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Home » DIY, Save Money, Summer of Saving

How to Cut your Own Hair (& Save Millions)

Last updated by on January 16, 2016

The Haircut Story:

You wake up. Look in the mirror every 4 weeks or so. And say to yourself, “You know, I’m starting to look a little scraggly. I should probably get in for a haircut today”.

So you get in your car, drive 15 minutes or so to the friendly national franchised hair cutting chain conglomerate. The parking lot is busy – guess what? It’s Saturday, and everyone is running their errands after the week-long work grind. So you wait 5 minutes for someone to leave and then whip in to the parking lot before the ambitious chatch in a SUV tries to cut you off. You squeeze in just ahead of him, but narrowly missed a dented bumper.

You walk in. The place is packed. So you put your name in as “Harry McCutterston” to amuse yourself, but the receptionist has no sense of humor. There’s no wifi, so you settle in and pick up a 2 year old copy of Good Housekeeping and wait in the lobby for an hour, before they gloriously call “Harry McCutterston”. You expect the place to break out in laughter, but crickets and some annoyed looks is all you get.

Sadly, it’s not your favorite hairdresser. She’s busy. She always is. But the new guy is open! You’re sick of waiting, and you don’t want to hurt the new dresser’s feelings, so you decide to roll the dice.

You go to sit down and notice that the chair has a clump of wet hair on it. You hope the hairdresser notices and wipes it off. He doesn’t. You’d rather the hair touch your pants than your hands, so you make the plunge.

Awkward hair and sports small talk ensues and then you meticulously explain every little detail of what you were hoping to get accomplished, on top of your noggin. All the while, you’re secretly worried he is going to screw up. And he does. Not much, but just enough for you to personally be annoyed and for your friends to take notice and say, “Hey, did you cut your hair differently?”. Jerks.

Now the fun part. You’ve not only got to pay them (really, you’re paying the franchise owner, and the hairdresser gets a fraction of the cut) in the upwards of $20-30, but then you also need to tip the hairdresser… what, 20%? Is that enough? I don’t know… awkward. You walk out, realizing that to trim the follicles that grow out of the skin that covers your skull, you just paid enough to feed a starving west African family for 2 months or save the life of a few kittens. Sarah Mclachlan and lonely old dogs start going through your head. You feel guilty and sad.

THEN, in the car ride home, you almost hit a kid chasing after a soccer ball into the street. You fill up the gas tank for the weekly commute – there goes another $50. And by the time you actually pull in to the driveway, your damn hair is already a tad bit longer than when you left the shop! And it never stops growing! And it won’t, for the next 50-80 years.

If any of this story sounds painfully familiar, it is time to learn how to cut your own hair. NOW.

How to Cut your Own Hair

how to cut your own hair

For about half of my life now, I’ve been cutting my own hair.

After I started paying for my own haircuts, I woke up one day, while I was still in high school, and said to myself, “You know what? I can do it better than they can!”.

So I went out and bought myself a clipper set. At the time, I think it was $40-50. Here, we are, closing in on two decades later, and some of the best selling sets on Amazon are going for $20, $38, and $53 (I ended up recently upgrade to Wahl 84900 Icon Clipper for $47 and absolutely love it). In other words, you can cut your hair, for the next decade+ for the cost of one single paid haircut! You really don’t need to spend any more than this. I’m on my second set of clippers after almost two decades, and neither cost more than this.

Clippers in hand, about every two weeks, I cut my own hair.

Want to learn how to cut your own hair? The process is simple (for guys). Here’s how I do it:

  1. Charge clipper while I wash my hair (I don’t even charge myself extra for that privilege). I lightly dry my hair, leaving it a bit damp, as I’ve found that damp/wet hair cuts more easily than dry.
  2. Put on the blade attachment. It’s the same one every time. It is labeled as #2 – and it cuts my hair to about 1/4 in. in length, but you can go shorter/longer with your preference.
  3. I cut my hair. Since it’s one fixed length, I just go over my entire head a few times until it looks nicely trimmed.
  4. I trim the spot above my ears to clean that up a little.
  5. Then, using a safety razor, and a handheld mirror to get a reflection from a wall mirror, I shave the back of my neck and cut a straight hair line. Sounds complicated, but after 1-2 attempts, you’ll be a pro.
  6. As for maintenance, I make sure all of the hair is out of the clipper and every few months I’ll oil the blades with some blade oil.

15 minutes, and I’m done.

The Cost Savings of Cutting your Own Hair

Of primary benefit to cutting your own hair, is the cost savings.

I know guys who pay a lot more than $25 to get their hair cut by others, but lets assume $25 as a starting point.

Let’s assume you get a hair cut every month, and lets also assume $5 per trip for parking/gas.

The cost of getting haircuts would be about $360 per year. Over a decade, it would be $3,600+.

What if, instead, you cut your own hair and then invested the cost savings?

If we assume 3% inflation, and post tax dollars which could have been put in a Roth IRA, the lifetime investment opportunity cost of haircuts over the next 70 years at the following rates of return would be (using the AARP investment return calculator):

  • 4%: $268,558
  • 6%: $650,731
  • 8%: $1,638,314
  • 10%: $4,422,919

And the great irony is that your hair won’t be any shorter after those 70 years (though there may be less of it).

Sure, you may have to buy your own clipper set for $20-40 every decade or so, but that will only cost you about 0.5% – 1% of the cost of the haircuts. Your real savings are about 99-99.5% if you learn how to cut your own hair.

Other Benefits of Learning How to Cut your Own Hair

Outside of the obvious cost benefits that come from cutting your own hair, there are other HUGE benefits:

  • About one day per year in time saved from driving, parking, waiting, and driving home.
  • You can cut your hair more often and whenever you’d like.
  • You can cut your own hair to whatever length and specification you’d like, without someone messing it up.
  • Less wear and tear on your vehicle, environmental impact of driving, and opportunity to get in to an accident.
  • The comfort and satisfaction that comes with knowing you have taken one step closer to financial independence and self sustainability.

Learning how to cut your own hair is intensely rewarding. If you’ve been afraid to do so, it’s time to take that leap.

How to Cut your Own Hair Discussion:

  • Do you cut your own hair? How long have you been doing it? What tips do you have?
  • This post was primarily geared towards the male audience and those who prefer shorter hair styles. I’d really love to see how those with longer hair styles have learned to cut their own hair or have others help them do it.

Related Posts:

How I Cut My Cost of Shaving 90% with a Safety Razor

About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 10,000+ others by getting FREE email updates. You can also explore every post I have written, in order.

  • I’ve been cutting my husband’s hair for a couple years now and it’s actually a fun way for us to spend time together and joke around. He actually looks a lot better now because we’ll cut it at home way more often than he used to go get it cut professionally (once every 9 months?).

  • Pete says:

    I’ve been cutting my own hair in an almost identical manner as that which you described for about 10 years. Saves money and time. It fact, it’s getting long. I’m going to go cut it.

  • Natalie H says:

    I’ve been cutting my family’s hair for about three years now. It started when I had a baby and started cutting his hair. After a few of these cuts I got confident enough to cut my husband’s hair. Around this same time I started growing my own hair out so that I could cut it myself as well. For my husband and son I just do the standard male short cut with scissors. I cut it all the same length (I use three fingers as a guide) except for a little longer at the front. Then I trim around the ears and sideburns. Finally I taper the nape and then clean up with clippers. It looks as good as many cheap haircuts we’ve paid for and no-one has ever noticed that it is a home hair cut. The hardest part was getting the bravery to do it the first time. However, we reasoned that if I made a serious error, we would just have to go to the barber to get it fixed without any real loss. I’ve never messed up that bad. Minor uneven-ness is sometimes found a day or two later and I do a quick touch up straighten it out. My scissors cost $22. I forget the cost of the clippers, but they were probably $30ish. The Tightwad Gazette (book form) has instructions for cutting hair that are essentially identical to what I do. Also, it’s important to cut front to back across the top of the head and vertically around the back and sides or the hair will look chopped.

    For my own hair I had to grow it out long in order to cut it. I use a very simple technique to layer it. I still haven’t found the perfect method and I’m still experimenting, but basically you carefully comb all your hair to a point along the center line of your hair and secure it with a hair band. You then cut and texture. There are variations where you pull out to the sides as well so that you don’t get a V shape in the back. Check out you tube for instructional videos on DIY layered cut.

  • Pamela says:

    I started laughing when I saw the title because I came to the same realization this year. I am a 26 yr old black woman with mid-length curly hair. I wanted a new look and after waiting for a Groupon deal from one of the local salons, I got impatient and purchased $15 scissors and gave myself a new bob.

    It’s been great and I love getting compliments about my hair even more now. I typically have to fix a few mishaps that I notice a day after but it’s all part of the learning experience.

  • David Silva says:

    Odd things about this article (based on my experience):

    1. $25+ is a lot for a haircut. I pay around $15 or so. Less if I have coupons.
    2. In your example, the hair dresser was male. It just stood out to me because I have had exactly one hair cut by a dude in my life. I suppose it depends on where you are. California? In Toronto, male hair dressers are not a thing. At least not in the major chains.

    Great idea though. I’m losing my hair quickly so soon it will be very easy to cut my own (a very good and very bad thing).

  • I don’t cut my own hair but I will starting this month! Mine is easy anyway and I spend $30/month on getting a quick haircut. Thanks for the advice, you’ve saved me tons of money.

  • Elena says:

    I can’t believe I am not the only one cutting my own hair! I have long hair and I’ve been mostly cutting it myself. My mom cuts her own hair too. If your hair is wavy, then it’s super easy. Nobody can even tell if it isn’t perfectly even.

  • RG says:

    Not to brag, but Im damn good at cutting my own hair. Probably stems from the fact that as the oldest of three boys we’ve been cutting each others hair since Jr High and saved a ton. I’m now in my thirties and after several attempts at going to the “Pros” and getting really upset at having to pay for terrible haircuts (I’ve the straightest hair in the world which is not forgiving to errors) I’ve decided never to go back. Currently my haircuts are fairly elaborate (longer on top, parted on the side and faded on the sides and back).

    G.E., for a long time I was doing the buzz cut as well, and theres a couple of things I’d like to comment on that may make things even easier for you. One, you dont have to wash your hair before hand, in your case its so short it doesnt matter. Second I also found that with buzz cuts, if you cut it slightly longer it actually lasts longer before it starts looking scraggly. I start off with a #5 or #6 on top. then fade the sides progressively from #2 to #4, last the very edges on the bottom with #1. Ive found this way one can go up to 6 weeks and still look acceptable. Hope this helps

  • Jay says:

    Great post! I am very proud to say that I cut my own hair while being nearsighted (challenging but doable.) Of course, these was after watching lots of Youtube videos.
    I read that you cut your damp hair with clippers. I am a bit confuse. I have read and heard from various sources that clippers are only to be use on dry hair in order to prolong the clipper’s age. Of course I could be wrong.


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