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I just finished reading Free by 40 in Switzerland, a book about financial independence, in Switzerland, by fellow blogger Mr. Mustachian Post, alias Marc Pittet. Mr. MP was kind enough to send me a version that I could review before the release date. So I can have this review ready now that the book is available!
Free by 40 in Switzerland will go over how to retire by the age of 40 in Switzerland. It covers how to reduce your expenses, increase your income, and invest your savings. And all this is directly tied to Switzerland.
It should not matter much, but I have to say that I have read the French version. But the English version should be similar, and both are available for sale now (the German version will arrive later).
Free by 40 in Switzerland
Free by 40 in Switzerland is a book by Marc Pittet that helps people reach Financial Independence in Switzerland. And the goal is the same as the one of the author, being Financially Free by 40.
Of course, this will depend on when you start on your journey towards Financial Freedom. If you start at 38, you are unlikely to be there in two years. But the formula will work for everybody that wants to retire earlier. On the other hand, if you are 20 right now, following this advice should let you retire well before you are 40!
And you do not have to retire! The main reason to become Financially Free is the ability not to have to work for money. You can continue working, start a new job, or do nothing, that is up to you! This freedom of being able to choose is what matters.
If you do not know, Marc Pittet (Mr. Mustachian Post) is the author of the blog mustachianpost.com. He has been writing about personal finance in Switzerland for about 6 years now and has many interesting articles.
Free by 40 in Switzerland is organized over three main axes:
- Financial Freedom itself
- Optimizing your money
- Invest your savings
So, let’s see what these three axes are about.
The first axis is about the concept of Financial Freedom and the basics of planning your journey to your Fuck You Day. This day is when you become financially free, and you can quit your job if you want.
The book will explain why the author wants to become financially free in this first part. And it will go into the different advantages of this freedom. This will also demonstrate that everybody should be able to do that. But of course, this takes a lot of work, perseverance, and often a change of perception.
Optimize your money
The second axis will cover two things: reducing your expenses and increasing your income.
First, it will cover in great detail (3 chapters!) how you can reduce your expenses. For this, it will start with the small things you can do (phone, internet, gadgets, hairdresser, …). Then, it will move to larger categories to optimize for more savings. This second part will cover things such as insurance, taxes, and holidays. Finally, the last part will cover what Marc calls the big tree:
The author will give you a ton of advice on how you can optimize these items. And all of these are treated for Switzerland. The author is really specific about that.
While it does not matter much, I think the order of optimization is quite funny. For instance, I would have started with food because most people in Switzerland can save a ton of money on their food budget. And it is much easier than people think. And phone bills are put in the small things while banking fees are put in the impactful expenses. On average, people are paying much more for their phone bills than for the banking bills.
If your expenses are not fully optimized, this chapter will be invaluable to you. There are bits of information in this chapter that can appeal to everyone.
Invest your money
And finally, once you learned how to save money each month, you will need to invest all this money.
For this, you will learn to invest in the stock market with a broker. The book will give you all the basics you need to start investing in the stock market. You will know exactly what you need and not more. This chapter is kept well on the goal.
The second part of this axis is to learn how to invest in the retirement system of Switzerland. You will see how to get the most out of the second and third pillars. It is interesting because many people do not even know that they can invest in stocks in their third pillar. And many people are actually not even using their third pillars.
This axis will not make you an expert in investing. But you do not have to be an expert! That is the whole point! You only need a few basics, and you can reap the benefits of the stock market!
What I liked
Overall, I really liked this book. It has a unique perspective on Switzerland.
The structure of the book is really well done. The flow of the book is quite good.
One great thing is the amount of practical advice in this book. Free by 40 in Switzerland is the most actionable book I have read on personal finance. This will surely help a lot of people reduce their expenses. And the fact that everything is supported by real numbers (from the MP Family) is a good thing as well. And it is also the most complete personal finance book from a Swiss-perspective.
The chapters of the book about reducing expenses could be incredibly valuable to a lot of people. Many people are spending way too much money in Switzerland. If you can get the same quality and pay less, why wouldn’t you?
Overall, I completely agree with the philosophy of the book. These principles are the same I recommend on this blog: reducing your expenses, increasing your income, and invest your money passively in the stock market.
I also liked that this book did not say that it would be easy. Achieving a goal of financial independence at 40 in Switzerland is not an easy goal. But this book will show you how you can achieve that goal and show you that it is possible.
It is also quite complete. It covers many aspects of reducing expenses (car, house, TV, phone…). There are also many details about buying houses in Switzerland.
The author is quite transparent in this book. Marc shares a lot of numbers about their personal situation. You will learn about his expenses in many details. And very interestingly, he will also share about his mistakes. It is important because many authors and bloggers will never admit to their mistakes to make themselves look better. So, I greatly appreciate this in a book.
Finally, I liked that Marc cited me in his book! He cited my Trinity Study update. It feels good to be cited in a book. And it shows that the author is honest and citing its sources.
What I did not like
Even though I liked this book, there are a few things that I did not like.
First, for me, the book is a bit too informal in its style. I am sure this is something that most people would like. But I do not like seeing smileys on a book or reading a book like a discussion. It really feels more like a conversation rather than a book. But it is really coherent with Marc’s Style of writing on his blog. So if you like his blog, you will like his book.
Some stories inside the book take a bit too long to get to the point. It could save some time by getting to the point more directly.
Still related to the stories, I think some of them are too personal. It is good to have some numbers, but they should not be too specific. Not everybody’s needs are alike. Some themes are also slightly too much opinionated, like the author’s way is the only way. I think there are many ways to FIRE, and everybody should choose his own way. If you want to spend on one thing, do it. You need to account for it in your planning.
I slightly disagree with the need to have a budget. Before, I thought that everybody needed a budget. But the only thing people need is to track their expenses and income. Some people will need some extra structure (a budget), but not everybody. And I think that nobody needs to pay for a tool like YNAB.
Another small thing I disagree with is investing only once per quarter. The author advocates this to save money on fees and some time. But for me, the opportunity cost of doing that far outweighs the tiny fees people will save with a good broker. It makes more sense to invest money when you have it, after your paycheck, than to wait several months. But this will not make a huge difference one way or the other. I will talk more about that in a coming post.
It would also have been great if the author shared his total income and total expenses before the book’s last chapter. It would help put things in perspective. Also, regarding that, in terms of transparency, a breakdown of his incomes and expenses would be great to have precision. Then, a vision of before and after of these numbers would be awesome as well.
Finally, I think that Marc is unlikely to test Financial Independence by withdrawing from his portfolio. Like many personal finance bloggers, he will likely receive enough income from his blog to cover his expenses. It is not a bad thing! But given that he gets 5000 CHF per month on his blog, he could double that before retiring, and this income alone would cover his expenses. So a note of that could be added to the book for fairness.
Overall, Free by 40 in Switzerland is a great book. It is unique in that it focuses solely on Switzerland, and it is quite complete.
This book will help you reach Financial Independence in Switzerland faster. It will teach you to optimize your expenses like a pro. I think this is the most valuable part of the book for most people. The other parts of the book are good. But the part about saving money is unique in a book!
When you have optimized your expenses, you will switch to your income. As said in the book, there is more room to grow your income than to reduce your income. Now, this book alone will not be enough to make you crazy successful in life. But it could motivate you to look further.
After all this, you will be ready to invest your saving into the stock market. The idea is to make your money work for you (instead of working for money!). This book will not make you a professional investor. But you do not need to be one! Passive investing is simple, and Free by 40 in Switzerland does a good job of explaining this!
If you are interested in purchasing Free by 40 In Switzerland, you can go to the official page of the book on MP’s blog. The English and French versions are available as of the 24th of November. And the German version will arrive later.
If you live in Switzerland and want to reach Financial Freedom, Free by 40 in Switzerland will be an excellent book for you!
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