Debt Reduction, Everyday Living

The $30 Haircut

First off, I need to tell you guys something – I think that when it comes to my appearance and how long it takes for me to get ready in the morning, I am one of the most low-maintenance people on this planet. Other than men. I don’t even own a hairbrush. (Then again, I have really short hair, so I don’t really need one.)

I have also made the (foolish) claim that it is impossible for me to get a bad haircut. Sure … my hair is short and as long as it’s cut a certain length, I can work wonders with what I have. If it gets too long, I start looking like some 1970s reject and because I do need to get regular haircuts, I haven’t bothered to find myself a “regular” stylist, since I lost track of one beloved stylist who switched hair salons like most people switch jackets. I have been happy to frequent places like Fantastic Sam’s, Great Clips and Cost Cutters. I’ve been able to get cheap and easy haircuts from a plethora of strangers.

That was before December 23, 2010. OK – so it wasn’t a smart move to wait the day before a holiday to get my hair cut. I went to one of the aforementioned salons and shared elbow room with a number of frazzled looking men who were trying to get their hair cut, as well as their sons’ hair cut before family photos. I waited about a half hour for my turn at the chair and as I took off my glasses, I settled in for what I was sure to be another mediocre experience getting my hair trimmed. Here’s the thing though – I’m basically blind when I do not have my glasses on, so while I kept hearing the constant snip of the scissors around my gourd, I couldn’t gauge what the end result was going to be.

Until it was too late … remember how I said that if my hair is too long I look like a 70s reject? Well, if it’s too short, I look like a woman trying desparately to look like a man. And trust me … I think Chaz Bono made a really decent transition between being a woman to becoming a man, but I don’t want to look like a guy! I don’t necessarily want to look cute like Michelle Williams, but I want to be able to style my hair every morning and not cringe at the end result.

After consulting with my stylin’ co-workers and balking at how much they tend to pay for haircuts, I took matters into my own hands. (And I should note … these women are all really incredibly professional and are in sales and tend to have to show up in front of clients on a semi-regular basis, so I can understand why they pay $50 for haircuts. But this is me and I can buy a LOT of things with $50. Cheap wine and good beer notwithstanding.) I called a local salon here in Rochester that I’ve frequented on occasion and I made a haircut with one of their “level one” stylists. (They have different levels of stylists from one to nine. One is the cheapest, nine is for those folks who likely have a lot more hair than I do and have money to burn, like I do not.)

Yesterday, I spent $30 ($24 for the haircut and $6 tip … I need to research and make sure that I didn’t rip my lovely stylist off entirely … I told you that I’m inept at these things …), met a wonderful stylist named Brittany who all but held my hand when I told her about my Dec. 23 trauma and gave me one of the best haircuts I’ve ever received. Pretty impressive for someone who doesn’t look old enough to drink and had a single glittery highlight in her chestnut brown hair. And when it was all over, I booked another appointment four weeks from now to get another haircut with her. As I told my husband, this was akin to marriage for me.

At the rate that I’m going, I will spend over $300 this year on haircuts. (That number makes me want to weep, throw up a little in my mouth and cringe at the same time.) And I’ve just consulted with my husband because $300 is the equivalent of one month’s worth of college tuition payments, about two months of utilities (gas and electric) and one fourth of what I think it might cost to replace the carpeting in my kitchen with laminate flooring. Damn … that’s a lot of money. Then again, it’s also the amount of money that I’ve already made in freelance and consultant work this year. So maybe July will find me rethinking my new love affair with Brittany, but for right now – I’m loving my new haircut.

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3 thoughts on “The $30 Haircut

  1. I’m one of those who usually spends, um, don’t know if I should say because I don’t know if my husband is reading over my shoulder at the moment, he’s sitting behind me eating his lunch. 😉

    My stylist is $50, plus I tip $10. But the other thing about developing a rapport with your stylist is that I can go in to her after say 6 or 8 weeks (for you it might be 4), and schedule myself for a “bang trim” during which she gives me an all over quick (and dry, no hair wash, style, etc.) trim, since my hair is short, and then I just tip her again. So I am able to stretch it, and basically get two haircuts for the price of one, and LOVE my hair in between. See if the salon offers bang trims to stretch you a little longer (and then when you go in just ask for a quick all over “trim”).

    To me, good hair is important to your self-esteem…if I’m having a bad hair day or don’t have a good cut, I just feel like there’s a black cloud hanging over me. I can’t imagine feeling like a woman trying to look like a man is a good feeling to have all the time.

    I have, as of late, bartered with a friend for haircuts and gotten 3 out of the deal, which she loves because I trade her for baby-sitting her kids when she needs a last minute sitter. However, I went with what she wanted for my hair last time instead of what I wanted and I’m not in love with my hair. I had been wanting to go back to my stylist anyway for a reset, so I’ll be doing it later this month.

    (Plus my stylist gave my girls their first little bang trims for free, so I bought product from her–same stuff I would have bought anyway–plus tipped her.)

    I have been weighing whether or not to buy my fancy hair products since running out because it’s going to be about $90 to get the best deal (buy 2 get 1 free of two products at Ulta), but the last time I did that was before the girls were born and at the rate I used them, it lasted me about a year and a half. I’ve tried to find a reasonable substitute, but haven’t, and I’m now down to the fact that those products make me THAT much happier that it’s worth it for me. (And I’m totally cheap on shampoo, etc. otherwise.)

    Would I give up my fancy starbucks pumpkin lattes? If I had to, yes, and that’s saying something–the day those come out in fall is better than my birthday. So maybe find something non-utilitarian to compare it to, as opposed to the utility bill, and place value on it that way. Sure, the utility bill is important, but so is your happiness in your re-adjusted-spending life.

  2. Do you know if you have an Aveda Institute or local beauty school in your town? I used to spend $200 on a cut and highlight but have now resorted to dyeing my own hair to cover gray and getting a $14 + $6 tip at the Aveda institute from a student about to graduate. Can’t beat that price for a salon worthy cut.

  3. For the first 10 years I lived here I went to the barber shop that my younger cousins went to, and really didn’t have any problems, but also never really did anything special. I think their rates were between $12 and $15 in the those 10 years. My hair grows fairly fast, usually I can’t go longer than 4 or 5 weeks at the most. About 3 years ago after letting my hair grow really long, I decided to try a stylist one of my good friends uses and likes. The going rate for their salon was $30-35, which was a big jump from what I had been at. I have to say I’m happier now, and even though it is more expensive, I do feel like I’m actually “styled”.

    As far as tips – I leave $5 on a $32, and I thought that was a lot, but after reading comments I’m starting to wonder? (I have the luxury of being an ‘ignorant’ guy and can use that as an excuse I guess 🙂 I’ve also been told at one point or another that stylists are hair care professionals and that leaving them a tip is akin to tipping your lawyer (vs. a non-professional like a server at a restaurant). Personally I hate the whole tipping thing anyway, it’s supposed to encourage good service but it has become this expected thing that you seem to have to do no matter what. But I digress…

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