How To Live The Hipster Dream When You’ve Got No Money

You can have your sourdough pizza and eat it...

It’s Hard Out Here For A Hipster

by G.A King |
Published on

These could be considered to be tough times for young creatives starting at the bottom with a taste for the finer things in life. Who can I blame for my taste in Chemex coffee over Nescafe Gold? In a post financial crash world where young upstarts like me are saddled with student loans and rents which creep up, up and up it’s tempting to sack it all off and go back to living with Mum and Dad.

We don’t have anything quite like the American Dream in this country, but for many of us London is where it’s at. It’s where we want to be. But living in London (aka our country’s economic death star) is really expensive. Fact. Nobody wants to read another piece on how extortionate it is, or hear about how our generation will never get on the property ladder, or be economically mobile in any sort of way. It’s sad for sure. If you’d been born 15 years earlier it might be a completely different story, but you weren’t, so let’s not dwell. Here’s how I make it work (sort of):

I’m a 23 year-old living in Peckham, trying a pursue a career in a creative industry while also trying to have lots of fun a keep up with my trendy peers.

During the week I have a junior position in a casting office in Soho. At the weekend I work in the basement of former warehouse turned dance music venue pouring pints or serving Tacos. All in, I earn around 15 grand a year. This means every decision to eat out, buy a drink, go to a rave or buy new clothes needs to be seriously thought through but it doesn’t mean I don’t do all of the above.


I go out with my friends pretty much every weekend and don’t always resist the urge to buy new trainers, even when they cost the equivalent to three weeks groceries. Adidas Gazelles, which were once known for being an affordable trainer, have just been re-launched and priced at £70 a pair! It’s headlines like this that make you think about giving it all up and throwing in the towel. However, I reckon when you put your mind to it, you can have your sourdough base pizza and eat it! Granted, you might not leave a tip and you may have to share a dessert, but it can be done. Follow my tips and you’ll see that you don’t have to give up on your dreams just because the generation above screwed it all up.

**Forget About Kirsty & Phil. They Knew Nothing. **

It’s not so much ‘Location Location Location’ now as ‘Sacrifice Sacrifice Sacrifice’. This is something every wavey young one becomes accustomed to when looking for somewhere to lay their weary head. I live in a two bed flat in Queens Road Peckham. I live with my Brother and my mate Lilly. When we went flat hunting, we quickly realised that such grand ideas as being able to have a room each was simply unrealistic.

The idea of sharing a room was depressing, not to mention impractical. So, we pretended that my bro and Lilly were BF and GF. We came up with some pretty elaborate stories when the estate agent asked how they met and how long they had been going out. Standing in a kitchen with Ben the estate agent asking me how I felt when my little brother starting getting with my mate is something that will stay with me for a while. Do we feel bad? No, never feel bad. We’re paying off someone’s mortgage while they live it up in in Malta.

Eventually we found our dream pad. My bedroom doubles up as the lounge, Lilly’s is smaller than a Primark fitting room, and my brother’s has a questionable smell that just won’t budge which was there when we moved in.

Don’t get me wrong we really do love our magnolia palace and we save a decent amount of cash each month from living there. But when you’re lying in bed in the middle of May and you can see your own breath because the flat just never ever ever gets warm, you do start to wonder at the meaning of it all.

Getting Around

You’re not going to like this. My top tip is delete Uber, be at one with the bus. Buses are amazing! You can travel across the city for £1.50! Sure, it takes time but you see all the sites and you’ll be way more zen than on the tube. There is also cycling. I can’t speak for myself as I haven’t ridden a bike since I was 11 and broke both my arms. However, lots of my friends are heroes on 2 wheels. Plus, bikes are cool. So fuck the oyster card, invest in some lights and a helmet and be your own oyster.

Food is fuel

During the week at work I live a pretty simple life, I may occasionally treat myself to a £2.85 Americano from MILK, but this artisan indulgence must get offset by something … that would be Shredded Wheat for breakfast and a packed lunch. Never underestimate the power of the packed lunch. When the clock strikes one and everyone in the office tottles off for their Itsu or a Pret, you casually pop your left over stir-fry in the microwave. It can seem a bit depressing eating that batch-cooked soup for days on end, but remember this: you’re saving £30 a week. That’s easily the equivalent of a leotard in American Apparel. Imagine that, a new leotard every week …

Get To Know Lidl Guys

Find your nearest Lidl and get there stat. It’s cheaper than in your wildest dreams and it has everything you’d ever want: from capers to sweet potatoes, from Prosecco to kurly kale, and don't forget the middle aisle where you can pick up literally anything from hikinh boots to an egg boiler. Here’s a true insider tip: they have new offers every week, these drop on a Wednesday and you can pick up a leaflet in store and plan ahead.


Forget the high street and banish those ASOS emails to your junk mailbox. From now on, if it hasn’t come from a smoke free home and only been worn once I’m not interested. Head to the app store and download Depop now! Consider Depop your fairy godmother: you will go to Corsica Studios and you shall wear used (with loads of wear left) Tommy Hilfiger mom jeans!

Buying and selling clothes online is the way forward. My rule is, if I want to buy something new you have to sell something old. This not only helps out financially but also saves that bulging Argos clothing rail from a sorry fate.

Be wary when selling clothes online, you will meet some time wasters. Kim_1994 from Wolverhapton for instance had 110 questions about my used Air max 1s: ‘What terrain have you walked on in them? What was the original stitching like? Do you think I could wear them with a skirt’. Look Kim, it’s £20 including postage and packaging, can we just leave it at that!

Also, avoid paying people directly via bank transfer. I learned the hard way with this one. I naively waved goodbye to my £14.99 only to learn my dungadress would never show up. When you do this you give up all your consumer rights, so keep it legit.

**Scrap the gym membership **

London is tiring, so it important to stay fit and healthy. I can’t afford to sign up to a swish gym or have a lifetime membership at a Bikram Yoga studio. I tend to just run around Peckham Rye a few times a week in some hand me down trainers and faux Nike leggings I brought off Ebay. It looks nothing like Khloe Kardashian’s Snapchat but it’s all you need. Do some press ups if you can, your body is a weight and the world is your gym.

**Getting Ready On A Budget **

Friday will, eventually, roll around. It’s time to go out and let your hair down. Testers are your friends. My top tip is to hit up a department store after work on Friday night and douse your self in Comme De Garcon ‘Monocle’, enough to stay with you the whole evening. Be liberal with your application.

Then, over to the makeup counter to test all the products until you’ve pretty much had a free makeover. My mantra is ‘one day I will purchase my very own Touché éclat. But not right now’.

**Keep Those Purse Strings Pulled Tight **

Spending while you’re out and about can be a challenge. I know how attractive that overdraft starts looking once you’ve had a few glasses of vino at home. It’s very important to resist. Save that little nest egg for the stealth water bill that’s bound to come in the post when you least expect it.

**Bring Your Own Everything **

**Blood Is Thicker Than Water **

My friends and I have adopted a bring your own scheme. This means you have a couple of pre-mixed cans in your handbag at all times. Sure, you buy your first drink at the bar; little do they know that one drink has a serious life span. You’ll get over feeling like a tight ass when you realize how much your saving, and hey, it’s like nothing has changed from when you were 15 and used to sit in a car park and drink Strongbow.

Don’t be a dick

A word to the wise. It’s shit being an aspirational middle class millennial in the current climate, I know. However, it’s important to remember that being savvy is not the same as being stingy. If it’s your round at the pub, it’s your round! You’ve got to buy everyone a drink with the same ease you just sank those last four pints handed to you. Don’t tell us you’ve got no money. Where there is a will there is a way!

Finally, I’d like you to remember this. Yeah it’s harder to be a hipster than ever, your beer is expensive and your rent is extortionate. But, to put things in context if you are earning 15 grand a year that actually puts you in the richest 7.6% of the world’s population. Your income is 14 times above the global average. Stick that in your rolly and smoke it.

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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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