I am a cheapskate. Everyone knows it. I am routinely mocked by friends and family alike for my attempts at being frugal. I budget. I go out of my way to save money, especially for things that are routinely expensive, or which I feel should be cheaper. 

Shaving is one of those things. 

I decided to find a cheaper way to shave when I could no longer stomach the obscene prices for the cartridges in my razor at the time. I even went to the warehouse stores to see if I could get them cheaper, and saw that a year's worth would cost me about $300. Ridiculous. $300 to scrape hair off my face. I contemplated growing a beard. 

So I began to research how to shave more cheaply, and discovered straight razor shaving, which I didn't even realize could be done without the assistance of a professional barber. It was something I thought could only be done at a barber shop, and only on an occasional basis. I never dreamed it could be the smoothest, most comfortable shave I would ever have. Nor did I think I would ever be able to do it by myself on a daily basis.  

To my surprise, however, there are many men who shave with a straight on a regular basis. I spent a great deal of time reading posts on a number of forums (yes, there are even people who discuss shaving like it is an art - which in this case, it sort of is). I watched endless YouTube videos about how to actually do the deed. Then I pulled the trigger, and bought a straight shaving set. It set me back about $180, less than a full year of shaving supplies for something that would last me the rest of my life. 

It has been about a year now that I have been shaving exclusively with my straight razor. I have found that it has many advantages and only a few problems. For me, it is a perfect balance of frugality and excellence. I love it when I find excellence and don't have to pay through the nose for it. The cheapskate in me is smiling.

So what makes straight shaving great? First, it is the smoothest, most comfortable shave I have ever experienced, when given a sharp blade and done correctly. You can hardly feel the hairs parting from your body. Straight shaving is also better for your skin. It naturally exfoliates, and since there is only one blade, there is less likelihood of getting ingrown hairs, a situation that plagues many men who shave with cartridge-style razors. Third, straight shaving can be cheaper. I spent $180 dollars on my first razor, and the shaving soap can last much longer than a jar of canned goo that you buy in the store. Yes, shaving soap. You can actually build a lather using a soap and a brush, which is another essential part of the straight razor shave. And the soap smells amazing - another plus. Finally, shaving with a straight is an art, which is something that appeals to me. 

Of course, this style of shaving isn't for everyone. There are a few problems, especially in the beginning. First, it is a skill which can be difficult to master. It takes about a year to become comfortable and efficient with the razor. Many people find that they cannot go with a half-shaved face for an entire year while they develop the necessary skill. I found that I kept my old razors just to clean up what I couldn't get with my straight at the beginning. Also, in the beginning it is not at all comfortable or pleasant. It can be downright painful for many. Until you learn the correct angle and pressure to employ, it can be an extremely difficult skill to master. It also takes more time. I think my first shave took me close to an hour! I have since brought that time down, but it still takes longer than it did with my cartridge razor. I find it a much more pleasant time though. I actually enjoy shaving now. I never thought that would be possible. Finally, straight razor shaving can be cheaper, but it can also become a bit of a collector's hobby. I have bought a few more razors since my first, which has added to my total cost, and put a dent in my reputation for frugality. Still, it is much cheaper in the long run. It would be especially cheaper if I had started when I was in my twenties. 

In the end, choosing the tool you shave with is a very personal choice. I am very pleased with my choice, as it is comfortable, reasonably priced and a bit of a skill that must be developed. I can honestly say that I have never had a better shave, and both my skin and my wallet are thanking me for it.