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Recently, I have started a series where I interview people living frugally. People have really well received these articles. So I am going to try to keep them going!
Today, I am interview another frugal person living in Switzerland, Thomas “Sparkojote”. He is a young, 23 years old, blogger, living in Zurich, one of the most expensive cities in the world. And he is actually saving more than 80% of his income! This makes him the most frugal of the persons I have interviewed so far! It is incredible how little he is spending.
So here are the answers of Thomas to my frugal interview questions!
1. Tell us about yourself?
My Name is Thomas Brandon Kovacs (23). I was born and am still living in Zurich. I’m working fulltime on my projects. I do have a Personal Finance Blog, and a YouTube Channel called “Sparkojote”, where I speak and write about Busines, Finance, Minimalism related topics in german. But this is not the only project of mine. I also do run an e-commerce business, where I’m selling online Pokémon & Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Games and Nintendo Retrogames.
My main hobbies are what I do for a living. It took me quite some time to take them to this level. But I’m really happy about that. Since November 2018, I’m basically living my dream life, and I’m really grateful for that.
Also, I have been living now for more than three years together with my girlfriend. We do not have any children yet. But we have seven pets at home, which we could call our little babies.
2. How much of your income do you save each month?
It’s a bit hard to calculate that since I have revenue, business expenses, and I also pay myself a salary. So which number should I take? Currently, I pay myself a 20’000 CHF monthly net salary, so for the company, it costs round about 24‘000 CHF per month to pay this salary.
The taxes I have to pay on this salary amount to something like 4‘000 CHF per month, so I do have 16‘000 CHF to work with.
Since I budget everything for the last five years, I know exactly how much I spend. In 2019 I spent 29‘027.63 CHF. This averages out to be 2‘418.97 CHF per month. Keep in mind that I only pay half of some expenses, such as the rent and the food bill.
It means my savings rate on the net income after tax should be 13‘581.03 CHF or around about an 85% savings rate on my net income. If we talk about the whole income (revenue after expenses, taxes, etc.), it would probably be somewhere between 90-95%.
- Best Month: February 2019 with only 1‘399.75 CHF
- Worst Month: September 2019 with 6‘824.10 CHF
3. How do you compute your savings rate?
See the answer above.
4. Do you consider yourself a frugal person?
I’m more a kind of minimalist. In a lot of parts of my life, I am maybe frugal. But not because for the sake of being frugal. It’s just that I like it like that.
There may also be other parts where I’m a bit more spendy. For example, we’ll travel this year to Japan for three weeks, the total costs for two persons are around 10‘000 CHF. Not sure if this can be called frugal.
As for clothing, for example, I do own 70 pieces of clothing. Most of them I got as a gift or from companies I work with, with their logos for free. So this could probably be considered frugal?
5. Can you give us the breakdown of your expenses?
December 2019 was a typical month, which was almost near the average, that’s why I will take this specific month.
- Rent: 725.00 CHF
- Health insurance: 169.40 CHF
- Mobile Subscription: 29.50 CHF
- YouTube Premium: 23.90 CHF
- Netflix: 21.90 CHF
- Food: 300.00 CHF
- Transportation: 36.00 CHF
- Pets: 200.00 CHF
- Household: 284.10 CHF
- Banking Fees: 6.00 CHF
- Fun: 47.95 CHF
- Total: 1843.75 CHF
Keep in mind that many of the expenses (Food and Rent, for instance) are shared with my girlfriend.
6. Which expense category are you the proudest of?
Not sure how to think about that, I do like saving. But I do not save for saving’s sake. I save because I focus on what is important to me. And if I feel like it’s important for me to go to japan and spend 10‘000 CHF. Then I do that. I do not judge myself over my spendings. I judge myself on what I do believe is important to me.
7. What is the main difficulty for living frugally in Switzerland?
I do believe that taxes, especially in Switzerland, are good in most cantons, but I do know that the French part has it a bit rough. I recommend moving then ;-) Just kidding!
It’s probably hard to live frugally here in Switzerland or anywhere in the western world because the self-esteem of most people is outward-directed, and they need the approval of others. So it’s a problem someone has with him- or herself. Not with others.
So you try to follow the masses, and that’s why it’s hard. I did that for a period of my short life. But I got lucky, my parents always being a bit quirky and not appealed by the norm. So did I and I just didn’t give a f*ck anymore.
8. What is your best tip for frugal living in Switzerland?
Don’t use home internet; just use your hotspot. This will save you at least 100 CHF per month. I have been using my hotspot for more than three years now. And I’m using it really heavy, 200-500 GB per month.
9. Why are you saving so much money?
Financial Independence sounds nice, but it’s just an arbitrary number. I do already do what I love. The Financial Independence would be only the last security, which would be nice to have. So I’m working on it.
But mainly now, I do focus on building up my businesses. So most of my money, 2/3 of it, goes into my businesses for hiring people, freelancers, buying products to sell in my Webshop, etc.
10. If you had more income would you spend more?
No, I wouldn’t spend more I would invest more. I do know this since it happened to me. My income was multiplied by multiple times in the last 15 months. And I still spend more or less the same amount.
11. Do you ever feel you are sacrificing something by living like that?
No, since I do not specifically identify myself with frugalism. I do think Minimalism is a better option for me. I stay focused on what I love. If I save money by it or live in some areas in my life frugally, so be it. I’m really grateful and happy for that.
12. Do you splurge on anything?
The around 2‘500 CHF I spend per month is currently my sweet spot. I love this Lifestyle! I do not feel like splurging on anything.
13. Do you have a budget?
I do track everything with the App Homebudget. I bought it five years ago for 5.00 CHF. One of my best investments so far!
14. Are you setting aside some “fun money” each month?
I have some fun money! I have a piggy bank called “Schwarzgeld” which means “dirty money”. I put in there the money I get from birthdays, Christmas gifts, or that I find on the street. I use this money for small fun expenses like bubble gum, pizza delivery, etc. I do not track this money. Usually, there is somewhere between 100-200 CHF in the piggy bank.
Thank you for the interview. It was really refreshing to write it in English. I hope you enjoyed reading it and everyone: Keep working on your dreams, as they may come true someday!
Thanks a lot to Thomas for answering my questions. His results are absolutely incredible. He is saving a lot of money, even in the most expensive city in Switzerland!
He is saving more than 80% of his income! This is absolutely incredible. Sure, he earns significantly more than most people. But still, he spends significantly less than most people in Switzerland.
Seeing how people live so frugally in Switzerland really makes me want to reduce our expenses this year!
If you want to learn more about Thomas, he is blogging at Sparkojote (in German). His blog contains a lot of very valuable content. He also has a Youtube channel with hundreds of videos if you prefer videos.
If you want to learn about frugal living in Switzerland without large incomes, you can read the interview with Janet, a Ph.D. student saving more than 60% of her income. Or you can read the interview with Mr. Road To Fire.
If you are living a frugal life in Switzerland, I would love to interview you! Let me know in the comments below or via the Contact page. It is not only for bloggers!