don’t want to miss out an a new set or I need to buy every new product that comes out. Like right now I’ve been eying crown zenith gold cards and I have to keep telling myself no to hit the buy now and drop 400-500 on a whole set of the gold cards.
Thanks for sharing. From what you are describing, it sounds like problematic spending but not to the point that it is ruining you/your family financially. I would still recommend seeking help (professional or from your social support system) in order to: 1) keep track of your spending, 2) set reasonable limits, and 3) be held accountable.
The wonderful thing about Pokemon cards is that they aren’t going anywhere! You will have an ability to open packs and buy singles for many years to come. In fact, many of the hyped ultramodern cards will be even cheaper if you wait 6-12 months after release. If the card really matters to you, then you would still be interested in picking it up after all of the FOMO dies down.
As someone just entering the hobby, I can definitely say it’s really easy to discover new cards that you didn’t know existed but that you now want/need to have. And it doesn’t help when a lot of nice cards can still be found for relatively cheap (<$10 to $20) and are readily available via Ebay or TCGPlayer. I haven’t spent a lot on the hobby compared to others here, but for me, I’ve already spent more on collecting (in just about a month or so) than I have with any other of my hobbies. And I’m definitely trying to be more aware of how much I’m spending and trying to budget/spread it out.
Aside from the advice above, I think it might help to try to identify which part of the process of collecting you’re deriving pleasure from. Is it pulling a big hit and being able to share it? Does the buying stem from wanting to measure up to other people’s collections? Is it, like @Gus mentioned (and which is definitely true for me), a certain excitement from having things in transit and looking forward to small surprises midweek or when you get home from work? Or just adding to your growing collection? I think some of these reasons can be more insidious than others, so aside from trying to set (and sticking to) a budget, it might be important to try to hone in on where the need to keep buying is coming from.
Just following up on what @Dyl said, I don’t know if you saw this thread, but I think it should be linked given the talk of FOMO and new sets. These set cards will always be readily available at a later point, and your wallet will take definitely take less of a hit if you wait it out.
Thank you for sharing! This is something I went through about a year ago, and took a 3 month break from collecting.
Not sure if it’s similar for you, but for me it was as much about mental energy as money. I also wasn’t neglecting my bills or responsbilities, but spent so much time looking to buy things, what am I going to buy next, looking for deals, etc
It got to the point where it felt like a compulsion more than something I was enjoying, so I took a step back.
What ended up helping me was thinking about what my end game is, and reigning in my 37 goals. I started looking to sell what I didn’t see me holding onto long term. That helped me stop trying to go after everything and anything I wanted, and focused me on a few goals.
I’m much happier with my collecting approach now!
There is also obsession/OCD disorder which may not necessarily be addiction. If one needs help, either one would need to be treated differently.
The need to “having” to complete a set may be obsession and not so much addiction.
If you are increasing your financial burden beyond your means, it is a serious problem.
If you can afford it, but red lining your finances, it is a problem you need to give serious thought and attention to.
All scenarios are relative to your current situation. If it falls into either of those you need to definitely examine it and contemplate and likely make change as a minimum action.
I was going through this in December, just kept buying and buying. I started to set a monthly budget and look at the amount I’ve spent so far. When i get the itch to buy, I look at the amount I’ve spent so far in the current month and prevent myself from hitting the buy button.
It is time to make a change, brother
I agree with this fully. Someone with training in a relevant field can correct me but a collecting addiction probably has more to do with the chemicals flooding into your brain than the cards themselves. Really, you get addicted to the dopamine hits. I think a worrying sign is when purchases become more impulsive and more about the thrill of buying something/getting mail and less about the cards themselves
The nice thing about pokemon addiction in contrast to something like gambling addiction is that some % of what you spent can be recovered if necessary. That being said it still can be a completely destructive and life-altering problem that should be addressed
As an educator, I took quite a few psychology classes as I was working toward my degree and some key points about collection and addiction stand out:
Collecting can often turn unhealthy when it’s used to fill socio-emotional needs rather than supplementing self-actualization through meaningful experiences and self-betterment.
Collecting (like any addiction) can reinforce short-sighted and often destructive dichotomies such as focusing on outcomes rather than processes and pursuing pleasure (dopamine-short term) rather than joy (serotonin-long term).
Collecting can be a meaningful and fulfilling activity with a number of psychological and developmental benefits including researching information, strategizing goals, practicing discipline, developing relationships, and creating memories.
*The key is self-reflection and balance. As with most hobbies and activities, it’s wise to focus on building yourself (knowledge/skills), through the act of collecting.
Last year, I made an in-depth video on the subject, if anyone cares to dive further into the psychology of collecting.