(by Mr. Dr. Frugal Scholar)
When I was in fifth or sixth grade, my mother learned how to cut hair. My brother and I were her guinea pigs, and even though we had crew cuts in those days—what seemed to be a very simple enterprise—my mother managed to do considerable damage her first few times. But eventually she became quite the expert. She cut her children’s hair until they left home (and even after), and my father’s until she died in 2003.
The consequence of this was that she saved enough to pay for almost everything we bought. If, for example, we bought a new television, she would comment that it had been more than paid for by all the years of hair cutting. Ditto a painting, a vacation, a dinner out. There were a few limits; hair cutting didn’t pay for my college tuition, although it paid for a lot of the extras.
I have been faithful to this lesson in my own life. In fact, I cut my own hair (more about this another time), but more importantly, I cut our lawn.
Most of the people in our neighborhood use a lawn service (the “mow/blow/go” crowd that my sister-in-law, a dedicated gardener, so despises). But this doesn’t come cheap—I priced it once and for us it would be $40 to $50 a pop. Figure that it’s a weekly expense for at least 45 weeks a year (in Louisiana), and that’s $1,800 minimum. One thousand, eight hundred dollars! Just for mowing the lawn! This doesn’t count any real gardening, the work that makes a yard look good--I can’t imagine what that would add up to.
A basic mulching mower costs about $225; gas about $12 for the season. Throw in a string trimmer for another $200 and it’s still only $425. Subtract that from $1,800 and there’s enough for a round-trip ticket to Paris and three or four nights in the Hotel Saint-Andre des Arts (great location; cool building; no elevator or air conditioning). And that’s just one year! If you’re creative, like my mother, you can use it to pay for your entire life. Seems like a no-brainer to me.