Musings on a Little Boy’s Haircut

On Wednesday, I took my son to get his hair cut. We’ve been trying several local barbers/hairstylists to find someone who can cut his hair well at a reasonable price. What I’ve found during this experience is that when you go to get your hair cut, you usually choose at most two out of three factors: a good haircut, a cheap price, and the ability to actually get an appointment.

So far, virtually every place we’ve taken our child has been able to achieve two out of three of these factors – but none have been able to hit all three.

Take the most recent haircut, for example. The haircut was quite good and we were easily able to get an appointment, but the price was unbelievably high. Before that, with my daughter, we got a great price and were easily able to get in, but the haircut was poor enough that I might as well have done it myself. Before that, we got a good haircut at a good price, but it took three weeks to get in.

So, what can I conclude from this?

First, I’m considering learning how to cut hair myself. I’ve been able to do this a bit on my own head, but I’m not good at it at all and it usually leaves me looking terrible and, eventually, heading towards someone that cuts hair professionally.

My children are young, and thus perfect appearance isn’t vital for them. I have a few years to learn how to cut their hair while the mistakes of learning won’t cause them much social consternation at all. If I do too bad, I can have someone else fix the mistakes in order to make them acceptable for pictures.

Second, the business models for haircutting drive me to this conclusion of cutting hair at home. Of the various places we’ve been, people seem to be content either not having enough business (via high prices or bad haircuts) or turning away business (via inadequate staffing).

Quality haircutting is a service I’m willing to pay others for at a reasonable rate. However, if I can’t easily get that service, I’m going to look for other options.

Third, cutting the hair myself will save money. I have two young children. Let’s say, hypothetically, that I would get their hair cut every two months (each) at $15 a pop. Doing it myself saves $180 a year.

Of course, the counter-argument is that the $180 spent would save me time, but would it, really? In order to get my child’s hair cut, I have to call and make the appointment, take the child to the appointment, wait before and during the appointment, and then take the child home again afterwards. If I do it at home, I simply cut the hair, no questions asked.

In the end, frugality is about finding maximum value, and I’ve finally realized that I’m simply not finding maximum value for my children’s haircuts at the barbershops and salons available to me. Thus, it’s time to take matters into my own hands.

Are there any services in your own life that you’re dissatisfied with? Could you take those services into your own hands for a greater value?

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  1. steve says:

    It is very convenient to cut hair at home.

    Anyone with a reasonable eye and two steady hands and some knowledge can cut hair passably well. Investing in a dvd about hair cutting would be a worthwhile investment to move your learning curve along. And at $30 a session to get hair cut (for 2 kids) it is a fairly decent return on investment.

  2. Kenny says:

    I wonder if it’s where you live if you’re just pickier than I am. Most Supercuts around here (South Bay, Los Angeles) have a decent price, are easy to get into, and do a good job.

  3. Maggie says:

    First time commenter, long time fan of the site.

    This posting struck me as one of the most amusing… as I can imagine years from now, you and your children, perusing photo albums and laughing hysterically at “daddy’s hair-cutting experiments.”

    Kudos to you and your adventures in frugality. And God help your family and their coifs.

  4. Molly says:

    I’d also recommend viewing some of the “learn to cut hair” quick videos online, and practicing sooner rather than later. I recently tried to cut my boyfriend’s hair and failed so badly that he had to get it fixed the next day – and the pro hairstylist commented on it!

  5. Linda says:

    My mom used to be a hair stylist. She taught my teenage daughter to cut hair. The two of them take care of all our family’s hair cuts. In return, we do other favors for them. Instead of one person being a “jack of all trades” to save money, we all try to learn just one or two extra skills and work together.

  6. tambo says:

    Personally, I think that’s just one of those things that spans almost all industries. When I was in art school we were told that, basically, there are three factors in buying/selling graphic design: Cheap, Fast, and Good. You can get any two easily enough, but all three? Not so likely. Fast and Good together don’t come Cheap, Cheap and Good won’t be Fast, and Cheap and Fast often won’t be so Good.

    I’ve found that that analogy works pretty consistently through most consumer service venues. It really just makes sense. If someone did offer Cheap/Fast/Good service – whether haircuts, artwork, deck building, housecleaning, or whatever – they’d soon be so busy and over booked that they’d have to sacrifice one aspect or get lost under the flood of too much work. Something has to give and as consumers we need to decide which part of the triad we’re willing to sacrifice.

  7. Chillyrodent says:

    My partner and I have been cutting our own hair with a RoboCut for many years now. We actually cut our own, rather than needing to cut each other’s. We each get the style we want.

    The bonus is that there is no hair to clean up afterward, and no itchy clippings down the collar.

    The downside is that their product quality has gone downhill, so that the hose soon needs repairing with some classy-looking electrical tape. Still, we figure that four or five decent haircuts pay for the thing, and we get dozens apiece.

  8. JP says:

    I have worn my hair in a crew cut for the past 10 years or so. I like my hair cut every two weeks, and my wife has been doing it for the past 9 years. At $15 at trip (local prices plus tip), we’ve saved over $3,000. Not exactly chump change!

  9. Tammy says:

    If their hair needs cutting every 2 months,simply make the next appointment while in the salon for a haircut. I think a quality haircut and consistency is worth paying for.

  10. kat says:

    Do it!! My mom cut my hair (and my brother’s) while we were growing up, and we’re none the worse for it. I still do mine, because if I screw it up and wind up with something I hate, at least I didn’t pay for it. And, it’s just hair — it grows back.

    (My brother’s in the army now, so, I’m not going to comment on his hairstyle, but suffice to say he’s not going to salons either.)

    Get a sharp scissors (you can buy little kits especially for cutting hair) — it does make a difference. Two mirrors are a must if you want to do your own hair. You’ll also want a variety of hair-clippies and a comb or two, so you can keep hair out of the way while you’re working on a different area. Dampen the hair with a spray bottle first. Start with simple styles, and keep in mind that it’s better to cut off too little instead of too much. With a little practice, you’ll get good at it — it’s not rocket science. :)

    Bonus: I have fond memories of my mom cutting my hair when I was a kid. She would pretend we were in a high-class salon and talk in a hilarious fake French accent the whole time. It was really solid bonding time. :)

  11. Molly says:

    I started cutting my husband’s hair when we moved to England because the price and the exchange rate were so offensive ($40+ for a simple men’s haircut). I just followed the pattern of the haircut he had before. It was really slow at first, but I got faster as I got the hang of it. With a haircut every 6 weeks, we saved almost $700 in the two years we lived there. I recommend you try it out – the worst thing that happens is you don’t do it well and/or don’t enjoy it, at which point you can switch back to professional cuts any time. Good luck!

  12. Stephanie says:

    You might want to learn real quick because once appearance DOES become important, they won’t want dad cutting their hair! ;)

    Are there any cosmetology schools nearby? They usually need people for practice and the prices are cheap. Maybe you could find a hair stylist online who would be willing to trade services or at least give you some in person instruction on how to cut hair. I find there is really no substitute for live expert instruction when it comes to things like this.

  13. Tricia says:

    A good friend of ours is a hairdresser. She would come to the house, cuts everyone’ hair, including neighborhood kids, and walk out with a decent amount of money. She charged much less than a salon. Great for her, she is a single mom. Convienient for us! She would bring her boys over and we would have pizza night! Sometimes she would cut hair for us and we would babysit at a later date for her! Win Win!!!

  14. I’ve been cutting my own hair for the last 6 months now.

    It’s actually significantly more convenient than going to get it cut. So it’s not a trade-off between time and money. It saves both. :)

  15. Katie says:

    Are there any cosmetology schools near you? They often have students (supervised by pros) who will practice on you/your kids and do a pretty good job (and if they are awful, there is a pro on hand to fix it!) at a reasonable, if not cheap, price. These places are easier to find in urban areas though.

  16. d says:

    you can also see if anyone around you cuts hair, either on a barter basis, volunteer, or for a lower price. a friend of mine in school would give friends haircuts.

  17. Frugal Dad says:

    I cut my own hair in high school and college, but never mastered how to even my neckline without some help. These days I usually buzz it short for the summer, and let it grow out a bit for winter. During the winter I go to a walk-in Cuts By Us type place and get them to cut it for $12. I still cut my son’s hair at home, but can’t provide any styles beyond a simple crew cut.

  18. cv says:

    You could learn to cut your kids’s hair, but you could also plan ahead and make the next appointment for two months ahead each time you go in for a haircut – you’d get into the cheap and good place, and not have to call to make appointments if you have your calender with you at the salon. Just a thought.

  19. Angela says:

    I recently faced this problem myself. Yes you could probably take a kid to Supercuts, but my three year old won’t sit still without the attractions that the kid focused salons have.

    My dad has started cutting his own hair, so I asked to borrow his clippers for a couple of weeks. This is enabling me to see if I can cut my son’s hair well enough to justify the investment in clippers of my own, and trim my husband’s enough between haircuts that he can go a bit longer between trims.

    So far, my son’s hair looks a bit better after a few days to grow out (and I already had a razor comb that enabled me to even things out a bit!).

    What I’d like to see more of is exchanges. In college we always had girls on our floor who would cut our hair. I’ve heard of co-ops where you trade co-op “money” so you can get a haircut from someone who uses the “money” to pay somene else in the group for a service they need. But, since I’m an accountant (and not a tax accountant!), I don’t have a skill I can trade with most (non-business) people.

  20. Jade says:

    I’ve just gone for a simple hairstyle myself, grew out my bangs when I was 13 and just kept all of my hair kinda long ever since then, at least to my shoulders but typically a little longer. My mom cuts my hair for me once a year, or whenever I get tired of it being quite so long, just brush it out and cut it evenly straight across my back.

    But then again I have straight hair and a simple cut. I suppose if I was a guy and/or it was curly it wouldn’t be quite so easy to have my mom cut it, but everyone else in my family with a complicated short hairstyle uses a flow-bee or something like that one every few months. So that’s an option too I suppose.

    I just like my hairstyle that I don’t have to cut again for the rest of my life and it will still look good and I can keep it out of my face. I just cut it because having my hair grow down to my waist is a pain…

  21. Kevin WIlson says:

    If the kids will go for a short cut, using electric clippers is falling-off-a-log easy. My partner (and ex) and I have been buzzing each others’ hair for years and have saved thousands of dollars and hours of time in the process.

    Advancing baldness makes it even quicker LOL.

  22. Maureen says:

    There are lots of longer hairstyles for little girls that do not require such frequent trims. My girls insisted on their hair being at least long enough to be caught up in a ponytail for sports. It was beautiful long and loose or in French braids for a more formal look. Long hair is very versatile.

  23. Jules says:

    Try looking for a beauty school. They’ll appreciate the practice, and your hair will look okay in the end (not salon-style gorgeous, but all right for a cheap cut).

    I’ve figured out how to cut my boyfriend’s hair, but I’m still rather hesitant to cut my own (obvious reason #1–I can’t see the back of my own head). What I’ve learned: start from the back, and then work your way around to fixing up the sides and then the top. It takes a bit of practice to get really good at it, but like you said, your kids are young, so appearances don’t have to be perfect. It took me about three tries to get the technique down, and I still tend to cut the sides too short (for his tastes, I think he looks great), but his hair grows so fast it doesn’t really matter after a few days.

    That’s the other thing: hair grows back. No matter how awful the cut, after a few months, nobody can tell :-)

  24. RL says:

    If I had kids, I think I would definitely cut their hair myself. Most styles for young kids are fairly easy to do. That said, I will ALWAYS splurge on a high-quality, professional cut for myself. I spent $48 (including tip) yesterday and I LOVE my hair. I have experimented with salons in a variety of price ranges and although the stylist I found is expensive, her cuts last for 3 months at a time (good value there) and I feel really good about myself as a result. The other, cheaper cuts I received just don’t compare.

    I do colour it myself, though. My money light flashes when I think about how much professional colour costs.

  25. Dom says:

    I usually go to Mastercuts to get my haircut – they don’t do appointments, it’s reasonably priced ($13.95 for a wash & cut) and I’ve only had one bad stylist so far. They also have a rewards program that once I spend $150 there, I get $15 back; takes about a year, but it’s basically a free haircut for no work. Plus, they send nifty coupons for a free haircut on my birthday too!

  26. Di says:

    I’ve been cutting our hair for years. Since we moved to America we’ve never been to a salon. I cut DHs hair and I cut my own (it’s long so it’s easy). Once you get over the initial fear that not much can go wrong then you’re golden.
    I will say that before we moved I used to cut my parents hair too, but as we were moving I had to show my Mum how to do it. First time she tried she forgot to put the attachment on the clippers and shaved a stripe in the back of Dads head. He just had a shorter buzzcut that month! lol

  27. alison says:

    I have two boys and a little girl. I alternate taking them in and cutting the boys hair myself, so they only go in to get their hair cut a few times a year. I figure any mistakes I make can be fixed by someone else, but they always look decent. My 2 year old girl wiggles too much for me to do it, but I cut her bangs, and she doesn’t “need” a hair cut all that often.

    We mostly like to barter, though. Piano lessons for my hair stylists two kids for haircuts for my whole family. It was pretty even.

    I found in college the same triad where only two could happen any given week. I could study, socialize and sleep… but only two of the three, to an adequate amount.

    But I think almost any service is the same way. Fast food is cheap and fast, up the hierarchy is at least good but not typically cheap or fast. Which is why there are competing services. If it was cheap, fast and good, it wouldn’t have competitors…in business.

  28. Michelle says:

    Maybe consider letting your daughter’s hair grow long? I have 2 daughters and I’ve been able to just trim their hair every 6-8 months with little or no instruction. With your son, a pair of clippers would do the job easily and also with minimal instruction.

  29. guinness416 says:

    Try local ethnic hairdressers – the sort where all the signage except the price is in Mandarin or Hindi. Cheap as chips (five bucks for my husband), no problem getting in on a weekday, and they are just as competent as anyone else.

  30. DivaJean says:

    Learning how to do haircutting is not hard. My partner has learned how to clipper cut the boys’ hair and I have become proficient at trimming my own hair and my eldest daughter’s do. My younger daughter is African American and I am too nervous about trimming up her really beautiful spirals of curls. I am similarly nervous about clippering my partner’s hair. So out of 6 people in our house, only 2 go to get haircuts- and infrequently at that.

    The main thing is to pick hairdos that do not require frequent, expensive upkeep- like coloring, perms, etc. I learned several years ago to embrace my own color and hair texture and style it in ways that don’t require much styling.

  31. Donna says:

    My dear husband cuts all male heads of hair in this house — that’s five of seven — at a savings of $10 per head per month ($50). My daughter (7) and I go to a salon for cuts; the savings on the boys’ heads pretty much offset the cost of the girls’ heads, so we figure it’s a wash.

  32. Brandon says:

    I’ve been cutting my own hair at home for at least 15 years – it’s really not as hard as one might think. You can get a good pair of electric shears with a wide variety of guides for $30-$40, and they last a long time. In the 15 or so years I’ve been cutting my own hair, I’m only on my 2nd pair of shears.

    This has saved me a considerable amount of money over the years, and is very convenient – whenever I need a haircut, I can just do it then and there, no waiting for an appointment.

    I now have an 18 month old son, and have been cutting his hair at home as well. So far it’s worked out great. I definitely encourage you to give it a try.

  33. mes says:

    My 3 yr old son can’t stand the buzzing of the hair clipper, so taking him for a haircut is a nightmare. If your son doesn’t mind the buzzing, then get a clipper and go for it. Worst case scenario, he gets a really short haircut for summer. Some of our friends do this with their little boys, and it looks great. For yor daughter, consider less frequent haircuts. There are so many cute little clips and do-dads for girls, but they don’t work unless there’s enough hair to be pulled back.

  34. Maria says:

    We have three girls. I have seriously been considering doing this myself. I have said it before, and I’ll say it again, you can learn to do anything on the Internet. There are probably videos at YouTube – although I haven’t checked yet. I know there are a lot of articles written about the subject at sites like The Dollar Stretcher, HowToDoThings.com, and EHow.com.

    The first thing they will all tell you, though, is to invest in a good pair of hair scissors. I have yet to take this first step.

  35. Kathy says:

    You’ll probably be able to get away with cutting your son’s hair if you stick with a typical “little boy cut”. And you might be able to buy some time with your daughter if she wears her hair long and straight — it’s not that hard to cut straight bangs if you go slow and she’s willing to sit still while you take small snips. But unless your daughter is super-agreeable and/or completely unconcerned with fashion, you probably have a limited time frame where she’ll be a willing test subject for you to learn. ;)

    Personally I’ve never gotten a bad cut for the kids at places like Supercuts, Hair Cuttery, etc. Not always exactly what I’ve wanted (especially if my husband takes our son instead of me going myself to give directions to the stylist) but it’s never been so bad that I’ve wanted to get it redone. But obviously it depends on the particular franchise by your house. And how picky you are about what it looks like. :)

    Great blog; I’m a regular reader even if this is my first time commenting. :)

  36. Amanda says:

    I do all my hair cuts at home. My husbands, my little boys, and even my own. The first time I gave my little boy a hair cut at 13 months I let him hold the electric razor first. Both when it was on and when it was off. That way he wasn’t scared of it when I put it to his head. The other service that I actually prefer to do myself is pedicures. I had it done in a nail salon once and it wasn’t as relaxing as doing it myself. And it cost about 30-50 dollars. I do my own pedi every few weeks. That’s saving a lot!

  37. jj says:

    When I was a kid, my parents cut my hair. It sucked. Basically the experience went like this. I sat down for 45min to an hour on a stool and my dad tried to cut my hair perfectly with a pair of scissors.

    Did he succeed, yes. Was it cheap, yes.

    Did it involve a lot of parental screaming about holding still and turning my head a certain way. Oh yes. As a kid I hated the experience and as an adult the thought of it still makes me cring. This is not something that I would ever submit a child to.

  38. Pipps says:

    You could also have another sideline business! :)

  39. IRG says:

    Trent, is it really a good use of your time to train yourself to cut hair? I mean seriously. You can’t find anyone to cut your kids’ hair for $15?

    Maybe you haven’t tried all the stylists in a given shop or maybe you aren’t being clear in your expectations, etc. Maybe you need to search beyond your current geographical area. (Have you asked other parents in the area? Not all of them are cutting their kids hair. Somebody MUST know someone. Heck, maybe one of those parents who already knows how to cut hair, would cut your kids hair and make some extra $.)

    Don’t know where you live, or what your cap on spending for a haircut is, but it seems odd that you can’t find a reasonably priced and decent haircutter for your children. Especially since children’s haircuts are not as trendy and/or as varied as adults, so even the less experienced cutter (or the older and less up to date cutter) can do an adequate job.

    Barber shops don’t tend to be places where little girls should get real “haircuts” (unless you mean just a trim of bangs or length).

    Perhaps you could place an ad for a local cutter to come to your home. Tons of experienced people have always done this to make ends meet, long before this crunch period.

    You might be surprised at what you’ll find.

    I’m sure that cutting their kids’ hair is the norm for many people. I just have never met any (Yes, I live in a big city on the east coast, but this applies to my friends in the country and the suburbs, too.)

    As for cutting your children’s hair, well, unless you become really, really proficient, I’d suggest you think twice. Partially because I disagree with you about appearance issues for even the very young. They may not be buying into “looks” or the need to look like others, but some children do have very strong opinions about what they wear, their hair, etc.

    I know this from both my family and friends and their children. Long before they are being influenced by TV, magazines and real life, children inherently have strong feelings about hair (some little guys for example hate, hate, hate the buzz cuts that many parents seem to think are what little boys should have).

    Parents need to be sensitive to their children and be careful not to impose their own ideas of appearance, beauty, grooming, etc. and pay attention to the child.

  40. Shevy says:

    I started by doing a bowl style haircut on my oldest son while he slept (he’s now turning 30). As the boys got older I went to an old-fashioned barber who was fast, cheap and we never had a long wait. When they were in high school my younger son and his best friend started to use clippers on each other. He’s 24 now and I think he’s still doing his own hair.

    As for girls, a trim once or twice a year is plenty if you don’t go for bangs. My 6 year old’s hair is halfway down her back and she loves to choose how her hair will be each day for school (low ponytail, high ponytail, bun, 1 braid, 2 braids, 2 ponytails, etc.) and to match the colors of her hair elastics to her clothes.

  41. Jen says:

    The good/fast/cheap rule is pretty much universal–I learned it in theatre school. You can only have two of the three in any area of life.

    Trent, just don’t subject your children to the infamous bowl-on-head sort of haircut. :-)

  42. Jen says:

    How ironic that Shevy and I just commented simultaneously. :-) Good point about the bangs, though. Bangs are a royal nuisance.

  43. Cathy says:

    Good idea while they are still young. Though I wouldn’t continue it forever. My boyfriend and his brother still harbors great resentment towards their mother continuing to cut their hair when they got older, and she was a trained hairdresser!

  44. Wendy says:

    How is planning 3 weeks ahead all that hard? I know that my husband and son needs a haircut every 5/6 weeks. If he went to a place that takes appointments, it would actually be easier to have that planned weeks in advance.

  45. Danielle says:

    Most hair clipper sets come with DVD instruction. I learned to cut my husband’s hair after we got married and now I cut my boy’s hair too. It is super easy to cut my son’s hair- I just put the 3/4 inch attachment on the clippers and buzz away. It’s not so short that it looks like a buzz (he has VERY blonde hair and it would disappear) but it’s not too long either. For my husband I clip the sides with one attachment and the top with a longer one and then blend the sides together. Someday if we ever have a girl I will trim her hair, but once she is older real haircuts will be done in a salon. Trims in between haircuts I’ll do but I’ll need a good haircut to follow.

    My husband loved having his mom(not a trained hairdresser) cut his hair growing up- too many other things he’d rather spend or save his money for. That’s partly why he forced me to learn how to do it (I was nervous at first).

  46. Jean says:

    My mom used to cut my brother’s hair when he was younger. I remember her giving him a few bucks when she was “practicing”, but then she became quite good and has continued to cut his hair and my dad’s hair, saving more than a few bucks in the process. Actually, I’ve only had my hair cut 3 times by professionals (twice in asia for really cheap). My mom always cut mine too when I was at home.

  47. Danielle says:

    Oh and in my experience Hair school cuts take about 3 hours so they don’t fulfill the fast criteria. It would be a nightmare for a child.

  48. Gexx says:

    Cutting hair at home is no big deal. My mother cut my long hair until I was 18 and went to college. It was rather simple in the days of Jennifer Anniston layers. But with the thickness and volume of my hair I pulledit off well.

    There were 2 drawbacks on the recieving end of haircuts:
    1) If I wanted to try something radical, she wouldn’t do it! Instead she would only allow me to keep my hair as long as possible with no bangs. When I went to collage, it was a huge symbol of freedom to chop off all the hair that I would sit on to a bob and dye it bright aubern.

    2) It would take her FOREVER! She was never pleased, and she would make me stand to get the hair cut, so I’m sure that I listed some over the course of it, which would then force her to re-trim the ends.

    So go ahead, but be sure to allow your kids some individuality and comfort. It’s just hair, after all!

  49. S Krupa Shankar says:

    $15 a pop? About 19 times of what I spend for a haircut over here.

  50. Shevy says:

    @Jen
    LOL! But I have my eldest son’s kindergarten picture on the fridge (we just found it recently and my youngest insisted it go up). He only had the bowl cut between ages 3 and 5 and it’s the most adorable school picture he ever had. After that he went to a military style little boy cut, not a crew cut, but short.

    It’s probably not a cut I’d give now, but you have to remember it was the early ’80s. At least he didn’t have a mullet with a little braid down the back (which was very popular, barf!)

  51. Margaret says:

    3 boys (5,3,1) and a husband, and I buzz cut them all. If you can, do it OUTSIDE so the hair blows away and no sweeping (they need haircuts again, and thankfully it is finally above freezing, so we are moving outdoors). If you are indoors, you can try doing it over a garbage can or if you are just trimming a few stray strands the next day, over a sink or bathtub. Saves money, but I won’t have my heart broken when they are older and want nicer haircuts.

  52. Mel says:

    I clip DH’s hair, which is the easiest thing I’ve ever done. DD has such curly hair that I don’t have to worry about cutting it straight… I pop in Cinderella and trim her hair while she’s engrossed in the movie.

    I do not cut my own hair. Been there done that, have the pictures to prove it. I will happily pay the nice people at SuperCuts $15 for a straight cut. And once DD gets older, I will happily pay for someone else to take care of that for me!

  53. Isabel says:

    $15 sounds pretty reasonable to me. I took my son in for his first haircut, and it ran $30!! I decided right then that I was going to be doing his future haircuts until he reaches an age where quality matters. :)

    Would be interested in any resources (youtube? or others) that you find in learning how to cut hair. I’ve been just winging it, and the results have been mediocre so far.

  54. Lis says:

    I’m with Wendy and CV – why is it such a big deal to just plan ahead and make an appointment at the cheap and good place? Especially for guys – you should be able to figure out a simple style, how fast their hair grows, and thus, how often they will need it cut. Make your next appointment while waiting for the current haircut to get finished. Thus, no need to call, no unnecessary waiting. Put it on the calendar and move on with life. And as other have commented, if you let the little girl’s hair grow out a bit, she’ll only need occasional trims – so if you call and make an appointment and have to wait, it’s no big deal.
    I found this post confusing in light of Trent saying he’s willing to pay for this service, but then he turns around and basically says he’s not willing to to do 60 seconds of thinking/planning ahead. Isn’t planniing ahead the bedrock of most “frugal” activities????

  55. Tyler says:

    @IRG:

    Thank you. I expected to see more responses with your viewpoint, and was disappointed I did not.

    As it stands, I do not know anyone who cuts their hair at home and get a good haircut. The people who I do know cut their hair at home…you can tell they do it themselves. And that’s not a compliment.

  56. Todd says:

    I agree with IRG about asking your friends and neighbors who they go to. I think hairstyles would be a quality of life expense for some people. We (family of four) really like the salon we go to. We like the stylists, the conversation, and the haircuts, and we don’t mind paying them for the good job they do.

    I hate wasting money for bad service, but when you find a place you like I think it’s good for the community to support skilled hair stylists, mechanics, plumbers, etc. It’s more about building community businesses and relationships than saving money, but I still consider it frugal because it is supporting reasonably priced local people who also pay for my salary (I’m a teacher) through their property taxes.

  57. Sierra says:

    A friend of mine just got an excellent haircut for her daughter for $3 at our local high school’s vocational training salon.

  58. Blue says:

    I am an African-American living in an all white small town. When I arrived here, my goal was to get a haircut without embarrassment, so I looked for a shop with a single barber and no customers. When I found that I went in and asked if he was ready for a challenge. He was! I have gone back to him ever since and even though the quality isn’t quite up to what I would like, I don’t have to challenge a new barber.

  59. Susan says:

    I’ve been clipper cutting my boys hair (I have 7 sons) since the first one was little. If you start with the longest guide (attachment) you can go over the whole head..zip…zip…zippity quick…and see if you like the length. The sides will lay flat and it will not be a “buzz” cut. My 15 year old son no longer wanted this type of shortish hairstyle, so I took him to Singletons (a cheapie hair place, $15 cuts) and watched while the girl did his WHOLE HEAD WITH CLIPPERS!!! Now, this son will let me do it with the techniques I picked up from the hairdresser visit. With my big family, I need about 1 new clipper set every year or year and a half. That’s $30 for a whole year of cuts. I also do my hubby, who keeps his quite short. My daughter has had long straight hair until last year. She’s 17 now. She’s started going to the cheapie place for a layered cut, which I can’t do. She gets a student discount and pays for it out of babysitting money. As for the time factor….it is well worth my time to sit and chat and visit with my sons, especially the older ones. In my opinion, its an act of love to cut their hair, and I love every second of it. Their time at home is so fleeting and before I know it, they won’t be here for me to cut their hair anymore, but instead their young wives will do it! Hope this helps! Susan in Manitoba

  60. Abby says:

    We took a different approach. I knew I’d never be able to cut my son’s unruly curls on my own, so we found a Cartoon Cuts. Instead of mirrors, the kids watch a video of their choice while the stylist cuts their hair. The chairs and capes are kid-sized and the stylists are all good with pint-sized clients.

    It costs $15, but it turns a routine errand into a treat for my son. He’s the only 4 y.o. I know who volunteers to get his hair cut.

    I think that’s the other piece about where you spend your money – when you DO find something that provides a great deal of value, it’s worth it.

  61. Chrissy says:

    I agree w/ the clipper cut for your son if you are going to do it yourself – easy, fast, can’t really mess up. I also agree w/ a longer style for your daughter then you don’t have to cut but maybe 2-3 times per year. I also echo those suggesting the “chain” type of salons (Mastercuts, Great Clips, etc.) – no appt. necessary, in and out, very inexpensive – perfect for children’s haircuts.

    Some have suggested a beauty school. I have tried some and gotten some cute cuts for around $10 but I don’t recommend for a child. It takes a really long time since the student hasn’t picked up speed yet AND has to frequently get checked by their teacher/supervisor. Not an ideal situation when you are looking for quick and I would not expect my children to sit for that long for a haircut.

  62. Carol says:

    I cut all 6 kiddos hair plus darling husband. College son even waits to come home to get his done to perfection at the right price and in the comfort of the kitchen. It has saved a boatload over the last 21 years…more than paid for my equipment:) kids even got me a cool brush for the boys necks for my bday. happy day.

  63. I have been cutting my boys’ hair at home for five years. Boys are easy, I use a Wahl electric trimmer and they get “buzz” cuts. We bought our trimmer for around $30.00.

    For girls, you might try to find someone in your neighborhood who cuts hair in their home (or yours).

  64. Dawn says:

    Home haircuts are not difficult, particularly if the person getting the cut wants a clipper cut or if he or she has what I call “forgiving hair,” which is thick, wavy hair that hides any slight imperfections in the cut. I’ve clipper-cut my husband’s hair for years and taught myself how to cut my son’s and my own (we both have forgiving hair) with techniques learned from a home haircutting book checked out of the library.

  65. Kim @ money for disney says:

    I get my kids hair cut professionally three times per year – the start of school (our pictures are in the second week), Christmas, and before a vacation. All times when there are likely to be lots of photographs. In the mean time I do a basic neck and ears trim for my son and bangs for my daughters. Not as completely cheap as all home haircuts, but it’s the compromise that works for us.

  66. Chris Matson says:

    Despite amusing tales from my granddad of visits to “Slasher Johnson” (in and out so quick that your bicycle pedals were still turning), I’ve been cutting my own hair for about 15 years.

    Crew cuts with a Wahl trimmer are definitely the way to go. Not only quick and cheap to do, but also easier to maintain (uses less shampoo, hair dries quickly, doesn’t need a comb, less chance of nits, etc).

  67. Frugal Gail says:

    I have always cut both my kids hair (one girl, one boy) at home and last year I started cutting my husband’s hair. His coworkers think I do a better job than the place he was paying to get it cut at before. I have absolutely no training. It’s easy.

  68. DB Cooper says:

    A version of the “good/fast/cheap” rule was coined by Keith Bontrager, who makes high end bicycle parts (rims, stems, handlebars, cranks, etc)…his version was: Cheap, Light, Strong – choose two. Unfortunately (when is comes to bikes), it’s very true!

  69. erin says:

    I’ve been cutting my own hair since 2006. It’s never been perfect, but I’m not willing to pay enough money for a gorgeous cut anyways. It all evens out.

  70. Zannie says:

    Thanks for the inspiration. I’m going to learn to cut my boyfriend’s hair. I just did some research, and then ordered a set of shears and combs and a book on how to cut hair. I really liked these videos:

    http://www.howtocuthair.com/

    So I ordered his book and some tools of the types he recommended:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0916819019
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002I5MEE

  71. rk says:

    I started cutting my own hair a couple years ago. It takes me ten minutes, costs nothing, and I always get the exact cut I want because there’s no risk of miscommunication and/or differing style opinions. The first time takes a deep breath of courage, but once you dive in, you realize that even if you make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world.

  72. *sara* says:

    I cut my husbands’ hair, which doesn’t bother me. I HATE cleaning up all the hair afterward though. It gets all over the clothes, and doesn’t come out easily in the wash. I’d definitely pay not to have to clean up…

  73. Prasanth says:

    My wife started cutting my hair when we were in Japan not just to save on cost (around 25 dollars per cut) but also because of the difficulty in communicating with the people in the saloon. She was quite good at it and started cutting our kids hair too. Now that I’m back in India, I find it easier just go to a saloon and get my haircut done. So I think the decision depends entirely on your convenience and the time Vs Value proposition

  74. My maman cut my hair for years. It’s fine when it’s a very simple haircut (just snip straight across the bottom and be done with it) but the time will come when they want more complicated things, like layers and feathering, and then it is best to just know your limits. For the time being, however, it is an excellent idea to cut their hair.

  75. Sacha Chua says:

    My partner trims my hair occasionally, and he cuts his own. I help him by trimming the back of his hair, too. =)

    Sara: Try draping a towel around shoulders, like the way that hairdressers do it. You can shake out the towel afterwards. Hope that helps!

  76. Carmen says:

    I’m surprised that you haven’t always been cutting your childrens’ hair. Unless it’s long and curly, it’s very straightforward, although curly hides a multitude of sins when dry! My youngest has a straight chin length bob which is hard, but I still do it. There are some great instructional video clips on You tube.

  77. PJ says:

    Here’s a daughter’s perspective:

    I have only been to the hairdresser once in my life – my mum always cut my hair when I was little and she still does. I’m a 28 year old woman and while it makes me sound shallow I think it’s relevant to mention that I can be quite concerned with fashion and my appearance, and I really appreciate the home haircuts!

    I must admit that I have curly hair which is pretty forgiving of a slightly dodgy cut, and I have always worn it in a simple, classic style which makes things easier. I’ve never had layers or a fringe or wanted a haircut like Jennifer Aniston or anything like that.

    I think that having my mum cut my hair when I was young meant I didn’t buy into the whole hairdresser thing and when I see my girlfriends spend $100-$200 on getting their hair cut and highlighted and all the rest I’m glad.

    I’m also glad that I’m happy with my hair the way it naturally is. Women especially are expected to look so artificial. I always get complimented on my long, curly hair and I never felt that my haircuts were daggy or unstylish even though mum did them.

    I think the home haircuts were one thing my mum did that has helped me avoid the cycle of spending a lot of money on their appearance that a lot of women feel they can’t escape. If I did decide to go to a hairdresser, it would be an luxury for me, not a necessity.

    And @Sara (#49) – wrap an old tablecloth or sheet around his shoulders and fasten it with a clothespeg. He’ll look stupid but it will catch all the hair!

  78. Carmen says:

    By ‘you’ I simply mean a voluntary family member, not necessarily Dad. My husband would never cut our daughters’ hair, but I now do them as well as my husband, purely for financial reasons.

  79. marlene says:

    I learned to cut my son’s hair at 2 yrs old. Since I later had 3 more sons for a total of 4 I saved plenty of money. I also cut my husband, father and brother’s hair.

  80. Gina says:

    I am appalled at the $20+ price tag many oil changing shops charge just to do a simple oil and filter change that I can do myself for around $10, buying the oil and filter and returning the used motor oil to Wal-mart. I can top up the vehicle fluids myself, change the air filter, and it gives me some moments under the hood to review and consider upcoming repairs and replacements. I keep a log by date and mileage of all maintenance and repairs done to the vehicle.

  81. Louise says:

    Funny you brought this up, as I just cut my son’s hair tonight. I’ve had varying success doing this over the last year or so, as he’s getting older and needs it a bit shorter. (The mistakes show up more.) Here’s a good link that has a video on how to do the classic boy’s cut. I watched it just before cutting his hair, and . . . success! http://www.mefeedia.com/entry/how-to-cut-a-boys-hair/16355621

  82. Battra92 says:

    Wow, honestly I can’t see cutting my own hair as something I’d ever do and I shave my head!

    I pay $8 every month or so and honestly, I can’t see myself changing. I’ve been to the same barber my entire life and that $96 is money well spent, I think.

  83. Rachel says:

    After I had been married for about a year my husband asked me to try to trim his hair–we didn’t have the time or (more importantly) the money that week for a trip to the barber/salon, so I said why not. I was rather nervous, and my first cut wasn’t very good. However, two years later I cut my hubby’s hair whenever he needs it! (My personal victory was when one of his friends wanted to know the name of his barber, because he liked the cut so much and was dissatisfied with his own). I tend to get my hair cut for around $20 bucks once a year and I let him trim it the rest of the year. When we have kids we’ll probably cut their hair, too!

  84. Stephanie says:

    My dad cut my 2 brothers’ hair from the time they were little until they were most of the way through college. He didn’t attempt my long hair. He found a Flowbee at a garage sale for $15 that attached to the vacuum cleaner. He got quite good at it (after a couple rough haircuts in their early years) and cuts his own hair w/ it as well. He calculated that he paid for all three of our first cars – about $3000/ea – with the money he saved!!

  85. Sandra says:

    Please start, it’s a great idea! I began cutting my boyfriend’s hair over a year ago for the sheer convenience of it as he was travelling out of the country for business at least once a month.
    It took me a try or two to get it just rigght and I am still slower than a professional but it is still faster than driving, waiting, getting the haircut, paying and coming back home again. It’s a great way for me to show him that I love him and we can spend time together. We paid about $40 for the trimmer set so we made back that money withing a few months…

  86. Kristi says:

    Eighteen years ago when my husband and I first got together, we absolutely did not have the money for haircuts so I decided to do them myself. To this day, I cut our hair. It works into “our” time and it honestly allows some very intimate one on one time with each other; think Kera Sedwick and John Travolta in Phenomanon! :-)

  87. Use a set of clippers. It takes about 10 minutes and looks pretty good. Do it until they would prefer to go to a hair salon. My kids don’t like haircuts from anyone, but they would rather get it over with at home than go out and havea stranger go at them with machinery and scissors.

  88. Angie says:

    I’ve been cutting my husband’s hair since we started dating. I had never cut hair before, and it took about 3 tries to get it down. Now we can cut his hair in less than 10 minutes. I think that alone saves time… you could never run in to get your hair cut in less than 10 minutes.

    No one can believe that I cut his hair… and I’m assuming it’s because they can’t believe we’re that cheap (in their minds), or that I’m that good.

  89. Lenore says:

    Join the right cult and the whole family can shave their heads! But seriously, don’t you have Great Clips or Fantastic Sams in Iowa? No appointment needed and cuts under $15. I use coupons, go as seldom as possible (twice a year max) and keep my hair all one length so it’s hard to mess up.

    Keep in mind that salon services can usually be had “a la carte” so there’s no need for a shampoo if your hair is clean. (Arrive with wet hair or ask the stylist to spritz it down for a more precise cut.) Styling and blow drying are also optional. If the stylist does an acceptable job, don’t forget to tip at least a buck. Salon staff seldom get a set wage and can be every bit as dependent on customer gratitude as restaurant workers.

    In addition to beauty schools, check out barbers and hairdressers in rural commmunities, on college campuses or in other “out of the way” places where rates may be cheaper.

  90. Jen says:

    My husband is almost 30 and his mother still cuts his hair. She’s always done haircuts for everyone in the family and she does a descent job. Her husband and son’s do not have buzz cuts or bowl cuts. She gave me a quick lesson on doing men’s haircuts and it’s pretty easy.Why pay $20 when someone is willing to do it for free.

    I used to go to the salon occasionally, but now that I have a child, I’m finding the time to go to the salon is harder to come by. When I’ve got some free time by myself, I don’t want to spend it at the salon. I’ve taken to cutting my own hair and it’s not nearly as tough as I expected. I’ve had to live with a few less than stellar haircuts as I was learning, but I actually find it kind of fun to cut my hair.

    I cut my son’s hair while he is in the bathtub (with scissors, not clippers). It can be tough to get a toddler to sit still and the bathtub keeps him well occupied. Plus, cleanup is a breeze.

  91. J says:

    Make sure your wife agrees with your plan before you undertake it, since she has a stake in this too, as the children’s appearance can also become an extension of hers.

    I’d also advocate for a hybrid approach, or at least caution you to experiment with haircuts away from special occasions (birthdays, holidays) where you will likely be taking pictures of the kids and distributing them to relatives — for those occasions, you might want to seek out the place that delivers good quality and deal with the other thing that’s OK — time or money.

    And this comes right back to the triangle trade-off we see in so many other places: time, quality or price, pick any two.

  92. HebsFarm says:

    We have family haircut night once a month at one of those places that is Good and Cheap, and doesn’t care if she has to turn away business (understaffed). All 5 of us go one evening, and before we leave, we book our appointment for the next month (because if we don’t make sure we have a place on her schedule, it would be hard to get in.)

  93. I’ve been cutting my own hair for the past couple of years. I usually go for one haircut per year, and do it myself for about 9-12 months until I think professional intervention is needed to reshape or change the style of my hair.

    I’m a 26-year old woman with no professional haircutting experience, and I do a good enough job that any hairdresser I can afford isn’t going to be any better. I also cut my boyfriend’s hair every couple of months. It’s really quite easy once you’ve practiced a few times. And, as you said, your kids are young enough that they’re not going to be angry if it isn’t perfect.

    I would caution against taking your children for haircuts at a hairdressing school. It is a great deal, definitely, but the students take a painstakingly long time on your hair which probably won’t fly with the little ones. It’s a wonderful deal for adults, though.

  94. shelley says:

    I have 8 children and have always cut their hair at home. The girls had long hair, so trims were easy. Three of the girls are mixed, and because it’s curly, it’s very forgiving so I don’t have to worry about being super precise. The oldest boy took NJROTC in high school. I took him to a barber, so we both could watch what he did and try to replicate it at home. I began cutting his hair, but he took over and cut his own hair with me only helping in certain areas. He also took over cutting the other 3 boys’ hair, as well as helping out other kids at school who couldn’t afford haircuts. I wondered why his cuts looked so much better than mine. Before he shipped off to Iraq with the Guards, he said to use for instance a #4 guard on top and a #2 on the bottom, but he would also run a #3 along the line in between them. It sure does make a difference! That was the missing piece in the haircuts I’d given.

  95. partgypsy says:

    Do what works for you. For our oldest girl she has long hair. She gets a “mastercut” cut once or twice a year and I trim her bangs in between. My husband cuts his own hair with trimmers. For myself up until about 3 years ago I suffered through decades of bad haircuts through cheap walk-in places. I like my hair on the shorter side with layers and never was able to get cheap AND good. Now I go to a stylist I love about 3 times a year for $50 a pop but it is worth it.

  96. 1carnut says:

    I have to chime in here as a satisfied user of the Robocut. I’ve been using one on my hair and my sons for over five years. In addition to the obvious savings, the convenience of being able to get a cut whenever you want/need one without making an appointment or driving anywhere is priceless in my book. The set that I got came with a video but with a bit of experimentation, you likely won’t even need it.

  97. asb27 says:

    Sorry…but I agree with Irg, Tyler and others who disagree with you. Look further. You should worry about the way your children look. If you fail, other children may pick on them. Is saving a few bucks worth harming their self esteem? As you do in your finances….PLAN AHEAD and make the appt. 3 weeks in advance. Or look around for more options. If you end up messing up badly and have to have it fixed you’ve saved NO MONEY and WASTED TIME.

  98. I’ve cut my own hair for more than 20 years and saved thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours. Sometimes I would cut my hair just a few minutes before heading to the airport on a business trip. It makes lots of sense to me from the standpoint of convenience and cost savings.

    If you’re cutting your child’s hair, that’s more time you get to spend with your child, and they’ll never forget it.

    Clair

  99. Laura says:

    Cost for time- It takes way LESS time to cut my kids’ hair than to take them in. I’ve cut my husbands hair since we’ve been married and both of our boys too. However, now that our 13 year old wears his longer and our 9 year old wears his longer and it’s curly, I’ve been taking them in, which is a huge hassel to drive them there, sit and wait and drive home. It was much easier to sit them out on the deck in the summer (no cleanup!) or in the bathroom before a shower and cut their hair.

    Invest in a good pair of clippers with different sized guards and some hair scissors. I used the #2 or 3 guard on the sides and back and the #5 guard on the top with scissors too. Also had a pair of thinning scissors (one blade and one comb blade) to thin around the crown and blend it better. It’s trial and error, and when they’re young it doesn’t matter as much so when it does matter you’ve got it figured out. Remember though- never cut their hair just before pictures/holiday/wedding as Murphy’s law will prove that’s when you’ll mess up!
    We’ve saved thousands of dollars and a LOT of time. This is easily in the top 5 frugal things we do.

  100. Jon says:

    It’s been said a few times, but as someone who has dated two separate hairstylists, I cannot say enough good things about finding someone who will come to your home to cut the kids’ hair.

    Both of my exes would make house calls, earn more for themselves than their salons paid, AND save money for everyone who got a cut. They would also do hair coloring and any other services they could carry the equipment for, which made for larger savings on each visit for those clients.

  101. Rachel's Mom says:

    After having two hair cutting incidents with my almost 4 yo DD in the last week, no one, including Mom and Dad, is allowed to cut hair in the house! Luckily, not too much damage was done.

  102. de says:

    How to cut your own or anybody else’s hair by Bob Bent and Jack Boxxi (Paperback – 1983)was very helpful for my kid’s haircuts. It is spiral bound to lay flat while you try it out, and is available at my library. It demos a couple of styles suitable for children or adults.

  103. Roger W says:

    If you have any native talent for this, you may actually view this as a better use of your time. Any minute spent in most of the hair cutting places (can’t call them salons) I take my son is a big waste of time.

  104. Sarah in Alaska says:

    My husband is my stylist. I got tired of spending $40 for a cut I didn’t like (no supercuts or similar discount chain for hundreds of miles).

    He checked out a haircutting video from the library and has done a great job.

    (Hubby also cuts his own hair with clippers)

  105. Melody says:

    My daughter is 3 and I’ve only had to cut her hair so far 3 times – and the first time MIL did it. Her and I both have very fine hair. That makes it easy when you are young, but actually more difficult to do yourself when older. We don’t have body at all so if you mess-up, there is no ‘fluff’ to cover it up or anything! So I take myself to either SuperCuts or Hair Cuttery every 3 mo. or so. I have cut my husband’s hair in the past, but he wanted to try long hair again before he would be considered ‘too old’ (he’s 35 in July) and now he’s hoping to get it long enough to donate before chopping it off, again!

  106. Laura says:

    Electric clippers are so easy and you can get a decent pair for about $30! I always cut my husband’s hair and son’s hair. When necessary, I trim my daughter’s bangs or hair. My hair is long with a simple style, I don’t get it cut often. If you have at least 10 inches to cut, you can receive a free haircut at many locations if you donate to an organization such as Locks of Love.

  107. Golfing Girl says:

    I’ve been cutting my husband’s hair for 3 years now. I was scared to death the first time but he had observed the barber long enough to walk me through it and tell me which guards to use. Now I can do it in about 10 minutes and do a more throrough job than most stylists (because I care more).

    As for little girls, it’s all in the lenth. Long hair all one length is very easy to maintain. I cut my own hair because it’s long enough for me to pull it around the front. I get compliments all the time on my hair, so before someone makes the comments, no I’m not sacrificing quality.

    Now if I could just get my daughter to stop cutting her OWN hair…

  108. Meika says:

    How does your wife feel about you cutting the kids’ hair?

    I’ve tried with my daughter’s (2 yrs) several times, and it always looks like garbage. She’s wiggly, she doesn’t like fuzzies in her face, and I’m holding something sharp near her eyes. I’m pretty happy to spend the $6-$13 it costs to have someone else cut it and have it look downright cute.

  109. Craft Stew says:

    I’ve cut my husband and sons hair for over a decade. Even though the main reason I started was to save time, I’ve probably saved at least $1000.00 over the years. We also did our own lawn care and care repairs for the same reason…it was easier to do it ourselves than spend the time, money and stress to find someone reliable and cheap to do the services for us.

  110. Mary says:

    Trent, you can do this, or your wife! I started cutting my husband’s and first son’s hair about 6 years ago, added in second son 4 years ago. When we lived in AK couldn’t get a kids haircut for under $25 YIKES. I bought a pair of electric clippers ($20) and practiced with the guards that come with the clippers and no more $$ or time down the drain. Quite a lifetime of savings… my aunt cut her 4 “boys” hair until her 3 sons got married in their 20′s, they have NEVER been to a barber shop! Plus we cut hair at least every 3 weeks if not more often.

  111. Debbie M says:

    There are plenty of services I’m dissatisfied with:

    appliance repair – I try to learn as much as I can online and from books, but sometimes I just have to call someone out; I still don’t have a favorite.

    electricians – The two I have hired are even worse than me about dealing with grounds (one claimed to have but didn’t; one just stuffed the extra wire back in the hole). I now install ceiling fans and lights myself, but can’t rewire my house properly.

    plumbing – I used to have a good plumber but he’s gone. I’m too weak to deal with old, stuck pipes, but I have to make sure to get a plumber who understands my priorities: 1) make it work long term and safely, 2) make it affordable, 3) make it pretty. My first plumber wanted to yank everything out to put in new shiny things when all I really needed was a part he didn’t have in his truck.

    There are a lot of other people I would never hire because I know I would do a better job—not because I’m awesome, but because I care more and will spend more time (or at least more time than I am willing to pay someone else to spend) and I just don’t trust them: house painters, financial planners, tax preparers.

    Other people I would never hire unless I get significantly richer because I’d rather spend my money on other things: yard workers, launderers.

    Other people I can’t really imagine hiring, because I can’t understand how they would know what I want: Personal shoppers, housecleaners.

    @jonathan, another rule of thumb is to not buy a house you won’t be living in for at least five years. Based on that, I’d say either hold off until you need something bigger (saving more into increase your down payment) or buy the bigger house now.

    That’s so cute the way some of you think kids should get to choose their hair styles. We had some say, but basically were told (for this and many other issues) that we could decide things for ourselves when we grew up/turned 18. We could make requests, but our parents had the final say.

  112. Kirsty says:

    Ah, flashback time – my dad used to cut our hair when my brothers and I were little and we all used to HATE it. I guess he was OK at it but there was a distinct tendency towards the bowl approach. And he had this pair of thinning scissors that we all loathed because they really pulled.

    I think it’s OK to do it with smaller kids – I used to trim my son’s fringe while he slept because he absolutely hated going to the hairdresser’s – but older kids may have Views.

  113. Jessica says:

    I think you can do it. As a kid I had long hair and bangs, so my aunt used to just do a straight across cut after Sunday dinner (having cut all her own childrens’ hair). When I got a little older, a friend of a friend who was a hair dresser would come cut all my teenage whims at our home, as sort of a side job, until my own best friend went into a beauty vocational program and made me a guinea pig. Now, I cut my own hair using some instructions on how to layer your hair I read somewhere on the internet. It looks fine and professional, and really saves me time and energy, as I hate going to the salon, taking time out of my day, and trying to explain a simple cut to someone. Furthermore, I would never go very often, so my hair always looked shaggy and the hair dresser would always look at it and ask why I hadn’t gone in so long, don’t I know I should trim it every three weeks (what?), etc.

  114. Melissa says:

    I’m 24, and the only people to ever cut my hair are my mother and myself. I’ve never had a bad haircut (at least, not one that I remember) and with my hair, I’m saving about $50 every two months now.

    Plus, I still get a cookie if I sit still.

  115. Erica Douglas says:

    I’m checking out this site today for the fabulous laundry detergent recipe, but I had to comment about this post. One of my colleagues was a hairdresser before she started her current career. She cuts the hair of several people at work for ten bucks a pop. She’s fabulous, it takes only a few minutes before or after work, and it’s incredibly easy to schedule. I’ve had people compliment my haircut and when I explain how I got my haircut, they’re always envious. It’s an easy way for her to make a few extra dollars and the results are amazing.

  116. Marsha says:

    I’m with all the people that are urging you to make an appointment for the next time when you have your kid’s hair cut. That way you can get all three of your qualifications at once. Just ask the hair stylist how long it should be between cuts.

  117. Ilah says:

    I’ve cut my husband’s hair for years-I learned just by watching the barber or beautician. I cut both my son’s hair when they were still at home. I started cutting my own hair probably 20 years ago. It was easier when it was long, but I still do it now that it is shorter. I got so tired of beauticians not listening to what I wanted. I even brought pictures in many, many times. My hair never looked even remotely like the pictures. I got tired of paying $15+ for a lousy haircut and they wanted a tip besides. However, if I could find a beautician who would actually cut my hair as I asked, I would gladly pay her as cutting my own is kind of a chore and I need to be somewhat of a contortionist to get the angles I want.

  118. NJ Hipster says:

    It’s impractical for everyone to get their hair cut at home.

    I wear my hair very short for a female (the longest piece being on the right side of my face, and it reaches my chin.) The rest is very short.

    There’s no way I could maintain this style on my own, without butchering it (literally) and making me look more masculine.

    Yeah, I could grow my hair out and it would be “easier”, but long hair is a lot to take care of, and having long hair doesn’t make me feel like me.

    I’m saying this because I wouldn’t be surprised that your daughter, once in her teens, decides to be more trendy and want to experiment with her appearance.

  119. amy o in yokohama says:

    my daughter (for some unfathomable reason) would rather have wiggly bangs cut by me than go to a salon (even though I could get her hair cut for a dollar when I get mine cut). So I– who have absolutely NO haircutting talent or genes whatsoever (my sister got all those)– am forced to trim my daughter’s bangs and straight across the back. Which I stink at. When is she going to realize that Mommy cuts her bangs wiggly? Should I be thankful she doesn’t notice right now?

    I second the notion of asking around–some people (like my sister) have great natural haircutting ability/genes/whatever and would probably be willing to cut your kids’ hair in trade for something (your homebrew, Trent? some fresh bread? some computer fixing/advice?) Ask around!

  120. Tall Bill says:

    Cut their hair while you can. Time flys & at some point, they will say no to you & want a cut at a professional. At that point you’ll be money ahead & able to offset other costs kicking in as they get active in activities not included in school.

    Good Luck!!

  121. Nate says:

    Trent,
    I’m an ex cosmetologist but retrained for a higher paying job. I can tell you and everyone out there that cutting hair isn’t as easy as it looks. Would you stitch up your kids cuts just because it seemed easy to do? Would you paint your own car? Lay bricks on your house? Rewire your house? OF COURSE NOT! You leave those things to the professionals! Granted you can probably snip here and there on your kids heads and do an OK job. However, do you want your kids to have a great professional hair style? If the answer is “yes” then go to a professional. If this is such a big deal for you, why don’t you attend a local barber or cosmetology school? You’ll learn all aspects of haircutting and hairstyling along with manicuring and facials. You also get the privalege of buying salon products at cost rather than retail.
    I attended a government supported Vocational-Techincial school part-time. The tuition was quite low and got a state grant that covered most of my tuition. Also they had a free bus service as well.

  122. julia says:

    I really agree that cutting your own hair saves a lot of money..for example I moved to Tokyo to study last year when I turned 19 and cutting my own hair saved me a great deal of money..from my usual trip to the salon once every 2 months .. I surprised myself with the ability to cut my own hair..its really not that difficult after all if you tried..Plus its not like every trip to the salon equates definite success..

  123. Becky says:

    When my husband and I first got married, he asked me to start cutting his hair. I remember crying the first time I did it. :) But he encouraged me to keep trying.

    Now I have been cutting his hair for over 10 years. I also cut my son’s hair. That is a savings of at least $20 a month.

    I only get my hair cut every 3-4 months or more. So the savings from cutting their hair enables me to get my hair cut by a professional. :)

  124. Kilohoku says:

    My wife has cut my hair since a trip to a barber left me with a serious skin infection in 1989. She went to a shop and watched for a while. We have saved ~$16,000 since then. Every hair cut, I put the tariff into savings. The gross is now $24,000. It is also wonderful opportunity for conversation.

  125. Jennifer says:

    Funny, my husband and I just went through this whole process. We bought a $29 clipper, and we give our young boys crew cuts during the warm months. It is more convenient than having to find the time to lug them somewhere, they don’t care about the style, and it does save money — you break even after two cuts. Another bonus — it is easier to wash their hair, they are still young enough that they cry, but crew cuts allow you to do it with a washcloth.

  126. Kim says:

    My youngest son still comes home from college and asks for a haircut while he’s here. He’s going to hate it when he graduates and moves away for work and has to go to a barber. My middle boy only asks me to cut hair when he’s desperate and I refuse because he’s such a fussbudget about his hair. I’ve cut the kids and my husband’s hair for years and years.

    If you want to stay married, for heaven’s sake don’t even try cutting your wife’s hair, unless she is determined to have you do it.

  127. Andrea says:

    Certainly there are lots of responses on this one, but I’m surprised scanning the responses that no one pointed out Amy Daczyn’s descriptions of how to cut a childs hair. It is in one of the three Tightwad Gazette books. What a great resource!

    I’ve been practicing on my youngest so that as he gets older I’ll be better and he will be content to let me keep saving the $15.

    Last week he decided he needed to give himself a cut and now he has a buzz, but that is a whole other story!

  128. Jon says:

    My solution has always been to have long hair, I can’t remember the last time I paid for a haircut.

  129. EllaJo08 says:

    I didn’t have time to read all 128 comments before mine, but most of them seem to be in agreement: cutting at home is much cheaper. For my two sons and my husband, I use a Wahl clippers: $25 at Wal-Mart (four years ago) with a case and all the attachments. They have very clear directions in the box, and plenty of tools for an excellent boy’s cut. Also, pay close attention while the stylist is doing your son’s hair the next time. Ask him/her more about what s/he is doing, and then do it yourself next time. For a variation on the buzz cut: I use a 3/8 shield for the sides and back of the head, and a 5/8 shield for the top. I use the included shields for cutting around the ear. Use a bare blade for making a straight line in the back and to trim sideburns. But it is very important to clean your blade EVERY time and to oil every second or third (just a tiny little drop while the blades are running), to keep from yanking the hair right out of your son’s head. After you’re comfortable, you’ll be able to experiment with the scissors and guides that are included in the box with the clippers, and get more variety. Good luck, and enjoy the SAVINGS!!

  130. Beth says:

    RE: “And God help your family and their coifs.”
    Oh please with the snide comments–we’re trying to HELP each other here, not be snarky.
    I know plenty of people who cut their family’s hair and eveyone looks fine, not ridiculed in school, enjoy solid professional reputations at work. Let’s stop with the meanness, there are other sites for that. The Perfect Comprimise is getting a good cut at Hair Cuttery and letting your spouse trim it a few times before you go back.

  131. Chris says:

    You need to think of it as trimming the hair not cutting. Just take a little bit off around the ears or wherever it begins sticking out every other week or so. This is much less intimidating than setting out to do a once every 6 week haircut.

    It is easier to do quick trims and less intimidating. Every once in a while you can go to a pro to get back the layers and etc. Think of it as extending the length between haircuts.

  132. I have heard barber schools are an affordable place to get a good haircut . . .

  133. Vanessa says:

    While I think it’s generally a sound idea,and a good way to avoid the incredibly out-of-proportion prices that are charged for kids things in general, there is one thing that is an important consideration that no one is really addressing: hair texture. Cutting hair is much more than being able to cut a straight line. As someone with very thick hair, I need to get it “thinned” out at a salon. Not everyone has silky hair that flows nicely. Hair can be kinky, wirey, thick, ultra fine, or a combination of the above.

    I think a compromise is best – a couple of pro cuts a year, and make it count (like taking off a lot of length and bulk before summer’s heat). Finally, please use a good leave in conditioner – nothing looks as tacky and cheap as gross, dry, split-end hair, even on kids.

  134. Mel says:

    @121 – Nate:
    I’m a computer programmer. I can’t count the number of times people have said ‘I could do that!’. Then they go off and try it, and I or someone like me (or you) is called in to clean up their mess.
    On the other hand, some people take the time to learn the skills they need to do it, and do it well enough. Sure, it might not be perfect, and I might’ve done it better or faster, but it’s good enough for their needs. They’re the people you and I *don’t* see professionally. (And they take some of the more mundane work – the trims, the short-back-and-sides, leaving me the interesting stuff.)

    My point is, that most of the people commenting here (with *repeat* cuts on family members) probably have put in the time and effort needed, and it’s good enough for their needs. What’s the worst that can happen? You or your (ex-)colleagues get some extra business and a laugh if you’re so inclined. No-one’s kid is going to get gangrene, and no-ones house is going to burn down because of it. Lighten up already!

    (I realise the futility of responding to an almost year-old comment. Just wanted to get it off my chest.)

  135. And as a result says:

    as a result of a cheap parent, the kid goes to school with a bowl haircut and gets made fun of for years of his life. Thanks Dad. You saved $180/yr..

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