frugal fail: cutting my own hair
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Frugal Fail: Cutting My Own Hair

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Welcome to the Frugal Fail series here at Picky Pinchers. This blog series documents the difficulties we face when transitioning from a consumerist lifestyle to a frugal one. Hard lessons will be learned, and many laughs will be had at my expense.

Today’s fail?

Cutting my own hair.

Haircuts can be scary. There’s always the chance that it’ll be too short or that it won’t look good. Since hair takes time to grow back, many people aren’t willing to commit to something as crazy as cutting hair at home.

While I know hair is just a vanity, I’ve always been terrified of my semiannual trim. Since I had a simple hairstyle, I would trim the split ends myself with a set of $10 salon scissors. I figured it would save me $10 in salon costs each time I needed a simple trim, so it seemed like a great frugal decision.

I’ve done this for a year with no mishaps.

Until last week.




Mrs. Picky Pincher + Scissors = Oh No

It was the day before our anniversary trip, and I decided to give myself a little trim. For my long hair, the best approach was to put it in a ponytail, and then use a second ponytail holder to draw the line between split ends and the rest of my hair. I’ve done this several times, so my guard was down and a few glasses of wine were imbibed beforehand. I hummed as I pressed the sharp metal of the scissors against the ends of my hair, trimming in what appeared to be a uniform and straight line.

I removed the ponytail holders, shook out my damp hair, and gasped.

The back portions of my hair were trimmed perfectly. The front sections, however, were untouched, giving an uneven, reverse Mohawk-style haircut. Short in the back, long in the front.

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I felt hot panic rising in my throat. I was having the ‘I’ve made a terrible mistake’ moment, scissors in hand and clump of hair on the floor, when Mr. Picky Pincher came over to survey the damage.

“What… what happened?” he asked.

I laughed, pretending I wasn’t about to cry, “Yeah, I have no idea. Could you try evening it out for me?”

Mr. Picky Pincher dutifully and cautiously snipped away at the ends of the hair to even them.

It looked bad.

I paced the kitchen floor, pondering my next move. Cutting hair at home was my way of saving $50-$100 a year on haircuts. I didn’t think it was worth it to spend a dime on a haircut. I was determined to live with the consequences of my decision, and maintain steadfastly frugal by not spending a cent. I checked my hair in the mirror again, trying to convince myself that it looked good.

You know, its really not that uneven. No ones going to notice it. I could always just wear my hair in a ponytailforever. Okay, what if we just cut it all off in one fell swoop. Maybe I should just start all over and shave my head?




I sighed, realizing that this gross haircut wasn’t an option. I wasn’t being frugal with my insistence to avoid an expense; I was being tightfisted. I had a coupon for an $8 haircut at Great Clips on my fridge. I stared at it, knowing this was the solution.

On $8 Haircuts and Why Not Everyone Should Cut Their Own Hair

I came out of Great Clips with a much shorter ‘do, but it looked like an actual hairstyle. And who can complain about an $8 haircut? Plus, I kind of like having shorter hair. Less to wash, less to style, and less to weigh down my head. Not too shabby!

i frugal failed at cutting my own hair today. it's short but i think I like it

Eek, it’s so short! But I’m going to rock it. 🙂

So what’s to be learned from this frugal fail?




First of all, some people aren’t cut out to be at-home cosmetologists—myself included. If you have a knack for cutting hair at home, go ahead! Save yourself a stack of cash by avoiding the salon. As for me? I might need to fork over $8-$15 twice a year for a good trim.

Things are good in moderation. Getting your hair cut in a salon is fine as long as it’s a reasonable price—you don’t need a $60 haircut every month. On the flip side, cutting your hair badly and refusing to spend $8 to get it fixed—that’s just being downright cheap.

There’s a lesson in everything, and this week it came in the form of a clump of hair. I’m human. I’m going to fail a lot as I adjust my lifestyle to better align with my resources and goals. But I’ll be a frugal queen in no time, thanks to lessons (AKA fails) like these. I own my mistakes and learn from them.

Can you top my frugal fail this week? Let me know in the comments!

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19 comments on “Frugal Fail: Cutting My Own Hair

  1. well at least we will save 10 bucks a month on my haircuts now that i’m using the “universal men’s grooming device” 🙂

  2. I think your $8 haircut looks great! I would have loved to see the before pic;) We trim all of our own hair. Thankfully my mom went to cosmetology school (in the 70s!) and cuts my hair. The boys get buzzed with the clippers.

    1. Why thank you! It’s a dream of mine to attend some kind of cosmetology course to learn how to cut my own hair!

    1. Hahaha, I always have to share the funny stories. 🙂 Yes, $8 is still a pretty damn good deal! In my pre-frugal days I would drop $30 for a decent haircut!

  3. My haircuts are $35 including tip. I’m getting a new flat iron and hopefully that will allow me to schedule a cut every 8-9 weeks instead of 6-7 weeks. My hair is too heavy and wavy for me to consider doing it myself. $8 is a great deal! And your style is adorable.

    1. Agreed; using less heat from a better curler/straightener really can make a difference! I started using Chi’s heat protectant and it’s allowed me to space out my haircuts significantly. Which equals better savings. 🙂

  4. Yes, some people simply should not be trusted with the scissors or clippers to be fair. I have received too many bad haircuts at the salon, so I let my then new boyfriend give me a haircut shortly after we had just started dating. He did a great job, still does years later. After two absolutely horrible haircuts at the barber, I decided that I would try the DIY route on my boys, thankfully my boyfriend coaching me kept me from screwing them up, he did most of the hair cutting, but the next time my older son declined letting me cut his hair in favor of my now husband and the younger one looked and me and said he was firing me too. That’s ok though, it was very nerve wracking trying to use the clippers, let alone during the scissor over comb portion on the longer hair on top. My husband gives great haircuts, and while I don’t want to turn my home into a walk in salon, I am ok with him cutting my best friend’s hair as she had a string of bad haircuts and happened to stop by one day when I was getting a trim. She watched him section and trim my hair and complimented him that he always makes my hair look good. When he finished she mentioned she could use a trim and would he do hers too? I nodded ok, and she took a seat, he caped her, did the full sectioning and trimmed her hair for her. She was pleased and asked if it was a one time good deal. I told her it was ok with me, if my husband didn’t mind, she could stop by and get hers cut when he is either trimming mine or giving the boys their haircuts. The boys get theirs cut monthly, mine trimmed is every eight to ten weeks. Hubby being the family barber has saved me thousands and spared me from the horror of paying for bad haircuts.

    1. Wowza! I’m so jealous that you’ve got a personal barber. 😉 Save money every way you can! I think getting haircuts from (skilled) family members can be way better than going to a salon. After all, they’re the ones who have to live with you. 🙂

      1. OK, I am spoiled, when I saw my grays start showing too much, I informed him that being my colorist is part of his job description. So we researched safe hair color as I am allergic to the harsh chemicals in box and salon dyes, and Henna was the smart choice. So now he does that for me now as well. He likes my hair long so I don’t have to worry about him getting scissor happy on me. He even braids it for me before work, and pretty much whenever I ask. I am very particular, and if the braid doesn’t look right, I have him redo it, which isn’t very often. So yes I am very happy having my own personal stylist and when I hear a friend or coworker complain about a bad haircut or seeing someone I don’t even know with a bad haircut, it reminds me how fortunate I am. to be fair, I must admit he did have some training from an ex-girlfriend who was a stylist that taught him how to cut hers, because she dreaded having another stylist that just did what they wanted versus what she asked for in having her hair cut. I don’t think I will ever meet her, but if I do I should thank her.

  5. I read your article and the part where you had a few glasses of wine before deciding to trim you hair caught my attention. I have had times when I was tempted to change my hair after a glass of wine or two. My rule was alcohol and haircuts do not mix. That was until my boyfriend started putting out a glass of red wine for me before each time he gave me a trim. But I am firm, he doesn’t get any beer, wine, or any other alcoholic beverage while he is wielding the shears.

    1. Keri, that’s a great rule to have! Luckily I had been planning on doing a trim for a while, so that was one tipsy decision I avoided I suppose! But cutting in straight lines and caution are definitely not in the cards when you’re drinking. Oops!

  6. In my family of 4, my husband is bald (he shaves off what’s left) and the 2 kids get home haircuts (that look quite good if I do say so myself!) but I spend about $20 every 6 weeks to get mine cut by a professional I trust. I believe there are a few things best left to the pros and my very thick short hair is one of them! It sounds like you reduced your haircut expenses by a lot and so did we. I call that a win, not a fail!

    1. Oooh! Are you the one who cuts your kids’ hair? How did you learn how to do it? I’ve tried a few Youtube videos, but the ones I’ve found so far haven’t worked well for me.

  7. I think it looks great!
    I just got a trim with the generic version of the CreaClip on Amazon. http://amzn.to/29k075Q It’s < $6 and worked great. My husband was hesitant to just give it a go with scissors, but he felt more comfortable with this guide. You can use it as a smile or upside down as a rainbow for different types of cuts and layers. It's probably better with at least shoulder length hair and it still helps to have a second set of hands, but I was very impressed with the device and happy with the result.

    1. Thank you! Hey that’s a nifty little tool! I haven’t heard of that before, but maybe that’s what we should start trying for my longer hair. It’s gotten to where I hate forking over money for haircuts. Boo!

  8. As I think you know, I cut my own hair. I didn’t start this to save the money, but rather the frustration. I like my hair long and I just felt like I was never satisfied at the salon. Plus, sometimes, I would just feel like I really needed a trim quickly and didn’t want to have to make an appointment. So, there is a freedom aspect in there as well, for me. I have to say though that it definitely will not work for everyone. If you do have (or wear) straight hair, then it could be a problem. The same thing with super thick hair or maybe even super curly. Also, my hair is pretty long, passed the bra, so I have a lot of leeway to make mistakes. It is also wavy, with long layers, so inconsistencies don’t show up. I actually really enjoy the process. Right now though, I’m experimenting with letting it grow out and I haven’t trimmed it in months. It is just hair, so I have fun with it… 🙂

    I do however get my highlights at a salon. I pay big bucks for quality and less toxic chemicals, but since I’m not solid blond or platinum, I can get away with only 2-3 times a year, and claim the ‘hombre look’ in between. Again, for me, it isn’t about saving money, but I definitely don’t want to use chemicals every 6-8 weeks like some people do, or spend that much time in a salon. I also LOVE my highlights, and that is not an expense I’m willing to give up at this time. 🙂

    1. Great job with cutting your own hair! I do agree that it’s more forgiving to cut longer hair. It was SUCH a big struggle, but I haven’t dyed my hair in nearly three years. 🙂 I used to really love it, but for me it was a body image issue that I had to confront. And it was just hard to find a decent stylist. Rock those highlights!

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