Plenty of advice exists on how to wisely save your money-but what about how to wisely blow it? Not spending money, after all, is easy. But you're inevitably going to spend some of it. So what's the best way to do that?
Now a disclaimer: I am not a financial planner of any kind, nor am I suggesting any of this as an investment strategy. Whether you start a collection or buy a lifetime supply of your favorite chewing gum, you're going to be left with less money than when you started.
But collecting, as a means of spending discretionary income, has advantages. You can set goals, maybe create something more valuable than the sum of its parts, and become an expert on an arcane subject.
The word "collecting" evokes images of Steve Carell's wall-to-wall action figures in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. But manufactured collectibles, like action figures made for adults, have the worst long-term potential, as their value is tied up in marketing, not genuine scarcity.
Most serious hobbies of this kind deal with (slightly) more grown-up items. I came up with a list of fun potential collections for you, the adult man, and have consulted with the experts in their fields on the financial ins and outs of each.
Cheaper than a garage full of vintage cars, an old-school movie poster collection solves two problems for the modern man: where to put his money and what to put on his walls. Similar in price to comic books, movie posters are half as nerdy and display twice as well. Plus, assuming you have favorite movies, there's an easy answer as to where to start.
"The general run of movie posters sell for below $100, but the exceptions have seen a marked increase in value over the years," says Rudy Franchi of posterappraisal.com. "The most popular categories are early horror, 50s sci-fi, and film noir of the 40s. As with other areas of collecting, the increase in value has steadied at about 10 to 12 percent a year."
The awesome art often found on foreign variant posters means you could decorate the walls of entire room with just one classic film. Franchi also cites Academy Award winners as a popular collection, but a difficult one, given the five-figure prices on the posters of a few older movies.
It had to be included: This is the classic rich guy collection. After all, the coolest thing in Dr. Strange was not his supernatural powers but his watch drawer. Timepieces also fill the niche of bracelets for men who would not otherwise wear jewelry.
The choice between vintage watches and buying new, however, is more difficult than in other similar hobbies. After all, watches should be worn, not put on permanent display.
"Don't start by worrying about what will hold its value over time," says Arthur Touchot European Editor at the popular watch blog Hodinkee. "Start with a watch that you love and that you are going to be into wearing day in and day out. Watches are meant to be enjoyed. That said, Rolex and Patek Philippe are the two brands that hold their value best, for sure."
Obviously this one only applies to the fans out there. But if you're already sinking all that money into season tickets, why not stick with a single focus for your extra cash? Besides, post-baseball card bubble, it's a safer market to wade into.
"I think now that the smoke has cleared in the card market-overcoming a period of misrepresented material and overinflated values-we're seeing a hyper focus on the authenticity of the memorabilia, and the credibility of the seller," says Jasmani Francis, a sports memorabilia expert at RR Auction who has toured with Antiques Roadshow.
Athletics artifacts also have the ability to wow people who aren't into the hobby. If you show your friends the glove that he used to make that catch, they'll start treating your apartment like an important museum. And if you're more into rookie cards, don't fret the bubble-burst too much.
"The card market remains king as the choice investment, even in the short term," says Francis. "When you look at sales over the last 4 to 5 years you see large increases in values in short periods of time."
I had to include this one as I dabble in it myself. The original art from comic book pages-usually on 11x17 boards-has the same benefits as movie posters: They're easy to store and display nicely on walls. Also, as they're typically black-and-white, you cant subtly flaunt your geek cred without worrying about loud superhero colors clashing with the wallpaper.
Prices vary from "new house" to less than $100. But if you ever read comics as a kid, or still do, there's a certain fun in seeking out a particular page that stuck in your mind. And relates to my parting wisdom: remember the reason you chose a certain hobby. The temptation to chase the hot item may arise. But think of your collection as a personal statement and you'll never regret a purchase.