On Being a Frugal Geek

cheap geeks, frugal geeks, penny pinching family,
Cheap geek confessions. (Morguefile)

There are plenty of assumptions about what geeks do. We own the most advanced technology. We see the latest movies, watch the newest series on subscription channels, play the most recently released video games. We’re into cosplay and wouldn’t miss Maker Faire. If we collect anything, it’s probably awesomely obscure and sure to gain in value.

All these interests cost money.

For a short time (very very short) I almost fit that stereotype. But stark economic realities made penny pinching essential. I assumed I could afford such geeky indulgences once I got past pricey milestones like college, marriage, and new babies. Didn’t happen. Turns out sick kids, unemployment, and falling down houses are also expensive. Instead, all these years I’ve been geeking out on frugality itself. I garden, preserve food, make homemade cheese, sew, repurpose, and concoct herbal remedies that look so vile my household prefers to stay healthy. I’ve advanced my career with little more than a not-so-new computer and a drive to research. My kids have been dragged to every free concert and science program available, and know area nature preserves like their own backyard. They’ve become Makers almost entirely out of necessity, turning scrap parts into geeky marvels. My entire family has a serious library addiction and because every one of us gets way into passions like forensics, turbocharger modifications, bagpipe playing, arachnid study, and advanced plasma welding techniques our dinner table conversations are strangely fascinating.

We’re geeks all right, just frugal geeks. Maybe you are too. Mainstream assumptions about geeks don’t define us. As you’ll notice, the GeekMom “about” page agrees,

Being a geek is a state of mind, and that state of mind leads us to intensely explore our interests and approach the world with endless curiosity. When we want to get involved in something cool, we get really involved. In other words, we get geeky about it.

I know the research shows that frugal living benefits kids. And I believe that living simply is good for the planet. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like a few standard geek perks, some day. More movies, newer gadgets, and the bucks to finally get to Maker Faire. While I’m dreaming, I’d like an invisible bike helmet too.

How does living frugally affect your geeky interests?

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Laura is the author of a poetry collection titled Tending and Free Range Learning, a handbook of natural learning. She lives on a small farm notable only for its lovestruck goose.