Cutting Hair (Out of Your Budget)

The average American woman spends $44 on a haircut. Add 20% tip, the total rises to $53. If she goes to a salon the recommended 4-8 times a year, she pays $212-$424 per year on haircuts.

The average American man will spend $28 on a haircut. Add 20% tip, he will pay $34 every visit. He tends to get his hair cut every 4 weeks, so 13 times in a year. That totals $442!

Obviously these numbers vary widely depending on where you go and how often. But take a look at how much you would save after 20 years if you invested that money instead:

$212 per year grows to be $9,299

$442 per year grows to be $19,388

That is convincing motivation to ‘trim’ spending on haircuts. The most I have ever spent on a haircut was $60, when I cut off nearly fifteen inches of hair from past my shoulders down to a pixie cut. The last time I cut my own hair, I was five and wanted the match my best friend’s cute bob. We hid under the table while our dad’s chatted in the other room and she obliged by giving me a trim. Needless to say, it did not come out the way I imagined.

Last year, while I walked to the train from work, I passed by five salons every day. I kept meaning to set up an appointment, but habit took over and I ended up at home drinking tea sporting untrimmed locks. One night, finally at my wit’s end with my split ends, I put down my teacup and marched over to Boots, the local health and beauty store. I bought a little haircutting kit (something like this) and watched this tutorial video. Comforted by how easy she made it look, I cut my hair for the second time.

Mulan cuts her hair.gif

If I remember correctly, I followed a method where you cut at a slight diagonal, and I watched a second video on adding in some layers. A few people complimented me the next day and I was emboldened by the success.

Today, nearly 6 months later, my hair is a long, untamed mess again. I asked Mr. Mechanic to cut it and thought I could document the process in case other people are interested in how to cut hair out of their budget.

Whether you cut your own hair (it’s possible, I promise!), your significant other takes the shears, or you ask a friend, I highly recommend it as a valuable experience and a chance to bond. Before making excuses, “Oh she would never let me touch her hair,” or “He would not have the patience for it,” give your significant other / friend some credit! This was Mr. Mechanic’s first hack at it:

hairbeforeafter2.5 (2).jpg

Cutting hair is a basic life skill every person should know how to do, like learning change your own tire or whipping up a batch of your famous crockpot chili. You get better and more efficient over time, and at the end you walk away with a new talent. In fact, Mr. Mechanic’s first words after the haircut were: “That was easier than I thought.” In my estimation, these are the most uttered words following a successful DIY-project.

Mr. Mechanic couldn’t quite figure out how  elastics work

Lessons learned:

The Haircutter:

  • Set up is important. Make sure that you have enough light and the person is sitting up high so you do not have to keep bending over.
  • Set up all the tools you need. The type of scissors is important, normal scissors wouldn’t cut it for us. Literally.
  • Drape a towel or other protection around the haircutee. We skipped this step and Mr. Mechanic felt like he was going to snip my shirt by accident– it kept getting caught on the scissors.
  • Start by cutting much less than you think. You can always go back and trim again, and when the hair dries it will shorten more.

The Haircuttee:

  • Take a deep breath. Accept that your hair is not what defines you. Realize that it will grow back if this goes poorly (which it likely won’t!)
  • Do not expect perfection. In fact, prepare for the worst, and you will be pleasantly surprised by how awesome it comes out.
  • Give your new hair time. Every haircut is a bit of an adjustment. It will take time to settle. I didn’t like how my cut looked once it dried, but the next morning it all looked fine.
  • Be gentle. You have the most critical eye. You might notice that one section is a centimeter shorter than the rest, but no one else will.

I think fashionista said it best:

“In the end, a haircut is about one thing, and one thing only: feeling confident and badass and like a best possible version of yourself.”

So make a production out of it. Request a scalp massage. Pour your favorite beer or glass of wine. Put on some music. Man or woman, when you look in the mirror after your cut, do some sassy moves. And when it comes to saving money– know that you are a cut above the rest.

What about you?

Have you ever cut your own hair? How did it go?

Would you consider self-barbering?

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  1. I am a strong supporter of going salon free. I started going the at home route when I first met my husband and on our 3rd date, I had him give me a haircut. Crazy I know, but he cooked me a great meal at his house on our 2nd date and I mentioned I needed my haircut and that I hated going to the salon. He mentioned he could cut my hair for me and I asked for details. He explained the sectioning, pinning it up, trimming each layer and ensuring it is even. So on our 3rd date I was at his house Saturday AM and I informed him I was there for my hair appointment when he opened the door. He got out his tools and had good pro grade shears, not kitchen or office shears. I5 had been nearly a year since my last haircut so I told him he needed to chop off a lot. He said that wouldn’t be necessary, he could trim and shape my hair taking off only a couple inches. I said great and he got started. I admit I was nervous when I heard the shears actually cutting my hair as I sat there, but he was only taking off a couple inches, so I soldiered on. When he finished, he swept up the clippings, not much there, he said it was at most an inch and a half off, and I dashed to the bathroom to check in the mirror. He gave me a hand mirror to check the back. I was very pleased, it was the best haircut I could ever remember getting and it was free by my new boyfriend. He trims my hair every other month, puts out a glass of red wine for me, capes me (no more towel) and I feel so relaxed when he combs out my hair, that I could fall asleep. It is great bonding time with my husband. I used to dread going to the salon and getting my hair cut, now I actually enjoy the experience as I fully trust him and he loves my long hair that has grown
    Out past my elbows as much as I do. I know he would never get scissor happy on me. He is the only one I trust near my hair with shears, he gives my children their haircuts, cut my mom’s hair for her and he fixed a bad haircut for my best friend and now she will only trust my hubby to take the shears to her tresses. She is growing out her hair from a bad salon haircut and likes that he only trims just enough to remove the damaged and uneven ends without losing any of her length which now reaches just past the top of her bra strap. He does great work, never a bad haircut and when your friends ask your husband to cut their hair for them, I know I have it pretty good. It easily saves me several hundred dollars a year, plus time saved and no bad haircuts.

  2. I love this post! I used to get my hair cut at the cheapest of places (Great Clips, Sports Cuts, etc.) and hated the results every time. Now that I cut my own hair, I have control over how it turns out and end up loving it every time!

  3. I’ve always been terrible about making an appointment to get my hair cut and managed at most two a year but I cut my hair myself for the first time this summer and just recently I started noticing the ends tangling again so I trimmed it again. I borrowed my sister’s shears the first time before I committed to buying my own pair. AND my spouse agreed to let me trim the hair around his ears and neckline for the first time. I’ve been trying to convince him to get his hair cut short on the sides and long on the top to increase the time between haircuts and that I could keep the part around the ears tidy for him. He’s been frustrated that so much of his “allowance” was going toward paying for haircuts. (we started aggressively tracking personal spending choices recently to get more transparency on where money was going.)
    I trimmed only a little this last time and after a few days the ends still seemed tangly so I cut my hair again taking off a little more. I did clip my knuckle this time while point cutting the ends – those scissors are sharp!

    1. We started with my hair first the same way, and then I just did Mr. Mechanic’s hair a couple weeks ago. He was much more nervous about me trimming his hair than I was about him trimming mine!

      Indeed, the scissors are crazy sharp. I accidentally poked Mr. Mechanic’s ear– definitely a learning process. It’s amazing how simple it is after we were done, and how much of a cost saver it can be too!

  4. I love this!
    My mom has always cut my hair until I went to high school and wanted to have a ‘fashionable’ hair cut.
    Then in University I didn’t care anymore so a friends’ mom cut it for about 2x per year. Now the past 3 years I’ve only been to the hair dresser once, and itsi been free since I’ve donated my hair.

    BUT my SO goes every 6 weeks and I wanted to learn how to cut his hair in forever, so YouTube tutorials it’s on!

    1. I was the exact same. My mom cut my hair but I cared way more in high school and went to get it cut elsewhere. If your SO wants a short to medium cut I can share the video we used!

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