I was recently witness to a rather wild Discord conversation discussing the topic of whether or not it was okay to spend your stimulus check on Magic cards - which, until it was brought to my attention that there was a conversation on the way to getting out of hand, was a topic that hadn't even crossed my mind. It got me thinking, and so, naturally, that's what this week's article is going to cover.
First, I want to apologize to our international audience - I know that the stimulus check topic is largely just USA-based at the moment, so a lot of this article is going to exclude you. Hopefully, some of it will still be of some interest. Second, I want to mention that I'm going to try really hard to not get "too political" here - I don't want to fight with anyone - but by its very nature, this topic is political so that will be hard to avoid. I should state that this is all just my opinion and does not reflect the opinions of my employer.
So, is it okay to spend your stimulus check on Magic: The Gathering cards? Short answer - yes.
I would never consider telling someone what to do with their money - that's not my place, and honestly, I don't think that's anyone's place. This is just investment advice from a guy who writes about trading cards on the internet. What we're looking at in this article today is whether or not you're in a place to be investing that money and what kind of Magic cards you should be picking up if you feel like you're in a good place to be doing so.
Cover The Basics First
The Pandemic has been an absolute disaster for just about everyone. The world has changed - plain and simple. People are dying, losing their jobs, and facing all kinds of economic uncertainty. For a lot of families, this stimulus check is going to be completely used for food, lodging, and crucial expenses. There is a common adage when it comes to investing (and gambling), "never risk more than you can lose", and this is something you should think about any time you're looking at investing in Magic finance, not just when something like a stimulus check happens.
Take a look at your budget, think about what happens if this disaster doesn't get better as quickly as we hope, and make sure that you and your family are as secure as possible, and then if you feel secure enough - it's time to stimulate the economy with some Magic purchases!
The Best Pick-Ups
If you're looking to spend some of that stimulus money on Magic product, I highly encourage you to start with your LGS or members of your community who run online sales through something like TCGPlayer or Twitter. I know at the start of the Pandemic I was in a super tight spot and the sales from my small TCGPlayer store went a long way to ensuring rent was paid and food made it to the table. In my opinion, spending your extra stimulus money with small business owners is one of the absolute best things you could do with it. So, for those looking to invest that money into singles - what are the best things you could be picking up?
- Reserved List Staples - this is the biggest and most obvious one. If you can find good deals on them, this is the perfect time to work on finishing your collection of duals. Prioritizing ones with blue in them has historically been a good call - so keep an eye out for Tropical Islands, Underground Seas, Volcanic Islands, and Tundras. If you're looking for great advice when it comes to reserved list action, I'd highly recommend reading over some of Sigmund's latest articles - he's my go-to resource for Old School knowledge and I always look forward to his weekly article here.
- Non-foil Eternal Bling - I write about this fairly often, but I think picking up alternate/full art versions of cards that see a good amount of play in eternal formats before paper play resumes in the United States is a smart call. Competitive Magic players will be rushing to pick up cards for their paper decks once large paper events come back and will largely be avoiding foils due to the curling issues. The new trend of awesome non-foil alternate and full art versions of these cards being printed is one of the best ways for these players to add "bling" to their decks without having to worry about being disqualified, and I think they'll see decent price increases once paper play comes back in a big way.
- Missing Pieces - speaking of paper play coming back, if you're missing any key pieces of your paper decks - now is a great time to pick those up. Plus, the feeling of completing your decks and looking forward to paper play coming back could be a nice little serotonin boost in these dark times.
Treat Yourself - You Deserve It
Look - the world has been going through some incredibly dark, incredibly stressful times. People have been stuck in quarantine or distancing for over a year now. Combine that with all of the incredible losses we have been suffering and it makes sense that your mental health has taken quite the beating lately. If you are really struggling and have the option, I'm a huge proponent of seeking out a professional to speak with about what you're going through.
I know that's not an option for everyone and either way I think it's important for us as human beings to fight for every little sliver of joy we can find in dark times like these. So if you can, I think setting aside even a little bit of the stimulus for a treat for yourself or your family is a great decision. Even if that's just a booster pack or two, a fresh pair of kicks, or a couple of affordable singles for your favorite Commander deck, setting aside a little bit of stimulus money to treat yourself is okay and you shouldn't feel guilty for it.
No matter what you do with your stimulus, I want you to know that it's okay to be feeling bad right now. The Pandemic isn't over for everyone and there's a lot of work to be done still before we (especially in the USA) can get back to normal. Many of us are feeling like we've lost a year of our lives, feeling bad is natural. Just remember that you're amazing, you're doing a good job, and if hold on it'll get better soon.