Lifestyles of the Tragically Hip

by Katy on April 4, 2009 · 19 comments

Sex and the City

I dropped into the Belmont branch library yesterday to pick up my holds. (BBC’s Walking With Prehistoric Beasts, Sarah Vowell’s The Wordy Shipmates and an audio book of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.) Yeah, I’ve got eclectic taste. I also grabbed a stack of the current issue of Metro Parent magazine, as it contains an interview I gave about simple living families. I was showing the article to my gals at the information booth, when one of them exclaimed:

“We’re all so hip now!”

Her point was that now that gardening, library usage, buying used and being frugal is all the rage, us regular folk who have been quietly plodding along in our daily hum-drum lives are suddenly being held up as the pinnacle of hip-ness.

About time!

We may not drive Hummers, drop $400 on Sex and the City wannabe shoes or be ladies (or men) who lunch, but our turn in the spotlight has apparently come. Sure, you may not be featured in a magazine article, but I wouldn’t be surprised if neighbors and friends were not flocking to you, not asking where you bought that to-die-for handbag, but to glean frugal and simple living tips.

I am not hip, have never been hip and never will be. I wear the same three outfits over and over until they fall apart, and have a certain Star Trek obsession that bars my membership into the it-crowd.

But the current recession and environmental concerns have changed what is considered cool. 

You may not be Carrie Bradshaw, you’re still a simple living rock star.

But please . . . no photos, I just want to live my simple life!

Have you noticed an increase of interest in your frugal or simple living lifestyle? Are you hip, am I hip? Please share your experiences in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Meg from FruWiki April 4, 2009 at 11:40 am

Though I’m not quite a hermit yet, I don’t socialize in “real life” enough to know what’s hip anymore to the general public and going cable free as only better insulated me — not that I’m complaining!!!

Most of my twitter friends seem interested in going green, saving money, living simply, etc. Coincidence? O.k., maybe not. I guess one of the best things about online friends is that with so many to choose from you really can surround yourself with people with similar interests (well, at least online).

It’s nice to hear that it’s catching on elsewhere, though. Maybe it’s time for me to get out of my shell more, lol.


Fabulously Broke April 4, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Apparently frugal is the new hip.

Green is the new black.

Saving is the new spending, and people are WAY more conscious about their money now and less complacent.

I’m quite hip I guess. But not popular because I am not in debt or broke and therefore cannot commiserate or moan at the watercooler so to speak.

Fabulously Broke in the City
Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver.


Angela April 4, 2009 at 1:49 pm

I know I’m not hip because I don’t text or twitter (or tweet?). But I write for a radio show, and I’ve done several stories in the past few weeks about how “cheap is chic” and “frugality is the new black.”

I’m glad to hear it, as it’s obviously better for the planet and in my opinion a better bet towards happiness. But I have to confess that the contrarian side of me finds it slightly irritating. I think I’ve always enjoyed not being hip, ever since high school when I was “Not Part of the Popular Crowd.”

Katy- I think the article in Metro Parent came out really well.


Barb April 4, 2009 at 2:17 pm

When it comes to clothes I will forever be NOT hip. I also have a few outfits that I wear over and over. I dress neatly and simply but I have had people tell me before that I should go on the show “What Not to Wear”. I don’t have TV but I can only take that statement as not good. (and hurtful!)

On other fronts I have people asking me all the time “how I do it”. (I am a single working full time parent living below the poverty line.) For instance the lady that put my grocery store last week was looking at my all-natural laundry detergent. I told her I use a 2 Tablespoon measuring cup (the ones to measure liquid meds) and I make the bottle last at least 4 months or about 150 loads. She actually said “Cool, I am going to try that!”

You win some you lose some…



Barb April 4, 2009 at 2:20 pm

Oops, that was supposed to be “the lady that put my groceries through at the grocery store last week…”


Kristin @ klingtocash April 4, 2009 at 6:40 pm

The whole reason I started my blog back in September was because people I knew kept asking me how I lived the way we do. Every magazine I pick up has some article on living frugally or cutting costs. I find all of them disappointing because we have been doing those things for years. I guess we are cool now, huh? I just hope that it’s not a passing fad and that people stick to their frugal ways long after the recession is over.


glenn April 4, 2009 at 10:47 pm

I found this article form the NY Times last year to be interesting:

It talks about how even in NYC, hipsters are starting to embrace simplicity, and not ironically. I think it is actually pretty encouraging. Another more recent article talks about the Brooklyn culinary scene and it too expresses the same sort of return to simplicity. I actually think the whole thing is pretty encouraging:


Jinger April 5, 2009 at 6:16 am

My 20 year old and I had an interesting conversation on being “poor” this week. I was discussing how we were financially “poor”, but truly very rich indeed. I have an advanced degree and she is in college. We live in a wonderfully, progressive city with free access to so many resources. Her education is paid for with financial aid and she studied in Italy last summer on a full scholarship. We have older, yet reliable, paid for vehicles.We eat delicious meals at home, made from scratch. Our apartment looks out over a beautiful nature park.Our lives are filled with richness each and every day.

Living large on little is my mantra!


mari April 5, 2009 at 6:49 am

I guess we are the new hip, or hippie. It took me a few years of requesting to get a recycling bin for our small community. I had a lot of run-ins with the mayor and his assistant, them stating ” no one recycles, it is a waste of time and resourses” Well guess what, severial other citizens started requesting the same thing,and now we have the bins. And even better, instead of having the bin emptied once a week, so many people recycle, it has to be emptied twice and sometime three times a week.


Mandy April 5, 2009 at 7:03 am

I don’t seem to be so hip yet. My wardrobe is decent because I shop at a consignment sort of store that sells only in style used clothing ( it’s a chain). It also seems very hip to anyone to wear vintage clothing. My wardrobe is very small though.

However, my everyday life just seems to intrigue people lately. More people are realizing I choose to take the bus. In Birmingham, AL – people really overlook the bus system. It’s viewed as something you only use if you have to, not if you want to. I don’t want fancy cable – I got my digital converter box coupon and I couldn’t be happier. Going to go pick it out soon. I shop at ALDI – which so many people in my circle have never heard about. I also don’t eat many processed foods so when people come to my older/smaller super nice apartment – they get a little grumpy that all I have are fruits and vegetables for snacks.

But it doesn’t matter, because for the first time in a long time I have started telling people when they ask me how my life is, “Really great! I really love my life right now.” And I do. I love taking the bus and I love being frugal – cause it’s just a smarter way to live.


Julia April 5, 2009 at 7:26 am

I started living the frugal life in earnest 6 years ago when I quit my part time job (2-1/2 days per week) in order to stay home full time with my then-2 year old son. There were times of great difficulty with our finances, but I’ve never regretted it. The time spent with my son will always be worth more than a stylish outfit. I do deeply regret all the $$ I spent at Nordstrom 20-25 years ago when I was young and desperately trying to be fashionable! Over the years, I came to the realization that I’m a dork, I’ll never be a cute and “fancy” mom (as I call them), and that’s okay. People tend to ask me about green issues more than frugal issues but I’ll answer any such “lifestyle” questions I get. The more the merrier!


thenonconsumeradvocate April 5, 2009 at 10:37 am


The term you’re looking for is “Yummy Mummy.” The low-slung jeans/cool sunglasses/skinny latte style of mom.

Sad, but there’s actually a word for them already.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Kristen@The Frugal Girl April 5, 2009 at 12:37 pm

I do wear low-rise jeans(but not TOO low!), but I have $5 sunglasses(I have a sunglass-losing habit) and I don’t drink lattes at all. Phew. I must not be a Yummy Mummy!

I am continually amazed at how many magazines(and newspapers) are running articles on being frugal and saving money. And I’m continually amazed at the people who come to read my blog…I think it’s a good time to be blogging about saving money!


Julia April 5, 2009 at 1:48 pm

Oh my, “Yummy Mummy”. Yep, that describes 99% of the moms at my son’s former school. They always looked at me like I was from another planet. (Planet Dork?) It was like being back in high school, I was queen of the nerds then, too. These moms accessorize with a Mercedes or Lexus SUV. Sometimes the parking lot looked like a luxury car dealership. Now that Microsoft has actually done some layoffs (I swear 75% of the people there work at Microsoft), I’m wondering how many of them lost an income and are suddenly contemplating a more frugal life for the first time.


Julia April 5, 2009 at 1:53 pm

P.S. I have to add, the only reason our kid was at that school was it is academically specialized and he attended on a scholarship that was 1/4 of the regular tuition. And that amount was still a huge sacrifice for us, but at the time, we thought it was going to be good for him. I don’t want anyone thinking I put my kid at a fancy school just so I could brag about it 🙂 ’cause that would be un-frugal and oh so tragically hip (old style) of me.


thenonconsumeradvocate April 5, 2009 at 2:01 pm


My sister lives in Seattle and has her preschooler in a private school, so I know from whence you speak. She’ll put her in public school next year for kindergarten, but until then she’s the exception to the yummy mummies.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


lala2074 April 7, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Jinger, I like your mantra “living large on little”.

You are truly hip!


Rachel April 12, 2009 at 10:13 am

Since I’ve been out on my own I’ve looked for new and exciting ways to save money and live (somewhat) minimally. Being a single mom for a while taught me a lot! Since I’ve been married and have added another child to the mix, I have a lot of fun looking at clearance racks- I recently bought a $180 wool coat for $38 from Macy’s (Yes Macy’s). Goodwill’s fun. My 6 year old’s imagination has been nurtured with clearance rack Halloween costumes in various sizes. My dad works at a ‘transfer station’= the dump. People bring furniture they don’t know what to do with and, being the packrat he is, brings it home. Then he passes it off to me! Our house is furnished with old, antiquey colorful stuff. Glad I’m now hip!


Rachel April 12, 2009 at 10:16 am

I forgot to add- I work at a college library part-time as an aide. We borrow a lot of movies (who can beat a free 2-week rental period?), books and music. And, if my library doesn’t have something specific I want, we are part of an ‘interlibrary loan’ program where I can ‘order’ an item (so what if I wait a couple extra days to watch ‘Bedtime Stories’?).


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: