What I Learnt Cutting My Hair For A Few Months

This was my hairstyle before and after the few months cutting my own hair.

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This was my hairstyle (freshly cut) during the few months cutting my own hair.

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And this was my hairstyle when my hair grew out more.

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So what did I learn about cutting my own hair for a few months (from around mid-July 2015 to around mid-Jan 2016)?

1. If it doesn’t cost much to learn and do something, and you’re intrigued, go for it.

I had the idea of cutting my own hair one weekend when I thought to myself, “I’m paying QB House $50 every month just to cut a very simple haircut (see the 1st photo). Why don’t I go cut my own hair and save that money?”

And so I did. I paid $498 for a Philips QG-3362 Multigroom Plus and went ahead and taught myself how to cut my own hair referencing this article called “How To Cut Your Own Hair With Clippers“.

2. Bank on the activity’s ROI on the fun you get from fulfilling your intrigue rather than financial ROI.

Theoretically speaking, a $498 hair clipper would break-even after 10 cuts. Considering I cut my hair around once every 3 weeks, I probably only did cut my hair for 9 times.

Which means I never did break-even before I called quits.

I think the same can be said about my Kindle, since I don’t think I’ve broke-even yet on the price I bought the Kindle with the savings I made on cheaper e-Books versus hard copy books.

And that taught me a good lesson, which is any purchase that promises to save you money on a long haul should be carefully reviewed before committing to it, because the premise of the long term savings relies on consistently reaping the benefits of the purchase, but I usually over-estimate / under-estimate how much I can or am willing to commit to any purchase.

You might save more on the average unit cost theoretically, but in reality you might end up spending more on average unit cost if you don’t fully utilize your purchase.

3. When making a purchase that promises to save you money on a long haul, take your salary into consideration

I usually quantitatively measure my time’s worth based on the hourly rate of my monthly salary divided every hour in a month. I call it my passive hourly rate (money I’d make by just being alive).

It might sound ridiculous that I consider myself getting paid outside of work as well, but essentially the clause in my contract of not being able to do part time work unless getting approval by my line manager is implying that my company owns my time at work and off work.

And from a company or personal perspective, rest is work, because maximizing productivity in a short term but risking the employee burning out doesn’t make much business sense. A well rested employee that has consistently good productivity makes business sense.

And making those calculations made me realize that cutting my own hair just wasn’t worth it. The number of hours required to cut my hair and clean up * passive hourly rate was higher than the savings I was making versus my alternative (which was QB House).

Couple with the fact that I also had to break-even my Philips hair clipper purchase first before I could reap any financial benefits, then the whole thing made less and less financial sense a few months into the project.

4. If the displeasure from hassle > pleasure from activity, really consider quitting

I quit cutting my own hair at least 2-3 months late.

I probably continued because I was lazy to switch my decision (which is ironic since committing to cutting my own hair cost me even more hours). Or maybe it was sunk cost bias of not wanting to let my hair clipper’s investment go to waste. But either way, I was stupidly 2-3 months late in calling quits.

And the signs were so obvious I should’ve been quitting earlier:

  • I really hated having to clean up my hair every time I cut (I grow hair very fast).
  • It was always frustrating to get my hairstyle right (even though I was already choosing a relatively easy style, the High and Tight), especially on the back side with no additional help.
  • As I improved in hair cutting skills it created a sense of discontentment as I realized that if I really wanted to cut my hair the way I really wanted it, I would need to buy more equipment (hair trimmer and hair thinning scissors) and spend more time per haircut to perfect the fading.

And that just killed the fun out of the activity.

The original premise was that I’d cut my own hair and have an easy time because my hairstyle was a simple one, but for something that could be done in 10 minutes by a barber I would require so much more time since I had to constantly evaluate my hair cutting progress with many mirrors and measurements.

5. Some kinds of money really deserve to be earned by the professionals

This cut my own hair experience really gave me a new appreciation for barbers.

Something that seemed so simple was simply because the barber has paid his / her due to be able to cut a decent hairstyle in 10 minutes (I’m still referencing QB House). Plus he / she has all the equipment to get the job done in 10 minutes, rather than mimic different effects with just one equipment (hair clipper).

And to an extent, for $60 / haircut (yes QB House has increased their price recently), the money I pay for knowledge / experience / equipment arbitrage is really nothing.

It saves me money compared to cutting my own hair, it’s much more fun, and I end up liking the end product more (since I can better communicate with the barber what I want since I know about the hair cutting techniques better).

But all in all I enjoyed the experience, and I have no regrets going ahead to do something like this.

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