• Baseball Card Collecting: Lessons for Life

    by Lance Gunkel CFP® CFA Managing Director | January 20, 2021

    While growing up, I was an enthusiastic collector of baseball cards.My brother and I were part of the card collecting boom of the 1980s and 1990s. I’d spend countless hours with my brother and our friends looking at one another’s cards, discussing potential trades, looking through pricing guides, and dreaming about the next card purchase.

    My parents occasionally gave me gifts of special cards for birthdays and Christmas, but the majority of my collection was obtained through the portion of my savings that I was allowed to allot to baseball card purchases.

    My brother and I would save money from our allowances, birthday cards, and other youthful entrepreneurial activities (including transforming our backyard into a “midway” full of games, with each game costing a quarter). Then we would plan the bike ride to our nearest convenience store to buy packs of cards!

    We would rush home, open the packs—throwing aside the small piece of chalky and hard inedible gum that came in each pack—and call out the names of every card: “Here’s a Ken Griffey, Jr. card! Yes!”

    My parents used this as a tool to teach me about delayed gratification, of which I’ve become very appreciative. In college, I began saving in earnest in order to invest into stocks and mutual funds. It was fascinating to me that I could save and invest those dollars, then watch them (hopefully) grow in value over time.

    Delayed gratification became, for me, a route to security: owning a pool of funds to draw upon when needed for other opportunities or unexpected situations was, and is, a comfort to me.

    The pandemic is another form of delayed gratification as we delay visits with friends and extended family and postpone vacations. As with investing, this form of delayed gratification is also about safety—to keep one another healthy.

    It is difficult to postpone activities that bring us joy: saving instead of spending; settling for a phone call instead of a get-together. However, I believe that we will come out of the pandemic with a greater appreciation for spending time with our loved ones, connecting through social gatherings, and traveling to distant places. It may be challenging, but it is worth the effort.

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