Save Over $100 a Year by Shaving with a Cutthroat Razor
I despise paying the ridiculous prices Gillette and the like charge for razor cartridges. It seems as though the prices are directly aligned with the number of extra blades they put in the cartridges. First two, then three, then four, now six blades. And, of course, we’re paying big bucks for these things. I have even resorted to bulk buying them on eBay.
I had pondered an electric razor, but it doesn’t give me a close shave. It also leaves my neck red, blotchy and severely irritated. I thought I was doomed to pay through the nose for disposable blades forever, until I came across a few websites promoting the benefits of the old-fashioned "cutthroat" or straight razor. “Could this be the answer?” I thought, looking through the vast array of razors available at varying prices. I did some digging.
First, there is a big outlay initially on a good straight razor. Of course, you can find them for less than $10 but, as my dad says, buy cheap and you’ll pay for it. In this case, we’re talking about a product that will do your face and neck some real damage if it isn’t up to par. You need to shell out some dough for a good razor. Period.
Now, good is a relative term. A good steak for me is not a good steak for Donald Trump. Different budgets allow for the finer things in life, but all you need to know is that the handle is window-dressing. The blade is paramount, and a good one (usually made in Europe) can be picked up for between $70 and $100. EBay can be a good source but a few sites to try include:
You can also pick them up from Amazon, but check the reviews first. The following one seems well worth the price:
The former sites also have a lot of the other supplies you’ll need, which we’ll go over shortly. So, let's go all out and spend $100 on a razor. What next?
Well, it needs to be sharpened in a procedure called honing. Here, you have two options.
The first, and easiest, is to get it honed professionally. There are places online that will hone a razor for you, or you can find local places, usually professional knife sharpeners. I found someone close to me charging just $19.95 for the service. Considering the time and expertise involved (neither of which I have a lot of) I thought it was a bargain. I shave infrequently, maybe twice a week, so I’ll probably only need to get my razor honed twice every year. If you shave daily, you’ll need to get it done maybe once every four months. That’s about $60 for the year.
However, there is a cheaper option: buy a honing kit and do it yourself. I found all sorts of price ranges here, some included a strop (we’ll get to that soon) and some didn’t. Let’s invest in a honing kit without a strop, roughly $60.
Now, finally, the strop itself. This is a piece of leather which, when combined with strop paste, will help you keep your razor sharp until the next honing. Again, you can pick one of those up for $10, but buy a good one for about $70 and it will last a lifetime. You also need strop paste, which is $7.50 or less per year.
It’ll take some time to get used to shaving with a straight razor, but once you get the hang of it you’ll wonder how you ever got by without it. A very close shave (you’re still clean-shaven at the end of the day), very controllable and it looks cool too!
So, that’s the equipment. Now the math.
I buy a four-pack of those Gillette razor cartridges every six weeks. They cost me almost $14 including tax. So I’m buying 8.6 packs a year, which is around $121. Multiply that by 30 and I’m spending $3,630 until I retire, not adjusting for inflation.
Now, the straight razor. Initial, one-time outlay is $230 if you plan on doing your own sharpening. Add $7.50 a year for strop paste, multiply by 30 and you’re at the grand total of $455…that’s a saving of $3,175, or almost $106 a year. Quite a saving.
If you get it sharpened by someone else, your initial outlay is only $170, but now you have a yearly expense of $67.50. That makes $2,025 for 30 years of sharpening and strop paste, plus $170 for your razor and strop. Grand total, $2,195, which is still a substantial saving of $1,435 – almost $48 per year.
So, whichever way you look at it, shaving with a straight razor not only gives you a better shave, it is also substantially better for your bottom line. Thumbs way up to the cutthroat razor, and thumbs down to so-called advances in technology…right Gillette?