Social media has escalated the visibility of MTG Finance. Not a day passes by when someone touts a profitable transaction or shares some words of wisdom on how to approach the latest and greatest set. If you wanted to fill an entire day solely by consuming content about making money in Magic, there would be no shortage of content to view.
While the façade put up by the community is one of profit-driven excitement, this experience is only skin-deep. Underneath the surface, you’ll find hours of grinding, research, and shipping cards at break-even pricing simply to maintain liquidity. Have you ever really stopped to think about how much time you’re spending on this hobby?
MTG Finance: Is It Worth It?
According to my personal tracking, this marks the 400th full-length, stand-alone MTG finance article I’ve written. Nearly eight years spent researching, trading, and writing about the greatest hobby of all time. But in all this content creation, I’ve not once stepped back to ask the question: is MTG Finance really worth it? Do the financial gains justify the endless hours of work required to truly be successful?
Let’s take a step back and consider this for a moment, and try to capture all the ways we’re spending time on MTG Finance:
- Researching Prices – This is a daily activity of mine because I track card prices on MTG Stocks. I also review Card Kingdom’s hotlist daily so I can monitor the cards they are most interested in acquiring (at possibly aggressive prices). Since Card Kingdom updates their buylist more than once a day, I tend to check back a couple times. Add in occasional price checks at other sites, and this activity takes up about 30-45 minutes per week.
- Social Media Engagement – The amount of time spent on MTG Finance while engaging in social media is tricky to quantify because there is always overlap with other engagements. But between Twitter, Discord, Facebook, Instagram, etc., the total time is not insignificant. I actively engage in Discord and Twitter conversation about Magic, but even if you’re just lurking you could still be sinking minutes of time out of every day in this hobby. I estimate this takes 2 hours of my time in total per week.
- Transactions – This time commitment varies. For some QS Insiders, this may be the majority of sunk time into the hobby. I see some people posting long lists of recent sales in the Sales Reporting channel on Discord. On the other hand, I average only 1-2 sales per week along with 2-3 buylist orders. So I’ll estimate this time commitment at 60-90 minutes per week, but your mileage may vary.
- Other – In this category are activities that don’t occur weekly: watching video coverage to see what’s hot in the latest metagame, engaging in discussion on B&R changes, picking through bulk (a true time sink), and any number of other ways one can engage in this hobby. Let’s bucket this all together as another hour per week, on average.
Add it all up, and we’re at around five hours per week. While everyone’s numbers will be different, the fact of the matter is this hobby is a major time sink. And we haven’t even sat down to play a game yet! I’d encourage everyone to repeat the same exercise I did above, really getting honest with themselves, and use the result to determine whether or not it’s really worth their time.
Three Tips to Streamline Your MTG Finance Approach
It’s true my time on MTG Finance is sprinkled throughout a day, a few minutes here and a few minutes there. But the time does add up, and there are probably other things I would enjoy doing with at least a portion of that time. Perhaps we can make a concerted effort to cut down on some of the weekly activities that eat up the majority of our time spent on the hobby.
I’d wager I can still enjoy MTG Finance and turn a profit while cutting my time spent on the hobby in half. That’s going to be my challenge to anyone who feels they’re spending too much time on this hobby. And I have a couple ideas to share on how to accomplish this goal:
- Don’t get sucked into every bit of price movement. Much like in the stock market, card prices are constantly in flux, and somebody out there is making money every day. But that somebody doesn’t always have to be you. Be disciplined about the cards you speculate on, the cards you buy during a buyout, and the cards you choose to ignore. You don’t have to scavenge the internet for copies every time a card price doubles. This eats up unnecessary time and often becomes fruitless because buyouts are more thorough nowadays. This morning I noticed Storage Matrix spiked. I could spend 10 minutes checking every obscure Magic store I know to see if I can find copies at the old price. But if I do this every day, the time spent becomes very high. My time may be better spent elsewhere.
- Cut down on social media. This will be the most difficult adjustment for me, but perhaps others will not have such a hard time with it. I am constantly refreshing Twitter and Discord because I want to be in front of any price move. But even this level of vigilance has not helped me catch every buyout. In fact, I estimate that 95% of the time I refresh these two apps, I find very little of consequence. I’m going to try and deliberately set times in my day when I can catch up on social media rather than constantly engaging in discussion. If I miss one more buyout, so what? I ignore most the hype on social media anyways, since I tend to focus on older cards (with the exception of some Modern Horizons pickups).
- Reduce the “Other” category towards zero. While this varies by individual, we all probably have various time sinks in this hobby that we can dramatically reduce. Do we really need to watch coverage of every Grand Prix or every SCG Open? Half the time, Standard’s metagame is stale and the opportunities to profit are nonexistent. If bulk picking is your “thing”, do you really think it’s worth your time to dig through boxes of cards looking for nickels and dimes? Personally, I find this activity relaxing and I enjoy the hunt, but is the activity really adding up to something worthwhile? Perhaps not. Perhaps my time is better spent focusing on the big cards and I let the nickels pass through my net. They’re too small to be worth pursuing most of the time.
Twitter debates are always toxic, so avoid engagement in any discussion around leaks, B&R speculation, new formats that are the flavor of the month, and most critically, the Reserved List. Don’t ever engage in Reserved List debate—no one escapes such discussions a “winner”. Everyone loses every time. Period.
Wrapping It Up
Magic is a wonderful hobby with numerous ways to engage. For many reading this article, the primary way of engagement is MTG Finance. But if you’re like me, you’re spending way too much time on this hobby with little to show for it.
Moving forward, I’m going to make a deliberate effort to spend less time on MTG Finance. There are multiple ways this can be done, and I summarized a few key tips in this article. Hopefully, people can reapply this approach to come up with their own strategy.
I’m already excited to think about what I will do when I cut this time sink down. Perhaps that’s another way of getting motivated to reduce my MTG Finance time—I’ll think about the additional time I’ll have to read a book, play with my children, or catch up on a movie. If I consciously realize that this precious time I’m doing a different hobby is a result of less MTG Finance time, I’ll realize the benefits.
While I certainly don’t want to eschew MTG Finance completely, I think such a reduction is something we can all benefit from. After all, who really wants to spend more time on social media? No thank you!
- Mox Diamond is certainly a hot card right now. I’ve obtained two from ABU Games using store credit, and both sold on eBay within 24-48 hours of listing. Card Kingdom’s buylist is getting quite aggressive: $190 for Stronghold copies and $205 for the FtV foils. Keep an eye on this one, especially if you’re in the market for some copies yourself.
- As usual, there are a bunch of Masterpiece cards on CK’s hotlist. It seems they’re always trying to restock these cards. This week, some key cards on their list include Mox Opal ($180), Force of Will ($170), Misty Rainforest ($175), and Chalice of the Void ($140). It feels like these cards are permanently pinned to Card Kingdom’s hotlist.
- One card that seems to have climbed up on Card Kingdom’s hot list lately is Antiquities Hurkyl's Recall. They currently offer a $50 buy price for the blue instant. This may seem impressive, but ABU Games is even more eager to acquire copies. They offer $53.82 cash for near mint copies, or $123.05 in credit!