Welcome to the site ourown. If I knew 4 years ago what I know now would have started this way. My 4 prized boxes of junk totaling about $1400.00 is a solid reminder how I ignored basic coin collecting strategy year one. I muscled my way through year 1 and got bruised.
Cammy's would haves:
1. Thought carefully "just what lights up my frontal lobe" ie what series excites me.
2. Buy books and learned my series inside and out BEFORE I started buying.
3. More coins added up to less, should bought best coins I could afford avoiding uncertified key and semi-key dates. Someday everyone's coins will be back in the market- I basically bought $1,400.00 CD that gives -50% interest from jump. Right coins always hold or steadily move up in $.
4. Steered well wide of modern proof and uncirculated sets direct from mint, could have paid 2-3 bucks over face couple years later for same sets.
5. Was less rigid in my reluctance to pay full book or slightly over for solid TPG
graded key/semikey coins. There now seems to be a reason "some" coins go fast at full book.
6. Went to more coin shows and relied less on eye numbing futile ebay searching.
7. Took half glass empty approach at some coinshops, not all dealers were my friends and its ok to decline a coin. Every bad coin I purchased a little whisper said "hmmmm I don't know cammy" would have listened to that gut more.
8. Learned, studied, followed auctions, asked more questions.
9. Chill and remember this is my hobby not the quest or egotrip.
10. Read the black letters in my coin series books and not the white letters in the articles experts provided in commentary's section.
11. Avoided like the plague corroded key date coins.
12. Pull off horseblinders pulled out cotton from ears and listened more.
Now remember these are my lessons and their subjective. My $1400.00 pile of junk today could have easily bought an MS62RB 1909 S v.d.b. cent when I started. I'm catching on you will to. Good luck in your collecting journey.