Updated on 02.11.11

Some Thoughts on Haircuts and Frugality

Trent Hamm

This past week, I was fairly irked by a tweet by a high-profile Twitter denizen that basically said “you’re a loser if you’ve ever cut your own hair.”

Simply put, it’s another perpetuation of the idea that somehow frugality is uncool.

So, let’s start out with a confession.

Hi. My name is Trent. I have a wife and three children. I live a pretty normal life. Over the past fifteen years or so, I’ve cut my own hair at least a few dozen times. Really.

I don’t really think it’s “cool” to go to a salon or a barbershop and wait for long periods. I don’t think it’s particularly “awesome” to spend $15 minimum to have someone else use a pair of scissors when I’m fully capable of doing it myself.

As a fully functional human being, I’m quite capable of standing in front of the bathroom mirror and using hair clippers and scissors to make my hair look decent.

Yeah, I’ve had others cut my hair sometimes, usually when I want it to look well-styled for family pictures or a wedding. I can see needing such treatment if you’re a model and there’s financial benefit in having a stunning hairstyle.

Me? Last I checked, I’m not a model. I want to look good and presentable each day, but you know what? I can easily accomplish that with clippers and scissors and five minutes in front of a mirror.

If handing my cash and my time to someone else to do something I can easily do myself makes me “uncool,” then that’s a badge I don’t mind wearing.

That’s not to say that I think haircuts are useless. Many people get a self-esteem boost from a nice haircut. Others deeply enjoy the tactile sensation of a good haircut. If that’s the case for you and you have some disposable income, sure, enjoy yourself!

Me? I don’t really feel better after a haircut save for the sensation of not having hair in my eyes. I’m actually not much of a fan at all of people prodding and poking on my head or using sharp scissors near my ear while they’re watching television or chatting with someone. I’ll do that myself, thank you.

Let me step back and make a grander statement.

If your reason for doing something – anything at all in your life – largely ends with “that’s what people do” or “that’s what people I look up to do,” that’s an awful reason for doing it.

If you use that philosophy honestly in evaluating your life, you’re going to end up leading a great life by anyone’s standards because you’re living by what’s actually important to you rather than by the offhand comments of someone you don’t even know.

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  1. Cheryl says:

    Some people have hair that’s very forgiving, I don’t, so I have my hair cut at a salon…$10 every 2-3 months.

    On the other hand, many years ago my father-in-law (a barber) taught me to cut my husband’s hair. I’ve been doing it every since and also cut my son’s hair. DH theory is you have to “train” your barber to cut your hair like you want it, so he has me trained.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I don’t cut my own hair. Trust me, it would be a disaster! People should do what’s best for them. I’m not really sure why this warranted a whole blog post though.

  3. Greg says:

    I actually enjoy having my hair cut (going to the barber shop is like a trip to a different planet), and I would not like my hairdresser to join the ranks of the unemployed. So I don’t mind spending 10 € every 3 to 4 months for social justice and personal space travel. My favourite is going to barber shops in foreign countries – you just would not believe how different they are!

  4. KC says:

    So I clicked on the tweet to see who said it. Then I looked at her hair. Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t cast stones.

  5. Michelle says:

    Why on earth do you care what someone thinks, not even of you personally, but about people who cut their hair?

    A lot of judgement in this post…shows your true colours.

  6. Adam P says:

    It all comes down to conscious spending. Some people LOVE to look good, and a great haircut is totally worth the price.

    There are studies of course, that show that attractive people earn more money than unattractive people and generally are happier. But that’s outside of this point.

    If you feel like spending money on your hair, and it makes you happy, then it’s a good thing.

    If you think it’s a waste of money like Trent does, then that’s also a good thing.

    Personally, I get a good cut every 3 weeks even though I’m a man. I like looking good while I still “got it” and I work in a corporate office where to climb the ladder you can’t look like you cut your own hair (if I did, it would look terrible, trust).

    But for another person, who blogs at home and is married with children, they can probably easily justify cutting their own hair with clippers and enjoy the savings.

    Cost benefit analysis. The cost of a haircut can be minor if you go to the right places and I’m not sure for men anyway if there is a high correlation between money spent and quality of cut. But I like my hairdresser and enjoy our talks and socialize with her outside the salon occasionally too.

  7. Kacie says:

    Yeah she doesn’t seem very nice.

    My husband has cut his own hair for a few years. It saves a lot of money, and he doesn’t have to spend time making small-talk at the barber’s, which he hates.

  8. moom says:

    Who’s Heather B. Armstrong? Anyway, a haircut costs $A25 (USD 25) here. Sometimes I trim my hair a bit between cuts to stretch the time a bit but really I couldn’t possibly cut my hair myself unless I went for the all shaved off look of course.

  9. Diane says:

    I’m super frugal. I make my own pita bread and tofu from scratch, wash out baggies, don’t have a housecleaner, etc etc.

    But I still plump for the expensive hair cut/color. It’s traumatic to have a bad haircut experience, and I trust my hairdresser. I’m self-employed and frankly my own self IS my marketing. Clients don’t want to work with someone who looks like they can’t manage their own self, much less million dollar projects for them. At least mine would think twice about it. I need to look professional.

    I definitely couldn’t do the same job myself. Could I cut it? Sure. Could I go to a cheaper place? Sure. But this is an indulgence I choose to make and make happily because it makes me feel good and more confident.

    I think it’s a girl thing though. I was recently in a car with three guys and two girls. ALL the guys didn’t pay more than $10 for a haircut, and one had cut his own hair for over 40 years. ALL of women went for the $$$ salon cuts.

  10. Lex says:

    Looking at her picture on her twitter looks like she enjoys throwing money away. Her haircut looks awful.

  11. Chad says:

    Early in our relationship to my wife I asked her to try to cut my hair. It was a bit tense and slow going, but she did a good job. She’s personally invested in how I look and she cares that it’s done correctly.. you don’t get that attention from most of the hair cutters I’ve ever met.

    That was 6 years ago.

    If I were to have paid a barber for a cut, every other month since then, it’s a little over $800 we’ve saved.

  12. Nick says:

    Oh yea. When I was living in DC (expensive city) with a bunch of other twenty-somethings, we used to have haircut and a shot night.

    We would all cut each others hair and take a shot.

    Not only did it end up okay, but if I recall correctly people in my house would occasionally have bedfellows even though we had cut our own hair.

    That said, I’m pretty sure Dooce may have been joking and I laughed at the tweet.

  13. NCN says:

    Some folks have hair that is relatively easy to cut and style, and cutting at home makes perfect “cents”.

  14. Chad says:

    Hahah.. I clicked through to see her twitter page and at first I thought her id was “Dooche.”


  15. Interested Reader says:

    It’s really interesting that you talk about not being influenced by other people and what they think. And yet,that’s what this whole post is.

    Some stranger said something, not directed to you at all, and somehow it hurt your feelings.

  16. Gretchen says:

    Let’s not care what other people think about our hair.

    Unless we can get a post out of it.

  17. kjc says:

    “I’m actually not much of a fan at all of people prodding and poking on my head or using sharp scissors near my ear while they’re watching television or chatting with someone. I’ll do that myself, thank you.”

    So… you watch TV and chat with someone while cutting your own hair?


  18. Jenny says:

    That was a rude thing for her to say. I have long hair and have cut it myself the past couple of times, knowing that if I botched it I could easily go in and have it evened up by a pro without it being too short. My husband cuts his own hair too, and I help him do the back. A lot of people need to cut the budget a little further than skipping manicures and cutting back on Starbucks. Anyway, that tweet irritates me too. I think it’s insensitive and shallow.

  19. Stephanie says:

    I don’t get my haircut that often. And when I do, I don’t spend a ridiculous amount. I don’t go to a fancy Boston salon, I go in the suburbs where it’s cheaper. I save my money in lots of other ways, and paying maybe $120 a year to keep myself looking put together is important. I know I need to look good, both for self esteem and for appearances in general, so it’s worth it to spend the cost of a few fancy dinners on hair over the year.

  20. Hannah says:

    Dooce is notorious for throwing out offensive remarks. It’s how she makes her living, so if it bothers you, the worst thing you can do is give her more attention. I enjoy her blog, but I have to admit that tweet rubbed me the wrong way too. No one can afford everything, and it’s just harsh to suggest that people must be social outcasts if they prioritize differently.

  21. Jeanette says:

    Just because we disagree on how money is spent (or if it is spent) on something gives, whether a home, haircut or car or clothes, no one has the right to be mean-spirited or rude. I didn’t see the Tweet, but judging from the comments here, it was both. Unnecessary and unacceptable.

    Personally, I don’t agree with all of Trent’s choices, but I support his right to live his life as he see fits. I would hope that he in turn allows others to do the same even if their definition of “frugal” differs from his. I think the problem is that sometimes he comes off a bit judgmental himself or perhaps defensive of his choices.

    One issue not raised here is the fact that many families simply cannot afford even the cheapest salon/stylist haircuts for men, women and/or children. It’s not an option. They are forced to cut their own hair. Often with bad results.

    Trent and most of us have a choice about this. Some families learn to cut hair and do it well. Others, alas, do a terrible job. Hence the stigma for many kids in terms of being picked on and labeled. (it’s wrong for them, too. But they are kids and must be taught not to judge and label. Adults should know better.)

    A bad or unflattering haircut doesn’t signal “frugal” or even “poor” and some of those awful (in our opinion) haircuts often cost quite a bit.

    But looking well-groomed and as attractive as we can is essential these days if one is to get or hold a position in most businesses. (No we’re not talking minimum wage sales clerk or fast food clerk positions here. We’re talking corporate world jobs, jobs as consultants or independent contractors and the self-employed. Jobs where your appearance is considered a part of the whole package.)

    We’ve known tons of rich people (and I mean RICH) who literally look as if they fell out of bed each day and never put a brush or comb (or their fingers) through their heads. They can do that cause they’re independently wealthy and depend on no one’s opinion of them to be hired or fired.

    For the rest of us toiling away, we need to maintain an appearance in line with our profession. (I once worked in PR for companies that made beauty products. We dealt with the top beauty editors. You can bet WE had to look good. We even had to use our client’s products and services!)

    That said, there are plenty of low-cost ways to get a good haircut: Barter with a stylist (I’ve done that when I was flat broke) who does freelance work; Plenty of them around today!

    Serve as a salon model at various salons when their newest stylists are in training. Free or highly discounted cuts.

    Get a style that doesn’t require a cut/trim more than every three or four months.

    Right now, I average out $12 to $15 a month for the three or four cuts I get a year. Would I like to have my hair cut/styled more often? Sure, but I can’t afford it.

    That $12 is what a movie ticket costs in the major city I live in, or maybe three coffees. I can surely allocate that much a month for a decent haircut/styling.

    It’s all about priorities. And what is required to get and keep a job. Especially these days.

    Alas, dressing “down” and looking dissheveled is a look only the really rich can “afford.”

  22. Hope D says:

    I read this post after cutting my husband’s and youngest son’s hair. I do it to save time and money. My husband’s hair is easy to cut. If I won’t cut it, he will. It looks awful when he does it. I can’t cut my own. It is thick and wavy. If I cut it straight across, it would bush out and look crazy. I color and high light my hair myself. I don’t want to pay $100 for it. I could care less if someone else thinks I’m a loser for doing so. I think she is a loser for being so haughty.

  23. Hope D says:

    I just looked at the author of that twitter. I like her hair cut. That is how I just cut my son’s.

  24. Interested Reader says:

    I also find it interesting that several people here are mad at the author for being judgmental about home hair cuts so they decide to be judgmental about her haircut.

    How is that so different than what she is doing?

  25. ChrisD says:

    I actually started to grow my hair really long because I was annoyed by the idea that you HAD to cut your hair every 6 weeks. I felt as if this statement was saying ‘if you don’t do that you are a looser’ and wanted to reject it. Result: long low maintenance hair with cut price student cut every six months (probably needs to be cut more often than that though).
    On the other hand, in the film Election, the main character has ‘bad’ haircuts thoughout the movie and a ‘good’ hair cut at the end. I wouldn’t have thought I’d notice it, but there was quite a difference.

  26. Maya says:

    It all comes down to what’s important for you, and what your hairstyle preference would be. When my husband had shoulder length hair he went to the local discount salon for trims. But now he just pulls out his clippers to shave his head when he feels like it. In college I realized that I had been getting the same basic haircut for years and had no desire to change, so I talked my best friend into cutting it under my instruction. She cut my hair for about 5 years before I got a less-basic hairstyle. It was so much fun! Now I’m always frustrated because I want more than a $10 salon experience; but since I really don’t care about my hair paying $60 for a trim seems extremely excessive. I wish I had a friend who could cut my hair now (I don’t have the coordination to cut my own hair).

  27. Valerie says:

    I’m pretty sure this is somewhat gendered. I know a lot of men who cut their own hair. No big deal if you don’t have a “style”. For women, this is much more difficult. I cut my own hair once last year, and it was fine. Just fine. (As in, barely passed as fine). Unless a woman is going for a very short “boy” cut, this can be very tough.

  28. Susan says:

    My husband and I are both professionals who earn six figure incomes. We are active in our community and church and have a meaningful circle of friends. We have three sons and I have cut their hair for the last fifteen years. From time to time, the men in our family have had a professional hair stylist cut their hair only to have me ‘fix it’ within a week. I think that there is absolutely no shame in cutting your own hair. My husband tolerate barbers but cannot tolerate engaging in conversations about himself with women he does not know.
    I must admit, however, as the sole female in our household that I have my hair professionally cut every few months (for less than $40 including a tip). I trim my bangs and color it myself.

  29. Becky says:

    I go to a good salon when I have a haircut that needs skill to look good. At various times I’ve lived an urban professional lifestyle and chosen somewhat finicky styles, and my hair’s a bit wavy, so I had to spend money to get a good-looking, styling haircut.

    Currently, I live in the middle of nowhere and telecommute (see my co-workers in person twice a year). So, I grew may hair long and cut it myself every six weeks or so, when the ends look untidy or my bangs (fringe) need trimming. I color it myself, when the gray starts to show. As long as I keep it clean and neatly pulled back, it looks nice. With a style like this, there’s no way anybody could tell whether I cut it myself or went to a salon.

    Haircuts go along with the rest of the way a person chooses to live; you have to do a cost-benefit analysis and decide what’s right for you.

    I think the issue here is that some people never rrealize that paying someone else to cut your hair is not absolutely required for everybody who wants to be well-groomed and presentable. Sure, home haircuts aren’t for everybody, depending on their job, hair texture, chosen hair style, etc. But they are an option.

  30. Amateur says:

    This would work even better if you liked the shaved head look and you’ve got a head shaped for that style. It works well for some people I’m sure but for everyone else it’s not something they want to do. People notice when a haircut looks “off” or for a lot of men, it does not look neat especially from the backside. Nothing wrong with any of that, except you won’t be able to change your style so easily since you are unskilled beyond your current style.

  31. Amanda says:

    I wish I had the ability to cut my bangs. Use the frugal tips you’re capable of!

  32. MM says:

    I haven’t paid to get my hair cut for over fifteen years. I grew it long, grew out my bangs, and I trim the ends whenever I feel like it. I color at home to hide the grey. I wash it, condition, brush it, and let it air dry, and I can pull it into a ponytail or a bun. I don’t judge my friends who do want to spend time and money getting their hair done every month, but I’m much happier for myself spending my money on other things.

  33. Joanna says:

    Ha! Read this post after just having finished cutting the hubs’ hair. Too funny. Don’t let her get to you, Trent. Snarky is how dooce makes her living & pays for her haircuts.

  34. Will says:

    This cut-your-own-hair recommendation is something I must take issue with.

    Most frugality tips don’t affect a person socially. Making your own laundry detergent, thrifting, energy-proofing your home… these are GREAT tips that have no social cost.

    Cutting your own hair DOES have a social cost. People who are style-aware will notice when your hair looks bad, and they will infer that you don’t know or don’t care. It doesn’t reflect well.

    You can always say, “okay, well, if it’s worth it to you to pay for haircuts, then do it.” And that’s totally valid. But I think you’re underemphasizing the social cost of looking bad. Given how often professional hairstylists get it wrong, I’d be really hesitant to set a bunch of people loose on their own hair.

  35. Esme says:

    LOl I thought it said ‘Dooche’ as well. And thought she was a he. So much for her expensive haircut. LOL!

  36. krantcents says:

    I consider myself pretty frugal (cheap), but I draw the line at haircuts! I get a haircut every four (4) weeks. It costs me $25 (Los Angeles) including tip. My image is very important to me and I would rather cut somewhere else and I do.

  37. lurker carl says:

    I’ve had to cut my own hair and it didn’t make me feel like a loser – it just didn’t work out. My skull isn’t round enough for a shaved-head and lopsided or choppy haircuts are unacceptable. To maintain a consistant standard of grooming, I need a barber on a regular basis. Presentation matters; personally, socially and professionally.

  38. It gets me out of the house…and it’s kind of nice to have a cute girl run her fingers through my hair every once in a while! ;)

  39. guinness416 says:

    My husband spends five bucks plus tip for his haircut, and there’s competition at that rate ’round here (Toronto) in Chinese or South Asian hair places. It looks great. Although the barber may not necessarily speak great english so you’ve got to be sure he knows what you want. I could care less what decisions anyone makes about their hair, but for us it’s definitely worth it at that price.

  40. Jonathan Vaudreuil says:

    That Twitter comment is either a “Are you with me or not?” statement to her followers or just someone popping off a biased opinion. Either way, I’d love to see her back up her assumptions with an ounce of scientific research.

    As for cutting your own hair – from personal experience, this is not a difficult skill to master. For a long time I cleaned up after a hair cut, because nearly no one ever got it 100% right. Now that I’m slowly losing my hair I just use a pair of clippers designed for someone to cut their own hair. What’s the difference? Well, no one’s noticed a difference!

    I’d also like to add that my wife’s grandmother has cut her own hair for decades. She has the mirrors to do it and simply learned how long to cut her hair.

    If you want to keep paying someone to do it, trust me, I understand. I got a certain joy out of going to the barber shop myself. In the end I’d rather do it myself whenever I feel like it.

  41. Ellisa says:

    I’ve felt like some of the articles lately have just not been on par with the quality of posts you’ve had in the past. This is a perfect example of that.

    You already responded to Dooce’s tweet on twitter itself. This article seems like a rather immature response to a tweet that hurt your feelings. Brush it off and get over it. Its Twitter. Its not life and death. Its a sarcastic post by a blogger you don’t know…not judgement from someone in your personal life.

    It just seems contradictory to write about ignoring the judgement about being frugal if you’re going to dedicate a whole post to refuting what Dooce had to say. IGNORE IT! Plus, this post makes you sound like you think anyone who can’t cut their own hair in five minutes with clippers or scissors isn’t ‘a fully functional human being.’ Or that daring to spend money on a hair cut for reasons other than tactile sensation or self esteem are just a waste of money. News flash: Not all people can pull off a buzz cut or a one length hair style. People have different head shapes and different hair textures that require different styles. And it is possible to be frugal and still spend money on a hair cut.

    This article was a waste. Just get over the tweet for goodness sakes!

  42. kevin says:

    You’re a man. A haircut is, like , $15 every 2 months. What’s the big deal? Are you really so arrogant as to think that cutting hair is so easy, that any untrained schlub with a mirror can do it and get the same result?

    Maybe an idiot would pay someone to write a guest blog post. I mean, any idiot can put together a decent blog post, right? How hard can it be?

  43. Jeni says:

    I’ve been cutting my own hair since college (before that my mom usually cut it). I hate going to the salon and spending tons of money, and my hair never looked any better the few times I got it cut professionally. Usually I would end up with a horrible salon experience anyway and the hairdresser would end up pulling out giant clumps of hair.

  44. Marinda says:

    We invested in a great pair of clippers and have used them regularly for guy cuts. For trimming, for so many things, it works out great. I have a beauty school just down the road and my instructor supervised, student done cut cost 14 dollars and I have yet to have a bad cut. So we save and we spend and that’s how it goes. My daughter gets her thick, long hair cut there too.

  45. Stacy says:

    I read that tweet. I thought it was hilarious. All in good fun, right?

    I think you’re awesome, Trent, but I do disagree with you on this post.

    Isn’t frugality all about value? We spend money on what we value and not on what we don’t? Sure, maybe it’s rude for her to poke fun at others, but some of us value fancy hair cuts. It’s okay, as long as we’re not going into debt for it, right?

    I like my fancy haircuts. It’s a fun experience I have every six months. I’ll pay for it. And I actually got my first boyfriend directly after my first fancy haircut…soooo…maybe she’s right?

  46. Laundry Lady says:

    Perhaps we’re missing the point. What I got out of Trent’s post is that no one should ever feel belittled for their frugal choices. For some people it’s a DIY hair cut, for others it’s homemade bread and pre-made “convenience meals.” Learning to get by with less and “waste not, want not” doesn’t make anyone a loser.

  47. con says:

    Who cares if you cut your own hair or not? Are you really bothered by that? Man oh man. There are a lot of things in this world to get worked up about. I don’t think cutting your own hair or not is one of them. I realize this is a something that bothered you and you felt a need to post about it, but really? I’m 51 and you are younger (much) and I think as you get older, you will find these things are not so important. Cut your own hair and if anyone says you’re a “loser” for doing so, fine. Move on.

  48. Shannon says:

    Seriously Trent. One tweet by someone, that is not even directed at you, and you get so personally offended by it that you turn it into a blog post even after responding on twitter? Very excessive I feel. Don’t take everything so seriously (esp when it’s not even about you!)

  49. con says:

    #46…Maybe I was a bit harsh and I understand your point. But I still say who cares? If you care what someone says/thinks about your frugal ways, that’s just silly. Then you’re not very comfortable with your “ways.”

  50. Maureen says:

    A while ago (Sept 20, 2010) you posted that you were letting your hair grow out:

    “A few months ago, I decided to grow my hair out to ten inches in order to donate all of it to charity”

    I guess you don’t need haircuts at all if you are still growing it out. Did you make your goal?

  51. Pop says:

    Someday, we will no longer care about how others choose to live. That will be a great day.

  52. Diane says:

    @Kevin (#40): Yes, cutting hair IS hard to master if you are a woman with very curly/frizzy hair. It’s worth every dime I pay to someone else to get it right. I cannot do the same.

  53. Julie says:

    Not sure why some are upset at Trent for pointing out why some people avoid frugality because they fear being uncool. That doesn’t mean Trent is afraid of it.

    #51…I will always care how others choose to live when their choices ultimately affect me. I may appear judgemental, but many poor choices that others make cause crime to increase, my taxes to go up, etc. If I amd= going to be forced to help pay for their bad choices, then I have to judge them.

    And for you hair savy haircutting snobs, I once was talking about cutting my sons hair to two acquaintances who exchanged a “knowing” look to each other. I caught the look and inquired and found that they were both former hairdressers that chose to stay home and raise kids. They made the same commnent about recognizing a bad haircut. Well, if you ask me, neither of them had particularly attractive hair either. I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  54. mike crosby says:

    I’ve been doing my own going on six years. While it’s still a work in progress, by cutting my own hair it is just another way toward independence.

    When I look at most guys’ hair, fact is whether it’s done professionally or by themselves doesn’t matter–most guys’ hair looks like crap. And one other thing–hair styles are mostly determined by gays, a la the Perez Hilton look–thanks, but no thanks.

  55. Julie says:

    #28 Susan,

    You and I should be friends. I could have written virtually an identical post as you except for the fact that I have 2 sons and a daughter. My daughter has one length hair that is just past her shoulders. It is so easy to cut, even my husband could do it. The boys are a little more difficult, but at ages 16 and 18, they still prefer my haircuts to the barber.

  56. Shell says:

    There are four of us in our family. I cut everyone’s hair, including my own. My daughter spent $50.00 for a haircut not too long ago and came home in tears. She said “help me mom, they made me look like an ungroomed Sheep dog.” “They didn’t listen to what I wanted.” She did call and complain to the manager.I guess it isn’t just priorities, but a matter of taste. Some people don’t know a good haircut from a bad, including some so called professionals.I am always being asked where I get my hair cut. I happily reply, “in front of my bathroom mirror.” It’s a fairly easy skill to learn. You just have to practice, like any thing else.

  57. Shell says:

    By the way, who are these people that keep telling you to be non judgemental while they are judging you and your blog. They seem to want to tell you what to think ,say and feel and then say, don’t let what others think bother you. Huh????!!! Not their blog. Let them start their own.

  58. Claudia says:

    I work as a tour guide from March to October. As a tour guide you don’t need a fancy look, but you need to support a “general care about yourself” image. I also do part time internet sales. For them you really don’t need any good looks at all. I have short hair – is a better frugal choice during Apr-Oct due to hot summer time, time spent to brush it, arrange it and rearrange it during the day. So during summer time I get two proffessional haircuts, but the type of haircuts that don’t look bad after 4-5 months either.

  59. Peggy says:

    I just read the tweet – what a nasty thing to say. I know nothing about the tweeter, but wonder why she felt the need to say something so unkind.

    My personal feelings about hair cutting are if you can do it yourself and look good, then go for it if you want to. My DH cuts his hair, I cut one of our son’s. The other boys have the type of hair that I cannot cut so it looks well, so they go to the barber. I tried cutting my hair – huge disaster. I’m happy to save up money to have a good haircut every four to six months.

    People should do what works best for them and not worry about what others do.

  60. Shelley says:

    I’m surprised you bother with Dooce, Trent. I read her for a while, but frankly got bored. She may be cool, I dunno. Cool isn’t really much of an issue for me; hasn’t been since I left high school, you know? I feel much better, much more confident when I know my hair looks good. My hair is one of my better features and it’s important to me. That’s said, so is my money and there are a lot of really bad hairstylists around here who charge real money for their work. I’m prepared to take the risk of cutting my hair occasionally and I get surprisingly decent results. I’m not working any more so I don’t need so much confidence as I used to, so this risk is palatable. I’m still open to finding cheaper end hair sylists who can do a decent job, but so far my money is best kept in my pocket, strangely enough. I lived in Salt Lake City for a while and had good haircuts there. Heather’s hair looks fine, but not spectacular. She seems to trade on a certain type of attitude, though, that would involve making fun of some things. You’re not like her at all; I think you should forget about her. I have.

  61. Nancy says:

    I teach high school. One day I mentioned I was going to get an expensive cut and color after school. Students know how frugal I am and asked why I would spend money on something that I could do myself. I asked them to choose any year from 1980-1997. They then got yearbooks from 1985 and 1992. They ALL agreed that my trip to the hair salon was worth it!

  62. Steve says:

    Ooh! My turn!

    My name is Steve. I’m 43 and balding. Every two weeks, I cut my own hair. I’ve done it for the past 9 1/2 years. And I still get laid.

    Why do I do it? The hair, that is – the reasons for getting laid should be obvious.

    1. It’s easy. I use the 3/8″ clipper attachment on my whole head.

    2. It saves time. In less time than it takes to get dressed and drive to the nearest salon, I’m done. It takes me all of ten minutes, compared to ten minutes to the salon, twenty minutes waiting, fifteen minutes to cut my hair, five minutes to pay and schedule my next appointment, and ten minutes to drive home. That’s 50 minutes I can spend with my kids, working, or doing something else that I value more.

    3. It saves me money. Rather than spend $10 or $15 every two weeks on haircuts, I spend $20 every THREE YEARS on a new set of clippers. What I save on haircuts covers my prepaid cell service.

    4. Given the shape of my head and the pattern of my baldness (back to front, and front to back), this style looks good on me. Probably why my wife will still sleep with me (or did in the first place – we’ve been married only seven years).

    One question, is that the same Dooce that got fired several years ago for blogging about how much her job sucked?

  63. Carol says:

    Steve, Thanks for your funny comments!

  64. Kathy says:

    Hair is my one splurge. I admit that I spend more money than I should on having it cut and colored. If I tried to cut my own hair, it would look awful. I also tried coloring it myself, which wasn’t hard, but it didn’t look as good as it does when I pay someone else to do it. Plus, it’s one of the few things I do to treat myself. I save up for this and make sure that I’m not doing this in spite of our regular living expenses.

    But does this mean that I look down my nose at people who do cut their own hair? No. In fact, I’m a bit envious of people who can DIY their own hair cuts and color and make it look good.

  65. Nancy says:

    (not the same Nancy as #61) I agree with #46 Laundry Lady–the point of the post was to say that frugality does not make you a loser.

    That being said, I cut my husband’s hair all the time and have gotten very good at it over the years. So practice makes perfect.

    And for me, I wear a basic style that doesn’t need cut very frequently, and I’ve found that the cheaper salons (Bo-Rics; Cost Cutters, etc) have worked fine.

  66. Leslie says:

    Every guy I’ve dated has cut his own hair even before my frugality days. It wasn’t about money for them but just the time consuming part of it all, since guys have to cut their hair so often. I would cut the back and trim up the neck. I have no cosmetology skill whatsoever but it’s not difficult!

  67. Elderly librarian says:

    Wow, amazing that so many readers responded to this sensitive subject! I wonder which posts from Trent prompted more replies?

  68. Earth MaMa Jo says:

    Well, I don’t know who died and left this lady in charge of judging others for what they do or don’t do, but I don’t care.

    She’s not paying my bills, cleaning my house, cooking my meals, or running my business…so I don’t really care what she thinks. She’s entitled to her own opinion, but so is everybody else.

    It all just makes me think of what my grandfather used to say, “it takes all kinds to make the world go ’round”. Yup, it does.

  69. Annie says:

    Omigosh, I haven’t gotten my hair professionally cut for YEARS! I shaved it two years ago this June to support my cousin’s brain surgery, and once I had my auntie trim the crazies when it first started growing in, but that is it! You can see it on my blog page now–perfectly natural!

    I won’t go and get it cut when it gets longer, because I can pull it down and even it up myself since I prefer longer styles.

    Guys, like you said Trent, can use a pair of clippers and do your own hair.

    For me professional hair cuts are an expensive luxury. The kid and I do them very rarely just as a way to be pampered “just because.” They are very rare, though–once every few years, and mostly the kid that gets them before school starts. Mom sees no personal need for the most part!

    I would rather be a luzer and cut my own hair than to be stupid and pay others to do it!

  70. Alice says:

    I agree with everyone who mentioned the importance of looking appropriately groomed. DIY haircutting is something that depends on the skill of the cutter and the type of hair at issue. Trent apparently has the skills and type of hair that lends itself to DIY. But many, especially women who generally do not wear their hair in the same type of styles as men, do not (a woman who shows up with a terrible DIY haircut WILL be treated differently by coworkers and the general public-and this WILL likely have a financial impact, such as not being considered for certain employment because of unprofessional appearance).

    I do not have the ability to cut my own hair in a way that looks presentable to me (I could just hack into it, but frugality is about value, not being as cheap as possible). But there are alternatives to high-end salons or DIY. I live in a metro area and go to the beauty section of craigslist and find postings seeking hair models. I get a free cut in a high end salon (I do leave a tip, but it is not required). I also go to a local beauty school where wash, cut, style is $5-$8 (I also tip in these places).

  71. Lisa says:

    The real loser is that tweeting jerk. If that’s his/her definition of loser, then s/he hasn’t been exposed to much reality.

  72. Mandolin says:

    People always promote things they believe in and Trent believe’s in frugality, and she believes in hair cuts. I don’t think there is a right answer when it comes to hair, it’s a personal choice and a dumb thing to get up in arms about.

  73. Diane says:

    As a woman, I don’t cut my own hair because I just couldn’t get it the way I want. In fact, I pay extra for a good stylist that gives me a good cut, usually about every 8 weeks – and it’s worth the cost.

    But I cut both my sons’ hair as well as my boyfriends now. I’ve cut the boys hair since they were toddlers and I’ve probably saved thousands of dollars over the years. I’m not talking about clippering it – they get actual haircuts that they’re very happy with.

    After Hurricane Katrina, my boyfriend’s barber was gone and he tried several places he was not satisfied with. Now I cut his hair too and we’ve saved alot over the past 5 years.

    Plus, it’s much more convenient for all the guys to get a haircut whenever they need one, on short notice, at home. Not always as convenient for me, LOL! But I don’t mind.

    Bottom line, if you can get what you need by doing it yourself or having your spouse cut your hair, it’s a great deal!

  74. Jonathan says:

    Apparently several people got something completely different out of this post than I did. It seems to me that Trent saw the Tweet as an attack on frugality, and that is what irked him. Some people actually care what people like the Tweeter have to say, which is one of the reasons that people spend money on things they really don’t need to.

    My wife has been cutting my hair for a couple of years, and I can never imagine paying for a haircut again. The initial investment in supplies was maybe $30, which was quickly recovered in savings. It took a few tries for her to get the process down, but now can do a full hair cut in 10-15 minutes. I’d much rather spend a few minutes having my wife cut my hair than drive to a barber, wait in line, spent 10 minutes in the chair then drive back home. For this reason I find that I have my hair cut more often than if I were paying someone else to do it.

    Like many of the frugal topics that Trent talks about, it all comes down to priorities. For some people their appearance and/or the opinion of others is a priority, so paying for a haircut is likely worth the money and time investment. Personally, I couldn’t care less what others think about me, so I have other priorities. Either approach (and everything in between) is a perfectly valid choice.

  75. EVE says:

    I Have curly hair and finally decided to cut my own hair. I realized you can not mess up when cutting curly hair. I was thrilled that I saved $30.00. My budget was tight and I needed to cut back and save some money. I am going to invest in some nice scissors from the beauty supply store though.

  76. Evita says:

    Who IS that unpleasant girl and why do you feel upset by her idiotic tweet Trent ? your blog entry feels like you need to justify your life choices !

    Who cares if you are not perceived as “cool” ?
    I certainly don’t ! (chasing “cool” is for insecure kids!)

    I get my own hair cut and curled (and encourage a young business owner)… hubby gives himself a buzz cut every other month and looks great. To each his own!

  77. Earth MaMa Jo says:

    Just a suggestion to those who cannot or do not want to cut their own hair. If you have a beauty college in your area, give them a try. The cuts are generally very inexpensive. If you develop a relationship with one or two students, you may be able to find out their schedule so that you are served by them on each visit. My daughters have done this, but found out a friend is going to a beauty college in a neighboring town….so they schedule appts. with her at her house, and she brings her kit home that night. It’s a deal they’ve worked out and all seem happy with it. Oh yeah, check reviews of the school if you can.

  78. Beth says:

    I see a hairstylist, but only every six months or so. For the remainder of the year, I do my best to keep my hair looking good via products (especially crucial, as I am in sales, and will meet with people face to face). It’s important to look presentable, but also to value what is an existing symbiotic relationship. My hairstylist always treats me incredibly well–she washes my hair, blow dries it, cuts it, etc–all while making sure the cut will work. I recognize that she pays rent for her station, and her position itself may not pay immensely well. I find her prices to be reasonable and feel that my business w/her is valued. We’re fortunate to have the glue of society folks–hairstylists, bank tellers, mechanics, etc who help us out when and if we need it. I feel fortunate for my situation. I also had a number of horrendous $10 haircuts as a kid, so even if I pay a bit more now, it’s worth it to avoid looking bad. I salute all of you that cut your own hair, but I recognize my own limitations too:)

  79. Alison says:

    I have very long thick hair. I use to spend $150 every five to six weeks to have it cut and coloured. Now I do it myself. And I still get complements.
    $6-7 dollars every 5 weeks for a semi permanent colour, more gentle on my hair.
    About $15 for a good pair of shears that are reserved just for this purpose. They have more than paid for themselves many times over.
    To cut it, I wash and towel dry my hair, comb out any tangles. Then I bend over from the waist and comb it all straight down. Then I pull it all together into one piece, straight down, twisting it into a sort of rope. Then I simply cut it straight across at the level I’ve predetermined. If I have time I will then comb it out again, twist it in the opposite direction and give it another closer trim at the end, just to make sure all is even.
    This results in a layered cut, tapered to a v. I often have my 16 year old then blunt it, cutting it straight across my back, just to take the point off the v.
    My 16 year old twin girls both have let me cut their hair like this :) I think that it is a pretty good endorsement :). Sure saves me money :)

  80. Joan says:

    I love the previous comment. Good hints on how to cut your hair. I live in a very in a very expensive area. I had been cutting my hair for sometime, but when invited to a posh wedding I decided to go to one of the local beauty salons to have my hair cut and styled. I looked at the floor, saw very little hair and commented to the artiste that he hadn’t taken much off. His reply was that I had a very good basic cut. So I walked out $60 poorer. I have cut and colored my own hair ever since. Occassionaly, I go to a practitioner to shape it up or for a real change in style.

  81. Kathleen says:

    Heather Armstrong is an insufferable, self-absorbed, neurotic “mommy blogger”, with a bad haircut to boot! The world would be a better place if she shut her trap and was never heard from again. That said, her comment (1) wasn’t all that offensive, and (2) wasn’t targeted at Trent.

    This article was a disproportionate response to Armstrong, but hey… most of us still have some insecurities about feeling judged by the “cool kids”. (I sure do!) The post is a very public “working out” of those insecurities.

    Addressing the haircut issue itself: I can’t see a self-cut looking that great (especially around the back, and especially if it’s anything other than a clipper cut). However, home cuts — like a wife cutting a husband’s hair — seem like a great way to save money. My mom has cut my dad’s hair for 30+ years, and it looks perfectly professional. I wasn’t so lucky when she forced her free haircuts on us in elementary school — there was definitely some bang-related trauma in fifth grade!

  82. Kelly says:

    I’m very lucky in that my mother is a licensed beautician/cosmetologist and has been cutting my hair since 1983. I would NEVER attempt to cut my own hair because the end result would NOT be pretty, I can’t even draw a straight line with a ruler. She cuts my son’s hair as well.
    I would never say that anyone who cuts their own hair is a loser. I don’t like that Dooce girl…used to follow her blog but her attitude just turns me off.

  83. Golfing Girl says:

    I had absolutely no experience cutting hair when my husband suggested I try it several years ago. We had a set of dog grooming clippers and scissors that had been used only once. He walked me through it, telling me which size guard to use on the sides and back. I was really nervous and convinced he’d have to have it fixed when I was done. However, it looked pretty good. And I’ve been cutting it ever since, saving $15 each time. I estimate that over the last 5 years, we’ve saved about $900 ($15/mo for 5 years). And the quality is better than what he used to get at Great Clips because I know what he likes, and spend more time on his hair than they used to, making sure it’s just right. I even bought a cape for a few bucks to make the clean-up easier.

    Plus, since we live in the South, we cut his hair outside about 9 months out of the year so there is no clean-up at all.

    As for my hair, I wear it very long, all one length and cut it myself. My husband makes sure it’s even in the back. I also cut my daughter’s hair, so we save about $30-45/mo on haircuts.

  84. Golfing Girl says:

    P.S. I color my own hair with the cheapest color I can find (Revlon Colorsilk–always less than $5/box). And I get compliments from strangers about my hair almost weekly.

  85. Cynthia says:

    As a military wife and mother of 4 children. My husband and I invested in some good clippers about $30 and a good pair of scissors about $10 a few years ago. I watched him get his hair trimmed at the barber shop every two weeks (he’s in the military and it usually costs $10-15 per trim) then I started to cut/trim it for him, I do my son’s hair (very similiar to my husband’s high and tight hair cut) and our two younger daughter’s (basically trimming their bangs). I also trim my own hair. My teenage daughter prefers to get it done by a professional…luckily my Mom who is a licensed barber visits at least twice a year. We are happy to be able to do this at home and save this money for other things which we deem more necessary. However, we are also a family that’s blessed with low maintenance hair. I’m of mexican descent so my hair is naturally black and straight, my daughters’ hair isn’t too different….a little lighter so we’re able to do our haircuts at home without looking like it. However, I have met friends of mine who can’t do this because their hair requires certain skills when cutting it so it doesn’t look butchered.

    I think its sad that people would attack eachother verbally on a blog or commenting just because you decide to cut your hair at home or not. Sad that we have to call someone a Loser because of how you decide to spend your money or not.

  86. sunny says:

    Gosh such an idiotic thing for her to say.

    Lucky the measure of someone’s worth is how much they get laid. Hookers must be her epitome of cool.

    I’ve cut my own hair a number of times after watching a technique my mums very amazing hairdresser used (effecively pulling all hair up past the top of my head like an upwards ponytail and then shearing it off – creates a natural layering sort of effect). My hair is wild anyway so it forgives it. Half the time it’s not just to save money but just to save the hassle of making an appointment, keeping it, trying to coordinate the kids naps with it, entertain the kids while I’m there, etc. Going out in the back yard for 15 minutes and shearing off my hair is considerably more convenient.

    I’m just flabbergasted at what a stupid comment she made.

  87. KSR says:

    I do think it’s unfair to say a person is a loser if they’ve ever cut their own hair. But for someone who has found a great stylist, and this is especially true for women but can be true for men, too, it is a soothing and mood-boosting experience well worth the opportunity cost.

    But not for me. After having repeated really bad haircut experiences and then having my feelings hurt by one too many hair stylists, I decided to quit paying the money for my hair and spend it on my beloved makeup instead. My hair looks gorgeous all the time. I know this because people keep telling me (though I suppose they could just be lying).

    I cut and color it myself every six weeks (I grayed early, so coloring is a must for me), buying the color from Sally’s and mixing it with the accelerator myself. I’m not exceptionally talented, but I do have curly hair, which means it’s forgiving if you don’t get each layer the same length and unforgiving if you cut the curl in the wrong place. I know where in the curl to put the cut and I get the layers even enough. My husband helps me with the very back, and is happy to do so, because his best friend’s wife drops $200 every 2 months at the salon. I spend $100 every two months on makeup. He wins.

    There are a couple of great, inexpensive books out there on how to cut hair, and while it’s pretty tricky cutting your own hair, it’s not impossible IF you put up the money for a good pair of professional grade haircutting shears (they really are different from cheap ones and ones not made for haircutting), a rattail comb, and some big, butterfly-style hair clips to keep the sections separated.

    If you have straight, darkish hair and you want to be a blonde, you’ve probably got a steeper learning curve with the cut and the color, but, hey – everything is worth a try. If you don’t love the salon experience, I say go for it!

  88. K says:

    What I think is most interesting is not whether or not Trent cuts his own hair, but that he gets a professional cut when he wants to look good for a wedding or for a photo. If you can cut your own hair and are happy with the way you look, then fine, but if you admit that it’s not as good as you want to look for important events, shouldn’t you ask yourself whether your daily life is an “important event.” You never know who you will run into and you make an impression everywhere you go. So if you believe that cutting your own hair is “good enough,” it should be good enough all the time.

  89. Nate says:

    As licensed cosmetologist I take issue with all this self haircutting and coloring business but I’ll leave it at that. If you do your own hair and like it then there isn’t a problem. If you color or perm your own hair and it all falls out, or your bangs are 1/4 inch long then it is your problem. Please don’t come crying to the salon begging for us to “fix” it.

    However, I do take issue with “using sharp scissors near my ear while they’re watching television or chatting with someone”. Trent, you’re going to the wrong salon/barbar shop! That’s unprofessional and should be addressed with the salon owner or manager or the stylist her/himself. You wouldn’t take that BS from a doctor, dentist, mechanic, or contractor and you shouldn’t take it from a stylist either.

  90. Christine says:

    My son is in Navy JROTC and must visit the barber every two weeks. His hair is part of his grade and must be cut to specification. I cringe every time I have to pay that $15 (including tip), but the haircut is perfect. The barbers are truly artists, use a straight razor for certain areas, and my son looks great. I do look forward to school vacations and when he graduates so I can delete that $30 a month from my expenses.

  91. Jonathan says:

    “This article was a disproportionate response to Armstrong, but hey… most of us still have some insecurities about feeling judged by the “cool kids”. (I sure do!) The post is a very public “working out” of those insecurities.”

    This comment made me realize that perhaps the problem isn’t that Trent reacted out of insecurity. Perhaps its just that the readers who took Trent’s post that way did so because of their own insecurities. I honestly can’t imagine that Trent cares what some online personality thinks about his hair cutting choice. I do, however, think it is very likely that he would want to try to address comments from someone who belittles frugality. That doesn’t make him insecure. I’m not trying to defend Trent here, I don’t think that he needs it. I am just trying to make sense of all of the negativity surrounding this post.

  92. Amber says:

    I’ve cut my husband’s hair since we’ve been married (the last ten years) and both of my sons’ hair as well since they’ve been born. We experiment (some results being nicer than others), but overall I stick to the same general style for them. My grandmother had been cutting my grandfather’s hair for decades and she was nice enough to teach me an easy way to do it. She also gave me my first Wahl kit.

    So, I suppose that I started because someone I looked up to did it. :) It does feel like it would be a waste of money to send my boys to a barber shop at this point. We don’t have to drive anywhere, or tip anyone, and everyone is generally more comfortable.

    I’ve recently started trimming my own hair to save money. It just didn’t seem worth it to go and spend $15 to get a 1/4 inch cut off every few months. My hair is long, straight and all one length, so it’s a little easier for me than for someone who may have wavy or curly hair.

    Beyond that, though, I really couldn’t care less about what anyone other than my immediate family thinks about the way we do things. It works for us, and that is all that really matters.

  93. Callie says:

    I think Trent was most offended by this person’s abuse of her influence. People like that can make a difference. If the influence is used negatively, it’s offensive. I’ve been recently watching the entire Seinfeld series and it’s astounding how much influence that show had on me. I won’t wear sweats in public, I don’t “double dip”, and yesterday I backed out of buying a greeting card. I’m sure there’s more. I’m conscious of these influences and choose to allow them to influence me, but not everyone is.

  94. Gail says:

    I shave my husband’s head in the backyard. But I would never cut my own hair. I do not have the skills for that. I keep a pretty low-key hairstyle so I only have to have it cut every three or 4 months, but I would never attempt to do it myself.

  95. Teresa says:

    Several years ago, I worked with a man who was basically bald, except for the fringe around the sides. Every month he would go to a hairdresser & have the fringe buzz cut. I never understood that, but to each their own.

    For years, I cut & colored both of my stepsons’ hair. In fact, when I would suggest that they go to the hairdresser, they would say that my haircuts were better than hers. Today my husband cuts his hair, actually buzzes it off and does the same for our son. When my son gets older, he’s five now, and is conscious of his appearance we will not make him have a buzz cut unless that is what he wants. We will let him go & professionally have his haircut. As for myself, I usually get a haircut once a year. That way it is long enough to donate.

  96. Brittany says:

    Ha. Someone touched a nerve by saying something mean on Twitter. What is this, middle school?

  97. Julie says:

    #91 Jonathon,

    I think you hit the nail on the head. It sounds like the real insecurity might be with those who are so critical of this post. Maybe they are needing to justify the money they spend to “look good.” This topic was completely appropriate and was merely pointing out the misconceptions that continue to be spread about those who practice frugality.

  98. BonzoGal says:

    #97 Julie, agreed. Commenters who are claiming that Trent is being “judgemental” or “insecure” are totally missing the point of the topic. Trent was writing about people who belittle frugal tactics because they think frugality is uncool. Hello, haircuts are just ONE example.

    I really don’t get the commenters who love to get personal and vicious. “A lot of judgement in this post… shows your true colours”- really?!? Man, how rude.

  99. littlepitcher says:

    Paying for a haircut doesn’t equate with good cut. I quit going to salons after a major store salon gave me a cut and overperm which literally took nine months to grow out and made me look like Rosanne Rosannadana. My statement to one and all is: If I can’t trust a hairdresser, I can give myself that bad cut for free. Yes, I know that HR managers hire for hair, and that churches equate hairspray with salvation. This is why I work a job where I wear no constricting bra over my asthmatic bronchi, do my work in old clothes, and have nice comfortable runners on my feet. It may not pay as well as the office, but it’s far less expensive in both money and sore disposition. Take your hair and fashion fascism and shove them where the sun never shines.

  100. littlepitcher says:

    BTW, when the HR departments complain that they can’t find employees who can read, write, and spell, please let them know where we went, and why we left.

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