Frugal Living in Switzerland Interview 3 – Thomas Sparkojote

Mr. The Poor Swiss | Updated: | Save, Switzerland
Frugal Living in Switzerland Interview 3 – Thomas Sparkojote

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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?

Thomas Kovacs, from Sparkojote
Thomas Kovacs, from Sparkojote

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?

One of Thomas Businesses
One of Thomas Businesses

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?

His stock of trading cards
His stock of trading cards

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!

Mr. The Poor Swiss is the author behind thepoorswiss.com. In 2017, he realized that he was falling into the trap of lifestyle inflation. He decided to cut on his expenses and increase his income. This blog is relating his story and findings. In 2019, he is saving more than 50% of his income. He made it a goal to reach Financial Independence. You can send Mr. The Poor Swiss a message here.

24 thoughts on “Frugal Living in Switzerland Interview 3 – Thomas Sparkojote”

  1. And now, if I may, more serious questions:
    Dear Thomas, did you form your company (I guess gmbh / sarl / ltd. after you’ve reached a certain level of income? Were you in the status of “self-employed” before?
    What are your most favourite bank/credit card/e-wallet, which support your business model and allow to receive payments in various currencies at a good price?
    Thank you

  2. Wow! What an interesting interview! The most surprising thing for me is to see such a level of consciousness and business acumen in such a young person. My mindset at the age of 23 was quiet different:))

  3. Great Interview! Thomas has figured it all out and I have no worries for his future, good job.
    One thing that puzzles me on the numbers in the monthly expense is that there is no mention of taxes and house insurance(RC) costs. Having such a high income this should change the breakdown dramatically or am I missing something?

    1. Thanks John!

      It’s not on the breakdown, it’s just before. He’s getting 20’000 CHF per month and paying 4000 CHF in taxes per month. So, the breakdown is done only on the 16’000 CHF that he has available. This means that his savings rate is done on the post-past income.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    2. Hi John,

      It’s as explained below, I use 16k as a base (after tax).

      House Insurance for example is already in the “Household” Category included. We use (me and my girlfriend) a separate Account which we own together. And we put always the same amount every month on to this shared account.

      Kind Regards
      Thomas

      1. Interesting interview! Before u found this blog i didnt even know what frugal meant ^^°
        I would probably call it ‘being price sensitive’
        I am now more interested in his business, how can one make 16k per month on trading cards and toys??? O.o and no i do know pokemon and yu gi oh trading cards and what value some of them have, but still!
        And rent of 1450 for an appartment in züri? I would say lucky you. 160 for health insurance? Is that cause of only 23years old? Im saving on insurence by not telling them i moved out from home into an expensive big town ^^° … But the older you get, the more worried you will get at being a bit too minimalistic with your health.

        1. I do not live inside zurich, I live nearby (Zollikon). Taxes are also great there ;-)

          My main Business is the Blog & YouTube Channel Currently, this somehow happened unexpected. With all my income I generate multiple six figures per year. With pretty low overhead, so taxes are quiet high for me. I will pay for 2020 probably somwhere between 200-300k in taxes alone.

          Insurance is low since I‘m pretty young. So this will raise with time.

          As of current my networth i am at round about 550k. Long term my goal is somewhere between 30-50 million at round 40-45.

          Kind Regards
          Thomas

  4. I think we have to take that breakdown of expenses with some grains of salt.

    No spending on clothes, shoes, glasses, etc.
    Low transportation costs. A yearly public transport abo for Zurich city alone costs more than CHF 700
    Low health insurance costs due to his age
    No doctor, dentist or other medical bills
    No other insurance premiums
    No education costs… which at his age I consider essential

    1. Hi,

      That’s a good point. But a lot of this are very optional and should be avoided by frugal people.
      For instance, I also have next to zero clothes and shoes expenses per year.
      But as everything, I agree that it’s difficult to compare.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    2. Who needs education nowadays with YouTube, Google and Co. Also there is an really easy way to meet people and learn from them even for free.

      „Education“ like university, courses etc. is good if you know what you want and need a degree for what you‘ll be doing. For my case I don‘t really need that. I read books, speak and learn with other enterpreneurs. Learning by Doing. Even for real estate, you just need to get know people that are already doing it. They are happy to share their knowledge.

      I learn everyday, but I do not need the „traditonal“ education for that.

      I do go once per 2-3 years to the doctor, this costs me 100 CHF. I do not have any insurance premium.

      Like I said this a pretty average month. If I take alle my expenses (excluding taxes) and divide them by 12 I get around that expense. And the 700 CHF for Zurich I pay yearly. So its always in the beginning of the year.

      I spend 2019 -> 21‘037.23 CHF (excluding Taxes). If I would not earn any money and just want to live, I could do it currently with 21k per year.

      I will probably pay this year more in taxes (including my company) than I would spend in almost a decade if I would keep the same lifestyle for the next 10 years. Which I Probably can‘t and won‘t, since I want to have kids.

      Cheers
      Thomas

  5. Hey Mr. TPS,

    Nice interview there. Very impressive numbers for someone who’s 23.

    Can you consider interviewing someone with more relatable numbers next time?

    Nice reading your blog, cheers man!

    1. Hi GiveMeTheLoot,

      I completely agree that it’s impressive for his age. He’s alredy well ahead of me and I am 10 years older.
      I think that the other two interviews were more relatable, no? Janet and Mr. RTF.

      I would love interviewing someone more relatable, let me know if you know someone that would like to be featured? I am asking after each interview, but nobody manifested themselves. I have a few ideas but there are bloggers and many people do not find them relatable.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. How amazing is that to make a living out of your passion. Not only that, but Thomas was able to make 20k/month net salary which he determined for himself. That’s a dream job! I’m really impressed by his story and I’m sure he must worked really hard to achieve this level of success.

    Even though this is a Frugal Series, I think a lot of us “minimalists” definitely also falls into the “frugalists” category. It’s really great to see more people live with less and still enjoy life :)

    1. Hi Mama Bear,

      I also think that most minimalists are also frugal by nature. This makes sense.
      I completely agree with you that it is great to make a business out of a passion. As for making a living, I do not think it is that difficult. Programming is my passion and also my job :)
      On the other hand, I do not make that much money from it :P

      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Sorry, what?! This is no achievement whatsoever in this context.

    He is spending ~CHF 1800 each month, this is probably cheap regarding the city he lives in, but to say it is an achievement he saves>80% of his income is simply untrue, considering he earns CHF 2 0000 each month.

    I would earn about CHF 3300 each month and I manage to save 40% of that, if I would earn CHF 6600 (only 1/3 of his amount), I would already be saving 80%. That is even considering rent is about the same price in my city.

    1. Hi,

      I agree that he has a a large income and that this helps tremendously for having a large savings rate, no doubt about that.
      However, I still maintain that spending 1800 CHF per month in any place in Switzerland is a great achievement.
      We spent about 5000 CHF per month last year. And not counting taxes, we are trying to spend about 4000 CHF per month this year. And I think this is already low.

      Thanks for stopping by

      1. I live really close to Zurich, which is one of the most expensive cities.

        I do not think that I can always keep it this low, life happens. You get kids, you move etc.

        So I take it as it comes.

        Cheers
        Thomas

  8. 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.
    How do you do this? When you use data from your phone this must be a lot more expensive?

    1. Hi André,

      Obviously, this is only working if you have unlimited internet access on your phone. Otherwise, it would of course makes this much more expensive.
      For instance, I do not have unlimited internet, so this would not be an interesting option for me.
      But for people who have unlimited internet, this could be a good option.

      Does that make sense?

      Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Hi, thank you for the article! What do you mean by hotspot? Which hotspot do you use to connect to the internet?

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