12 Money-Saving Tricks You Can Learn From Hipsters

Particularly if you live in a larger city, you've probably come across a few hipsters. These arty counter-culturalists tend to sport thick glasses, skinny jeans, and thrift-store inspired fashions. And, at least in the 20-30 year age group, they appear to rule. (See also: 10 of America's Awesomest Cheap Cities)

I am not one of them. I don't use an iPhone, I own absolutely no chic, nostalgic memorabilia and, rather than wearing skinny jeans and an ironic T-shirt, I'm often found wearing running spandex and compression socks — in public. I do, however, think that my outsider status allows me to have a more objective view of hipster culture, and I've noticed that when it comes to money, hipsters have some great habits.

Here are the top 12 ways hipsters stay frugal and ignore the status quo for spending.

1. Reuse Everything

Whether it's grandpa's pants, a vintage bicycle or the unicorn T-shirt your little sister used to wear, making old things new again appears to be what being a hipster is all about. (It makes affording the requisite iPhone a whole lot easier too.) (See also: 20 New Things You Can Make With Old Denim)

2. Avoid Learning to Drive

Whether they're headed to work or out to the bar, hipsters tend to choose a bicycle. These are often vintage or vintage-style fixed-gear cruisers. They get you where you want to go on the cheap, and they look perfect with a basket — all the better for carrying your groceries.

3. Go Vegetarian (Or, Better Yet, Vegan)

There seem to be two strains of hipster: those who thrive on things like bone marrow and bacon-wrapped meatloaf, and those who abstain from meat and/or all animal products. In fact, in the restaurants where hipsters tend to hang out, you'll often find an interesting mix of bacon and coconut bacon, braised pork belly and fried tempeh. Oh and almond milk. Gallons of it. For the most part, a vegetarian diet — or at least one with less meat — can be considerably less expensive, especially if you do the cooking yourself. (See also: 10 Foods With the Most Bang For Your Buck)

4. Do the Cooking

Hipsters love talking about, eating, and cooking great food. Cooking your own food — no matter how extravagant — is always cheaper and healthier than dining out. So pass the kale. Just be sure to share a photo of your latest creation on Instagram before you take the first bite.

5. Read

Reading is a classic form of hipster entertainment. Intellectual curiosity and individualism are hallmarks of hipsterhood. Reading also gives you something to talk about at parties. Plus, books are cheap, and old books look cool.

6. Listen to Newly-Emerging, Independent Music

The hippest of hipster music is played by a band no one has heard of. And since these bands are obscure, they're often dirt cheap to see live. Another thrifty tip: Buy a vinyl copy of the band's single or album and use it as art.

7. Use Social Media

Whether they're sharing a yoga selfie on Twitter or posting quotes on Tumblr, hipsters can entertain themselves for days on end with social media. And why shouldn't they? It's free!

8. Skip the Clean Shave

For hipster of the male persuasion, looking like a lumberjack every day of the week is completely acceptable, especially if that facial fur is paired with a bow tie or horn rimmed glasses (vintage of course). If you've seen the price of a pack of razorblades lately, letting that facial hair do its thing can be a real money-saver. You'll also have the honor of being referred to as "that guy with the beard" outside of hipster circles.

9. Keep Things Casual

For the ladies, while hipster style is carefully considered, it's never well-coifed. Whether long, short or in between, hipster hair is always judiciously, adorably unkempt (and often asymmetrical). That means les (or no) time at the salon. If you're having a really bad hair day, deal with it hipster-style by sporting a beanie.

10. Watch Old Movies

Hipsters love old movies like The Big Lebowski and Ferris Bueller's Day Off along with just about anything directed by Wes Anderson or starring Bill Murray. These movies aren't just fun blasts from the past — they're usually available on Netflix, which means they cost next to nothing to watch. You do have Netflix, right?

11. Get a Hobby

Whether it's photography, poetry, playing guitar or knitting, hipsters tend to have a hobby or artistic outlet. It's very hipster to devote yourself to something and be totally into it. You don't need expensive materials or formal instructions; hipsters just follow what interests them and do it, making for an inexpensive pastime. Not sure what to try your hand at? Check out this Hipster Hobby Generator for ideas.

12. Just Be Cool (Or "Deck")

Hipsters tend to eschew mass consumerism in favor of individuality. So, at least in theory, if you like something, it's cool. That purple vintage T-shirt with a wolf on it? Cool. That bizarre orange couch you found on Craigslist? Cool. Those antlers you found in your parents' garage? Cool. Your great grandma's cardigan? Cool. As long as it floats your boat, it's cool. If you follow that logic, you can live by your own rules — and your own budget. As a hipster might say, that's a totes amazeballs way to live, whether you're a hipster or not.

Anything I've overlooked? What frugal lessons have you learned from a hipster?

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Guest's picture

So as a young person somewhat of the nerd hipster persuasion I think you've forgotten:
(1) My flatteringly unflattering thick rim contacts are way cheaper than contacts any day of the week.
(2) Mason jars. Not sure whether they actually *help* my finances, but they're magic I tell you.

Tara Struyk's picture

Thanks for the bit of wisdom from hipsterdom. Overlooking the glasses was a major oversight on my part:-)