How to save money on children’s haircuts

Children can be a wonderful part of your life, but they’re also expensive. You have to care for them, feed them, clothe them, provide shelter for them, all of which costs a lot of money. Beyond those financial obligations, there are countless little expenses along the way, like haircuts, for example.

One key principle of frugality is that you should always ask yourself how to do ordinary tasks at a lower price, and haircuts for your children are no exception to this rule. The usual routine of taking your children to a local barbershop or hair salon on a regular basis for a cut really adds up over time, and simply figuring out how to trim that expense can add up to big savings.

The numbers don’t lie. If a typical kids haircut is $15, and your children get one every other month, you will have invested $1,620 per child in haircuts by the time they turn 18. With some frugal smarts, you can slice that number dramatically.

Here are five effective strategies for trimming the cost of kids haircuts.

[See: 12 Money-Saving Ideas for New Parents.]

Encourage and adopt simple, easy-to-maintain hairstyles. When you and your child are deciding on a hairstyle, lean toward ones that require minimal maintenance at home. Avoid styles that require significant effort and especially those that require hair-styling products or additional trips to the salon or barber shop.

There are myriad hairstyles out there that require little maintenance beyond washing and brushing without the use of additional dyes, sprays or other products. Make your choices from among those styles and leave the other options out of the equation.

Learn how to do simple styles yourself. Once you’ve selected a simple and easy-to-maintain hairstyle, watch what the hairdresser is doing and see if you can do it yourself at home. Your goal should be to trim and maintain the hairstyle yourself using inexpensive hair-cutting gear.

Naturally, this can be intimidating, but the internet has tons of resources to help. YouTube provides countless videos on how to cut basic children’s hairstyles — just search for “boys haircut” or “girls haircut” on YouTube and look through the options. Remember, the goal is to simply maintain the straightforward low-maintenance style you originally got at the salon.

[See: 8 Big Budgeting Blunders — and How to Fix Them.]

If you make a mistake, let a hairstylist fix it. Many parents avoid attempting to cut a child’s hair out of a fear of making a mess of things. The key thing to remember is that it’s hair. If you make a mistake, take the child to a stylist who can fix the problem and make it look good.

One strategy, especially when you’re first cutting hair and are less confident in what you’re doing, is to simply do a somewhat long version of the cut you’re trying to achieve. Aim for how the cut would look with an extra inch or so of growth, rather than how it might look straight out of the salon chair. That way, if you make a mistake, it can easily be corrected, and if you don’t make a mistake, then you build confidence for a shorter cut in the future.

Opt for shorter hairstyles. Some parents simply won’t want to bother with cutting their child’s hair at home, either out of fear of mistakes, fear of a mess or lack of time. If you are sure that you want a professional to do the cutting, make a conscious choice to ask for very short haircuts when you take your kids in for a trim. Ask specifically for a short hairstyle that will still look good as it grows out.

If you follow this route, then you significantly extend the time between haircuts, which will dramatically cut the annual cost of your child’s haircuts and save you time, too. By simply getting a short cut, you can extend the period between cuts by, say, one month, turning an every-month event into an every-other-month event and chopping your expenses by half. On the other hand, you could turn an every-other-month event into an every-third-month event, reducing the number of annual haircuts from six to four, which cuts your annual cost by 33 percent.

[See: Do’s and Don’ts of Shopping for Skin Care Products.]

Sign up for promotions (but be smart about it). If you use a consistent stylist who does any degree of self-promotion, he probably has some type of email list to which he sends out regular coupons. Get on this list. Sign up for it during your next visit, then check for emails from your stylist when it’s time for a fresh haircut for your children.

The only drawback here is that you’re sharing your email address with your hairdresser, and he’s likely to sell that address to marketers or spam you with a lot of unnecessary email that you don’t want — or both. The best way to get around that is to have an e mail address dedicated to promotional emails, which is a separate email account that you use just for communications like this. Just sign up for a new email address on Gmail and use that account for promotions or customer rewards programs. That way, when you want to use that particular business, just check that email account and search for coupons from that retailer. This keeps your primary email account clean and gives you the freedom to sign up for promotions without worrying about spam.

A child’s haircut can be surprisingly expensive over the years. These tips can help keep those costs in check.

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How to Save Money on Children’s Haircuts originally appeared on usnews.com

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