Anyone who plays Magic knows that this hobby can become… let’s just say financially intensive, especially if you want to keep up with the latest trends and newest cards. Because of this a lot of people have tried to offset the cost of their hobby through selling or otherwise trading away their old cards to get the best new cards. This has become such a trend and has become such serious business that some people even earn a living from efficient buying and selling of cards. However most of us aren’t interested in earning a living from magic, we merely want to offset the cost of our favourite hobby, and if we’re lucky maybe earn a few bucks as well. If this sounds like you, welcome to the world of MTG Finance!
What is Magic Finance?
For those of you who are unfamiliar to the world of MTG/Magic Finance, it is a very quickly growing area of the hobby where people are focussing on making money from trading or selling Magic: the Gathering cards. Just like any hobby, this can take place from a wide array of seriousness, from professionals travelling the country trying to earn a living from doing it, all the way down to a local player selling his standard staples before rotation to try and get maximum value back.
A more Casual approach.
Now there are a lot of resources out there for the more serious financier including articles with tips on cards to speculate on, and podcasts on the ‘next big thing’ but regarding resources for the casual player, there isn’t too much; which is why I have decided to document my recent foray into the world of magic finance. I am far from a professional and just want to record my journey and provide some advice for the more casual financier on how to get started in what may seem like quite an intimidating environment.
Where to start?
The most intimidating part about any hobby is starting out. It can be intimidating and confusing jumping into a world where you’re inexperienced and don’t know a lot about it, but the best thing you can do is just get straight into it. As usual the first thing to do in any new escapade is to draw up a plan. Having a plan or some rules to stick by is important when starting out in magic finance as it’ll stop you from spending more than you can afford or going too deep and spending too much time on something that started out as just something to do on the side. So what is my plan? I have made myself a list of rules and goals that I plan to stick to so that I don’t become too involved in it (which I often can become):
- My goal is to offset the cost of my hobby, not to make a million.
- I am only going to fund any purchases with money made from selling cards.
- I will log any purchases and any cards sold and keep on top of my money.
- I will not spend more than £10 speculating on any 1 specific card.
- I will not buy more than 8 copies of a single card regardless of card price.
- I will not let myself get to less than -£10 at any one point.
Why did I choose those rules?
So now I’m going to walk you through why I’ve chose those specific rules for myself, please be aware that these are my personal rules and aren’t a guide that everyone should live by. Assess your own situation and make your own rules and limits that are suited to your personal needs and wants.
Rule #1 is to stop myself from trying to go too deep and make stupid decisions trying to earn as much money as possible. I’m just trying to offset cost and make enough money so I can keep playing magic without spending all my spare cash.
#2 is to basically test myself and ensure that I keep going on this road rather than just spending more money on cards that I don’t need, to try and reduce the cost of my hobby. That seems very counteractive to me, so rule 2 is to try and prevent that.
The third rule is basically essential to anyone who is dabbling in magic finance. It helps you to see if your speculations are working and how much floating cash you have to spend on new card as well as letting you see which platform has been the most successful for selling cards has been.
Rule 4 is in place to stop me going all in on a spec, only to have it fail and lose me a lot of money. If you want to make real money this rule might not be for you, but for the more conservative financier it might be prudent to set yourself some sort of limit.
Rule 5 is another rule to stop myself going too deep into any single card. Even when a card is sitting at bulk prices, going too deep on a spec is not always the right move. Again if you want to take more risks to try and make more money, maybe this rule is also not for you.
The final rule is pretty self-explanatory. If ever I get to -£10 then I’ll need to sell some more cards before purchasing any more. This is again to stop myself losing money when the objective of this project is to reduce costs.
My current situation.
So given all that, what am I currently doing right now? Well the best way to tell you would be to show you my spreadsheets!
Here we can see the list of cards I’ve purchased in the hope of making some money off them. First we’ll start with the Emeria Shepherds since I bought the most of those. So Emeria Shepherd is what I like to call a classic Commander card; it’s a big angel with a sweet ability which can help you get back your other creatures from the graveyard. Commander players love this ability and at £0.34 each for normal copies, and £1.99 for prerelease promos, I love them for a medium to long term hold. With the postage factored in (we’ll round it up to £1 for the 7 cards in that order), that would mean the regular copied need to be sold at roughly >£0.50, which is a figure I’m happy with, however that ignores any other fees on the selling transaction (e.g. eBay fees or PayPal fees). The Eternal Witness I picked up firstly because it was under-priced, and secondly because we are coming up to modern season and I suspect it will be played in some of the top decks. Lastly Nissa’s Renewal; I impulse bought this card while watching the Pro Tour last weekend after seeing the Black/Green control deck. After factoring in the postage I paid, these will need to sell for roughly >£0.70 each, but again this ignores other fees, which on PayPal are at minimum £0.20, so I might have made a mistake on this one, we’ll have to see how the price reacts after the Pro Tour.
Okay now on to what I currently have listed to sell. So this is pretty self-explanatory, though you may have noticed I have left the postage cost blank. That’s because I’m putting that info on my Sold tab below. For clarity’s sake I will say that all the OGW cards and the foil BFZ lands came from a box of OGW that I was given for my birthday, so your starting list of cards you’re selling may not be as big as mine.
And onto the cards I have sold. The Geralf’s Masterpiece and Risen Executioner I managed to sell to a local player by posting on the local group, which saved me on postage, which was good. Another reason I think this sale was great is because there was a fair amount of hype around the possibility of a standard zombies deck so the cards had, what I considered, an inflated price. So I was happy to let those two cards go for a total of £5. The Chandra and Freyalise both sold on eBay for the amount I listed them for which is good, although I may have been able to get a little more for Chandra if I’d wanted. The postage costs I have here might look a little confusing but they’re not really. For Chandra, the buyer paid £1 for first class postage, for which I actually have a sheet of stamps which I got for free, so I made money on postage there, hence the -£1 postage cost. For the majority of my listings on eBay, I have decided to offer two postage methods: 1st class postage for £1, or economy postage for free. This lets your listings have the Free postage notice on eBay whilst also allowing for some buyers who need the cards soon to pay for the privilege and offset some of the cost of the free postage option.
So here is the Summary of everything that has happened so far. I actually forgot to update the # of purchases and sales and the # of cards purchased ad sold, since they’re not automatic, but for all the figures I used an Excel formula which updates it automatically for me.
What have I learned so far?
Okay so will all that out of the way, and the Pro Tour being over (which should stop any sudden price spikes) what have I learned from my experiences so far? Well the first thing is to make sure I run the numbers on any costs and potential earnings before buying cards on impulse. Because of this I may have lost some money on my purchase of Nissa’s Renewal. All I can do from that is hope that the price rises to a point where I can sell out at evens and learn from my mistakes and carry on. It’s also important to remember what the fees are for whichever platform you’re selling on. For me that seems to be mostly eBay at the moment, and receiving payments through PayPal who have their own fees (eBay is 10% of final sale value, and PayPal is 3.4% of the amount + £0.20). I think as long as I keep these things in mind, and make sensible speculations I should be able to succeed in my goal.
So where do I go from here? Well I’ll be keeping an eye on the standard meta-game as well as keeping on top of my eBay sales. Regarding speculations and predictions I’m not really sure. I feel like Bygone Bishop is a card that can produce so much value it’s difficult to ignore, but it didn’t really show up during the Pro Tour. They’re currently sitting at $1.29 TCG mid which isn’t a lot but could be a nice buy in price should the card become a standard staple. For something more long term I’m almost always looking at commander cards since the modern meta-game is difficult to predict and bannings can change the entire outlook of the format so I’m staying away from that at the moment. I’m going to be looking to see if I can pick up any of the Theros gods at low prices, especially foils, as they are hard to reprint and are commander staples, which means they’re only going to go up.
Well that’s it from me for this one! I’ll be keeping you up to date with any speculations, predictions and purchases in the next update as well as letting you know how I’ve been getting on.
Craig Richards – Casual Financier
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