The Simple Dollar Morning Roundup: Frugal Haircut Edition

Later today, I’m going to attempt to cut my own hair. Why? I want to see if it works, and if it’s too bad, I’ll go to the barbershop and have him trim it up quite short. Mostly, I am just insanely curious about trying things for myself that I regularly pay others to do.

Jobs That Pay Badly And People Who Choose Them I think he’s got it right about return on investment, but some people would prefer not to invest much at all and not worry about a smaller return. Think about it: a person who graduates from high school and then immediately begins a manual labor job spends four years in the workforce earning money, while others go to college and usually rack up debt during that period. The assumption is that their higher paying job will recoup that college debt, but that’s not always a guarantee. (@ the tao of making money)

Unexpected Expenses Typically Reach $2,000 Annually And guess where the average American puts that expense? Straight onto plastic, which quite often makes the problem worse. I want to shout from the rooftops, “Get an emergency fund, people! Whatever you have to do, get one!” (@ queercents)

Save Money On Hobbies Right now, my two most expensive hobbies are my Wii and cooking. The Wii’s biggest expense is my temptation to get a new game for it, which rarely happens – with cooking, I generally produce a tasty product (like the honey wheat bread I made yesterday, for example). (@ lazy man and money)

The Simple Dollar Retro: The Longest Night Want to understand how desperate I was when I faced financial meltdown? This pretty much sums it up.

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  1. MO says:

    Been cutting my DH’s hair for years.
    Of course it’s nothing fancy, just the 1/2 inch all around.
    Don’t know how old you are, but don’t forget the ears!!!
    Really like your blog,
    THE BEST of the bunch

  2. kevin says:

    get a RoboCut! Easy to do yourself and no mess!

  3. Avlor says:

    I’ve cut my family’s hair for several years now. (We had too many cheap hair cuts that hubby came back from and I’d “fix” and I’m no professional! I bought clippers and the fam doesn’t have to wait till we have cash to get haircuts.)

  4. Travis says:

    I started cutting my own hair to save money a few years back. I have a simple short hair cut (#3 on top, #1 on the side and fade the sides in to the top) and figured I could do it myself with a little practice.

    It took a few times to perfect the process of using a hand mirror to see the back but I’ve got it down pretty well.

    I was most nervous cutting my own hair a week before my wedding figuring that would be a bad time to make the first big mistake but it turned out fine.

  5. Corey says:

    I’ve been cutting my own hair since 1993 (with no guard) and I recently started cutting my wifes hair too with the 1/2 inch guard. I buy a new $20 pair of clippers about every 3 years, you can’t really beat that for frugality as apposed to getting a $10 haircut every couple of weeks or even once a month. I love reading your blog, it has helped me stay on track in getting my own family’s finances on track. Congratulations on the new baby too!

  6. vh says:

    Waitaminit. That article about jobs that pay poorly (etc.) leaves something to be desired. Click on the CNN link and explore around in there, and you get to a bunch of pages describing jobs our intrepid reporters think earn oodles of bucks.

    Say what? Real estate appraiser? Real estate appraisers earn in the six figures???? The guy across the street from me–proprietor of Dave’s Used Car Lot, Marina, and Weed Arboretum–is a real estate appraiser. Even when things were good, he didn’t appear to be making any money.

    Meanwhile, excuse me? I’m an academic, and I can assure you that researchers in the hard sciences make a good living, and so do those in business. Arizona State University recently hired a young woman fresh out of graduate school with a Ph.D. in accountancy at a salary in the six figures.

    True, if you’re in the humanities or the social sciences, you most certainly are not going to start at a good income at the university (or any other) level. However, many university administrators work their way up from the humanities–my dean is tenured in French literature, for example–and academic administrators make six-figure incomes.

    But if you want to start out well and not have to politic your way into an administrative position, a Ph.D. in engineering, biosciences, any business subdiscipline will get you a good income right out of the box.

  7. Brandon says:

    I’ve been cutting my own hair for the last 12 years or so, it’s actually not as difficult as you would think – good luck!

  8. I’ve been in so many couch surfing emergencies, my emergency fund became three months rent- first, last, and one month’s deposit.

  9. Stephanie says:

    I wrote a bit about getting haircuts in my blog. I don’t trust myself to cut my own hair…I would trust a friend to do it, though! I wrote about how you can go to the cheap place, and it will still work out.

    You’ve got a great blog, by the way!

  10. UncleOxidant says:

    I cut my own hair with a thingy (not sure what it’s called – I think a “feathering comb” or something like that) that I got at the beauty supply store for $3. It looks like a comb with short tines that has a replaceable razor blade in it. Folding handle, made of steel. I had a haircut several years back where the person doing the cut used one of these thingies and I asked her about it – told me where I could find one. So ever since then I’ve been doing it myself. Just a trim with it every few days and that’s it. I’ve no doubt saved several hundred dollars since I started doing this in about 2003.

  11. AT says:

    Re. Jobs That Pay Badly And People Who Choose Them:

    Initially, after an undergraduate degree and graduate degree (to put the financial investment in perspective), I chose a poor-paying career because I had the passion for it. It’s an industry that people don’t choose for the money but for the feelings it provides (thrill, passion, warm and fuzzy, etc.). When you’re 22 it’s easy to declare, “Money will work itself out, it’s important that I love what I’m doing.” Cute, huh?

    I’ve since switched careers, as have most of the others I know who were in that first career when I was. They too have two levels of postsecondary education. Some have gone back to school for a third (or more) time. We’re all in our late 20s-early 30s.

    Passion moves out and is replaced by burnout. We worry about saving money, the stress of living pay-to-pay, student loans, and the realization that some day we want to have a family with the expenses that go with it. Many of us are single, fending for ourselves. Most of us are female.

    A lot of the tips in this blog – such as the one earlier today about cutting from bills – are methods that I used while in my previous career. Now I have the luxury of spending more, but I don’t. The freedom to do so is enough. I’ve grown accustomed to that lower standard of living and enjoy watching my savings grow and debt shrink.

    I’ll gladly do something ELSE that I enjoy that pays well rather than something that I have passion for but causes financial stress. One can often pursue the other industry part time without the pressure.

    Re. hair cuts: No one’s mentioned the Flowbee yet?

  12. For the last five years we have been trimming our hairs at home. For every hair cut it has saved us around $20. In a year we save around $400 to $500 in saloon fees. Sincerely, we have been adding it to our nest egg aka retirement savings.
    Besides its great fun and a wonderful learning experience to give neat hair cuts though being amateurs. We got our hair trimming kit from Costco. But of late we have seen similar ones at Walmart too.

  13. Matt says:

    I’m going to post what I wrote at The Tao of Making Money.

    I recently graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Culinary Arts. When I was 16 I thought this was a fabulous career, I was working in a restaurant with other cooks that I idolized. They were always partying getting laid and having tons of fun. Why wouldn’t anyone want to do this? I thought.

    I thought wrong. Now, I spend 80 hours a week in a hot kitchen working my ass off getting yelled at for what amounts to about $6 an hour, and no benefits, vacation, or days off except for the one day a week the restaurant is closed. Sure we produce great food, have gotten great reviews and the customers are happy. But why am I sacrificing so much? So some reviewer will give this restaurant one more star? So what. I may be proud of what I do and it’s enjoyable sometimes but the quality of life is horrible and not something I can see myself doing for much longer. I could make more money and work less at a fast food restaurant. Degree? Skill? Experience? Who cares.

    I’ve been finding myself spending the little free time I have reading and learning about money and finance, a topic I enjoy that actually pays well. I envy people I see in office jobs that work half as much as I do with vacations, benefits, etc. But people say you have a craft, a skill that other people don’t have. You have the pride of doing something great. Yea, well my kids can’t eat my dignity.

    Does anyone have any suggestions or advice on changing careers after graduating from college? Or what jobs are available to people with Bachelor’s degrees? I’ve about had it with this one.

  14. Ryan says:

    My fiancee does mine. Bought a Wahl clipper for $25 on Amazon, and saved that much on haircuts pretty quickly. It uses 8 different sized clips (1/8 to 1 inch long) so you quickly learn which ones to use where. We’ve gotten the process down to 20 minutes now, too.

  15. Monica says:

    I cut my husband’s hair using electric clippers and a pair of scissors. The clippers came with a video that explains the process quite well.

    I also cut my own hair (straight, all one length) with the help of mirrors.

  16. Tuckpendleton says:

    Matt — not sure if you are still reading, but why not teach at a culinary school? You’d have bennies, set hours, vacation, and you’d have a more normal working life. Might be an easy way to get you out of the kitchen, while still using something you have a ton of knowledge on. Alternatively, you could offer private cooking lessons, if you’re in an area that would support that.

  17. Dean says:

    I shave my hair hair weekly with a £10 razor bought nearly exactly 4 years ago (though I’m getting ready for a new one)

    That’s a saving of at least £1030 assuming you use a cheap barber.

  18. dayatatime says:

    This is one topic I can’t get on the same page as the rest of you. I am female, old enough to have gray hair, and my hair grows fast and is very thin and very fine and wispy and stringy looking (it’s not a medical or dietary condition–I checked with the doctor; it is hereditary). I can live with the fact that it is never going to look great. I can live with pretending I think the gray is fine. (It is not an attractive silver or salt and pepper–it is spotty and just old-looking gray.) But I find it near-impossible to cut it myself or let a friend do it without it looking godawful. I hope you don’t think I am trying to make excuses and that I am choosing to remain in debt because of my vanity over my hair. This is a big problem for me because I can’t afford haircuts. Until recently I was spending from $50-$70 for a cut, shampoo, and blow-dry and tip. I looked presentable (not beautiful, not trendy and stylish or sexy—just presentable enough to look like I try to take care of myself) but only if I maintained this about every 5 weeks. I did not. I would spread it out for 8 weeeks, to save money. I have now decided to go to the cheapest salons I can find (I’m in the NYC area) and hope for the best. I recently spent $30 for a shampoo and cut and tip and left with a wet head so I could save $10 for a blow-dry. The cut is just fine and I feel like a million bucks because I look groomed and presentable. It has made a huge difference is how I feel about myself and how motivated I am to present myself to the world.

    However, $30 is $30 that could go toward my debt.

    Can anyone else (women, I guess) relate to this problem, or do I sound hopelessly extravagant? This is a real dilemma for me.

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