How to Cut your Own Hair (The Tools, Process, & Cost Savings)

The Sad 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. It’s Saturday, and everyone is simultaneously 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 aggressive a-hole in a massive pickup truck tries to cut you off. You squeeze in just ahead of him, but narrowly miss a dented bumper.

You walk in. The haircut salon is packed. So you put your name in as “Harry McCutterston” to amuse yourself, but the receptionist is not equally amused. There’s no free Wi-Fi, so you settle in and pick up a 5 year old copy of Sports Illustrated 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 the 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 more than 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!”.

Step 1: Get the Right Clipper Set

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 $39, $45, $50, $70 and $85 (I ended up recently upgrading to a Wahl Lithium Pro Personal Clipper for $59 and absolutely love it).In other words, you can cut your hair, for the next decade+ for the cost of one or two paid haircuts! 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.

Step 2: Start Cutting (Then Refine your Technique)

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. If you have a corded clipper, keep the cord plugged in while cutting. It tends to run with more power, which results in a better cut.
  2. Put on the blade attachment. I tend to go with #1 on the sides and back, a #5 on the top and a #2 to blend the two areas together. To keep things simple, you could go with just 1 set length all over. Or, play around as I have to find the right mix for you.
  3. I cut my hair. I just go over my entire head a few times with the various attachments until it looks nicely trimmed.
  4. I trim the spot above my ears with scissors to clean that up a little.
  5. Then, using a safety razor (another must have), 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 clipper blade oil – which is cheap, but 100% necessary to keep your clippers running well.

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 $40-80 every decade or so, but that will only cost you about 1% of the cost of the haircuts. Your real savings are about 99% 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.


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