What do you do for a living that pays your bills?
The answer to that is probably not Magic finance. If it is, great job, dude. For the rest of us out here, we have to work at something else to pay our bills. So make sure that you do that.
One of the biggest keys I have found to staying on top of my Magic finance is keeping money separated strictly for Magic purchases. I have X in my Magic account, which is only to be used for Magic and nothing else. I also have Y coming in every month from my real job. That money pays bills and buys fun stuff. By keeping my two revenue streams separate, I maintain a ton of walk-away power when it comes to Magic. I don’t need any of my Magic money for anything but Magic.
Before you make a decision to pull money from one category and throw it at the other, think long and hard. I find that things become way more clear when it’s laid out on paper in front of my face.
Write things down!
Putting things on paper is an often neglected tool that can help you tremendously in every aspect of life, but especially in Magic. It makes you commit to things more than just thinking them would. Before you go and just take money from your PayPal account and throw it at something, write down specifics. It will usually clarify everything and give you a little better perspective on whatever it is that you are doing.
If you borrow money from yourself, you will almost never pay yourself back.
There is something about not having that responsibility to someone else. Even if you do “pay yourself back,” you still don’t.
For example, let’s say that you have $1,000 for Magic. By making solid investments and speculations, you are able to make $100 every two months, or 10%. That means that after a year, you would have $1771.56. If you decided after two months to borrow $300 and didn’t pay it back, at the end of that same year you would only have $1288.41. That’s almost a $500 difference. Even if you pay yourself back in four months, that still only gives you $1687.71. That’s a $100 difference! That might not seem like much to you, but think of if you had put that money into [card]Nightveil Specter[/card]. That could be $900!
Before you were into MTG finance, you paid your bills, right?
So just keep doing it the same way that you did. You figured it out before, just keep doing it until you get to the point where you can pull money from your finance money without affecting your card flow.
Most of us just can’t do that. I look at my money made by and for Magic as totally separate from the rest of my money. If you are unsure if you can mix them, a good rule of thumb says you shouldn’t. I know that there are exceptions to everything, I get that. But I have met the guy who was the exception, which means that the rest of us aren’t. The rest of us have to grind out on the daily to get where we need to be.
So how do you figure it out?
For me personally, never. I can always find more buying opportunities so I never have stagnate capital in Magic. I’ve heard the number for most people is between $20-30,000 in inventory before one can make a wage for oneself. But I always think, “Okay, I could get a nicer car… or I could put the money back in and make even more.” I will always be a numbers guy, so I will always pick option B.
Most people can justify spending some money outside of Magic, but at what point are you comfortable doing that? Each person has their number, where is yours at? This will depend on a few different things, but it mostly has to do with your goals.
There is a tremendous amount of research that all says the same thing about goals: make them! Without goals, you will consistently find yourself in spots you don’t want to be. I plan on doing a whole article specifically on goals, but in the meantime just make some. If nothing else, it will make you aware of where you are and what direction you should be going. Without them, you won’t find yourself Getting L.U.C.K.Y very often. So eliminate the luck and try making some goals this week.
This week’s questions: How do you keep your “Magic budget” intact? What goals do you have as a financier? Please share in the comments!
One comment on “Getting L.U.C.K.Y: Mixing Personal and Magic Finances”
My current goals are to get enough from trades and buylisting cards for a profit to participate in the BNG pre-release main event, and to trade for at least a playset of the shocklands. Both goals are the first I’ve set for myself (for MTG finance anyway). Still need $15 for the BNG pre-release, but I’m going regardless (great trade opportunity). Great article. Keep up the good work.