ON the off chance you ARE unlike me and have lots of extra money, I'll forward you my fantasy draft comic want list. Just drop me a line. I connect with you, I promise....
For me, its more than simply finding a book I want. I have to find the book I want at the price I want it at. That "Thrill of the Hunt" is part of the kick for me. It HAS to be.
One of the areas of focus for my collection has been the Incredible Hulk. I have assembled a contiguous run of Tales To Astonish from 59 to 101 and then Hulk 102... until whenever they cancelled the run after Joe Casey left. A massive undertaking for me that's taken years to complete.
I already had a copy of #181 and decided to put together the run since I had the BIG Bronze age key already. If I had access to a bottomless checkbook it wouldn't have been nearly to complete or been nearly as much fun working to completing the run. I set a mental guideline of a max cap to spend per issue and stuck to it, unless it was a Key issue or very close to my limit.
I could have done it a hell of a lot faster just buying books and throwing money at it, but I would have missed out on the "Thrill of the Hunt". That part matters to me.
When at a Con or a shop (assuming you are talking to someone in charge) Dealers will generally negotiate if you have cash in hand. I keep waiting for that miracle Estate sale/yard sale where some goodies just drop into my lap. I'll let you know if it ever happens. I've even posted on craigslist as a buyer trying to encourage scorned/jealous/angry wives and girlfriends to exact revenge and sell me their husbands/BF's comics on the cheap. No takers, dang it...
I use ebay and have had some good luck in the past on their site. Picked up some real gems at a relative bargain. When using ebay, I'll watch several items. Typically I filter out the "Buy it now" items and just look for actual auctions. Some dealers / individuals will tack on an exorbitant shipping and handling fee to make up on the back end. I factor these costs in on high to go. Rarely do these books fall to me. And that's OK. After reading the item description and viewing the available pics, I establish a mental range of what I'm willing to pay for it, very rarely do I exceed it.
Then over the course of the week - I'll see how they are progressing and check if their price is over my price tolerance threshold. If an item has had a slow but steady trickle of bidders pushing the bid ever upward, I know its unlikely to fall to me. That item is likely being watched by a lot of folks and they are probing trying to figure out where the high water mark is at the current moment.
I like the auctions that look like there is no movement. Perhaps I searched on a vague description, or found it mis-categorized and the book is missing potential customers. These I watch like a hawk. Most of the times I lose because I am a low-baller. (I had a question exchange where a seller told me no to low-ball him... I replied "Why the hell shouldn't I?" I'm not in the habit of giving money away after all.)
BUT using this strategy I have secured some real gems for my collection.
If I miss on an item in an auction, or a dealer says "Yeah I had (whatever I happen to be asking about) but I sold it last week... I don't get bent out of shape... another one will be along shortly, just like a bus.
After doing this for over 30 yrs, I'm not in a rush.
Just be patient and don't fall prey to the "heat of the moment".
Buy it cheap and stay on budget. Don't cave on your principles.