Getting Started Early on FI/RE

image of the cover of Daredevil #181

I started adopting the mindset that set me on the path for FI/RE (Financial Independence/Retire Early) when I was very young. I collected baseball cards when I was a kid and added comic collections when I was a bit older kid.

Early on I was paying attention to the investment potential. I enjoyed not just the collecting but also the idea of making money by buying something and then selling it later for more money (which is the fundamental idea of investing). It came naturally to me.

I never much liked spending money on something that lost its value. For some things, like ice cream, I could happily spend my money even though I would soon have nothing to show for it. But more often I would rather buy something I could enjoy and also believe I would be able to sell later at a higher price.

image of Watchmen comic cover

When I started actually trying to sell baseball cards for money I learned about he difference between reported “value” and the ability to get cash for what you owned. Not only can’t you sell items to a store at the “value” reported in pricing guides you often couldn’t sell them at all (they didn’t want the items at all).

In high school I started renting space to sell at shows. There you were selling to the public (or other dealers). I learned vivid examples of the challenges of turning assets into cash. And I also learned about the weaknesses in the economic ideals such as the market being efficient. I saw how often the very same product (the same baseball card) for sale in the same hall would have very different prices (over 100% more was not uncommon) and the sales were often not close to the best buys. The friction in this situation was much smaller than the typical purchase (all the items were in the same room, just a little bit of walking created the friction).

image of Wolverine #1 cover

Even though the challenges of turning the collectable investment into cash was apparent to me I continued investing in cards and comics. I have been selling my comics recently and must say it looks like I will end up being lucky if I break even. Still I do believe the mentality of investment that started when I was young has served me well.

I am selling my comics on consignment through a comic shop business (that also uses ebay to sell). You can also sell through ebay and would likely be able to make more but it also requires much more work on your part. Even on ebay I see the same very big pricing differences even when the efficient market concept would say buyers would not pay more if a similar item was available for much less. Markets are not nearly as efficient as people believe (though it is true as values increase a great deal the percentage differences do usually decrease).

I do make big amounts on a few comics, but the vast majority I will lose money on so once everything is taken into account making a profit will be unlikely I think.

Related: Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) and Location Independent WorkingHealth Insurance Considerations for Digital NomadsReverse Budgeting: Money that Must be Spent

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