There is a big difference in price between loose cartridge games and boxed or complete in box(CIB) games and sometimes it is better to keep it loose, especially when you start out collecting.
I have bought quite a few boxed games during my collecting journey and I am quite happy to have them, there is something special about having a boxed or CIB copy of game, but when you start out I think it is better to collect loose cartridges instead. A new collector will more than likely want to try out many different games in quick succession, I know I did, and I think it’s better to keep your money for a variety of games rather spending that bit more to get a boxed game. For example, you could go to a local retro store and get a copy of Super Mario 64 for around €25 or you could get a boxed version for roughly €40. The extra €15 you are spending on the box could get you another unboxed game and now you have just gotten 2 games for the price of one. This just means that you get to experience more games at a reasonable price and you can worry about boxes at a later date. Boxes are readily available on line and can be purchased at a later date if you decide you would like to start collecting them too.
Another reason for sticking to loose games is that your collecting goals might shift and change quite a bit in the early days. When I started collecting I really liked the look of Super Nintendo games, then I thought Nintendo 64 boxes were better and then moving on to boxed Game Boy games and so on. Now don’t get me wrong, I love boxed games from almost all systems but some of the boxed games I had bought in the early days just didn’t appeal to after a while and I traded them in or sold them off. I still have a lot of boxed games from various systems and like I said, I am very happy to have them. After a few years of collecting, however, I now feel that I have a better guide on what I want to collect and thinking back on it, I wish I had spent less money on boxed games and more money on loose.
So when you are at the start of your collecting journey, try to stick with loose or unboxed games, after a while you will have a better grasp on what you want to collect and then you can take it from there.
Thanks for reading and good luck on your journey down the retro road,