Having the stability of cash to fall back on in an emergency makes "rejecting middle-class principles" a lot less hazardous! Given that the majority of individuals originate from middle-class homes, it is not surprising that the majority of hippies come from middle-class families.
Hippies are often criticized for their lack of ambition and their belief that life should be made easy for them. However, they did reach for something better than what they had - or thought they had - and created a new way of living that was attractive to many others. They could have stayed where they were and been satisfied with their lives, but they didn't.
Rich parents tend to value education and career advancement. If their children show no interest in these things, they feel that they should be allowed to lead free and easy lives without having to worry about getting into trouble or making money. But this type of lifestyle requires one to have enough resources available at any given time so that one isn't forced to work for one's food or shelter.
The hippies were a largely white, middle-class group of young people who had the unquestionable luxury of being able to "drop out." The term "hippie" was originally used by American soldiers during the Vietnam War to describe the young men and women who would wear long hair and tie-dye clothes in protest against that war. Before there were words for it, there were hippies.
Hippies are most associated with California's Golden State Park but had actually been appearing on college campuses since the mid-1960s. By the late 1960s, they were everywhere: colleges, high schools, even K-12 schools. Hippies were more common than not among students who could afford to drop out of school for a time while searching for something meaningful to do with their lives.
Even though they were a largely middle-class group, there were some notable exceptions. Some black Americans became hippies during this time, but they were usually part of a racial minority within the movement. Also, some wealthy kids from privileged families participated in what we call the "droppings," or casual dress codes in which people would wear old clothes to show support for the counterculture.
The rejection of the social, political, and economic traditions that ruled American life: materialism, capitalism, consumerism, and social classes, is the most salient feature of hippies. They sought to create a new society in which these values would not exist.
Hippies were also known for their love affair with drugs. Marijuana was the favorite drug of choice during this time period, but other drugs were used as well. In addition, many hippies were interested in alternative health practices such as meditation and yoga.
Finally, hippies were often referred to as "flower children" because of their interest in all things psychedelic. Psychedelics are substances that cause hallucinations; some examples include LSD, psilocybin, and DMT.
In conclusion, the hippie movement was a reaction against traditional society that involved music, art, fashion, anti-war sentiments, marijuana use, and psychedelics.
Hippies felt alienated from middle-class society, which they perceived to be controlled by materialism and repression, and so formed their own separate way of life. Many hippies lived in communal groups known as "tribes", where they would make and sell crafts or engage in other forms of self-employment.
Hippies were also isolated because many cities had laws against drug use and many businesses refused to serve them. In addition, many police departments actively pursued hippies for arrest on charges such as vandalism and public intoxication; some prisons even housed hippie activists together in special units.
Finally, hippies were alienated from the government because they believed it was involved in unethical practices such as war-mongering and oppression of people of color. They often protested these issues by burning their clothes (known as "burning manes" or "dressing rebelliously") and hiding out in caves or abandoned buildings.
Hippies were not a homogeneous group, and different ones probably felt alienated from different aspects of society. However, all things considered, they seemed to represent the marginalized sectors of society that were rejected by traditional society: youth, artists, musicians, writers, radicals, etc.
Broke hippies get by by performing odd jobs here and there and taking advantage of the cheap food and squalid housing. Sleep in a car, eat at a gas station deli for a dollar for a sandwich large enough for two meals, and so forth. When they have some extra cash, maybe from landscaping or cleaning or mowing or camping or any of a dozen other ways, they'll buy something cool at a second-hand store.
Hippies used to make a lot more noise than this. In the '60s, they marched from city to city with their own version of a circus parade called a "tour," singing, dancing, and playing music as they went. If you were lucky, you might find some leftover clothes in a dumpster behind a club where someone had thrown out their old decor. If you weren't lucky, you would have gone hungry.
In addition to working when they can find work, hippies earned money by selling drugs. They made plenty of cash since drugs are expensive and there are many sellers competing for customers. Sometimes they'd sell drugs to pay for another party or festival, but usually they spent their profits quickly on further indulgences.
Hippies also made money by doing stupid things that got them arrested.