When I was a kid, I could spend every dollar I earned on coins if I chose to do so.
I have never known such freedom since.
Life tends to push more and more responsibilities on you.
Choices suddenly must be weighed carefully.
What else must be paid for?
How might a coin purchase affect others?
This is why it is so important for adult coin collectors to consider a hobby budget.
Figure out ahead of time what is a reasonable amount of money to spend in the upcoming year.
I know many people can find playing with financial numbers to be intimidating.
It might seem to them like my college calculus course was to me.
I could do it, but I had to work at it. I used every possible excuse I could to avoid it.
Not surprisingly, it was my worst course result in college.
Many people consider budgets to be the same kind of thing.
I was at a meeting yesterday where a person was so intimidated by figures that he ended up with a budget mess.
Numbers that were to be split and paid for in two shares, one picking up two-thirds and the other one-third, somehow did not add up.
It seemed like a revelation when it was pointed out that the two-thirds share should be precisely double the one-third share. It wasn't.
I hope your personal budget does not induce in you such a state of nerves.
After all, money spent for you and your family is all positive – that is, for darn good reasons.
Use the budget to set aside a sum for use on your coin purchases and to pay for travel to local or more distant coin shows.
Then stick to your numbers.
I understand you cannot know what you might find.
If you happen to overspend your budget one year because you found a deal you couldn’t pass up, cut back the following year.
If you underspend your budget, add the difference to your next year’s total.
A hobby budget is not putting handcuffs on yourself.
In fact, it is quite the opposite.
It is liberating.
You can then spend the sum without guilt. It is a sum you arrived at, I expect in consultation with your spouse.
Once you have figured it out, you know the dollars you end up spending are not taking food out of someone’s mouth, or making them shiver in the wintertime.
I know budgets aren’t glamorous.
They are not entertainment.
But they are important.
That is why I make this pitch at least once a year.
If you have not done so, draw up a hobby budget for 2018.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
• Like this blog? Read more by subscribing to Numismatic News.