The Frugal Practice of Home Haircuts

by Katy on August 26, 2014 · 41 comments

Home haircuts have been a staple of frugal family life since broke people started growing hair. I cut my sons’ hair until middle-school, when they started wanting specific cuts; and I’ve been cutting my husband’s hair since forever. However, my single foray into cutting my own hair was an unmitigated disaster, and I promised a co-worker that I would never do it again.

I keep my promises.

Luckily, my hairdo over the past few years is to wear it straight and without layers. But it had been at least a year-and-a-half since my last cut and the ends were looking a might bit straggly. I asked my husband to trim the ends, and by his adamant response of “No!” you’d think I’d asked him to perform brain surgery.

So I asked my sixteen-year-old son if he would cut my hair.

He was hesitant at first, but got into the spirit when he realized the devious possibilities.

pure evil

Here he is inspecting my straggly ends:

hard at work

I had him snap iPhone pictures to show me the progress along the way, and I could oversee that the hair was being cut nice and straight.

straight cut

I’d show you a glamorous before-and-after, except that there was nothing too dramatic about the cut. I simply wanted the ends evened out. Certainly not worth driving across town and shelling out $20!

Keeping a low maintenance haircut is a huge money saver for anyone, male or female. And when one’s own children can be trained to do the job, all the better!

Does your family practice the art of home hair cuts? Please share your stories in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Cattis August 27, 2014 at 1:26 am

My husband cuts his own hair, I cut our daughters hair, my husband actully got to cut our sons hair this last weekend, before that he’d only let me cut it for him. I get my hair done max two times a year at a place where they don’t wash my hair and the prize for a cut is $26. But now I’m thinking about letting by hair grow again, then someone in my family can cut it for me… 😉


Jennifer August 27, 2014 at 4:19 am

I cut my own hair all the time! I think I’ve had two professional haircuts in the last five years. It’s not totally financial, I hate sitting there making forced small talk. I don’t have an overly simple style either. I’ve got long layers and bangs and thin it out too. I do have wavy hair which helps hide mistakes! I was winging it (which was not so good) but then found some YouTube videos that were very helpful. Just search for the kind of haircut you want and you’ll probably find step by step instructions. Oh, but I’m garbage at cutting my husbands hair.


K D August 27, 2014 at 4:26 am

My daughter cuts my husbands hair, with clippers. My daughter gets her hair cut a couple times a year, at a salon. My hair is thick and I wear it short so I shell out for haircuts – I try to go two months between them but sometimes I don’t last longer than six weeks. My hair is not only cut in many layers but a thinning shears is used on it as well. Paying for haircuts works for me. I don’t spend anything else on my hair, outside of cheap shampoo (no dye, highlights, etc.). If money were tighter I would try to find a cheaper haircut but I don’t mind paying because all money spent supports the local economy.


Rb August 27, 2014 at 4:40 am

We do some of both i use a clippers on my sons and husb ( 3 on back and sides 8 on top). But i have very short hair and get mine cut for me. Local place does great work for 12$ adult cut $7 for kids. Lately we all have been getting cuts there cuz its fast and my sons who are autistic need to practice getting their hair cut at a shop. So we do both.

Its a local place. Small business and the guys there are SO amazing with my guys who need a bit more time and attention. Once a year in winter i splurge on highlites and a brow wax and with a cut it comes to a whopping $ 40. Plus we tip really well.


Megyn August 27, 2014 at 4:42 am

I’ve been cutting my 4 year old son’s hair forever. Our 6 year old requires haircuts from a salon as he has a surfer-type style and refuses to try anything else. I tried to cut it once, but it just ended up looking like a friar, so now I just find coupons and go to Great Clips. My hubby also refuses to let me cut his hair. As for me, I love getting my hair cut and colored, but I always find hairmodeling gigs on Craigslist, so I get it done for free or for a nominal charge for the dye. Doing it this way, I also get to go to some schmancy salons I wouldn’t normally be able to afford. I love getting pampered for free while also helping a stylist out.


jennifer August 27, 2014 at 5:37 am

When my husband was in the Army, his co-worker (who had been a barber earlier in his Army career) cut his hair about every 10 days. We paid him $5 or a meal or cookies.
Once my husband got out, we bought clippers and now it’s done at home around every 14 days. He does most of it and I just do the clean up of around the ears and neck. Our 8 year old son has never been anywhere to have his hair cut-we do it at home also. He likes it buzzed, but “not naked” (bald). Pretty easy to do every month.
For me, I’ve been taking advantage of the salon school here in town for many years. I get my hair trimmed every 8-10 weeks or it looks horrid. I am guilty of coloring my hair, but normally only 2x/year. At my birthday (July) and anniversary (January). At times, I take advantage of the gift certificate sale they offer “Buy XX and get an additional XX”. The “extra” gets me a pedicure!

Now, if clipping our 2 labradoodles were as easy as my boys, we’d be in business!


Monica August 27, 2014 at 6:35 am

If a simple cut is needed, some vocational high schools or salon schools in the area have their students do it for cheap. They need the practice, and a teacher is usually watching over their shoulder to make sure its going correctly.


Jennifer N August 27, 2014 at 7:15 am

I cut my oldest son’s hair until it got so thick it would take me at least an hour to do. So now my husband and son go together to get their hair cut and I get an hour or so of piece one weekend afternoon once a month. Totally worth it. My youngest son probably needs a cut soon (which I will do) but he has the sweetest little curls and I’m not ready to part with them yet! I haven’t had my hair cut in over a year – I’ll probably just trim it myself or see if the husband is brave enough. I have thin hair, so simple cuts work best for me.


Carla August 27, 2014 at 7:28 am

Absolutely we do home cuts! Forty plus years ago when my husband and I were newly engaged he wanted me to cut his hair. I. Was. Terrified. But he insisted (cheap man) and never said a word about the “do” I gave him. Over the years, I have gradually learned how to do it well and now even get compliments on how good his hair looks. Years ago, I wore mine in a bob and I got it cut in a salon. My hair, unlike his, is very straight; in a bob is a perfect style for it, but it requires someone who knows what they are doing; not even all the hairdressers can do a good job. These days, my hair is quite long and I cut it myself. No money is out for these services.


Rachel S. August 27, 2014 at 8:44 am

Yeah, what is it with husbands afraid to trim hair? I asked my husband to trim the back once early in our marriage and he got really upset because my head is 3d. Huh? I cut my own hair by pinning it up in sections with clips, like they have at salons. I cut the back first, once it is even (check with two mirrors) I start letting down the sections and just check that everything is symmetrical on both side of my head. I use clippers on husband and sons with periodic trims around the ears and neck. Wow, I guess I’ve been doing home haircuts for nine years now. I did have to replace the clippers once a few years ago when the motor gave out.


PoppyEcho August 31, 2014 at 11:01 am

rofl he never noticed your head was 3d before!


Erin August 27, 2014 at 9:04 am

Another vote for school haircuts! We have an Aveda Institute in town, and it is only $20 for wash, cut, and dry.


Claudia August 27, 2014 at 9:36 am

My husband cuts his own (!) and our two sons’ hair. He does a fabulous job, too. This has saved us a ton of money. I am the “fancy” one and spend the big bucks–$35 three or four times a year at a locally-owned family salon–for my thick, layered hair, as we tried the home-haircutting route and it just didn’t work out. I do my own manicures and pedicures, though–manis and pedis around here range from $30-$50! I love doing it myself while watching terrible television.


kathleen August 27, 2014 at 11:10 am

When I left my job in January, I vowed to economize on my hair expenses. I haven’t had it colored since, and it is within one cut of being all my own salt and pepper. I’ve only had it cut twice this year. My plan is to let it grow long again to further economize.


jill August 27, 2014 at 11:14 am

My husband is bald so he shaves his own head instead of cutting his hair. He used to go to Great Clips and they charged $15 so he bought a haircut at home kit and voila! He says it’s so easy that “a monkey could do it” Then my son started doing his own hair. I always trimmed my daughters’ long hair – now my oldest even dyes her own. My youngest has finally started going to a salon to have them thin it out a few times a year. And I go to a local family salon – have for years now and I have no complaints on price or service. By the way, my mother-in-law cut my husbands, his brothers and my father-in-law’s hair for years and years. Infact, my husband had never gone to anyone to cut his hair until he went to college!


Maranda August 27, 2014 at 11:15 am

I have been cutting my husband’s hair for a couple of years with clippers, and it’s easy-peasy. I recently cut my three-year-old’s hair, and it wasn’t too bad. He is wiggly, but it worked out in the end:

I have just been going without, but it’s really time I changed that. I need to find a local hairstyle school for myself!


jill August 27, 2014 at 11:15 am

My husband is bald so he shaves his own head instead of cutting his hair. He used to go to Great Clips and they charged $15 so he bought a haircut at home kit and voila! He says it’s so easy that “a monkey could do it” Then my son started doing his own hair. I always trimmed my daughters’ long hair – now my oldest even dyes her own. My youngest has finally started going to a salon to have them thin it out a few times a year. And I go to a local family salon – have for years now and I have no complaints on price or service. By the way, my mother-in-law cut my husbands, his brothers and my father-in-law’s hair for years and years. Infact, my husband had never gone to anyone to cut his hair until he went to college!


Christine August 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm

My husband really wants me to cut his hair, but I’m nervous (despite watching several tutorials, including the one on Young House Love). Part of it is that when I’ve tried to give him trims he’s a total backseat driver (“I’ve seen them do it so many times. You do it like this.”) I’ll do my 3 year old son’s, but between every few Mommy trims I like to get a professional haircut to give him back some shape – then it’s easier for me to follow. As he starts getting into a true “boy” haircut I may invest in clippers and start doing it for both of them.
I have trimmed my own bangs and ends before, but I have curly hair and layers so I leave most cutting to a pro. I used to colour my hair on my own (dark hair and started having really obvious roots YOUNG) but I found that it didn’t last long, and damaged my hair. I figure that I do all my other personal care upkeep on my own, I can sub this one out and get a better result. Plus, I’m supporting a local business person so it doesn’t make me feel bad in a consumer-y way. I do agree with the poster who talked about the time suck though (especially for colour), the opportunity cost is significant and you have to do it during business hours. The beauty of home colouring was being able to do it at 9 pm and do other housework while it did it’s thing 🙂


Kristi Taylor August 27, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Hubby has been cutting his hair with a Flowbee for about 12 years (since I tried to cut it.) We cut our son’s hair with it now (he’s almost five) and you’d never know either of them use the Flowbee. Best $80 we ever spent…. 🙂


Molly August 27, 2014 at 4:17 pm

He did a really nice job! You should tip him. 😉
My hubby cuts his own hair, and I trim my bangs between visits – but the few times I’ve tried to cut my own were … not good.


Shelly August 27, 2014 at 4:27 pm

I cut my family’s hair and occasionally my dad’s hair too. It saves us a bunch. The only draw back is, it’s been 5 years since my last haircut. My husband did my last one and he did fine but it’s not something he wants to do on a regular basis. Hence the length of time between my haircuts. Lucky for me I have a really low maintenance cut.


Gladys (The Pinay Mom) August 27, 2014 at 4:46 pm

I’m yearning to learn how to give my husband a haircut but his refusal proves that I don’t have to. Your son did a good job trimming your hair.


Lisa August 27, 2014 at 7:31 pm

My son won’t let me cut his hair anymore. I think the problem is I think out loud when I work and saying “oops” freaks him out 😎


christa August 27, 2014 at 7:48 pm

I cut my husband’s and 2 son’s hair for the last 7 years. I like the ease of doing it when we want to, as well as, the money we save. I get my hair professionally cut because I have very thick hair that needs to be layered. I color my own hair.


Nyaran August 27, 2014 at 11:48 pm

YAY for home hair cuts. Your son did a very good job. I had dreads for four years that I took care of myself, and after that I usually just grabbed my hair, held it up and cut it, so that it could just be hold together with a rubber band. Now I am thinking of letting it grow for a while. Here in Nairobi, Kenya, there are barbers, that’s where my husband goes for hair and beard. One session with everything costs less than a dollar.


Bellen August 28, 2014 at 2:35 am

Used to cut my own hair most of the time but had a pro cut twice a year at $12 each. Now, due to age/heredity thinning hair on top I get it cut about every 9-12 weeks as long as I can find a coupon for an $8 cut. Husband really needs a cut every 6-8 weeks but waits for the $8 coupon cut every 9-12 weeks. Keep telling him he needs to grow it out and have a pony tail like lots of our older neighbors – all savings count.


JD August 28, 2014 at 5:06 am

I trim my husband’s hair between haircuts, but I don’t like doing it at all. I’m not too good at it, and have made some mistakes a couple of times. Still, it helps him go longer between cuts — if I do it right. I trim my own bangs all the time and sometimes go to the local vo-tech to get my hair cut. I’m trying to convince my family to trim my hair, as it’s all one length except for my bangs, but all of us have curly hair and it can be a challenge. So far, no one in my family will agree to trim my hair. One of my daughters will gift me with a gift certificate to a salon for my birthday sometimes, which is nice — I love the head massage — but they always want to try to layer or highlight my hair, stuff that takes upkeep. I tell them I am highlighting it already — with my own silver color that is starting to show up.


Diane C August 28, 2014 at 11:21 am

I trim the back of DH’s hair and shave his neck so he can stretch out the interval between haircuts.
When I went super-duper frugal, I decided to grow my hair out to donate to Locks of Love. By doing it twice, I was able to go five years with only the one haircut. After that, I decided I wanted a precision bob style, so I asked everyone I saw with a similar look for a recommendation. I got the best one from a librarian and it’s only $13! My new motto is: “Ask a librarian first!” As a group and perhaps out of necessity, I think they tend to be much more frugal. I’d guess that teachers score a pretty close second. The smart ones, anyway 😉


Katy August 28, 2014 at 1:11 pm

I love “Ask a Librarian!”


Monica August 28, 2014 at 1:16 pm

I use to cut my own hair and it ended up all crooked in the back. So I prefer to get my hair cut professionally done. My hair stylist cuts and thins my hair out twice a year (I have really thick and curly hair, so this cut helps).

However, what use to be the real drain for me was paying for colouring and highlights. I stopped doing highlights about 3 years ago but I colour my hair myself now. L’Oreal Feria colours do an excellent job and I colour my hair about 3 times a year. My stylist absolutely loves how great the colour looks and was surprised I had done it on my own. Colouring is so expensive and I rather use the $200 for something else.


Mary August 28, 2014 at 2:02 pm

I’ve cut my own hair for years now. I sit in front of a big mirror and hold a hand mirror in my left hand so I can see the back of my head. I slowly clip away to shape the back. I wear a short bob. I carefully run a razor on my neck to get the wisps. People compliment me on my “cute haircut”. I save more than $30 a month, since my hair need frequents trims. That is perhaps my greatest frugality…..that an shopping for clothes at Goodwill.


PoppyEcho August 29, 2014 at 7:21 am

He cut your hair nice and straight to hang behind your shoulders. BUT I have learned the hard way from doing it to my friend, once you lean forward now the part that naturally hangs in front of your shoulder is 4 inches longer than the back. at a long length this is ok but a little shorter and it is a terrible mistake.


Carolyn September 3, 2014 at 4:03 am

Cutting long hair is easier than short hair, that is true. But it still must be cut properly. My hair is just past my elbows and when my guy first started cutting my hair, he sectioned it with the clips they use at the salon, started at the back and then worked his way to the front, checking by holding each side under my chin to ensure it was even. He then cut my hair held up at 90 degrees to the side to remove the split and damaged ends without taking off more length. As it grew out he just blunt cuts the ends without the subtle layering as it left my braids quite thin at the ends. I hated going to the salon and now three years later with my guy cutting my hair, I have no intention of ever going back. While it saves money, I enjoy the one-on-one time when he does my hair. Especially when he braids it for me, which I have gotten him to do for me just about every day now. And the braids look better with fuller ends.


Chicago Mom August 29, 2014 at 4:31 pm

I cut my Husband’s hair with clippers approx once a month, he refuses to go out to get it cut. He used to go to those chain haircut shops (hair cuttery, borics, etc) but he stopped not long after we stared dating. He hates being “held hostage” with endless pitches for “hair product” and the expectation that he would have to be chatty the entire time he was getting his hair cut.

I trimmed our daughter’s hair until she was four and I took her to get bangs cut into her hair at a chain place. The stylist was really mean to a somewhat nervous four year old (kind of barking at her to sit still) and raked the comb through her hair so hard she cried…so I just scooped her up and unclipped the plastic cape thingie and have never gone back to a “professional”. I watched youtube to figure out how to cut bangs and did it myself.

As for my hair, due to the crazy prices of “ladies” haircuts, I have always trimmed my own hair & cut in my own layers (I have very long, straight hair, so I need the layers). Again youtube is awesome for cutting different styles, but at first I just checked out books from the library.


Rosa August 29, 2014 at 7:03 pm

My husband shaves his head, but I went back to the hairdresser and started taking my son to the salon as part of our “buy services & experiences instead of stuff” shift. Partly, I admit, because the haircut I’m best at on myself (choppy layers, cut upside down) went out of fashion. But it’s partly because I watched so many little local salons and restaurants in my neighborhood disappear from 2008 on.


Ann Y. August 31, 2014 at 10:00 am

Been cutting my husband’s hair since before our first date ( we all cut each other’s hair in college and I started cutting the hair of a male friend – and at a party my future honey asked where that guy got his hair cut. Cut it on a Tuesday, went out on a Saturday….and that was 39 years ago ! We often laugh about the money we have saved. I also trim his neck once a week to keep it looking neat. WISH I could cut my own hair, but my hair looks best in a very short, layered cut….can’t do it. Was going somewhere TERRIBLY expensive and justifying it because I cut my husband’s, but it got to be too much for me and I found a chain salon that does it for 16 dollars. SCORE !


Carolyn September 2, 2014 at 1:09 pm

I star texted cutting both of my boys hair. Last time I took them to the barber I was not happy with the results. The hair was not cut evenly and I asked my boyfriend who cuts my hair to fix them. So earlier this Spring I looked at the boys and said, “This week you are getting haircuts”. I wanted to wait until they were out of school before I tried doing it myself. I checked out a couple Youtube videos first and felt I was ready to take the plunge as a mother who cuts her children’s hair.
My youngest went first. I was a little nervous as I put the 1/2″ attachment on the clippers and turned them on. My boyfriend coached me on technique and supervised, giving me tips along the way. Well it was not hard. I wanted the younger one to have it shorter for the summer, so it was pretty much same length all over. Afterwards I took the attachment off and trimmed the sideburns and neckline. Scissors around the ears. It looked great. Then the older one, he wanted to keep it longer on top, so I clippered the sides, and then did scissor over comb cutting on top. My boyfriend did most of that. I did the sideburns and the neckline like my younger. OK, both were done. Brushed each off and then into the showers to rinse off the loose hair. After their hair dried I followed up to inspect my work. A few stray hairs needed attention, but I was extremely pleased with the result. My older son’s hair looked great, better than what he got at the barber shop.
My younger one kept looking in the mirror and saying he looked handsome I did it, no mess ups and I saved $30 for the two haircuts, plus time and travel. The results were great and I figure at roughly 10 haircuts each a year, I will save $300 a year plus time and fuel costs. Afterwards my mother saw the boys and complimented how nice their haircuts looked. She was surprised when I told her I (with a little help) did them. Needless to say I will not be taking them back to the barber anytime soon when I can get better results at home . I am sorry your husband will not pick up the shears and cut yours. My guy have been doing mine for quite awhile. About 12 haircuts so far, and all were great. I think that it is awesome you trusted your 16 year old son to do your hair. If you keep it to a simple trim every couple months, it won’t be too drastic of an amount he will need to cut off. And the experience he is getting should be appreciated by his future girl friends getting a guy who can cut their hair for them as long as he is not scissor happy and wants to chop off pony tails. Then the girls will avoid him like the plague.


Mary September 7, 2014 at 4:15 am

I have been cutting my husband’s hair for about eight years. I use electric clippers. He got tired of having to wait hours for a barber to do it, and besides I am the only one who understands what he means when he says, “I’d like my hair to look as if I have been out of boot camp about two weeks.”

I had long hair for years, but due to age and a medical adventure, my hair has thinned quite a bit and I just look better with really short hair, so I go to a local person for a haircut about once a month. No dye, no mousse, no perms (hair is curly anyway). If money gets tight, Plan B is for me to cut my own hair, with the electric clippers.


Carolyn December 25, 2014 at 3:46 pm

My cousin bought her family a set of clippers, scissors and cape for Christmas. She asked me what she needed. So over the next week, my cousin asked me to help her with her first home haircuts. I told her to go slow first, leave more hair on their heads, it is Winter time. It also leaves room to fix mistakes. Her boys are still quite young and her daughter has medium length hair to her shoulders. So wish her (and me) well and grant me the patience to be a good teacher 🙂 I didn’t talk to my boyfriend about it yet and I hate to drag him into it last minute. But I hope he doesn’t feel that I set him up if I ask him to come along for “moral support”. There is always too much family drama. You can pick your friends, but you are stuck with who you have for family.


Betty Winslow January 12, 2015 at 9:29 am

Good grief, no! I used to cut my husband’s when we were dating, but that was a loooooong time ago. And the last time I cut one of my children’s, my husband made me promise never to approach anyone in the family with scissors again. (What?? She was 4, she couldn’t see how uneven it was and wouldn’t have cared! Apparently, he did….) Best home haircut story – our youngest daughter, at 3, decided she wanted bangs and took a pair of safety scissors and cut her own in three big whacks. Aside from two tiny corrections between the whacks, it was perfect. She’s been a terror with hair and scissors ever since!


MartinH March 18, 2017 at 6:59 pm

I cut the hair of the woman who became my wife on our third date. She had complained that her hair was a mess and needed to be cut. I said that I cut hair as a hobby and offered to cut her hair for her.

She agreed, but I had to go back to my apartment to pick up my hair supplies, the scissors, combs, clippers and hair cape.

When I returned to her house, she had still not chickened out, she was willing to have me cut her hair telling me to do whatever I wanted to with it.

I took her literally, and cut her waist-length hair into a close cropped pixie, with the side and back sheared off using clippers. This was the only time she showed any hesitation about her decision – she had never had hair short before and certainly had not had her hair cut with clippers.

My wife has one of those faces that just looks fantastic with short hair, and you really can’t give her a bad cut.

With such a willing and trusting partner, I had to marry her! I have been cutting her hair for more than 30 years now.

Usually in the winter we let it grow longer, with her hair falling to mid-nape. But in the spring I clip the back and sides to a half-inch with the top 2-3 inches long…and the very short crop looks incredible on her.

We live in a rural part of the state, and aside from the expense, my wife hates traveling into town to get a haircut. She has said that she has talked to her friends about getting their husbands or SOs to cut their hair, and most women would love to have their guy cut their hair, but the guys uniformly chicken out.

I have also cut her daughter’s hair when things were tight for her.

I started out cutting my sister’s hair, because she didn’t like the way the stylist my mother was taking her to cut it. That evolved to cutting my mother’s hair also, and the rest as they say….


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