BLUF: I have saved almost $9,000 by cutting my own hair. I hated paying for weekly haircuts so I learned to do it myself. After burning through some cheap clippers I got higher quality ones. I ended up getting animal clippers because they were cheaper than the ones advertised for people.
Marine Corps’ hair and grooming regulations are fairly strict. You are welcome to look them up MCO P1020.34G . Here is an example of what is in the regs (photos look like they are from the 1970s).
During initial training our heads are shaved completely bald. I really did not mind the whole baldhead thing. What I did remember, and did not like, was that I had to pay the barber. Yes, during initial training, I was required to get my head shaved and I had to pay the barber.
What an easy barber job. You literally have a line of 45 guys who are required to get the same haircut that takes about three minutes and you get paid for each one.
Styling The Little Hair We Have
After initial training, many of us keep our hair pretty short. Anyone who has short hair knows that a week of growth is noticeable; therefore, many of us get our hair cut every week (sometimes you can stretch it out to two weeks).
I was in this group that got a weekly haircut; however, the costs of haircuts bothered me.
I am all about reducing monthly expenses, so I figured I could save about $60 a month ($15 per haircut x 4 weeks = $60) if I learned to cut my own hair. Also, the opportunity cost of physically having to go to the barber and wait in line every week bothered me as well. If I learned to do it myself, I could do it whenever was good for me.
I bough a cheap pair of clippers (~$20) and jumped in.
It was not that hard to learn. I had some help from my wife the first few times but then I learned to do everything myself. Things worked well until the $20 clippers started to show why they only cost $20. They were not holding up to weekly uses, after a while they were dull and the motor was giving out.
I researched nicer clippers and noticed that animal clippers were cheaper than clippers advertised for people use. They were basically the same thing. One had a picture of a horse on the box and the other did not.
Purchased Animal Clippers
Being frugally minded, I really did not care what I used as long as they worked. So I went to local pet store and purchased a nicer pair of clippers (~$100).
I have been using animal clippers almost every week for about 13 years and they work perfectly.
- I really do not like reoccurring monthly charges, especially if it is for things I can do.
- Things are usually cheap for a reason.
- Paying more upfront, often is cheaper in the long-run.
- Try to ignore the marketing aspect of products, just get what you need.
Total savings thus far
Using rough back of the envelope math, I have saved almost $9,000 because I cut my own hair.
~$12 per haircut x 48 weeks* = $576 per year
*48 weeks instead of 52 because of leave (vacation)
$576 x 15 years = $8,640
That is a great return on a $100 pair of hair clippers.