A little note…
I meant to publish this post a month ago, but two content swap opportunities fell into my lap, and I couldn’t turn them down! Barry and Mr. SR were super-speedy with their guest posts, and I wanted to get them up on my blog while they were fresh!
So, I decided to postpone the release of this post until now. However, most of us are allowed to get haircuts again, so it makes this post is a little less relevant. Still, I’d argue that DIY haircuts are a good thing anytime—especially for FI seekers!
I hope you still enjoy and get value from this post, even if you’re back to regular salon visits. Maybe I’ll convince you to cut your kids’ hair or do your own in-between trims?
It’s time to get your cut on!
If you and your family are also looking a little scruffy, I’ve got good news: it’s the perfect time to DIY your haircuts! It’s easier than you think, and it’ll save you a good chunk of change.
I’ll show you how
I’ve been cutting my family’s hair for nearly 15 years, with no previous hair cutting experience. In this post, I’ll share everything I know about DIY haircuts, including:
- Why now is the perfect time for DIY haircuts.
- How much money we’ve saved (it’s shocking).
- Other savings and benefits.
- The tools you’ll need.
- How to get started.
By the end of this post, I hope to have you fully convinced and ready to jump on the DIY haircut bandwagon! Let’s start with six reasons you should try DIY haircuts.
6 reasons you should try DIY haircuts
If you’re uncertain about DIY haircuts, these six reasons may just change your mind:
Reason 1: If I can do it, so can you
I actually never wanted to try DIY hair cutting. It seemed so difficult, and the stakes were very high. (What if I made a mistake? What if the cut turned out funny?)
None of that fazed my husband. For some odd reason, he had complete faith in my non-existent abilities and really wanted me to try.
He told me that, as long as I took my time and used the guards that came with the clipper, it’d be pretty tough to make a mistake. As it turns out, he was right.
15 years of DIY hair cutting later, and I’ve yet to make a mistake. In fact, my guys often get compliments on their cuts! So, I’ll repeat it again: if I can do it, so can you!
Reason 2: It’s the perfect time
There’s never been a better time for DIY haircuts. Here’s why:
No one will see your mistakes!
Since we’re all physical distancing, no one can get close enough to see the minor imperfections of your early attempts. (Remember—if you use the guards properly, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll make a major mistake.)
Even if barber shops and salons are open, you and your family may still not feel comfortable going in for a cut. DIY hair cutting could get you by until things are safer.
It’s a good time to spend less
As all of us face continued uncertainty, it’s a wise choice to cut costs and save money where we can. I’ll show you just how much DIY haircuts could save you in the next section.
Reason 3: You’ll save a lot of money
Until I wrote this post, I’d never done the math to see how much DIY haircuts save us. Well, I’m sure glad I finally did. The numbers far exceeded my estimates.
Here’s how much we’ve saved on haircuts over 15 years. (Based on the conservative rates of $30 per cut for M and $18 per cut per kid, including tax and tip.)
- M’s cuts: $30 x 17 cuts/year x 15 years = $7,650
- Kid 1’s cuts: $18 x 17 cuts/year x 15 years = $4,590
- Kid 2’s cuts: $18 x 17 cuts/year x 12 years = $3,672
- TOTAL: $15,912
WHAT?! That’s crazy! But wait, it gets even better…
What if we invested the savings?
Since I’m a money nerd, I also did the math on the compounding of that money. Invested once a year at an 8% return, this is how the money grew (based on this calculator):
- M’s cuts: $510/year over 15 years = $15,465
- Kid 1’s cuts: $306/year over 15 years = $9,279
- Kid 2’s cuts: $306/year over 12 years = $6,578
- TOTAL: $31,322
That’s unbelievable! Over 15 years, our invested haircut savings nearly doubled! Compounding is truly magical.
For an even more amazing analysis of how much DIY haircuts could save, check out The Million Dollar Haircut by Matt at Financial Imagineers. It once again shows how a small expense, compounded over time, can become huge.
Reason 4: You’ll save in other ways
On top of the money savings, DIY haircuts also help you save in other ways:
- Time (since you won’t need to book appointments or leave the house).
- Gas (since you won’t need to drive to the hairdresser).
- Carbon emissions (since you don’t need to drive).
- Aggravation and stress (especially if you have kids).
Reason 5: Self-sufficiency
M and the boys hate it when their hair gets shaggy! During the pandemic, they’ve been very appreciative that their haircuts have gone on as usual. This was a completely unexpected benefit.
Never in my 15 years of hair cutting did I say to myself, “Boy am I glad I know how to cut my family’s hair… who knows when a pandemic will strike?” And yet, that’s exactly what we’re thinking right now.
This pandemic has helped all of us realize how important self-sufficiency is—whether by cutting our hair at home, growing our own veggies, or cooking meals from scratch. The more DIY skills we’re able to pick up, the more freedom we can potentially give ourselves, pandemic or not.
Reason 6: It’s rewarding
I don’t know about you, but when I manage to learn a new skill, I feel pretty darned proud of myself. DIY haircuts are rewarding not just for all the reasons above, but also because learning a new skill is a reward in itself.
It’s also satisfying to look at your work and know that you did that! Just yesterday, you thought you couldn’t do ‘X’ and today you can. That’s a pretty amazing feeling.
Who cuts my hair?
So far, I’ve only mentioned cutting my husband and kids’ hair… but what about me?
For many years, I went to a hairdresser with M’s mom. The hairdresser worked out of her house, and only charged $18 for a wash and cut. It was so affordable, but it was about a 40-minute drive away—not the most time or gas-efficient choice.
Last year, M’s mom realized: if all I needed was a trim, she could easily do it for me! She was doing an awesome job of cutting my hair, but then COVID hit. That means I’ve been left to my own devices with my hair—gulp.
Since going into lockdown, I’ve cut my own hair once, and (phew) it actually went okay! That’s good news, since I’ll likely have to do it a few more times before this pandemic ends.
Are you on board?
Alright, have I convinced you to at least consider DIY haircuts? If yes, great! Let’s get started with the tools and how-to.
Tools you’ll need for DIY haircuts
For the price of one expensive cut (or three to four inexpensive ones) you can get all the tools you need for DIY haircuts at home:
- Spray bottle
- Hair cutting cape
- Clipper oil (optional)
- Thinning shears (optional)
Disclosure: The product links below are affiliate links. That means I may receive a commission if you make a purchase after clicking through my links.
You’ll need a decent clipper to trim short hair. I highly recommend the Wahl Color Pro kit that we’ve used for the last ten years. (Wahl is a quality brand, but not too expensive.)
Our Color Pro model seems to be sold out everywhere, but this Color Code model looks similar:
My two cents on clipper selection
Don’t go cheap
We previously purchased a cheap clipper, and it was terrible. It would sometimes snag a hair or simply not cut. It’s not worth saving $20 or $30! Get the slightly better clippers.
Go for corded
Whenever possible, I try to buy corded electronics. This is especially important with hair clippers. Here’s why:
- You get consistent power. (No drop-off in cutting speed when batteries run low.)
- No worries about running out of batteries when doing multiple haircuts.
- Less hassle and inconvenience. (No need to charge or change batteries.)
- Longer life. (Your clippers won’t die just because the batteries get old.)
- An overall better environmental choice. (No batteries to recycle and fewer replacements needed.)
Get the guards
Look for a clipper that comes with a selection of guards (aka guide combs). Clipper guards will make short haircuts nearly foolproof. They’re the reason why I’ve never made noticeable mistakes when cutting my family’s hair.
Contact Wahl to request a number 1.5 guard (they might be kind enough to send it to you for free, like they did for me). Before I got this guard, I could never blend between the number 1 and 2 guards—no matter how hard I tried!
A trimmer is basically a mini clipper that you use to clean up the edges. Trimmers are smaller and lighter, so they’re much easier to manoeuvre. I also find they cut much closer than clippers (which you need to get a nice, clean edge).
Unfortunately, good corded trimmers are really expensive, so I ended up settling on a battery-powered Wahl one similar to this one:
You clipper kit might come with scissors, but if you find they aren’t ‘cutting’ it (they’re usually very cheaply made) I’d suggest upgrading to something nicer. Better-quality scissors not only cut better, but are more comfortable to use.
5. Spray bottle
You’ll need a spray bottle to wet the hair before cutting. Most of us have spray bottles kicking around, but if you don’t, here’s a nice one that sprays a fine, even mist:
6. Hair cutting cape
If you don’t want your ‘customers’ covered in prickly little hairs, you’ll need a hair cutting cape. For a budget-friendly option, a safety-pinned bedsheet, or even a garbage bag, will do the trick.
Or you can try our favourite hair cutting cape—an ‘umbrella’ style cape. We first found these at Daiso (a Japanese dollar store) but you can easily find them online as well.
These are great because they catch the hair, so you don’t get piles of hair on the floor. Unfortunately, none of the online ones have great reviews, so I won’t link to any, but this is what they look like:
7. Clipper oil (optional)
For best performance and clipper durability, it’s important to oil your clipper before every use. Your clipper kit will likely come with a small bottle, but when you run out, you should get a replacement.
8. Thinning shears (optional)
If your family doesn’t have thick hair, you may never need these. They’re helpful for thinning out thick hair so it lies flatter and is easier to manage.
If you ever use these, be sure to look up some videos on how to use them properly. It’s easy to cut too much off very quickly!
How to get started with DIY haircuts
Okay, now that you’ve got all the tools, it’s time to learn how to do the actual cutting! This is where YouTube, my favourite free educational resource comes in.
I suggest that you search for the hairstyle you’re aiming for, then watch a few videos. After watching two or three videos, you’ll get a feel for the technique and what you need to look out for when cutting.
It’s been a while since I learned how to cut my family’s hair, so I’ve long since forgotten which videos I learned from. However, I took some time to preview and find some good ones for you:
- How To Cut Boy’s Hair With Clippers For Beginners
- How To Cut Men’s Hair With Clippers For Beginners
- How To Do a Fade Haircut At Home the EASY Way!
If you’re like me, you may feel the need to keep watching videos until you feel 100% confident! But videos will only get you so far. Eventually, you’ll just need to be brave, dive in, and try.
Just remember that each time you do a cut, you’ll learn and improve your technique. It used to take me over an hour to do a single cut. But these days, I can usually finish a cut in less than 30 minutes. Practice makes better!
Here are some additional tips to help you ease into DIY haircuts:
- Give yourself plenty of time (60–90 minutes for your first attempt).
- Try to relax.
- Go slow and take your time.
- Use those guards!
- Cut a little at a time. (You can always cut more, but you can’t undo it if you cut too much!)
- Step back often to look at your work (it’s easier to spot mistakes from a distance).
- Pause as needed to refer to your favourite videos.
- Enjoy it and try to have fun!
After all that, and you still decide that DIY haircuts aren’t your thing, Family Money Saver shares a list of other suggestions to save money on haircuts, including changing to a lower-maintenance hairstyle and stretching out your time between cuts.
Personalized help for those who need it
If you’re still feeling too nervous to try hair cutting on your own, why not pay a pro to coach you? You Probably Need a Haircut* is a website that “pairs you with a world-class hair stylist or barber via video chat to get your hair through these hard times”.
I love that this service exists, and I think it’s a win-win for all involved. If you decide to try it, let me know how it worked out for you!
*This is not an affiliate link! I heard about this service on a podcast and just wanted to share it.
Summing it up
DIY hair cutting may not be for everyone, but for those who are keen to try, there are numerous benefits to be gained:
- It’s fun and rewarding to learn a new skill.
- You’ll save money, time, gas, and stress.
- You and your family can tidy up your looks!
- You’ll become more self-sufficient.
The tools you’ll need are relatively inexpensive, and you may have most of them already. Finally, learning how to cut hair is free (thanks, YouTube)! And if you still need extra help, it’s just a video call away.
What do you think?
Are you game to try DIY hair cutting yourself? Have you attempted it already? How did it go? I’d love to hear your stories! Or, if you have any hair cutting tips to share, please comment below.
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