Most kids start collecting their favorite things without realizing they are "collecting." They do it because it's fun. Little do they know, they are also learning valuable life lessons and getting their first experience in the concepts of investing.
That's certainly true for Jordan Pollack, age 23, who started collecting Yu-Gi-Oh card packs when he was 10.
"I learned to buy low, sell high, just like with stocks," he says. "I also think about forecasting which cards will be worth more in the future."
Collecting offers many benefits, including:
Pride of ownership: Collecting provides some with their first experience in ownership. Seth Davis started collecting Marvel's Excalibur superhero comics at 13. "I appreciated that someone put effort into creating these, so I wanted to keep them safe," he says. "I put them in plastic sleeves to protect their value and learned how important it was to organize them."
Earning incentives: Since collectibles are a want, not a need, kids have an incentive to earn extra money to purchase them. Jordan used part of his wages from working at a car wash, while Seth did extra chores around the house, mowed neighborhood lawns and saved holiday gift money.
Money skills: Buying, selling and trading gives kids an opportunity to learn about getting the most value out of what they trade. "Trading was an eye-opener for me," Seth says. "I didn't have a rationale for collecting, so I'd trade away valuable comics to friends just because they liked them."
Over time, he learned the benefits of negotiating the best deal.
Jordan honed his skills in saving, researching values and reinvesting money from the cards he sold and his tournament winnings. By age 16 he'd earned enough money to put towards buying a car.
Educational and career directions: Collecting also offers educational opportunities. For example collecting stamps and coins offers opportunities to learn about history and geography.
Katie Schwenk learned about product loyalty by collecting Barbie dolls. While earning her marketing degree at the University of Nebraska, she drew from her childhood years to write a paper on how consumers become connected to name brands.
A child's collecting choice may prove to be an early career indicator. A rock collector might become a geologist, a child who collects model cars or airplanes may develop an interest in design or engineering.
Seth's cousin, Nate Simpson, turned his interest in graphics into a career as a comic book designer. In 2011, Warner Brothers picked up the movie rights for his comic "Nonplayer." For Jordan, collecting led to his first job following his college graduation. He went from being a customer at Collector's Cache in Overland Park, KS, where he bought his Yu-Gi-Oh cards to being an employee.