Is Rogaine Worth It?

(Guest post by Charlie while J$ reads The Millionaire Next Door to his baby ;))

I suffer from what people call male pattern balding. My grandpa was completely bald by age 30, my dad is 59 now and doing everything he can to “comb over” the problem, and then there is me. I’m 35 and I’ve still got a lot of “crops” left on the upper dome, but let’s be honest – it’s thinning! (Insert Homer Simpson “DOH” here..)

Thinning hair is something I can’t do much about… at least that’s my philosophy. It’s not like something you can control. However, when I was just out of college I noticed my widow’s peak was beginning to be more pronounced. I’d heard a little about Drug_XYZ (a little pill for hair growth), and I’d seen some commercials for its competitor Rogaine, so I decided to contact my doctor about both of them and see if I could get a prescription.

I came into the doc’s office, and here’s how the conversation transpired:

Doc: Hey, Charlie, what are we seeing you for today?
Charlie: Doc, I feel like my hair is starting to thin, and I’m only 23. I was wondering if you recommended Drug_XYZ (which I need a prescription for) or Rogaine?
Doc: Ok, well let me have a look. (Doc examines my scalp)
Doc: So, Charlie, how old are you?
Charlie: Um… 23. (Doc pauses for a second, and thinks)
Doc: So let me get this straight. You are 23 years old and you are contemplating going on a hair growth drug for, let’s just say, until you are 65?
Charlie: Well…I was just looking into it.
Doc: Let me give you little piece of advice before you dive into this. Take Drug_XYZ for example. It costs about $50/month. If you were to go on this drug for 42 years, how much do you think it would cost in the end? (Doc gets out his calculator)
Charlie: Um…$10,000?
Doc: Try $25,200 (as he pridefully shows me the calculator). Have you considered Rogaine? It’s a lot less expensive and doesn’t require a prescription.

Parting with $50/month at 23 years of age is hard to do. Especially when you aren’t making much just out of college. So I looked at what the difference would be between the little pill drug and Rogaine. Being the “thrifty guy” I am, I naturally had to break down the cost vs benefits between the two:

rogaine cost comparison

Like for many things in our life, parting with money is a tradeoff. Is the money in my wallet worth X amount satisfaction. In this case, is $150/year worth X number of new hair follicles? Or for Drug_XYZ, is $30,000 over 50 years worth more to me than an equivalent 1965 Ford Mustang Coupe?
1965 red ford mustang

Personally I don’t care what people say, and would give anything to look like my Grandpa at 92 years old! He lived through the Great Depression, and would make fun of me if he ever heard I had thought about buying Rogaine or Prescription. Our conversation would go something like this:

“What? Hair growth drugs? Why would you spend your money on that? You know how long it would have taken me to save $50 during the depression, Charlie? 50 days! When I was making $1/day on the farm I thought I was living large. Don’t be a fool, and spend your money on crap!”

With our society so stuck on looks, perfumes, makeup, laser hair removal, liposuction, and countless beauty products it makes you wonder. What are we thinking? Is temporal “beauty” worth X number of dollars for a particular beauty product? Here are a few alternative options to consider spending your money on.

  • Donating $50 a month to a local single moms shelter – instead of investing in your personal beauty consider giving the money you’d spend on makeup to a single mom’s shelter.
  • Vanguard Managed Payout Funds – invest in a payout fund that will pay you monthly for your investment.
  • Serve at a local food bank – instead of spending or giving money have you thought of investing your time? Call a local food bank and consider giving time to people less fortunate.
  • Setup your Living Will to give back to a certain cause for 50 years after you’re gone – have you considered setting up an annuity that will payout after you’re dead? Consider setting up an annuity towards your alma mater, church, food bank, or national charity.

So bring on the rockin’ bald dome! I’m ready to drive my shiny new 1965 Mustang!

Charlie is one of three who blogs at Three Thrifty Guys – a site dedicated to helping people stretch their dollars, invest better, and get out of the bondage of debt. He’s an Iowa farm boy with a passion for learning from history, and frequently writes on the Great Depression. Currently, TTG is doing a video series on the Great Depression, so check them out!

(Mustang photo by dok1. Grandpa photo from Charlie’s family!)

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  1. Lance @ Money Life and More July 24, 2012 at 7:05 AM

    That is a rough decision for people who are losing their hair. I have to wonder though if having a full head of hair could help you doing job interview or sales meetings if you do those things? Could it increase your income by more than the cost? I don’t know the answers but it is something interesting to consider!

  2. Yuri July 24, 2012 at 7:52 AM

    Take a razor, shave your head. Problem solved.

    Cost per month: $0.5
    Cost per year: $6
    Cost for 50 years (Or until it stops growing for itself): $300 or less.

    And it’s much better than throwing chemicals and god-knows-what in your head.

  3. Bridget July 24, 2012 at 9:20 AM

    I don’t know, I think if I was a guy I would have paid for it…

  4. ashley July 24, 2012 at 9:28 AM

    I started losing my hair at 21. I’m a lady. IT SUCKED.

    Oh yeah, I had just started hair school.

    I never would’ve described myself as vain until this happened and I realised how much of my self worth was tied up in my looks.

    My first dermatologist appointment was $90+. They stuck my head with approximately one million needle pricks to inject my scalp with steroids. They told me it might work or I might just start losing hair somewhere else.

    Luckily it worked the first time and I’m 26 now and have to go back again. If I had to do it monthly, I would. I’m not saying everyone should use Rogain. But as a hairstylist, I’m pretty glad to have hair because I don’t know how many people would want a bald stylist.

  5. nicoleandmaggie July 24, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    Dunno… hair growth may be correlated with your wage income as well. (Lance has made this point, but it bears repeating– there’s a premium to youth and attractiveness in income.)

  6. Joe @ Retire By 40 July 24, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    I’m almost 40 and my hair is definitely thinning. I don’t want to pay for any medication though. I’m not trying to impress any ladies these days. I usually give myself a buzz cut too so it’s not a big deal.

  7. Kevin @ July 24, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    Congratulations on owning the bald look. As for me, I’ll get the Rogaine. :)

  8. Debt an the Girl July 24, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    I never realized hair growth products could be so expensive. I say wear your thinning hair with pride. It can look really good on the right person and just shows you have lived a life that was exciting enough to go a little bald :)

  9. Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager July 24, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    From now on, every time I see a bald guy driving a nice car I’m going to think he’s wise with his money. Thanks for the paradigm shift, Charlie.

  10. John Shaver July 24, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    Side effects for hair growth products can be VERY bad. I have seen them first hand with friends and family, and that was only with a couple years of use.

    I don’t want to know what 30+ years of use would do.

    My humble opinion: embrace the baldness!

    – John

  11. Elisabeth July 24, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    My husband uses the prescription stuff. Haven’t noticed side effects, except that his extraneous body hair grows more too.. I do make fun of him for it sometimes … but apparently a lot of professional women spend $100+ per month on hair.

  12. Charlie July 24, 2012 at 6:05 PM

    @John Shaver – I couldn’t agree more! I will embrace my thinning hair primarily because it is cheaper! :) haha

    @Joe@RetireBy40 – ya I’m in the same boat as you are. I don’t need to impress the ladies anymore either, but that doesn’t mean I dress like a slob or anything. When it starts getting too thin, then I’ll just shave it off like you suggested. Way cheaper too!

    @Kevin – how long you been using Rogaine? Do you recommend it, and if so, then why?

    @Debt an the Girl – I’m glad to see some women embracing balding men. :) This whole topic reminds me of a Seinfeld episode – relating to George Costanza. haha Gotta love him.

  13. Edward Antrobus July 24, 2012 at 8:17 PM

    I have the other problem, pre-mature greying. Luckily, hair dye seems to be a lot cheaper than hair replacement strategies.

  14. J. Money July 25, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    Thanks again Charlie! Always wondered how much that stuff cost, and I’m afraid I’m starting to recede a little bit myself :( But so far the main strip in the middle is going strong so my mohawk can still be in full effect!! Haha…. I’ll take that all day long ;)

    @Edward – The other nice thing about greying early? You’ll always look more distinguished :)

  15. Crystal July 28, 2012 at 11:29 PM

    My hubby and I knew he was going to have thinning hair even when we met at 18. He shaves it way down, lets it grow out for a month or so, and shaves it again. Not super expensive at all and he looks good to me. ;-)

  16. J. Money July 29, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    Do you help him shave it? The wifey shaves my sides for me since I can’t see the back and I need my ‘hawk to be in a straight line ;) Saves me $15 every month!

  17. Trick July 30, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    I started thinning pretty good in my 30’s and before it became noticeable to others I shaved my head and have been doing it for a decade.

    It was a tough decision at first because I wasn’t sure if I had the right skull to pull it off. Luckily no moles, flat spots, or other unsightly defects. Little sun to even out the color and the head was complete. Hit the gym to put on more muscle mass and honestly I really liked the look.

    I’m so glad I didn’t fall into that money trap and I feel like I protected my health in the process.

    For what it’s worth, not all women dig bald heads, but there are plenty that do……trust me!

  18. J. Money July 30, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    Haha yeah they do! Good for you on “owning” it :)

  19. mrdcm October 28, 2012 at 7:41 PM

    My hair started thinning when I was just 13. I went to specialists all the way in UC Davis to see if something was wrong. They found out I was anemic but also told me that more than likely I was just going bald because of my dads baldness. It depressed me and you can say scared me as well because honestly who wants to deal with thinking hair during jr high and high school. I dealt with a lot of insults but I refused to use rogaine. Today at age 19 and in college my hair does look thinner and some might say I should completely shave it. But it’s thinning at a slower rate. I still don’t take rogaine but Iv thought about it. Either that or ill shave it soon. I would love to have hair but I care more about my health and my budget. And the ladies I have a difficult time with but iv been told I’m not a bad looking guy and my main focus is my degree not my scalp. So you can say I can’t complain I’m healthy enough :)

  20. J. Money October 29, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    Awww, well at least you have a good head on your shoulders! (No pun intended) It’s a true man who knows what’s important and can see the bigger picture like that. Way to go :) I have plenty of shaved-head friends too and the ladies LOVE ’em! Get that degree, my man.

  21. Adam August 26, 2018 at 12:20 PM

    You forgot to factor in FSA benefits if properly used to cover the costs. As this preclude SS and Medicare contributions, people in the average tax brackets in CA would save close to 50% on the cost of the drugs, so your $600/yr. est would be adjusted to $300/yr.