This guest post from Shannon D is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes.

My wonderful husband likes to keep his hair short and precise. He works outdoors but dislikes hats, so keeping his hair looking proper is important to him. We live in a rural area without a major chain hair cut shop. While we do have a small barber shop, their hours are very limited. This usually meant that for a monthly haircut we would drive 25 miles to the nearest mall to get his hair cut in the evenings or on weekends at a chain store.

While we usually tried to combine his trip for a haircut with other errands in town, we typically just made it into a dinner evening. So on top of the other costs, we often had an extra dinner out that we not have otherwise enjoyed.

We estimate our costs to have been the following:

  • $25 per trip in mileage
  • $18 haircut – including the tip
  • A solid two hours spent getting a haircut

With this happening once monthly, we were spending $516 per year — not including dinners — and 24 hours of time getting his hair cut.

Note: My own hair expenses are not cheap — not factoring in fuel since I get my hair cut while in town for work — and cost us about $300 per year.

We decided to try something different, not because of the money so much as the time and convenience lost making the commute just for a haircut. After my husband asking me several times, I finally got the confidence to try cutting his hair. I am no cosmetologist. My haircutting experience includes buzzing my brother’s hair — at his request — in high school and shaving my long-haired dog during the summer. And I should mention that my husband’s haircut is not a simple buzz. It made me nervous.

So, I bought a pair of clippers for $25 about three years ago. I went with my husband to get his hair cut and carefully watched what the barber did. It really didn’t seem too complicated. When we got home, we opened up the clippers and matched up which guards to use based on the length of his freshly-cut hair. I labeled which guard to use in which section of his head. This gave us a blueprint of sorts.

Over the past few years, we’ve learned a few tips that may help you with your own home haircut adventures, if you decide this might be for you.

  • Cut hair outside if possible. Little hairs are hard to sweep and can make cleanup frustrating. Outdoors is much less stressful.
  • Cut hair regularly. Long hair is harder on the clippers and makes the cutting process slower.
  • Keep notes. We found that nail polish is the best way to label clipper guards.
  • Don’t buy the cheapest clippers. We learned this clipping the dog. The $10 models are pretty disposable. You’re better off paying more to get better quality.
  • Maintain your equipment. Use the lubrication and cleaning brush that come with your clippers to maximize their life.

Our home haircuts have been successful. My husband loves the ease of making appointments, and I like the money savings. Not every haircut is perfect, but I’ve gotten better over time. And we do still get him a professional hair cut at least once a year. The professional cut gives me a fresh template, and helps make me feel that I’m doing it correctly. But we’ve never had someone look at his hair and ask, “Who cut that?” We think that indicates success.

We’re about due for a new pair of clippers. But we figure that with the $25 investment we’ve saved almost $1400 over the past three years. But the cost savings hasn’t been the best part. The best part has been saving time. Plus, each haircut means one-on-one time with each other. It’s a great time for us to reconnect and really visit. We’ll continue these haircuts for years to come as a way to save and bond.

Reminder: This is a story from one of your fellow readers. Please be nice. After more than a decade of blogging, I have a thick skin, but it can be scary to put your story out in public for the first time. Remember that this guest author isn’t a professional writer, and is just learning about money like you are. Henceforth, unduly nasty comments on readers stories will be removed or edited.