So now that we know when to buy new cards, there are still some topics to discuss when it comes to grinder finance. I’d like to point out that this is not the only way that it can be done, but merely a recommendation of one way.
Protecting Your Investment
A lot of players don’t invest in proper sleeves or change them often enough. Unfortunately, the life of a grinder involves tournament entry fees plus around $10 for a new package of good sleeves. For any competitive REL tournament, it is strongly recommended that you use new sleeves to avoid any unnecessary judge scrutiny due to dings, dents, or scuffs that may imply cheating. A good way to invest in the future is buying in bulk! I order my sleeves from Potomac Distribution and the savings can add up quickly. The cost of a pack of KMC Hyper Matte sleeves (my sleeve of choice) is about $9. If you order a case from a distributor, you can get them for as low as $4.50 plus tax and shipping.
Many people use just basic sleeves to protect their cards, but I would highly recommend also double sleeving your deck. A lot of players are turned off by the idea because it seems excessive and causes your deck to bulge, but it’s really something I cannot recommend enough. Double sleeving your deck makes the outer sleeves fit better and ensures the cards move around less. The extra sleeve can be the difference between a played card and a near-mint card after a few weeks of play. Since the inner sleeves never get dirty, you almost never have to replace them, and if they keep even one chase mythic from becoming played, the sleeves have basically paid for themselves. Other benefits from double sleeving include an easier deck to side shuffle, an extra layer of protection if an outer sleeve splits, and increased protection for foil cards against bending or curling.
Investing Your Winnings Properly
Most local game stores offer prize support (and hopefully yours does) and what you do with that can make a big impact on your bottom line. My store offers booster packs as prize or store credit equal to $2.50 for each booster pack you would have won. My suggestion to everyone is to get store credit when you can. If your store doesn’t offer it as an option, ask if they can have it for future events.
Store credit options allows you to focus your reinvestments where they count the most. I personally am not in the market for enough Standard cards that any booster pack is really much of a gain for me. Even if the expected value of the booster is higher than its value in store credit, you are not guaranteed to open anything worthwhile. If I save up $200 in store credit, I could have opened 80 booster packs instead. Those 80 boosters may include $200 or more worth of cards, but if they’re filled with cards you don’t need or you can’t trade, is it really a gain? If I buy one [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] that I need to finish my deck, isn’t that a better investment? If you were to open 2.2 boxes of M15 right now with that store credit, you may open enough Nissas or Garruks to make it up in retail pricing. The problem is that in the long run, those cards may not hold their value as much as a Modern staple or even a pack of sleeves will.
The other thing that store credit is very useful for is entering events. A lot of stores allow you to use your credit for entry fees. If yours doesn’t, hopefully you can ask them to change it. If you make a habit out of winning, you can reinvest your winnings in more entry fees and save money for those new staples in the coming fall set, or just have a nice savings account for emergencies. Not letting Magic take over your personal finances is a big deal and being able to play a hobby essentially for free is not something a lot of people can do.
Be Outgoing and Cheerful at All Times
Your attitude says a lot about you as a person. If you are always negative and complaining about stuff, then people don’t want to be your friend or be around you. Make sure you are presentable (shower, comb your hair, shave or comb your beard, use deodorant, brush your teeth, etc.) and don’t drive people to dislike you. A big thing that a lot of Magic players don’t realize is that if you do these things, it gives you access to making much better friends.
Similarly, people who make an effort are more likely to be outgoing and help you when you need it. A solid group of friends that you can trust and enjoy spending time with make Magic that much better. Having a solid core of grinding friends also allows you to borrow cards you might be missing for an event or bounce sideboard ideas off of. In the end, this will make you a better player and a happier person. A word from the wise: sometimes it doesn’t matter who’s right. A lot of arguments I hear between players with negative attitudes involve subjective topics that there is no clear right or wrong to. It just ends up making them both sound like idiots because they’re arguing over an irrelevant topic. Good friends are an invaluable asset that everyone needs.
I hope I have brought to light some money saving tips and you all enjoy playing Magic without breaking the bank! If you have questions or comments, you know what to do.