This guide is subject to >opinions but hopefully we can help avoid bleeding your wallet (completely) dry.
Impulse is my Body and restlessness is my Blood.
I have bought over a Thousand Figures,
Unknown to Self-restraint,
Nor known to Common sense.
Have withstood Pain to bear many SAL shipments
Yet, those orders will never amount to Anything.
So as I Pray -Unlimited Buyfag Works
It’s going to be expensive, no matter what you do. This is a niche market. Unless you live in Japan, you are NOT the industry’s target customer. So suck it up and carry on.
Briefly, this is what makes buyfagging (and some other types of collecting) so addictive:
- Buyfag threads
- Preorders with no immediate consequences if no upfront payment
- Long lead times
- Small quantities
- Feels good when you actually receive something
- Showing off to fellow collectors, receive praise/attention
Most things are made in small quantities and one-time runs, even if they aren’t specified as “limited”. Stock often dries up permanently once sold out and you’ll have to pay extra from scalpers or purchase things secondhand. You usually guarantee your receipt of an item by preordering. The catch is that lead time can be anywhere from 3-6+ months. This is one of the biggest traps of buyfagging since most stores don’t invoice you until items are actually in stock and ready to ship. You order something months in advance without having to pay, and get impatient or bored in the interim so you go and buy other things to keep you occupied while waiting.
The price of this hobby might seem prohibitive at first, but after you pull the trigger the first time and order something and finally receive your product, you’ll usually find it’s pretty nice. Now your inhibitions are lower and most likely you’ll think your thing looks lonely or want to complete a set, and then order more.
Make informed decisions
In order to last long (i.e. not go broke) in this hobby, you’ll need to do your research beforehand. What are you really, truly looking for? What are the manufacturers that make the best products? What are they planning on releasing and when are the preorder dates? Keep abreast of the news. Using the Finding interesting stuff section will help with this.
Avoid impulse decisions
We can’t repeat this enough times. Sit down, think about it and sleep on it before you click that order button. Always fap first to avoid sex-driven purchases. Consider unplugging the internet if you drunkenly order things that you have no recollection of. Make too many impulse decisions and you’ll end up with a lot of items you regret buying and a lot less money in the bank or summarily banned from stores. Just because there are no immediate consequences when you order, it doesn’t mean there won’t be any down the line when you’re supposed to pay and you don’t want it anymore. The only time you’ll probably have to make a snap decision is if something new pops up on Mandarake for a good price. If you’ve done your homework, you should already know how much you want the item and have a budget in mind. Otherwise, you’ll almost always have plenty of time to decide between product announcement and the preorder window.
Commit to your decisions
Be decisive. Waffling is just as bad as impulse buying. You knew what the terms were when you pressed that order button. Or at least I sure hope you did. Now stick to it, shut up and don’t complain. We’re not trying to justify past mistakes in an attempt not to regret something, we want you to own up to your choices. You’re a responsible adult, right?
If you’re buying something just because everyone else is hyping it, you’re paying for the hype that will inevitably die down later.
It’s possible to get by if you order something now that you currently can’t pay for, but it’s not a good idea and not sustainable. If you’re just starting out, the rule of thumb that you should follow is “only buy things for which you have the money!” See below for details.
You will never own everything that you want
Once you accept this fact, you can sleep much easier. Are you thinking like a buyfag now? Good. Let’s talk money.
Money makes the world go round
Buyfagging takes money. That merchandise ain’t going to buy itself, so consider the following points:
New things come out all the time, so you’re going to want to have a steady source of income. Yes, this most often comes in the form of a full-time job. Don’t try to weasel out of it by saying you’re a student; there are part-time jobs during the school year and full-time jobs in the summer that can net you a good sum of money (minimum US wage $9/hour x 40 hours/week x 10 weeks = $3600 before taxes). NEETs can get by for a while, but this isn’t sustainable in the long run. Do not be a burden to your parents. They have already done you a favor by popping you out.
Get one at your local bank if you don’t already and deposit your money into it. A checking account is preferred over savings if you’re going to be buying frequently, since most banks impose a transaction fee for free savings accounts after the first few times.
Takes money directly out of your checking account to pay for your purchases. However, not all stores accept this. Recommended over credit cards if you want to stick to spending no more than what you have. Visa and Mastercard debit cards can be used as credit cards online. Call your bank for details on other debit cards. If your card is not working or is giving an error, call your bank to lift a possible restriction that was placed on your card to prevent theft.
Allows you to buy things with money that’s not yours, provided you pay the bill later. Accepted at many more places than debit cards. Depending on your bank, you might not be able to make international purchases, or you may have to pay a foreign transaction fee (usually 3%). If you use your credit card at a Japanese store, sometimes the transaction doesn’t show up on your statement until the end of the month. A method to build credit if you can make your payments on time every time. Please remember your payment deadlines. Not recommended for people who see the credit line as how much they should blow monthly.
This is probably what you’re going to be using most of the time. Get an account. Paypal’s exchange rates are shittier than what’s listed on http://www.xe.com/ and they’ll automatically include a currency exchange fee in your transaction. You do not need a credit card to use Paypal - they allow you to link your debit card directly. Highly recommended. It takes 30 seconds to verify and payments can be instant, while payments directly from your bank account take a couple days. Some banks get suspicious if cards are used for foreign purchases, so this allows you to work around that as well.
You do not need to have money in your Paypal balance to pay. Once you link your bank account and a card (can be either debit or credit) to Paypal, and you have a zero Paypal balance, then transactions via Paypal are charged to your card instead and should clear instantly. You can set it up so that your credit or debit card is charged in the original currency instead (¥) without using Paypal’s exchange rate. Be aware that this means the exchange will be done by the card’s company (e.x. MasterCard, Visa) only when the credit card is charged (when you have to pay) and your bank may charge for foreign transactions. Instructions below. To do this, go to Profile > My preapproved payments > Set Available Funding Sources > Conversion Options and choose "Bill me in the currency listed on the seller's invoice". When doing a manual payment, enter the payment first using the correct currency, and on the second screen, under “Payment Methods” it will probably list instant transfer from your bank account, and under the conversion rate, click “Change” to charge your card instead.
Living from paycheck to paycheck is dangerous. We recommend always having at least a couple hundred dollars backup just in case your grail or something you hadn’t planned for suddenly becomes available. Or real life gets in the way (e.g. car accident, sudden illness, douchebag roommate).
Keep track of your money
Things add up very, very quickly. Keep a list of all purchases and their details somewhere. Here are some examples in Excel since it can do calculations for you: Here and here. Also keep an eye on your bank account. Step back every once in a while and consider the big picture. How much have you spent lately, and how much will you need to pay in the future? No, you cannot avoid foreign transaction fees. To avoid going broke, we recommend connecting Paypal to your debit card. Buy with credit cards rarely and only if necessary.
READ THE FAQ OF YOUR MERCHANT
What it says on the tin. Especially the sections regarding payment methods, shipping types, grouping/holding, cancellations and returns. Or else you’re going to bitch on /a/ about SAL, and everybody will make fun of you, faggot.
Self-control and moderation
Avoid impulse decisions.
Usually you have at least a few days to think if a figure is worth buying, so think about it for a couple of days before placing your order. Otherwise AmiAmi, among others, will personally hunt you down and cancel your account for cancelling orders later. (The max number of strikes “unpaid orders” with AmiAmi seems to be four, will not test again). See the chart below for an example thought process. This may not apply to everyone, so figure out what works for you.
Some people deal with the slippery slope by setting limits for themselves. For example, only one figure of any character or series, themed collections, X items in a month, or X amount of money per month, and so on.
Never feel like you must buy something. No one has ever died from lack of plastic toys. Save your money for another more deserving purchase. And don’t ask /a/ to convince you not to buy.