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Spend Time, Not Money if Necessary
August 18, 2009

During this recession there are probably many collectors who wonder about their hobby futures. It takes money to expand a coin collection. Money is in short supply either because of a lost job, or the insistence of a spouse that now is not the time to spend money on what might be considered nonessentials.

I would never make a case that a spouse's wishes should not be respected. That wouldn't be a smart thing to do.

While there might be a few bargain coins to be had at the moment if you are willing to spend the money to acquire them, the long-term health of the family is far more important than scoring a good deal.

If you find yourself thinking in these either/or terms. Stop. Think of this recession as the time to invest more time rather than more money in your hobby.

Teach yourself something new through books and periodicals. For example, if you collect modern half dollars, throw yourself into learning about large cents. Describe it as cheap entertainment to your spouse.

It does not matter what new area you pick as long as you pick something that will spur you to learn more about numismatics. It might be commemoratives or silver dollars that appeal to you, or even paper money or world coins. The possibilities are numerous.

No matter what you tell your spouse, learning is the opposite of cheap. It is very valuable. It prevents a hobbyist from being in an endless loop of mistakes. It forms the basis of a collection that retains and gains value better than random accumulations.

We all make mistakes. We all buy coins that are overgraded at one time or another because we missed something about them when we were considering the purchase. We all splurge on an impulse buy. That's normal.

Education, though, channels this energy and interest in the most constructive way possible over the long haul.

If you are facing personal budgetary doubts, by all means rein in your expenditures of cash, but do not rein in your expenditures of time. Time spent studying now will pay off big time in your numismatic future.

The late Art Kagin often said to me that collectors cannot buy a coin every day, but they can read about them every day.

Take his advice and when good times return you will be ready.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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