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Mr. Cheap’s Guide to Grooming

Written by Ed Avis - 9 Comments

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Mr. Cheap's Guide to Grooming

The other day at my son’s baseball game, I got to talking to another dad about where he gets his hair cut. Yes, this is definitely something that moms talk about more than dads, but I think the conversation started when I told my wife I was going to cut our kids’ hair myself to save time and money.

The look on my wife’s face when she heard this was priceless. Okay, so I’m not going to become the family barber, but the conversation prompted me to write this column about how to save a few bucks on male grooming necessities.

1. Haircuts

When I was in the service, my buddies and I would frequently save the $5 the base barber charged by cutting each other’s hair. Those haircuts were pretty elementary, and $5 went pretty far at the junior enlisted club back then.

Unless you favor the buzz cut that’s probably not an option for you, but if your wife is handy with the clippers you might still be able to pull this one off. Personally, I haven’t had a home-made haircutin decades. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t figured out how to save money on haircuts.

My first discovery was Great Clips and Bo-Rics, two chain barbershops that do the job for about $13. That’s half of what I paid at a regular barbershop in downtown Chicago. Of course the quality (or at least nature) of the magazines is different at those family-oriented places, but with the money I save by getting my hair cut there I could subscribe to any magazine I want.

Another cash-saving discovery: Many of those places routinely offer $5 coupons! How do they possibly make any money charging $8 for a haircut? I always tip the stylist well to make sure she’s not the one taking the hit from the coupon.

2. Shaving

I gave up “real” shaving cream when I was in my 20s. The main reason I forgo the foam is that I hate having that sticky gunk on my hands. Instead I use a brush, and for the suds I put old soap chips into a broken coffee cup. If I’m on the road I take a squirt of the hand soap instead. Either way I get the pleasure of rubbing a comfy brush across my cheeks and get none of the soap on my hands. And the shave is exactly the same — I defy anyone to notice a difference.

As far as blades go, I love the quadruple-blade, supersmooth, highly advertised blades from Gillette and the like. But at more than $20 a pack, no way! So instead I stick to the knock-off double-blade cartridges that cost a third as much. The shave is not quite as much fun, but the job gets done.

3. Smell

No one likes to stink, and fortunes have been made making men smell good. The main impetus for smelling good, of course, is to attract a romantic partner — hence all those teen boys splashing on the Axe. But even after you’ve secured your life partner, you still want to smell nice (right?). The good news is that you no longer need to stock up on Polo and English Leather.

Here’s how to keep smelling OK in the post-cologne time of your life without spending much money: First, use cheap deodorant soap. A block of six bars of Irish Spring or Coast should cost less than $10, and it will last for months (obviously less if others in your family use it).

Next, use an antiperspirant, but not an expensive one. Unless you have sensitive skin, you’ll probably find the store brand works as well as any other. Finally, keep your breath fresh by brushing, flossing, and rinsing with a decent-quality mouthwash.

One more breath tip: Drink lots of water. It doesn’t cost you anything, but keeping yourself hydrated is essential to keeping your mouth moist, which minimizes bacteria growth.

4. Miscellaneous

Clip your nails frequently. It doesn’t cost anything, and few things are grosser than grungy nails. Use cheap shampoo — it probably has the same key ingredients as that $20 bottle your wife buys at the salon. Dress in clean, classic, simple clothes — it costs less to invest in two quality outfits for special occasions than a bunch of flashy junk, and it looks way better.

Mr. Cheap doesn’t spend a lot of time worrying about his grooming, but he covers the basics and knows when to step it up. Perhaps most important, he knows that spending big bucks will almost never lead to superior results!

Published on June 14th, 2012 - 9 Comments
Filed under: Frugality

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

Comments (scroll down to add your own):

  1. I shave with a brush, a $5 disc of shaving soap, and a double-edged safety razor. My incremental cost per shave is about 2 cents.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jun 14th 2012 @ 1:15 pm
  2. I haven’t been to a barber in 16 years….I’m 31 and have been cutting my own hair since I was 15. You’d have to see the haircut to be impressed (most people assume buzzcut), but I use clippers, scissors, and 2 mirrors. I also ended up being the dorm barber at ND.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jun 14th 2012 @ 8:34 pm
  3. If you take a few seconds to rinse and dry the blade on your razor it will extend the life of the blade exponentially. Water cause pitting which degrades the sharpness of the blade.

    Try it – you’ll be amazed at the life of the blade.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jun 15th 2012 @ 1:01 pm
  4. 1. I cut my own hair. You need a ##good## barber professional shears and a thinning shears. If you are too chicken, go to a beauty school.
    3. The Gillette Fusion blades last a ##long## time. Buy them from Amazon, Ebay, etc., for a fraction of Walmart price.
    4. At Walmart, buy the Suave powder aerosol antiperspirant.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jun 15th 2012 @ 8:39 pm
  5. Ed, you are missing a big savings boat on haircuts. For 17 years, I have used a Flobee for haircuts. Some people are afraid and some laugh, but once they use it they usually become believers. It honestly gives me as good a haircut as Supercuts, Great Clips, etc. It is not only the savings, but it is also a savings in time and hassle. I can cut my hair in less time than it takes me even to drive to one of these haircutting places. I can cut it as often as I wish or as short or long as I wish. It really is easy and quite foolproof.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jun 16th 2012 @ 8:48 am
  6. My inner self must be male. I also go to a local chain to get my hair trimmed once or twice a year for $15. I use disposable razors for shaving and dry them off after use to make them last longer. I only use body wash and store brand deodorant/anti-perspirant for smelling nice – no perfume. And Suave 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner keeps my hair straight and shiny.

    I also barely wear makeup, so my beauty-regimen costs less than $50 a year…and I am a cute little red-head if I say so myself (I think my husband would agree even if it wasn’t under duress…)

    Comment by Anonymous — Jun 16th 2012 @ 10:29 am
  7. I have been cutting my husband’s hair for the past 10 years now. I admit, in the beginning there were some errors :), but it has been smooth sailing for the last 9 years. Thankfully he is a patient man. I also cut my son’s hair and have not had any trouble thanks to my early practice on my husband’s hair. Over the years, that has saved us hundreds of dollars.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jun 17th 2012 @ 11:53 am
  8. I used to use a new razor every Monday. I think it was something about making the morning commute back to the office less painful. Once i left the job I hated, I quickly realized a razor blade could easily last over a month.

    PS: One way to extend the life of your razor… Hide it from your wife.


    Comment by Anonymous — Jun 18th 2012 @ 4:12 pm
  9. This may depend on the chain and/or location, but I actually asked my favorite SportsClips stylist about who takes the hit on coupons and she said she gets the same amount whether a coupon is used or not. She encouraged me to keep the coupons coming and not to hesitate to bring in coupons from other Sports Clips locations as they will take any SC coupon regardless of the location that issued it.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jul 10th 2012 @ 11:20 am

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