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Optimizing Your Haircuts to Save Money

I’ll begin this with a disclaimer. I’ve only paid for a haircut once in my life. And that was a mistake. The salon advertised that they did free cuts for people donating their hair. However, they put a lot of ad-ons which made it come out to $40.

Not a fortune, but more than if we’d gotten it done at Hair Cuttery. Oh well, $40 over 22 years isn’t bad–especially since it wasn’t my $40. (Mom, was it more?)

When I was little, my dad cut my hair. Until the $40 bob cut. Then it grew out for years, Dad gave it a few trims, and then one night I went nuts in college. Between the 5 of us, 4 friends and I managed to make really short layers. And now it’s a bit past my shoulders, 2.5 years later.

Ok, but back to paying for haircuts. Let’s suppose that you get your hair cut periodically and perhaps–gasp–colored. I’ve been trying to figure out how to optimize the process, since I like the layered look.

First question to ask is: When do I see the most people I want to make a good impression on?

My last boss, for instance, got her hair cut and colored about 2 weeks before Thanksgiving. I thought that was an excellent choice, since it gave the cut time to grow a little and gave her a chance to get it fixed if it went horribly wrong. Then she had good hair for a huge family get together, and the cut should last until Christmas at least (she’ll probably need to recolor if she wants to look her best).

You don’t want to be cutting your hair the day before something big, because it could turn out really badly and you’d need time to get it fixed. It also gives your hair a chance to look more “natural” and less freshly cut.

Second question: How can I pick a style that’ll be what I want and will age gracefully?

My sister’s haircut isn’t bad, but it requires maintenance at least every 4 months. Not bad, but my hair hasn’t been cut in 2.5 years. Getting towards 3, actually. I think mine wins.

On that cold April night, in the dorm bathroom, with my friends–I wasn’t exactly planning this out. I just got really lucky in how I did it. It grew out wonderfully.

Now, I know a bit more about my hair, how I like it when it’s short, etc. I’m going to get it cut in such a way that it won’t need to be cut for another year or more. My current thought is the same kind of layering, but not as short as it was last time.

On coloring…

Coloring is more difficult. One way some women I know approach it is by getting a really good color treatment done a couple times a year and then consulting with their stylist about frugal maintenance.

I wish I could spend the rest of my life cutting my own hair. Maybe I will sometimes, but now that I’m working I’m not as free to mess up. So I’ll optimize.

How do you optimize your hair cutting expenses?

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December 8, 2007 at 8:40 am


FinanceAndFat December 4, 2007 at 9:11 pm

That’s pretty hardcore! 🙂

I gave up the fancy place I used to go to, about $30-$40 a pop, and started using a cheapy place for about $15. I did let it go for several months because I thought I might like long hair, but that was a failure and now I’m back to short hair and I have to get it cut about every 6 weeks. I wouldn’t try it myself, so not really any room for savings here for me.

Amanda December 4, 2007 at 9:36 pm

I only get my hair cut about twice a year; one can do that with long hair. But I do splurge and go to the salon, which costs about $40 with tip. It’s nice though because when I go I get a short shoulder and scalp massage, which is awesome. So, I think $40 for an hour of pampering is so worth it. 🙂

Amanda December 4, 2007 at 9:36 pm

Oh, but I had roommates cut my hair in college, too! It was fun. 🙂

mrsmicah December 4, 2007 at 9:37 pm

I’d say it was mostly luck and college and having too many girls in one place being bored. One boy consulted afterwards and removed what he called the “duck butt.”

It helps that I’m comfortable with hairstyles of all lengths.

Men actually seem at a disadvantage in all this. Unless their hair is buzzed or something their wife/partner/so can do, then they have to get it cut more often. Women can let it grow.

Of course, Mr. Micah has longer hair than most guys (though not the long scraggly or pony-tail type…it’s perfect!), which means it’s not hard for me to cut it every month or two.

Julie December 4, 2007 at 9:58 pm

I don’t really have any advice, but I’m so glad that you posted about this! I’m going to get my pre-first job haircut on Friday and I’m a little nervous. For me, the most important thing is that I don’t have very much day to day maintenance. If you think about spending 15-30 minutes drying, straightening, curling, hairspraying, etc., it might be worth getting a trim for $40 every couple of months!

Lynnae @ Being Fruga December 4, 2007 at 10:40 pm

We’re fortunate, because there’s a woman from our church that does a fantastic job cutting hair, and she only charges $15 or so. I usually have her cut it any way she wants, so it’s fun for her.

Then as it grows out, I just keep curling it different ways, until I can’t get it to look good anymore. Then I know it’s time for a cut.

I probably get my hair cut every 3 months or so. Sometimes much longer.

Susy December 4, 2007 at 10:51 pm

I grow mine out to donate it and get it cut every 2 years. I wear it in a pony most of the time (ok all of the time). It works for me. I don’t mind paying $20 every 2 years. I do love having a short cute for 2-3 months after I get it cut, but I just can’t bring myself to pay money for it and then I can’t donate it.

My DH shaves his head every 2 weeks himself. All that we save goes into our alaskan cruise fund!

sfordinarygirl December 5, 2007 at 1:29 am

I don’t fuss with color or highlights period anymore. It damages your hair too much. I don’t want to lose all my hair by the time I’m 30!

I do haircuts every 6 months now instead of 3. And I’m cheap – I try different salons in Chinatown and wind up spending $20 or less depending on how fancy the Chinatown salon. A haircut, shampoo and blowdry runs $15.

m December 5, 2007 at 2:27 am

I go to a salon, try to get a decent cut that I can let grow for a long time, and get free bang trims in between. Buy dye at the drugstore and dye it myself (and only bc I am getting greys, otherwise love my own color just fine). My husband does his own with the electric shaver thing.

Erin December 5, 2007 at 9:43 am

I’m terrible at this, I don’t. My husband cuts his hair and the older two boys. I pay for a cheap haircut for my youngest.
And me…well, after countless butchered cuts I finally found someone who does an amazing job on my hair. He charges $55. My hair is shorter now so I do get it cut every 2-3 months to maintain it. I do try to stretch it out a bit to cut down on how many haircuts I have to have and pay for. When my hair was longer it was much easier, I think I would go 12+ months without getting a trim.

frugal zeitgeist December 5, 2007 at 2:47 pm

A friend used to cut my hair for free, but these days I go to Supercuts (where you get what you pay for). I’m seriously overdue for a trim at the moment.

I have a pretty much wash-mousse-and-wear style (long, but all one length and no bangs). I hit the genetic jackpot on coloring, natural honey blonde with faint red highlights. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Trixie December 5, 2007 at 2:51 pm


I wear my hair longer and do not need to get it cut that often. A fresh hair cut sure feels great though, when your hair is shorter!

We also save major bucks by me cutting my husband’s hair. I was a little scared to learn in case it turned out badly, but it isn’t very hard at all. Sometimes, when we are sitting on the couch I just stare and admire my haircutting ablilities. LOL

Take Care,


plonkee December 5, 2007 at 2:53 pm

I’m funny about my hair – I like to be sure in advance that it will come out nice. I went through a long phase of not getting it cut – probably about 8 years.

At the moment, I try and get it cut every couple of months, and spend about £35 ($70) on it at a salon recommended to me by my brother.

Please don’t judge my hair by how I look at the moment though, as I haven’t had it cut for about 4 months and it’s getting a bit long.

plonkee December 5, 2007 at 2:54 pm

I meant to also say, unlike my siblings, I don’t get it coloured. Not because I like the colour particularly but because I can’t afford the maintenance.

E.C. December 6, 2007 at 3:26 pm

My mom cuts my hair, and I cut hers. When I wore my hair short in high school, I went to the local place that offered $10 cuts, but I always waited way to long between haircuts and ended up looking bad for weeks. My attempts at cutting my hair myself have this far been limited to one fairly disastrous try as a preschooler and a bang trim a couple of summers ago when I was living in NY for two months so there was no one I knew around to cut it. Other than a purple dye job a friend of mine did for me in high school, I don’t color my hair.

I guess I really ought to learn to cut my own hair since I may be moving after graduation. With boring, longish, all one length hair, it seems a bit silly to pay someone else. I’m also a big fan of generic dandruff shampoo and Suave conditioner so my hair related expenses are minimal.

JeffG December 6, 2007 at 5:36 pm

Being a guy has made it pretty easy for me. I bought a $20 pair of clippers and shaved my head every other month for free. My wife prefers my hair longer though, so I just don’t cut it at all now. Last time I cut it (myself, no salon or anything) was 11 months ago. It’s down to my shoulders now, annoying when it hangs in my face, but as long as my hair is properly conditioned I can pull it back into a ponytail with no issues, and that seems an easy enough solution for me.

Other than that, I’ve even taken shots cutting my own hair over the years. The benefit of being male is, again, if I screw it up I can just shave my head.

Lisa Braithwaite December 21, 2007 at 2:11 am

I have very short hair and need to have it cut every four to five weeks. No problem – my husband cuts it! Why is it okay for women to cut their husbands’ hair, but not the other way around?

My husband had wanted to cut my hair for years, just for fun. A couple of years ago, I got laid off and needed to cut back on expenses. Haircuts for me, being frequent and requiring a stylist who understands short hairstyles, were one of those things that added up.

Hubby started cutting my hair over three years ago and we’ve never looked back! He loves it as a creative outlet. I love that I don’t have to pay for it, and that he gets better and better. I get compliments all the time!

C’mon ladies, give your man a chance!

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