Can you build net worth by saving collectibles?


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Collecting is human nature. The Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, “It is perhaps a more fortunate destiny to have a taste for collecting shells than to be born a millionaire.” But in the age of the internet, why not both? It’s easier than ever to research and source collectibles like rare coins, fine art or vintage instruments, as well as to connect with a big market of appreciative buyers through online auctions.

With luck, some collectors can turn their expensive hobby into a lucrative investment. But while traditional investors would never feel sentimental about selling a stock, one risk for collectors is falling in love with the items, so they can’t sell them when their value increases.

16 crucial investment & retirement rules to understand

A “rule of thumb” is a mental shortcut. It’s a heuristic. It’s not always true, but it’s usually true. It saves you time and brainpower. Rather than re-inventing the wheel for every money problem you face, personal finance rules of thumb let you apply wisdom from the past to reach quick solutions.

Basic investing, in my opinion, is a ‘must know’ for future financial success. The following rules of thumb will help you dip your toe in those waters.


Don’t handpick stocks. Choose index funds instead. Very simple, very effective.

People who invest full-time are smarter (at stocks) than you. You can’t beat them.


The Rule of 72 (it’s doctor-approved). An investment annual growth rate multiplied by its doubling time equals (roughly) 72. A 4% investment will double in 18 years (4*18 = 72). A 12% investment will double in 6 years (12*6 = 72).

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“Don’t do something, just sit there.” -Jack Bogle, on how bad it is to worry about your investments and act on those emotions.


If your employer has a retirement program (e.g. 401(k), pension), make sure you get all the free money you can.

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It’s hard to know what tax rates will be like when you retire, so balancing between pre-tax and post-tax investing now will also keep your tax bill balanced later.

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Investing fees and expense ratios can eat up your profits. So keep those fees as low as possible.

It can be tempting to dip into long-term savings for an important current need. But fight that urge. You’ll thank yourself later.


Portfolios that start diversified can become concentrated so one asset does well and others do poorly. Rebalancing helps you rest your diversification and low er your risk.

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Save enough money for retirement so that your first year of expenses equals 4% (or less) of your total nest egg.

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Save for your retirement first, your kids’ college second. Retirees don’t get scholarships.

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$1 invested in stocks today = $10 in 30 years.

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Inflation is about 3% per year. If you want to be conservative, use 3.5% in your money math.


Stocks earn 7% per year, after adjusting for inflation.

Or, own 120 minus your age in bonds. The heuristic used to be that a 30-year old should have a portfolio that’s 30% bonds, 40-year old 40% bonds, etc. More recently, the “120 minus your age” rule has become more prevalent. 30-year old should own 10% bonds, 40-year old 20% bonds, etc.

Or as Warren Buffett suggests, “Invest in what you know.”

Want more investing tips? You’ll find everything from how to handle budgeting to overcoming the mental side of money here.


This article originally appeared on The Best Interest and was syndicated by


Collecting coins

“I’m a little torn which is my favorite coin,” says John Bukovac, an engineer in Oberlin, Ohio and a collector of gold and silver coins and bullion for the past 18 years. Among international coins, he favors the English sovereign. “There are many variations of the coin that changed as the monarchy changed in England.”


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Among U.S. coins, he loves the Walking Liberty half dollar, minted between 1916 and 1947. It depicts Lady Liberty with her arm outstretched, striding toward a rising sun. Unlike newer half dollars, the coin contains 90% silver. The oldest and rarest of these, in mint condition, can fetch $100,000 or more, while common ones can cost $31.

Here are the best ways to count your spare change

Bukovac started investing in silver bullion in 2001, after a friend who owned a coin shop alerted him that silver was undervalued. “At the time it was around $6.20 an ounce,” he says.

“My friend began to show me U.S. silver dollars and half dollars that he had for sale. I fell in love with the Walking Liberty halves and the Morgan dollar coins,” he says. “What drew me to them was not just the beauty of the coins — because to me a mint state gold or silver coin is something to behold — but the history of the coins always captured my imagination too.”

A decade later, silver prices hit a high near $50 an ounce. “I sold close to 700 ounces for between $35 to $45 an ounce,” says Bukovac. “I had amassed enough with the increase in value to not only pay for school, but also my expenses that year, and eventually the down payment on my house a few years later.”

Find out how to protect your home and belongings with homeowners insurance

He kept some of the Walking Liberty half dollars and gold $5 and $10 Liberty Head coins. “I just couldn’t bring myself to sell them,” he says.

Bukovac’s tip to collectors: Arrive very early to coin shows. Vendors sometimes offer good deals on large lots, because they are looking to cover their expenses. “I’ve gotten some great deals this way.”

5 valuable collectibles you may have lying around the house

Remember Beanie Babies?

Those soft, squishy animals were all the rage during the 1990s. And while most of them are worth just a few dollars these days, some have sold for as high as $3,000.

Are there other collectibles taking up space in your attic that could put a little extra cash in your pocket? Here are five random items that might be worth more than you think.


You read that right. Dust off your old Lego set because if you’ve got the right piece, you could be looking at some serious cash.

It makes sense when you consider the folks who are truly dedicated LEGO collectors—maybe they’re just missing one or two pieces from a set they bought years ago. They want to complete their collection.

According to the website, certain pieces can sell for a few hundred dollars. This red Darth Vader helmet has sold for between $325 and $400. A red antenna with side spokes sold for $240.


You probably know people are willing to pay a ton for old Beanie Babies, but are you familiar with Steiff bears? A Steiff miniature teddy bear sold on eBay for $350, even though it’s only three inches tall! And a 1920s bear sold for $600.

These bears are made from mohair and are known for their durability. The German company started making stuffed toys in 1880, but the teddy bear wasn’t born until 1902, according to the Steiff website. The bears became wildly popular because of the American president Theodore Roosevelt, who earned the nickname “Teddy” after a hunting trip.


With DVDs and Netflix, it’s hard to remember an era of VHS tapes and VCRs. But apparently, there’s a pretty hot market for certain movies in this clunky rectangular form.

In 2011, a VHS copy of “Tales From the Quadead Zone” sold for nearly $700 on eBay, according to TIME. The 1987 flick is a horror story about a zombie clown from hell. Today, the tape could fetch as much as $2,000, documentary director Dan Kinem told Cracked.

Point is, if you’ve got some weird movies in a box in your basement, it may be worth your time to drag them out.


People love “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

They love it so much that they’re willing to pay upwards of $300 for the “Cousin Eddie’s RV” ornament made by Hallmark in 2009. On eBay, other sellers are hocking these keepsake ornaments for up to $450.

This 1989 classic featuring Chevy Chase follows the Griswold family as they prepare to celebrate Christmas. Cousin Eddie, played by Randy Quaid, shows up with his family in his motor home and hilarious hijinks ensue.


Time for a visit to grandma’s house.

Collectors are looking for authentic pieces of furniture made in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. This pair of lounge chairs designed by Charles and Ray Eames in the 1970s sold for $5,625 and this carved walnut desk designed by Wendell Castle in 1969 sold for $183,750.

These items are more valuable, in part, because of Ikea’s rise to popularity. The Swedish furniture maker has been resurrecting pieces from the 1960s and 1970s and selling them at very low prices. The TV show “Mad Men” may also have had something to do with it.

“Ikea really personified this whole idea of ‘this is how your house should look,’” Mark Hill, an antiques and collectibles specialist, told The Street. “A lot more people are going for decorative things that have a story connected to them. They want something to have a soul, a passion, a heart.”

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by


Collecting art

Jon Ten Haagen, a certified financial planner in Huntington, New York, has been a collector for much of his life. “I collected stamps when I was young but did not have the patience to hold on to them. Probably did go up in value,” he says.

He later collected Beanie Babies, “which went nowhere. I donate a bunch to charities each year to get a write-off.” For a time, he bought collector plates, but “they almost instantly went down 50% in value.”

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Ten Haagen, a dedicated sailor, started purchasing marine art in the 1980s. He loves limited edition prints by John Mecray, an American marine painter known internationally for his portraits of classic racing yachts. “I bought one years ago because of the quality of his work and the subject of the print. Over the years, as I had more money, I got the remarques [limited edition prints with small original art added by the artist] on the paintings.”

The artist has since passed away, and the artwork has appreciated substantially. However, Ten Haagen has no plans to sell.

To collectors, Ten Haagen recommends maintaining art pieces in controlled environments and keeping insurance policies up to date. “I would make sure the collector has the collection appraised periodically, especially if the artist dies.”

Vintage musical instruments

“Back in college, I spotted an original 1970s Music Man StingRay bass guitar in the want ads for about $275 — a ridiculously good price,” says Freddy Grant (who requested a pseudonym out of privacy concerns), an information technology professional and musician based in Portland, Oregon. “I had to drive a couple hours into the mountains to get it.”

About two decades later, he estimates the bass is now worth $2,000, roughly 627% more than he paid for it. That means the vintage instrument turned out to be a superior investment to the S&P 500 stock index, which returned approximately 126 percent in the past 20 years. Still, he says, “I will leave it [in] my will,” rather than sell it.

Do you need a will? Find out here.

Grant continued buying and selling vintage instruments over the years in search of different sounds and nuances. “I started thinking it was a ‘collection’ when I stepped back and realized that I was test-driving probably half a dozen instruments at a time,” he says.

He began to research vintage instruments more carefully and think of them as investments. “I grew up hearing the adage that wealthy people have assets, poor people have liabilities, and middle-class people have expenses. That’s my misapprehension of it anyways. I was middle-class and working to turn my expenses into assets.”

Learn seven ways to invest outside of the stock market.

Over time, he says he’s cycled through about $50,000 of instruments. “If I owned them all at once, it would be enough to put a down payment on a mansion.”

Grant’s advice for selling a vintage guitar: “Clean it up. Take professional pictures. Use outdoor natural lighting to best capture the colors of the wood. Remember, you are selling more than a piece of metal or wood. You are selling a dream to someone — and it might be a big one.”

Is collecting a good investment?

As a financial adviser, Ten Haagen notes that a long time horizon and a dose of luck are among the many variables that can contribute to an increase in value for collectibles. “There are stories of young people buying and holding baseball cards, and after decades one might be valuable. You have to make sure you can put that money to work for a long time, and do your homework as to what realistically will hold its value and grow.”

Most importantly, he advises people to make sure they have other smart investments in place in order to secure their futures before investing in collectibles, “then dabble if you want.”

Intimidated by investing? Read our guide for beginners.

This article originally appeared in Policygenius and was syndicated by 

Do you think these popular collectibles are valuable? Think again

For some people, it’s a shoebox of baseball cards, gathering dust in the basement. For others, it’s a binder of old coins passed down from a great-aunt. From toys to technology, jewelry to figurines, most everyone has that collectible they are sure is worth a small fortune.

And most everyone is probably mistaken.  

That’s not to say there isn’t value to be found in the spider-webbed nooks and crannies of attics across the country. Indeed, some people will be pleasantly surprised by the worth of their treasured antique lampshade.

But in the name of setting realistic expectations, Considerable has endeavored to talk to appraisers, pawnshop owners, and collectible experts to separate items that have potential value from those that will leave you sad, surprised, and disappointed.

No matter the specific field of expertise, some clear themes emerged after speaking to numerous professionals who make a living in the world of collectibles and antiques.

Before getting into a list of specific items, let’s cover some of the basics everyone should know while they gaze longingly at the collection they are sure is a gold mine.  


A common thought is that because something is old, it must be valuable. That simply isn’t true.

Megan Mahn Miller, an appraiser based in Minneapolis who specializes in celebrity memorabilia, told Considerable, “Very little of what crosses my desk actually is valuable. One big mistake people make is thinking that because something is old, it is valuable. Very few coins or stamps are going to have value.”

Related: 7 garage sale finds that turned out to be worth a fortune


A simple concept but one that many people have a tough time comprehending.  Sure, the comic book you have was super-popular in the ’70s; made a big comeback in the 2010s; and has been slid into a plastic sleeve that screams “valuable!” to you.

But just keep in mind: If millions of them were produced — and it’s likely there were — then literally millions of folks just like you have one and are thinking the same thing.

According to Miller,  “Rarity and scarcity are two factors that can make an item valuable.  Mass production is completely counter to this.”


Sure, you looked up the value of your Barry Bonds rookie card online, and it was $500.  But have you actually looked at your Barry Bonds rookie card? It’s bent in two corners and has a grape juice spill on the back.

Reyne Hirsch, appraiser on Antique Roadshow, told Considerable:  “Unless the item is extremely rare, collectors tend to only collect items in pristine condition.  So if you have an item that is available on the market in good condition, that’s what investors will want to buy.”

And speaking of looking up the value online …


Please remember that the internet isn’t always the most accurate or truthful source when discerning value. According to Miller, “I am often faced with people who say, ‘I saw it listed on eBay for $5,000.’ It is important to note that someone selling an item can ask whatever price they want; that does not mean the item will sell for that price.” 

So just a heads-up: To get an accurate valuation of an item you will need to do more than google it. You should expect to do some online research to get a general sense of its worth, then bring it to an appraiser or collector if the item seems worth the time.

And now on to our list of the 9 collectibles that have less value than you think.


Digital cameras have changed the way people take, store, and think about photographs. Their ubiquity also gives the false idea that some older film cameras must be valuable as a result. Not so, says Daniel Kalter, owner of Lincoln Square Pawnbrokers in New York.

“Everything’s digital these days,” Kalter explained. “I’ve had people come in and, ‘Do you take this?’ and it’s from the ’80s or the ’70s. They have these cameras that probably cost $250 back then, which is like a $1,000 equivalent of a nice Canon or Nikon these days. The film costs more than the camera.

“We have trays full of cameras,” Kalter continued. “I’ve had people come in and actually buy 20 or 30 cameras at once for parts. I’d love to get rid of them.”

istockphoto/jinsu oh

A victim of the mass-produced trap, people think their Beanie Baby collection is valuable because of a price they saw online or a headline touting a rare million-dollar Beanie Baby for sale. More likely, your Beanie Baby is one of many millions produced, and is not worth anything much. 

Dominique Godbout

Hopefully nobody is shocked by the appearance of these two on the list, as it shouldn’t come as a surprise that new technology quickly develops and old technology becomes outdated.

Yes, it’s cool you have Robert Altman’s entire filmography on DVD.  No, it is not worth anything.


These became collectors’ items in the wake of World War II, when American soldiers stationed in West Germany began sending them home. They grew into a popular souvenir item and skyrocketed in price in the 1970s.

Those days are gone.  

Mike Rivkin, owner of Antique Galleries of Palm Springs, explained the harsh reality:  “Traditional collectibles like Hummel items are virtually unsalable today. We direct people looking to sell such items to nearby thrift shops. There is simply no market.”

Jim, the Photographer

Minted in the late 19th century, and again in the early 1920s,  the Morgan dollar was a very popular silver dollar of the time — too popular, it turns out. Despite the age of the coin, there were so many made that the value is limited.

According to Daniel Kalter, “They’re one of the most common silver dollars that you can have. They’re worth more than a dollar, but they’re just worth silver.”

Brandon Grossardt for the image; George T. Morgan for the coin design. / Public domain

Sticking with old coins: According to Kalter, the value of these pennies is held down by one teensy eensy problem:  “They’re not rare.” Oops! Oh, well. / Public domain

Similar to Hummel figurines, Franklin Mint collectibles — including coins, plates, dolls, knives and LP record sets — were mass-produced and lack what Megan Mahn Miller referred to as “rarity and scarcity.”

Kevin Dooley

Common to many a basement, closet, or attic, the shoebox of sports cards will most likely be worth zilch.

Daniel Kalter sees many folks bring them in with high hopes:  “They have shoeboxes full. It’s not even organized, but everybody collected them. We don’t even take them.”


You may be hoping your beloved collection of classic Disney films on VHS is worth a lot because you saw on eBay that Beauty and The Beast is going for $9,999.99. 

When it comes to optimism, be our guest, but also remember you were warned above that just because someone is asking for a ludicrous amount online doesn’t mean they’ll get it.

Or anything close to it.  These are another mass-produced item that aren’t particularly hard to find or rare in any way.  

But before your hopes and dreams are crushed entirely, please remember that there are exceptions to every rule. While the large majority of items from the categories listed above won’t make you rich, selling them could still be worth your time.

As Megan Mahn Miller reflected, “There may be a needle in that haystack. Find someone who is skilled at appraising that type of property, and have it looked at.”

So go forth, to the pawnshop, with your great-uncle’s lucky pin!  Just be sure also to bring realistic expectations and revised selling price. 

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Featured Image Credit: miki-tiger / istockphoto.