The Cost of Being a Nerd
Being a nerd means many things but mostly in terms of the nerds on this blog it means the consumption of pop culture and the enthusiasm behind it. Bayana is a nerd who consumes books and binge watches TV shows in the amount of time it usually takes us normals to finish a chapter. I consume too not with the speed in which Bayana does though I contribute most of that to being a post-college adult with much less free time and no longer having the benefits of spring breaks or summer vacations.
Recently I started a new job and moved into my own place, which also raised my living expenses. My new neighborhood is very dangerous for a nerd, numerous used bookstores and record stores are within walking distance of my apartment and I’m finding it difficult to maintain the restraint needed as an adult.
I decided to walk around a familiarize myself with my neighborhood, during this walk I stumbled across an amazing store - VAMP - for you Bay Area locals check it out, it’s small but the owners are great! I walked in with the intention of just looking around and walked out with a stack of records totaling over $90. Now I don’t know about you but this is way too much money for me to just drop on a lark. It got me thinking about what the cost of a nerd actually is.
The bulk of my nerd tendencies center around media, which makes sense seeing as I decided to become a media and film studies major in college. Books, movies, television and music are the things I enjoy most and will eagerly spend money on. I also live far away from most of my friends and family, so even though I get discounted airlines tickets (thanks, dad!) a lot of my money is spent traveling as well. I decided to take a look at my spending habits to see how I could do better and what things I could cut out. Sadly, I noticed that a lot of things centered around my obsessions and while a non-nerd would just say “don’t do that” other nerds know the struggle of missing out on something or having to wait, even though you can’t afford said thing or really should not spend your money.
I have sacrificed food for concerts, outings for midnight showings, begging my parents so I made sure I got that new iPhone on the day of its release. The cost of being a nerd is more than just having a crappy time in high school or feeling misunderstood by a lot of your peers, being a nerd is also felt in your pocket book. Below I’ve included some of the biggest chunks of cash I’ve blown (invested) in my pursuit of becoming the best nerd I could possibly be. I don’t want to discourage any new nerds from embracing their full selves, I just hope this prepares you for days of ramen and nights sitting inside checking your bank account and praying for the best.
Television: With my Netflix subscription and cable subscription (which is a total rip off) I’m probably spending $50 a month to keep up with all my favorite shows. Though the cable subscription is new it allows me to watch live sports, which saves money going to sports bars, and I no longer pay $8/month to the dreaded Hulu Plus, which charged almost as much as Netflix while still having commercials and making you wait 24 hours for your shows. And though sadly Almost Human has been canceled, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Forever are returning which will be a great return on my TV investment.
Bonus: The Syfy channel is on basic cable so I will get to see gems like Haven, Warehouse 13 and The Wil Wheaton project as well as being able to see instant cinematic classics like Sharknado.
Internet: Every nerd knows that internet access is essential to nerddom; from following great blogs like this to keeping up with Tumblr and Twitter, the $30 a month I spend for internet access and the additional $100 I spent on a WiFi router for my tiny apartment is a sound investment indeed.
Note: While I believe internet access is essential and don’t mind paying the $30 I am not satisfied with the basic monopoly cable providers have over internet access and urge you to remain informed on the ongoing fight against large corporations and for Net Neutrality, let’s keep the internet open for everyone. With corporations gaining more and more power, this is something that EVERYONE needs to pay attention to, the Supreme Court has already shown by it’s recent rulings that they believe corporations rights to profit supercedes individuals rights to access quality healthcare, do we really believe their stance is much different on our rights to information?
Books: This is something I constantly struggle with, I am an enthusiastic member of the library, but I still find myself drawn to bookstores. There is something about the satisfaction I get buying books and seeing my personal library grow and grow that I am just addicted to. I’m going to guestimate that I spend around $60 a month on average buying books. This will fluctuate month to month sometimes I’ll go absolutely crazy (this month) and spend $130 on books, sometimes I’ll be a faithful library member or just a very bad reader and spend $0.
Note: Everyone should be a member of their local library besides access to books they usually have a great selection of films, tv series and music. Libraries are cool!
Movies: Luckily I’m pretty smart on this front, there are always free screenings in cities around the country and I take full advantage of going to early screenings of movies, especially movies that I think will be terrible but want to see anyway. Pompeii anyone? Heyyy, Kit, you’re movie is horrible, your chest divine. I would say I do a decent job of spending around $20 a month on movies.
Pro Tip: Figure out how to get in on the free screenings game, GoFobo is the best place to keep up with free screenings but local radios will also announce and sponsor screenings. @screenings is a great twitter account that will let you know as soon as a free screening has been announced.
Music: This is a complicated issue for me, I’m spending less and less on music since I became a premium Spotify member. For $10 a month, I have access to unlimited amounts of music and I get to listen to full albums without advertisements. However I have a very strong concert addiction, Coachella being ~$300 which now that I’ve upgraded to VIP has jumped to ~$800/year. Plus I’m good for at least one show a month so I would average my music spending to around $200/month. I try to keep my price down but easier said than done.
My Advice: Find a concert buddy who you go to concerts with, they should have the same taste in music as you, you save in parking and if you’re lucky you can hopefully get talked out of attending some concerts and save your bank account a lot of strain.
Comics and Conventions: I’m relatively new to collecting and reading comics so I’m also relatively new to the cost that comes with such things. I have been picking up physical copies of my pull list at a local comic book store however, I will be switching to digital comics as my hoarder tendencies will not let me throw comics out and I do not have room for this continued habit. One cost I have been used to is comic conventions, I was lucky to grow up in a city with the world’s largest and most famous convention San Diego Comic-Con, while tickets are more difficult to get every year, if you’re lucky you can count on dropping about $200 for the weekend pass but that’s nothing once you total up all the money spent over the weekend. Toys, games, heavily discounted comics, one year I spent about $200 on the first day alone! So if I’m lucky enough to get a pass to Comic-con like I was this year (yay!!!!) I expect to spend anywhere from $500 - $1,000 on the entire experience.
Tip: Just accept that you will spend a lot of money at conventions, it’s apart of the experience. Allow yourself guilt free consumption but if you are strapped for cash be on the lookout there is ALWAYS free swag and you can have plenty of fun on a budget. Pack a lunch, bring a water bottle and allow yourself one purchase that you’ve budgeted for, so you can reward yourself for a job well done at the end of the con if you managed to stay under budget.
Conclusion: Being a nerd can be costly, but being an American is a costly endeavor. There are always work arounds and ways to save money and cut corners that you will discover in your fandom. Reach out to friends, take advantage of used bookstores and the library can be your best friend.
Good luck Blerds. Save that money for your plots for world domination or even better for a kick ass survival kit you’ll need during the robot takeover