The Poor Swiss versus the Average Swiss Household

Categories Frugality, Switzerland8 Comments on The Poor Swiss versus the Average Swiss Household

Frugality and expenses are difficult to compare between two different households. This is especially true if you compare different situations like family and children. And it is almost impossible to compare yourselves to people from another country. Therefore, it is important to compare with the average household comparable to your household.

If we compare our expenses with the FIRE community, we are not really frugal. In 2018, we spent about 5330 CHF per month. This is far higher than what most people trying to reach for FI are spending. I often read personal finance blogs where people claim to be living below 2000 CHF in Europe. We are being careful about our budget. And we are optimizing it to reduce it month after month. It is already much lower than before. And in 2019, one of our goals is to spend less than 5000 CHF per month. We will see if we can do it. However, we should also compare with the average household in our country.

I do not think we are spending too much. When I compare with most people I know, we are alright. But I wanted to compare with more data with the average Swiss household.

So, in this post, I am going to compare our current level of expenses with the average Swiss household. I have been able to find official data from the Swiss bureau of statistics. And I was able to compare in details how we fare against the average Swiss household. It is really interesting to do! If you can do the same for your own level of expenses and your reference average household, I would strongly encourage you in doing so!

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Interview of Daniel Peter, CEO of VIAC

Categories Retirement, SwitzerlandLeave a comment on Interview of Daniel Peter, CEO of VIAC

I had the chance of interviewing Daniel Peter, the CEO of VIAC. If you do not yet know what VIAC is, it is a Swiss company that is providing an excellent third pillar option. If you are not familiar with the third pillar, I wrote an entire post about the third pillar. It is the Swiss equivalent of an IRA but with less choice. It is tax-advantaged and should be used by everyone serious about retirement.

I have already talked about this company on this blog. Currently, VIAC is offering the best third pillar option in Switzerland. They have very low fees compared to the other Swiss options. It is very easy to open an account at VIAC as well.

Moreover, they were also the first company to offer a third pillar account with 97% of stocks. Before that, the best option has only 75% of stocks. This is really great because the investment time of the third pillar is very long. Therefore, we want a large allocation to stocks.

But, Daniel Peter will tell you all about VIAC much better me. So, without further ado, here are Daniel’s answers to my questions!

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9 Frugal Tips to Ski For Less in Switzerland

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There is no denying that ski is a very expensive hobby. And this is especially true in Switzerland, one of the most expensive countries in the world. First of all, you will have to spend a lot in order to get your ski equipment. But then, you will have to pay at each ski stations to use their ski lifts. And this is not cheap as well.

However, there are a few things you can do to ski for less in Switzerland. The ski season is almost over. But these tips can be very useful for next year. This is especially true if you are a beginner or you are teaching to a beginner. For instance, we have been able to ski for free with Mrs. The Poor Swiss at the beginning.

In this post, we are going to see 9 techniques that will help you ski for less in Switzerland. If you know other tips, I would love to hear about them!

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Interview of Patrik Schär – CEO of Selma, Robo-Advisor

Categories Investing, Switzerland8 Comments on Interview of Patrik Schär – CEO of Selma, Robo-Advisor

I had the opportunity of interviewing Patrik Schär, the CEO of Selma Finance. For those of you that do not know, Selma Finance (Selma) is a Swiss-Finnish Robo-Advisor company. It is a young company. Patrik founded it, with three other people, in 2016.

I have not yet talked about robo-advisors on this blog. However, they are getting more and more popular. The idea is that you can get smaller fees by automating most tasks, hence the robo-name. And it is much simpler than investing by yourself. It provides a good entry point into the investment. And Selma is a great option for those that would choose that route!

First, Selma is different from a bank in that it is almost entirely automated. It has lower fees than a bank. It gives you a personal investment assistant that can assist you all the time. Another cool thing with Selma robo-advisor is that they follow passive investing philosophy, reducing the fees and following the market performance.

But enough from me, Patrik Schär, the CEO, will tell you everything there is to know about Selma!

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Interview of Marc Pittet Author of Financially Free by 40, in Switzerland

Categories Financial Independence, Switzerland6 Comments on Interview of Marc Pittet Author of Financially Free by 40, in Switzerland

Marc Pittet, or Mr. MP, is the author behind the blog MustachianPost. Last year, he started the project of writing a book about becoming Financially Free, or Financially Independent, in Switzerland, by the age of 40. Today, I am interviewing him about his new project, Financially Free by 40, in Switzerland.

Financially Free by 40, in Switzerland is a book about retiring early in Switzerland. This is something difficult because Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in the world. Moreover, there is very little information on how to retire early in this country. This is something that Marc Pittet wants to change!

Thanks a lot to Marc for answering my questions. As you will see, he even provided us with some exclusive information about the book and about his journey to Financial Independence! In the interview below, things in italic are my comments and the rest is all answers from Marc.

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Swiss Investors Will Lose Access to US-Domiciled ETFs

Categories Investing, Switzerland37 Comments on Swiss Investors Will Lose Access to US-Domiciled ETFs

Since the beginning of the year, I cannot buy Exchanged Traded Funds (ETFs) domiciled in the United States from my broker, DEGIRO. Since my current portfolio is mostly invested in Vanguard Total World (VT), this is a big problem for me. I can now only sell these ETFs, not buy them anymore. That means that the next time I will have some money to invest, I cannot invest it anymore as I want. This is bad news for Swiss investors.

This is due to new regulations that will come into play. These regulations already affected all European investors since 2018. But Switzerland was not affected before. We are going to see what changed. This is based on several European and Swiss laws. These laws are sad news for European investors and Swiss investors. I am not a legal expert at all. So this is only my interpretation of these laws. If I am wrong or I missed something, please let me know!

In this post, we are going to see why this is happening. And we are also going to see what are the different options for us. There are several possible solutions to this issue. But none of them is perfect as we will see.

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Should You Contribute to Your Second Pillar?

Categories Financial Independence, Investing, Retirement, Switzerland10 Comments on Should You Contribute to Your Second Pillar?

In Switzerland, you can do a voluntary contribution to your second pillar. The second pillar is the Swiss equivalent of a 401(K). These contributions come with some tax advantages since you can deduct that from your income. Therefore, you have a return equal to your marginal tax rate.

However, the money is then blocked into the second pillar. And the returns on that blocked money have been very low in recent years. Finally, you can only withdraw the money from your second pillar if you retire, if you buy a house or if you start a company.

One question that I actually ask myself these days is whether I should contribute money to my second pillar or continue investing in stocks. These days we are able to invest enough money each month that I am wondering about this. I could contribute some money to my second pillar and continue to invest enough in stocks. But is it a good solution. In this post, I am going to try to answer this question.

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How to Open a VIAC Third Pillar in a Few Easy Steps

Categories Investing, Retirement, Switzerland34 Comments on How to Open a VIAC Third Pillar in a Few Easy Steps

I recently compared the different third pillars available in Switzerland. I quickly came to the conclusion that VIAC provides the best third pillars in Switzerland. VIAC third pillars are cheap and have a very good global diversification. Moreover, you can have up to 97% of your portfolio invested in stocks. Before, my only problem with VIAC was that they are mobile-only. But I need to go over this small problem and be smarter about it! And since PostFinance increased their fees, I decided to walk away from them earlier than I planned.

Now that I have chosen my new third pillar, it is time to do the transfer. For this, I first have to open an account at VIAC. Then, I have to transfer my existing third pillar money from PostFinance to VIAC. In this post, I am going to describe the steps necessary to open a VIAC third pillar. In a second time, I am also going to describe how to transfer an existing third pillar to VIAC.

As you will see it is incredibly easy. If you think it is difficult to open a new third pillar and transfer your existing third pillar money on it, then I hope I will convince you that it is trivial! You should not delay changing a bad third pillar for a good one by the fear that it is difficult. Because it is not!

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Is DEGIRO Really Cheaper than Interactive Brokers?

Categories Investing, Switzerland20 Comments on Is DEGIRO Really Cheaper than Interactive Brokers?

You may have read that I am using DEGIRO has my broker. In fact, I chose DEGIRO mainly because of its very low fees. I am very satisfied with my experience with DEGIRO. I have not had a big problem since I started using it, about a year ago.

Interactive Brokers is also a very popular broker. It has been there for much longer than DEGIRO who is a very young broker. And it also has very low fees. When I chose DEGIRO over Interactive Brokers, I did it because I thought it was cheaper. But I did not do a full research on the subject.

In this post, we are going to compare once again DEGIRO and Interactive Brokers. I am going to do the comparison in details including the two different account types of DEGIRO. In the default account of DEGIRO (Basic), your shares can be lent to other investors. This is not something that is done by default with Interactive Brokers. Therefore, my previous comparison was not very fair! This time, I am going to try to make it better.

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7 Great Frugal Tips to Keep Your Food Budget Small

Categories Budget, Frugality, Switzerland4 Comments on 7 Great Frugal Tips to Keep Your Food Budget Small

Our food budget is something that we are managing to keep quite low. Last year, it was still too high. So I changed some of my habits, and now we manage to keep our food budget around 400 CHF on average. For two people. This may seem high. But for Switzerland, I think it is quite reasonable. And several months we are quite lower than this. It is the months we are inviting many people to our place that are increasing the average.

To reach this low food budget, we are doing several things. And by following these simple tips, you can also keep your food budget low! Mainly, the idea is to compare several shops and only shop where you can get the best bargain. If you want to go all the way, you should compare each shop for each product. But who got the time? The idea is more to select one cheap shop as the main shop and then buy some cheaper things in other shops but less often.

So, in this post, I am going to list 7 simple things we do, and that you could do too, to keep our food budget low.

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