Should You Collect Your Way to Retirement?

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I’ve written before about how Mrs. Frugal Rules and I enjoy the show American Pickers on the History Channel. If you’ve not seen it before, it involves two “pickers,” Mike and Frank, who traverse the country going into peoples homes and buying items they have collected. Whether it be some toy from the 1950’s or a motorcycle from the turn of the century, they turn around and try to sell said items in one of their two retail stores at a profit.

Part of what we enjoy about the show is that they weave history into many of the items as well as feature some, interesting characters. What I have always found remarkable is the number of people who say that the items they collect are their retirement savings. I kid you not. The issue of possible hoarding aside, it definitely presents an interesting alternative to more mainstream ways of saving for retirement like investing in the stock market or real estate. That’s not to say it’s wrong or bad, per se, just different. That said, I think it presents an interesting question as to whether or not collecting items can be a justifiable way of building a retirement portfolio.


If you’d like to read more about collecting and if it’s a justifiable way of saving for retirement, please check out my latest article at Daily Finance



Photo courtesy of: Bill & Vicky T

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John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.

Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.

Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.


  • I could see this being a hobby for someone and a nice side hustle to earn a little extra income, but not as the only way to save for retirement. I do think it makes for a great TV show though, for like you said, the history.

    • John says:

      Completely agreed Tonya. Doing it for fun or as a way to make a little extra money on the side is one thing. Doing it for retirement is something else altogether.

  • It’s definitely an interesting concept, but for me, more mainstream options are the way to go. The problem with collecting is that you’re betting the value of what you own will increase. Although antiques are call, the value of most products simply does not go up. That’s because with so many of them around, there are bound to be a bunch that last. So, without being sure you’ll be able to bank on your collection in the future, it seems like a pretty impractical option to me…but I do love the American Pickers show! I haven’t seen it in over a year though.

    • John says:

      I totally agree Josh. I’m much more inclined to stick with being in the stock market and possibly real estate. That’s also not to mention the fact that if you don’t get rid of all your stuff, then you’re just leaving it up to your heirs to get rid of all your crap when you do die.

  • I definitely am with you on this one. At the very least, collect as a “bonus” retirement fund. That way you don’t rely on it, but it just might end up being worth a vacation condo or something “extra” for retirement. Interesting concept!

    Oh, and I really enjoy that show. It’s amazing how much passion those guys have for picking.

  • Will says:

    I just could never consider investing in material objects to be a more worthwhile investment strategy than investing in the stock market.

    As much as I want to, I understand investing in cars is silly. Some people tell me how their car has increased $20k in the last half century and I just face palm myself basically..

    American Pickers is pretty great though!!

    • John says:

      Completely agreed Will. If I did collect anything it would simply be out of hobby and if it had value then so be it.

      Yea, I’m with you on that one. The opportunity for something like that is so ridiculously small to get it that it just doesn’t make sense.

  • This is super appealing to me as a retirement side hustle. I would be nervous about accumulating too many things, though. There’s a thin line between collecting and hoarding 🙂

    • John says:

      Totally agree Addison, there is a fine line. I think if done for a hobby or way to make a little extra money that’s one thing, but it can be easy to go overboard in my opinion.

  • Leah says:

    My definition of investing is buying assets that earn income.
    Unless you turn your collecting into a business, it just doesn’t qualify.
    If your kids end up with a bonus by selling your stuff after you die, good for them but not much financial benefit for you!
    The data is pretty clear on this too – it’s experiences not stuff that bring the most happiness.

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