I've written about this topic before. Buying a one or two year old used car can save you a load of money because someone else takes the huge depreciation hit when they drive the car off the lot.
The same thing applies to cards. Sure, busting boxes and I would imagine cases, is fun, but unless you get REALLY, REALLY lucky and hit some expensive card, you are NOT going to get your money back. Even if you're just looking to pull some hits of your favorite player/team, the odds are you won't.
Not long ago I "won" an auction on Ebay for the Rangers slot in a Topps Tribute 3 box break. I'll admit it was an impulse purchase based on the fact that I'd just watched a case break where a Jurickson Profar booklet #1/1 was pulled. Since the Rangers had the second most hits in the entire product, I thought I'd hit at least one good Ranger card. Well, my $29 investment did land me one card. Only one card.
This 2013 Triple Threads Yu Darvish. That's right, a $29 base card. I'm no collecting rookie. I know the pros and cons of buying into breaks. That doesn't take away the sting of pulling one base card for that type of money. For that same money I could have picked up 3 or 4 different Darvish Triple Threads relic cards on the secondary market.
For much, much less, I picked up these four Triple Threads relics.
2012 Triple Threads Adrian Beltre jersey #17/27. Total cost: $2.49.
2013 Triple Threads Mike Olt #5/36. Total cost: $2.00.
2013 Triple Threads Adrian Beltre #18/36. Total cost: $2.24.
2013 Triple Threads Derek Holland #8/18. Total cost: $2.75.
Add it all up and these 4 cards cost $9.48. All four of them came as part of combined shipping packages so figure another $1 or so for shipping and I'd say that's a far better deal than the Darvish.
In hindsight, there is no way I could have hoped to get 4 Rangers hits in a three box break so it just makes sense to spend the money buying the cards after someone else takes the hit and dumps the cards they don't want.
That doesn't mean I won't be entering other breaks. I am already in My Cardboard Habit's 2014 Gypsy Queen break and the View from the Skybox charity break. Now if someone would stop beating me to Crackin Wax's Rangers.