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10 Tips for Assembling a Coin Collection for Less than $200 Per Month

by James Bucki

Published on August 13, 2021

Assembling a comprehensive coin collection requires a plan.
Assembling a comprehensive coin collection requires a plan.


Assembling a comprehensive coin collection requires a plan and a budget.


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Assembling a coin collection on $200 per month is a very doable task for a collector of modest means. In fact, the following strategies apply if you have $200 per month, $2,000 per month, or $20,000 per month. However, from beginner to expert, successfully assembling a comprehensive coin collection requires a plan.

A significant part of that plan is budgeting. Every experienced coin collector knows that reaching the goal of completing your collection brings extreme satisfaction and a feeling of accomplishment. In addition, you can take pride in sharing your completed collection with family, friends, and fellow coin collectors.

1. A Budget to Experiment

You are always a beginner! There is always a new area to explore, no matter how long you've been on your coin collecting journey. If you're just starting out as a coin collector, everything is new. Allow yourself to experiment. If you're thinking about assembling a collection of Buffalo Nickels or twenty dollars Liberty Head gold coins, you should purchase a few and learn about them.

"Buy the book before the coin" is a phrase many collectors hear at coin shows and club meetings. I say, "Buy a few coins before you buy the book." There's nothing like handling a coin and experiencing its beauty and mystique firsthand. Talk to fellow collectors and dealers about the particular coin series you are thinking about collecting. If a few coins don't interest you out of the box, you'll get bored quickly.

2. You Need a Mentor

Every coin collecting journey needs a guide to help you reach your coin collecting goals. If you're a beginner, find a coin dealer that you can trust and is willing to spend time with you to educate you on the coins you are thinking about collecting. Additionally, a fellow collector that you know through a local coin club that has already assembled the set you are thinking about collecting could be your mentor. It is always better to learn from somebody else's pitfalls and mistakes.

3. Avoid "But Coins"

Every collector wants a good deal when they are purchasing coins. As you are evaluating a coin for a possible purchase, you may notice a small scratch. But, it's a good deal. Or maybe the luster is not correct. But it seems a good deal. There might be a small blemish or imperfection. But it looks like a good deal.

If there are too many "buts" in your evaluation of the coin, walk away from it. Too many people land a "great deal," only to get home and realized they purchased a "but coin."

4. Develop A Plan

Now that you've decided on a series or type of collection to assemble, you need a plan. The first step is to evaluate the total cost of building your coin collection. Next, make a list of all the coins you need to purchase. Finally, decide if you would like to buy the highest graded coin you can afford or assembling a uniformly graded collection.

Use a price guide such as The Redbook or the CPG Coin and Currency Market Review. Write down the estimated price of each coin that will comprise your collection. Then, total it up and divided it by your monthly budget amount. This will result in the number of months it will take for you to assemble your collection. For example, if the total cost of your collection is going to be approximately $5,500, it will take about twenty-eight months to complete your collection on $200 per month.

5. Execute The Plan

Now that you have your plan, it is time to execute. Another piece of advice you may hear is to "Buy key date coins first." Here is another area where I will propose an alternate strategy. Buy some midrange coins on your list. Scrutinize them. Learn how to recognize a cleaned coin. Keep track of the coins you purchase by recording the date, cost, and dealer you purchased it from. This record-keeping will be important if you decide to sell your collection at some time.

6. Quality. Quality. Quality.

There's an old adage in the real estate world that three things determine the price of a house: location, location, location. Likewise, in the world of coins, three things determine the price of a coin: quality, quality, quality. As you progress in your coin collecting journey, learn to realize what a quality coin looks like for the series you are collecting. Then, purchase the highest quality coin that fits within your budget.

7. This Coin Costs More Than I Budgeted!

You may come across a coin that is high quality and catches your eye. However, it cost more than you have budgeted. If you have found a coin dealer that will work with you, you can set up a payment plan and forgo purchasing a coin for a month or two to acquire the coin you really want for your collection.

8. Purpose Driven Purchases

Evaluate each purchase as to how it fits into your coin collecting plan. Is it within the budget you have established? Will it enhance your collection? Are you sacrificing quality for quantity? If you purchase coins made of precious metal, for example, gold or silver, the coin's price may be driven by the spot bullion price. In volatile precious metals markets, stick to your plan and purchased only coins that you can afford.

9. Flexibility

The coin market will change over time. Prices of coins go up as well as they go down. Therefore, remain flexible as you are executing your plan. For example, if the market is going down and there is an opportunity to purchase coins on your list at significant savings, it may be worth your while to alter your plan. Conversely, if the market increases in price, you may want to wait a month or two before purchasing a coin for your collection. Flexibility is the key to assembling a top-notch collection.

10. It's Not a Race

Patience is key to assembling a coin collection that will be satisfying to own and appreciate. It is not unusual for a high-quality coin collection to take years to complete. Waiting for the right coin at the right price ensures that your coin-collection plan is successfully executed. If you've come to a standstill in purchasing coins for your planned collection, you may want to consider assembling a second or third collection at the same time while sticking to your monthly budget. This will allow you to switch between collections and keep your interest in your coin collecting journey.



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Comments (2)

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    Burns R Searfoss Reply

    Great advice for the first-time collector. Most of the advice would be relative for buying coins years ago, but now with the superb grading services out there, why take a chance? The helpful people at Greysheet published the 3-part series "CAC Coins For Less Than $150 Each" by Greg Reynolds that helps explain why a nice collection of CAC coins is affordable and a joy to collect. There are way too many "problem" coins out there especially on eBay. Most truly nice coins are getting graded. ANACS does an excellent job expertising and grading coins. I have had many of my coins certified by PCGS and NGC with having to send many coins back to be regraded because they were significantly over or under graded. However, for PCGS and NGC graded coins, CAC thankfully comes to the rescue. I really like Mr. Reynolds articles about how many nice coins you can get at very reasonable prices. If the coin is pricey because it is scarce or a high grade, you can save up your $200 monthly budgets and get that beautiful coin with a CAC sticker.

    Friday, August 20, 2021 5:21 PM EST

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    Jim Wheeler Reply

    name: Jim Wheeler, ANA Member email: Wic2000@gmail.com Message: The Greysheet is a great common denominator, available to all collectors…. Be it for fun or profit. It directs focus and confirms individual judgment regardless of the collectors level of expertise. I look forward to receiving it any time . The James Buck article “10 Tips ……… Under $200 per Coin” is a must read “Plan of Action” Thanks for sharing….. Hope to see it again in the monthly “Numismatist “ magazine. JW

    Wednesday, August 18, 2021 10:31 AM EST

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