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Ripping hobby packs can be affordable

Updated: Apr 4, 2022

Nothing in this world is cheap anymore. If ripping packs of cards brings you joy, I want to help you do that.

How to budget like your hobby depends on it

The days of $20 blasters and quality $200 hobby boxes are behind us. The sooner we can accept that, the sooner we can figure out how to survive in today’s sports cards hobby.

Everyone’s budget looks different. I remember when I was a first year teacher and my budget for cards was $30 every time I went to Indy Card Exchange. I’m thankful that my budget is much different now, but I recognize and respect that all budgets are different.

Starting with the budget concept may seem like a simple and mute point, but here are some important tips that can help you grow that budget.

1. Keep track of every dollar that you spend on cards.

Monitoring your spending can help you recognize your successes, your failures, and help you make a lot of decisions. Remember to factor in shipping, shipping supplies, top loaders, sleeves - everything.

2. Save up for future products within your budget.

If there is something you want to rip that is more expensive than your budget, save a little bit from each month. Last year, I went several months without ripping anything, so I could afford to rip Select football. This requires discipline, which is no fun. Like everything in life, discipline can reap many benefits. But in the sports cards hobby, ripping products you don’t care for is rarely rewarding. Hold tight til you can rip what you want!

3. Know what your pulls are worth.

Every card you pull has value. It may belong in a 10 cent box. It may be more or less than $10 - it has value. Here is a link to a video that can help you determine that value:

You can then compare what your inventory value is compared to what you have spent. Full disclosure, the amount you spent will usually be more than what you have until you hit something big. That is okay!

Consider Grading the cards from your hobby boxes

We never really graded anything until 2018. We studied and learned and studied and learned. We decided to invest in base Prizm rookies. We were just in time. Cards we had either pulled or bought for $10-$20 brought returns of over $100 per card. We were so excited, so we sent another round of cards - a lot more than the first time. Turns out, so did everyone else. Drew Lock, Dwayne Haskins, Gardner Minshew Prizm Rookies were going for nearly $300 apiece going into the 2020 NFL season. We had dozens of each at PSA. They all came back in February… I don’t think that any of them sold for more than $80.

My point is that the grading game is a moving target, and it moves fast. Grading base cards and base inserts is no longer a good idea. We still have hundreds of cards sitting at PSA (9 months now) that would have been worth hundreds each had we gotten them back 6 months ago. Now we will struggle to recoup grading fees on dozens of them.

I think a lot of progress has been made within PSA, and they are refining and becoming more efficient (finally). I think the same can probably be said for Beckett. However, they have gotten a lot more expensive and their refining efficiency is not quick enough for many. There are several other grading options out there. We have just sent our first submission to ISA.

I have friends that have been satisfied with SGC and HGA. We will post the results to this submission and our PSA submission as soon as they get back in. Stay tuned to our YouTube channel.

We strongly encourage you to talk to your local card shop about grading some of your cards. They will likely have great advice. Even if they don’t do group submissions, their preferences and process is worth asking about. They do this for a living! Anytime you can grade a card (that is worth grading) and get a 9.5 or 10, the value on your card can double, triple, or more! If you want to thrive in today’s hobby, grading is absolutely essential.

Selling is necessary to grow in the hobby.

When I was a kid, there was one reason for me to buy boxes of football cards - to get Peyton Manning cards. Even boxes without Mannings brought me great joy. I loved sorting and organizing the different players. $20 bought me an hour or two of fun and added to my museum that I was so proud of. A couple more allowances and I would be back at it.

In today’s hobby, the allure is much greater than a binder full of base cards. We see the autographs, the short prints, and the life-changing sales that come with them. We see products like National Treasures and Flawless. Our wish lists grow every time we scroll through our Instagram feeds.

Prices of basic products have more than tripled in the past three years. Whatever that budget is, it doesn’t go as far as it used to. If you bought a box of Optic Football every month and never sold a card, you would have invested around $14,000 this year. Unless you are pulling in over $100K, that is definitely blowing apart your spending money. Good luck explaining that to your significant other. However, if you can turn that $14,000 into $10K or $12K or turn a profit - you can get back to the joy of ripping packs (back to the potential of getting one of those life-changing or wish list cards).

Ripping packs is a blast, but it is a means to an end if you cannot recycle those assets into more packs to rip. The joy ends with empty wallets and full shoeboxes. However, if you can accept the need to sell, the fun of ripping packs can last as long as you’d like it to!

How to sell your cards.

To correct myself, how do I sell my cards efficiently? When we rip wax - we have a plan to sell our cards before I ever bite into the foil. We sell our cards in various ways:

1. Card shows are easily the most fun way to sell your cards.

It seems like there is a card show every weekend in Indiana. Ask around some local collectors in your area, and you can probably find one close to you as well! Our business started largely due to the support from our card family - the group of people we have been setting up at shows with since 2014. It is so fruitful to get in there and set up at a table.

We will be writing an article soon for those of you who are getting ready for a card show. Subscribe to our Email Newsletter to be notified when we do.

If you feel like you aren’t quite ready to commit to that, feel free to go on into a show with a box full of cards you’d like to sell. We have people coming to our table trying to sell every show. If you really want to move cards quickly, there is always someone willing to buy them at the right price.

A list of Upcoming Card Shows for Brothers In Cards in 2022
The Upcoming Card Shows for Brothers In Cards

2. eBay is the easiest platform to sell your cards.

An eBay store is a necessary evil. I don’t like the fees. I don’t like some of the disrespectful maneuvers that scumbags try to pull while protected by eBay’s Buyer Protection Plan. I don’t like the subscription fees for my store or how eBay can change their rules at a moment’s notice without any real options to help myself. But the fact that someone can get right on the app, search Josh Allen and Kaboom! There are my card within seconds - I like that a lot.

We recommend starting with Buy It Now listings. Get as many Buy It Now listings up there as you can. Have competitive prices. Make sure you always ship well and ship quickly.

A great feedback rating is essential. We have brought in positive feedback on over 3,000 sales and currently have a 100% eBay rating. We are very proud of that. It slightly saves us on fees, and it provides a lot of assurance with our customers!

Once you get 100 or more Buy It Now listings available, you can start dabbling with auctions. We have about 500 BIN listings, and we run about 500 $4.99 auctions each month.

Our auctions have been all over the place with success and the lack thereof, but one consistency is that when we run our auctions, we sell BIN listings as well.

Screenshot of Brothers In Cards eBay storefront
Brothers In Cards eBay storefront

3. Start a sports card account on your favorite social media.

Social Media is also necessary in today’s sports card world for several reasons. They are great ways for you to share your collection with other collectors and build relationships with those who have similar interests. The brotherhood we have built with collectors all over the country through our Instagram account has been greater than we ever thought possible. We are also able to sell a lot of cards through our social media platforms, which saves us on eBay fees.

4. Research other platforms like WhatNot

Up and coming platforms like WhatNot are now in the mix. We love what we have been able to do on WhatNot so far. It takes some time to get into the app as a seller, but once you do that, it can be very fruitful. There are other platforms like it that we have heard good things about.

Here’s the magic formula for becoming a successful sports card entrepreneur.

Hard work and relationships. That’s it. That’s the formula. But if you can manage it, this hobby can be so rewarding. Brothers In Cards is what I do for a living. I love it. I still love ripping packs, too. I do my best to stay disciplined with my budget. I have a plan to sell the loot when we do have the chance to rip. But when the hard work is set, the joy can be had. I’ve been fortunate to have luck on my side to keep this thing going.

SHAMELESS PLUG: Our Pack Plus Program can help you maintain your monthly budget while ripping quality hobby packs.

Remember that $30 budget when I started teaching? I wanted to get the most out of that $30. I wanted to rip high end products without paying high end prices. It sounds like a pipe dream, but I decided to make it reality. Our Pack Plus Program is a subscription box that provides that opportunity with every box. Learn more here:

I hope this article was helpful for you!

- Jonathan

Comment below to let us know. Or, share more ideas for future articles you want us to create.

For more information and news about the hobby, please sign up here for our Brothers In Cards Newsletter.

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