THE BLOG
01/25/2016 08:54 am ET Updated Jan 22, 2017

How to Be a Financial Hipster

You walk into a cozy nook. The smell of old books and hot chai fill the air.

Then you see them: hipsters.

They're so cool, with their hair and their clothes and their Macbook Air. Oh, what you'd give to be just like them.

There's only a slight problem. You're kind of a nerd. You like to crunch numbers from time to time. Spreadsheets are your gig. You might have actually calculated how much money you need to save per month to have a nice retirement.

If only you could love finances and be a hipster at the same time. Sure, many hipsters aren't as calculated as you, but that doesn't mean you can't be one too.

Imagine the possibilities. Imagine the friends you'll make. Imagine your social life blossoming into bouquet of casual conversation - whatever that means.

You can be a financial hipster. And I'm going to show you how.

1. Buy your clothes at boutique thrift stores.

How do you stay stylish while saving money? Boutique thrift stores. Who says you need to drain your wallet to be hip? Nobody worth your time!

Listen, your clothing budget is one of those things that can get out of hand in a hurry. It's one of those weird discretionary yet necessary budgeting categories. Financial hipsters never let their sense of style get in the way of their long-term goals. Keep your clothing budget tight, just like your jeans.

2. Read trendy personal finance literature.

Hipsters are educated. Required reading includes anything about the earth, local politics, and expanding your consciousness.

Hipsters may or may not go to college. But when they do, you'll probably see them reading a work of allegorical fiction between classes.

How do you maintain your hipster status while becoming financially savvy? Well, it won't be by reading some financial guru's book, that's for sure. Instead, pick up something that combines finances with some other subject - say being a soldier. ;)

I give you permission to dog ear pages. That, or use your dog tag as a bookmark. Either will suffice.

3. Eat out at low-cost food carts or trucks.

Don't waste your hard-earned barista money at those mainstream restaurant chains - unless it's In-N-Out.

Listen, you have a smartphone. Use a maps app to find all the food carts in your area. Over the next month, I want you to try out a few. Food carts are great because not only are they a hipster hot spot, their prices are pretty affordable too.

Why are they affordable? Low overhead. Fewer employees and lower utilities mean a savings for the food cart which they will probably pass on to their customers to encourage business.

Besides, there's just something so authentically hip about food carts. If you want some bonus points, you could actually start your own food cart. Pat Flynn, the founder of FoodTruckr.com, can teach you how to start your own food truck business.

4. Bank only at the local credit union.

Banks are a little different then credit unions. I tend to think of banks as typically large, national institutions. Credit unions, on the other hand, are typically small, local institutions.

Hipsters are all about going local.

How do you tell if a particular credit union is right for you? Walk in. Do you smell coffee? It's probably your place. But remember, the coffee must have been roasted within a one-mile radius. Check with the staff to ensure that's the case.

They must also have comfortable seating. Picture a local coffee shop - it should look close to one of those but instead of baristas you see tellers who know you by name.

Another reason credit unions are a prime choice of hipsters? They're generally non-profit entities. That's right, they don't feed the corporate machine. As a credit union member, you're part of a family. You're doing business with those who value keeping the profits in the family. Member-owned credit unions are democratically managed which means you have a say in how things are operated at the credit union.

Stick it to the man and join a credit union, you financial hipster you!

5. Carbonate your own seltzer water and sip the savings.

Type 2 diabetes may result from consuming too much sugar. You know what usually has sugar in it? Pop (or soda)! Instead, water should be your beverage of choice (besides the occasional artisan latte, of course).

You need to know where your water came from. Don't believe those water bottle companies who, according to a hipster in your neighborhood, actually bottle their water at the backend of a water treatment plant instead of a babbling brook on the mountainside.

Financial hipsters know better. Bottled water isn't for you. After all, it costs too much - perhaps even more than gasoline! Don't get me started on the waste.
That's not how you roll. Instead, you get your water from the tap. Hipsters believe it's likely just as good as the bottled stuff, and if you purify it, bonus points for you.

Now, do you just drink it straight? If you said "yes," I'm sorry, but you're not a hipster - yet.

You need to make your own seltzer water. There are plenty of "fizzy" machines on the market, just go to your favorite search engine and figure out which one is right for you. Add some fresh lemon to the water and drink it out of your earth-friendly thermos.

Right on, you're hydrated, are taking care of future you, and look cool doing it.

6. Craigslist.

Just Craigslist.

7. Invest in life experiences.

Around here, we talk about investing for various life goals. For example, you might want to invest for retirement or invest for your children's college education. All of that is great, and you should do so, but how might the financial hipster invest?

Financial hipsters invest in all of the above, but they also invest in life experiences.
I'm sorry, but life is not about working at your job, coming home, going to sleep, and repeating the process. If you want to be a financial hipster, you have to make time to invest in life experiences.

What are life experiences? Nature walks. Road trips with groupies. Rollercoasters. Coffee at a new coffee house. These are life experiences. The fabric of our lives isn't all about investing to make money, it's about investing in ourselves and in other people.

These life experiences should always be experienced slowly and thoughtfully. Don't just get on the rollercoaster. Stare at the rollercoaster and dream up analogies and life lessons. Take in the thrills.

Now, remember I said you need to invest in yourself and in others. The truth is, when you invest in others, you're really also investing in yourself. By helping someone out who is in need, you'll feel warm inside. Even if it's just spending some time with someone who is lonely, you're doing a great deal of good.

Listen, just because you're a hipster doesn't mean you have to be stuck up. You can be a warm, caring hipster. Hipsters are cool, and they can let others be cool, too.

As the financial hipster invests in themselves and others, they're also investing in their financial future. Without investing in their financial future, they'll eventually arrive only to realize that they blew it because they didn't pay attention to some of the foundations of finance.

Don't be that guy. Hipsters don't look good broke.

In summary, here's what I want you to do: find balance. If you pay too much attention to money, you're not a hipster, you're a financial nerd without friends. If you go out and party every other day like there's no tomorrow, you might be a hipster, but you won't be a smart one.

Are you a financial hipster? If you weren't before you started reading this article, hopefully you are now. Go forth, be trendy, and crunch some numbers!