I Got a Cheap Haircut to See How Much It’d Save Me This Year (It’s a Lot)

Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder

This is embarrassing to admit, but I normally spend $54 to get my haircut.

That includes a tip, but I know, I know — slap me on the wrist. Tell me it’s a waste of money.

To be fair, I have “my guy,” who I’ve gone to for years. Even when I was away for college, I squeaked haircuts in during my short visits home. We’d catch up on my love life, my classes and my up-in-the-air future.

We’re friends, really. So when I decided I didn’t needed to spend $54 on a haircut, I felt like I was cheating.

But I did it. I took a leap.

And I put my trust into a stranger at an in-and-out salon franchise.

My First Experience with a “Cheap” Haircut

Cheap haircut
Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder

I know this is silly, but I was nervous.

The last stylist who cut my hair and wasn’t “my guy” totally wonked it up. And that wasn’t even at a “cheap” salon.

But I have the hair gods on my side. My hair doesn’t require coloring, and the cut is straight across. There are only a few waves in the mix. Simple enough.

Out of convenience, I crossed the street from The Penny Hoarder headquarters and entered Great Clips. The manager and stylist, Donnie Rogowski, got me situated.

Pro tip: Check in online. I looked about 15 minutes before my planned visit, and the wait time read 16 minutes. I snagged my spot in line while I was still in my desk chair, and it was seamless. I also saved $2 doing this.

To embrace the true money-saving experience, I opted out of the $4 shampooing.

Rogowski immediately felt like an old friend as we chatted it up, and he examined my static-ridden hair. With a frown, he sprayed it down with water and some leave-in conditioner.

I soon learned Rogowski has 30 years of salon experience. He told me he once owned a salon but preferred the structure of Great Clips — and the awesome clients he meets. Like me. (OK, he didn’t say that exactly…)

He did everything “my guy” normally does: sweeping my hair back and forth, examining my part location and eyeing the length. He even used a hairdryer. It all looked legit.

Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder
Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder

In the end — less than 20 minutes later — I felt great. So did my hair. It’s clean and fresh and soft. No stragglers. (You know, those awkwardly forgotten strands of hair that are longer than others.)

I felt even better when I got up to the counter and only owed $12. It’s normally $14, but because I checked in online I received that $2 discount.

Out of enthusiasm — and rather than giving Rogowski a hug — I tipped him $5.

“Thank you so much,” I said as I left. I even threw in a “See you later” promise.

How Much I Can Save — or Make — By Getting a “Cheap” Haircut

The end result! Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder
The end result! Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder

With a more standard tip ($3 for about 20%), I would pay about $15 for a cut at Great Clips. Compared to “my guy,” that’s nearly $40 in savings per cut (keeping it rounded).

Considering I get my haircut about four times a year, that equates to about $160 in savings per year.

Let’s put this in perspective. With the money saved from one year of cheaper haircuts, I could…

  • Purchase one round-trip, non-stop ticket from St. Petersburg, Florida, to New Orleans for Mardi Gras with $19 to spare for beads
  • Order 11 large cheese pizzas from Papa John’s
  • Indulge in 41 pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream
  • Fill up with 71 gallons of gas
  • Buy 3 Eric Church concert tickets for the upper deck at Amalie Arena with $25 left for a couple of brewskis
  • Pay off 20 months worth of Netflix
  • Stock up on 20 bottles of my preferred shampoo

(Let’s not forget: I’d save about 160 minutes — or more than 2.5 hours each year — of sitting in a salon.)

I could also invest the savings.

Say for the next 10 years I dump that extra $160 a year into a high-interest savings account with a 5% APY (average percentage yield).

I could actually make $165. It’s not a ton, but pulling out $1,765 after 10 years — just because I made a simple lifestyle change — would be excellent. (I used this calculator, by the way…)

Or, I could use the savings to return to “my guy” — after 10 years I might need extra help covering up those inevitable gray hairs.

Your Turn: How much could you save getting a cheap haircut?

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. After recently completing graduate school, she focuses on saving money — and surviving the move back in with her parents.