Are We Compulsively All Collectors?

I am always intrigued by the notion that those who actively pursue FIRE (Financial Independece / Retire Early) share common traits that drive us into this particular lifestyle decision.

Can we put our finger on some of those shared histories/traits?

Now I know that we all by now have shed our compulsive collecting. Being frugal is not conducive to spending money on our frivolous wants. No, we have moved away from meaningless consumerism and toward the minimalist doctrine, for the most part. I get it.

This creeping suspicion of mine was geared more towards our younger years. Wandering around the dark fiscal woods of the uninitiated. Did we fill our idle time with collecting something? Did our happiness at accumulating a particular thing outweigh the lightening of our coffers?

It sure did with me. I was quite the little squirrel.

It seems to me that FIRE might actually just be the most responsible form of hoarding. Collecting bonds may be more noble than collecting Furbies, but is it scratching the same itch?

To hoard things up. To store them away for a rainy day. Do you really see value somewhere where others do not? Or is it just that our collections comfort us?

Is there a different between those who seek quality vs quantity?

All forms of collection require sacrifice. At a minimum, you sacrifice time and quite likely a portion of your disposable income. I am thinking now that buying shares of VTSAX is just the wise version of buying the latest Spawn figure.

Anyway, I thought I would share some of the things that have made me a compulsive collector over the years;

Dungeons & Dragons everything; modules, figures, dice, novels. I still to this day attribute 14% of my trivia prowess to a dedicated study of this world.

Anyone who feels nostalgic about this should check out this new over-sized book(left) full of all the D&D concept art from day one.

Next would be Baseball Cards; Just Topps brand please. I was a collector from the 70’s through the 80’s. We did not treat the cards with the respect that was due to them. I mostly acquired cards by flicking them against a wall. If you came closer to the wall that the other guy, you won both cards. Repeat 10,000 times.

No telling what this collection might have been worth nowadays. It was bought out from under me for $200 bucks when my twenty year old self needed money.


Coins. Never for there value, just for their fungible sense of security.

I would never spend my loose change. When the little ceramic dish was full, I would roll it. Not pennies though, they were beneath my time even then. I would hoard away rolls of quarters, dimes, and nickels. Hundreds of dollars worth.

This served no other real function other than allowing me to sleep better at night. I suppose it was my first rudimentary emergency fund.

Fun Fact; I am also a collector of tattoos (apparently). I have over twenty.

Next, I will go with a truly useless one. For awhile I was obsessed with having a movie collection. Not buying movies mind you, but taping them off the T.V. Dozens and dozens of movies I would essentially never watch again. Eventually I sold the whole lot ($20) to a guy that just wanted blanks and was going to tape of my countless hours of waiting/programming/watching and taping.

Now Books, on the other hand. I do not consider useless.

Nor can I get behind the electronic versions. I like the tactile feel of a book, the heft, the smell. I keep track of all my books and hardly ever get rid of one. My library currently sits at over 1,200 and I keep a running list of every book I have ever read.

Lastly, I am a full blown prepper.  This means I accumulate junk (in times of peace) that will potentially become treasure (in times of woe).

P.S. I come from a long line of obsessive collectors. My own father is a famous…oh what’s the word for it?….’Oncologist?’ – No…, that would lead to fame and riches. ‘Conchcologist’, …that’s it! He is really into sea shells/fossils. So much so that his collection is actually worth a lot. Maybe we will get rich and famous yet? Oh wait for it…. My father is part of the 0.01% of the fossil community that believe in literal creationism and is dedicating his entire collection to a creationist museum in Kentucky. Oh Well…You win some, you lose some I guess.

Are/Were you a Compulsive Collector?

4 thoughts on “Are We Compulsively All Collectors?

  1. it’s been fun collecting assets like stocks the past 13 years, once i finally got started. we’re turning all our past collections of junk into gold on the ebay machine for 2 years now. sold a lou reed shirt for 300 bucks a month or two ago. i still have football cards from the 70’s in good condition but the barrier to selling those is the grading system. i still have my collection of marbles from around age 10-12 in a 5 gallon tub too. we both still have a bunch of movies we recorded back in the day. i think i’ll watch drugstore cowboy on VHS when i get home tonight. thanks for the reminder.

  2. Problem with collecting/hoarding stocks/bonds for FIRE is that it becomes quite difficult to part with them (i.e. actually spend).

    I have collected coins in the past, stopped in college. I have my dad’s stamp collection I inherited as well. Will likely pass both to my daughter as I have no real reason to need to monetize them now.

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