How Much for That Pez? Trading in Collectibles for Fun, Profit

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Earning More on Your Savings: Collectibles

By Maryalene LaPonsie

Earning money on your savings is hard nowadays. Consider that Bank of America is currently offering a rate of 0.01 percent for standard savings accounts.

Let me say that again. Bank of America is offering 0.01 percent interest for standard savings accounts. That means $100 in your account will get you one shiny penny of interest. Whoa! I know, you can barely contain yourself, right? Maybe you shouldn't bother putting that $100 in your savings account. Maybe you'd get a better return by investing that money in your favorite collectibles instead.

10 Collectibles to Avoid

Before we start talking about the collectibles you can be using to make money, let's talk about the ones that will never make you money. These are the items that are passé or that have too few buyers for too many items on the market. Although dud collectibles can sometimes vary by region, these are the ones that probably won't make you much money anywhere.
  1. Beanie Babies.
  2. Hummel figurines.
  3. Franklin Mint collectibles.
  4. Collectible plates.
  5. Precious Moments figurines.
  6. Thomas Kinkade prints.
  7. McDonald's toys.
  8. Recent issue sports cards.
  9. Recent issue comic books.
  10. Animation art.
Some of these items, such as Beanie Babies and Hummel figurines, may have had some collectible value at one time. Others, like items from the Franklin Mint, were never worth much from the start. As a general rule, anything sold as a collectible is probably anything but.

Find Something You Love and Focus on a Niche

The items that may make you the most money may be the ones you least expect. At various times, duck decoys, political memorabilia and Pez dispensers have all been hot commodities.

The key to finding the right collectible is to find something you love, something you wouldn't mind holding on to even if the market goes soft and demand dries up. Then, take that something and specialize it even further. For example, rather than collecting stamps, collect stamps from a specific nation or time period. Rather than collecting old comic books, collect old X-Men comic books.

Having a niche serves two purposes. The first is that it makes it easier for you to keep your collection under control. It can focus your buying and selling and make the process more manageable. The second is you can more easily become an expert in your area and quickly gauge demand for an item and its worth.

Study Where to Buy and Where to Sell

How you can make the most money will depend greatly on your collectible item. Some sell great on eBay, while others may require you to attend trade shows or sell your wares through auction houses. Before settling on a collectible in which to invest your money, do some research on what it takes to sell them for top dollar. Then decide whether that format is convenient for you.

As for where to buy, the details will again depend on the item. However, garage sales, thrift stores and Craigslist are all places to look for valuable items being sold for a song. Hopefully you've done some research on your niche by now and can quickly identify what's worth buying and what's worth a pass.

Flipping Collectibles vs. Holding for the Long Run

Finally, you need to decide what to do with those collectibles once you have them. You have two choices: flipping for a quick profit or holding items as a long-term investment.

Flipping purchases makes sense for lower-priced collectibles, especially ones that are hot right now. People who flipped their Beanie Babies right at the start of the craze made the most money, while those who held them for the long haul are now stuck with a bunch of cute, but mostly worthless, stuffed animals. With flipping, you want to buy low and sell high. If something is hot at the moment, you may want to sell now before the fad passes.

For long-term investments, you'll need collectibles with a proven track record of appreciating values. These will typically be items that cost more upfront, although you can still find hidden gems at garage sales and thrift stores. According to a 24/7 Wall St. analysis of data from the Knight Frank consultancy firm, these are the categories of collectibles that saw the biggest gains from 2004 to 2013. The percentage indicates their 10-year price.
  1. Classic cars -- 430 percent.
  2. Stamps -- 255 percent.
  3. Coins -- 225 percent.
  4. Fine art -- 183 percent.
  5. Wine -- 182 percent.
  6. Jewelry -- 146 percent.
  7. Chinese ceramics -- 83 percent.
  8. Watches -- 83 percent.
However, not every item within these categories can be expected to appreciate in value. That's why it's so important to do your homework before investing your cash in a collectible of any kind.

Do you buy collectibles for resale or as investment items? Tell us about your experience in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Like this article? Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you a regular digest of our newest stories, full of money saving tips and advice, free! We'll also email you a PDF of Stacy Johnson's "205 Ways to Save Money" as soon as you've subscribed. It's full of great tips that'll help you save a ton of extra cash.
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