I love to make my own stuff- I’ve made my own boats, bed, cheese, maple syrup, wine, Mrs. MilitaryFire makes greeting and holiday cards and we grow a garden. I hunt and fish. While functional and edible items are a useful side benefit of these activities, I’m hard pressed to say any of them really save money, especially if I value my time at greater than $0/hr. Most of the time I spend on these hobbies is meditative, quality time in nature, good exercise, or a creative outlet. Even our urban garden yields only limited profits given the constraints of our suburban back yard.
A few tasks are real money savers. In this category, I put barber services at the top. While many people in-source the cleaning of their homes or mow their own lawn, a vast majority get their hair cut by a professional barber.
Examine the costs. I’m in the military, so my hair has to remain short and neat- this requires a haircut about every 15 days. Since I don’t have a military barber in my area, I used to pay $20 for a haircut (fee and tip).
On its face, $20/cut, $40/month doesn’t sound too bad especially if I’m always satisfied it the condition of my hair afterward (I’m not, but that might just be the shape of my head).
But consider the costs calculated over a ten year period:
$40/mo X 12mo X 10yrs, or $40 X 120 = $4800
This assumes the price of haircuts never changes. If we assume a barber will raise her prices $1 a year, then we are looking at a total of just over $5,000!
By the way, when you consider the cost of anything, always look at the long-term costs in this manner. Its terrifying what little recurring expenses cost you.
Leaving aside the potential value of $5,000 if it were invested, here is what we decided to do instead.
The Family Barbershop
My father cut my hair since I was a child, and I owned a cheap trimmer from my shipboard time when barbers could only be found on precious liberty time ashore. When we got married I convinced my wife she should cut my hair. Because we were paying off her loans we were cutting expenses massively- I vowed never to go back to the barber! So we picked up a few things and upgraded some others.
- Trimmer set, original: $30
- Youtube education: $0
- Barbering infrastructure (mirrors, chair, etc)= $0. A broken side view mirror on the side of the road provided a nice convex mirror, helpful for viewing the back of your own head to check your barber’s work. A liberated hospital gown forms our barber-cape
- Scissors and comb = $14
- Really nice trimmer set with clips for wife’s smaller hands= $12
- Total Cost of Goods: $169
Time to cut hair = 45mins/ cut. (Update: Mrs. MF has cut my hair to perfection in 15 minutes twice now, big improvement!). This is a little longer than the regular barber, but the commute to the kitchen is better and there are no bad magazines in the waiting room. We value our time at $25 an hour around here. I won’t get out of bed for a side hustle or try to sell something if I can’t make at least $25 an hour. My free time spent with my family is worth more than that to me.
So, if my haircuts were costing $20/ cut, Mrs. MilitaryFire’s hourly wage for being a barber is-
$20 / 0.75hrs= 26.66/hr. Tax free too. Not too shabby!
Given that I get ~2 haircuts a month, the very expensive clippers paid for themselves in under five months.
What would I do if we move closer to a military base where the haircuts are ~$10?
I still think we will do our own haircutting. Hopefully, the time per cut will decrease with practice, but even if not there is a benefit to time spent together.
How do the haircuts come out?
Pretty Great. Unless you have a special haircut, anybody can learn to do a basic men’s cut. The hardest part is the fade. No-one has ever commented on my hair negatively, even in the learning stages.
A Few Lessons Learned
- The fewer passes you make over one section of hair, the better. For example, there is no reason to cut the sides with a #4 clip, then a #3, then a #2. Just go for the #2. Not only does this save time, but the bigger hair pieces dont get as many places or cause hair-splinters.
- Have one t-shirt to wear while haircutting. The hair gets in everyone’s clothes and itches. We havent mastered the barber-cape magic yet to keep all the hair off our clothes.
- Your dog loves you. He wants to show you how much by eating your hair as it drops on the floor. This will make him very sick. Be Forewarned.
Now if I can just get my wife to let me cut her hair…
Do you get your hair cut at home? Are you one of those magicians who cuts their own hair?