12 Simple Ways to Save Money Each Month in Switzerland| Updated: |
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Living in Switzerland is expensive. There is no point denying that. However, it is not as expensive as many people think. There are many ways to save money each month on your budget in Switzerland.
People pay too much each month for most of their bills in Switzerland. It is because many people do not know they can pay less. Many people simply assume that they need to pay this amount and never try to optimize their budget.
Some households are also content with saving a tiny portion of their salary and not trying to save more. Finally, some people are simply falling into the trap of lifestyle inflation (very easy in Switzerland!). As long as their salary increases, they do not care too much about how their expenses increases!
But people should try to spend less when they can. When you can get the same quality for half the price, I do not see why you should pay more!
So in this article, we look at 12 ways you can save money each month. The idea is to focus on recurring expenses to have savings for the long term.
Taxes can become a large part of your expenses, especially if your income is quite high. If you can reduce your taxes, you will save money each month for the rest of your life.
There are only a few things you can do to reduce your taxes. The first thing you should do is contribute to your third pillar. Doing so can make a significant difference in your taxes.
The second thing is to make sure that you deduct everything you can in your tax declaration:
- Meals you take at work
- Costs for commuting
- Costs for training
- Health costs
Another thing you can do is to make a voluntary contribution to your second pillar. If you have a large marginal tax rate, this could be a good investment. And you can also use your second pillar to bring some stability to your net worth.
If you want more information, read my guide about taxes in Switzerland.
Rent prices are very high in Switzerland. People spend a large amount of their budget on rent. For some people, rent is even higher than the taxes they pay. If you want to save money each month, it is paramount that you reduce the rent price you pay.
Unfortunately, there are not many ways to reduce your rent.
In Switzerland, rent prices are indexed to a reference interest rate. If it goes up, you will pay more for rent. But when the official reference rate goes down, so does your rent! The problem is that this system is not automatic! You will have to request a rent reduction to profit from this.
Unfortunately, it means you have to check every time they change the reference interest rate. You can find the current value on the website of the confederation. Many people are paying too much because they never ask for a rent reduction.
If the reference interest rate goes down, you can request a rent decrease. You will have to do it in the delays of your lease contract. Generally, you will need to make the request three months before the next lease end date. The ASLOCA got a generator for letters to ask for reductions.
Another way to reduce your rent price is to move. Moving is maybe not something you want. But it can make a huge difference. The most significant change is moving to a village from a city. Or if you can move to another canton or county where rent prices are lower. But obviously, this is not something you want to do often.
If you want more information, I have a complete guide about renting in Switzerland.
3. Health Insurance
Another huge item in a Swiss budget is the bill for health insurance. In 2019, 15% of our budget was on our health insurance.
There is no way to make it cheap. But there are ways to reduce the price of your health insurance. And since this is a considerable recurring expense, you can save money each month by improving this expense!
First, you need to make sure you use the correct deductible. Many people still use deductibles other than 300 CHF and 2500 CHF. But only these two deductible amounts make sense. It is easy to decide. If you spend more than 1800 CHF per year on health expenses that the insurance will consider, you need to take a 300 CHF deductible. For the rest, the vast majority of the population, a 2500 CHF deductible is the best choice.
Then, you also need to change your base insurance regularly. There is almost no difference between different health insurance providers for base insurance. Indeed, the law mandates the coverage of these insurances. There are some differences in customer support in some cases. But generally, you want the cheapest base insurance you can find.
Unfortunately, this means you will likely have to change every few years. Indeed, prices are often changing. And the cheapest insurance one year may be the most expensive the next year. It is a stupid system. But we have to deal with it.
If you want, you can also consider changing your insurance model. There are some cheaper models like Telmed. With this model, you have to call your insurance in advance, and they will tell you where you should go. Some insurances also have options where you can only go to one pharmacy. You can save some money with some of these models.
If you want to learn more, I have an entire article about Health Insurance in Switzerland.
People are using their phones more and more. But they are also paying and more money every month for their phone plan. So reducing even a little your phone bill can help you save money each month!
The first thing you should try is to limit your internet consumption on your phone. Try to use Wifi as much as possible. Access to the Internet is costly on your phone bill in Switzerland. With that, you can get a subscription with little data at a low price.
If you are a heavy consumer of the internet on your phone, you cannot do much to reduce your phone bill. Unlimited phone plans are quite expensive. You still need to compare to find the cheapest plan for your needs. There are often some great deals you can find. And if you have not changed your phone plan in a long time, the chances are that you are paying more than you should.
On the other hand, if you are like me and use your phone only very little, you can find very cheap phone plans. The price will mostly depend on how little internet you use on your phone. For instance, I am consistently using less than 500MB each month. With that, I can pay about 10 CHF per month on my phone plan.
If you are a small phone consumer, you should consider prepaid SIM cards instead of phone plans. They can often be significantly cheaper.
Once you know what you need each month on your phone, you can compare different plans. I have compared to find the cheapest phone plans for several different types of users.
Everybody has internet at home! So, everybody will pay for their internet connection. Reducing your internet bill can help you save money each month.
You may not need an internet subscription. You could use your phone as a hotspot and connect your laptop or TV to your phone. If you are mostly using your phone and sometimes another device, this s a great solution, and it is the cheapest solution! Of course, this means you need an unlimited phone subscription, which is not always the most affordable.
The easiest thing you can do to reduce your internet bills is reduce your internet speed. Many people think this is a crazy idea! Faster is better, right? Most people do not need a high-speed internet connection. I am a heavy internet consumer and a computer scientist, yet I am pleased with a 50Mbps connection. I do not need more. I could have a 475Mbps connection at home. But there is no advantage in doing so!
Another way you can save money is to switch to a cheaper internet provider. There are more and more internet providers. And while before, there were only big ones like Swisscom and Sunrise, now even Migros is providing internet access. And they are doing so at a much lower price! So, there has never been a better time to compare internet subscriptions.
I have compared several internet providers for several speeds to find the cheapest internet providers in Switzerland.
Most people are paying for TV at home. The television bill is one of the bills you will get every month.
Once again, a small reduction in your television bills can help you save money each month!
The first obvious way to save money on television is to stop paying for television. I have not had a television subscription for more than six years now. And I have never looked back on this decision. Now, you may want to keep it, and there is nothing wrong with that.
There are some cheaper alternatives if you want to access television channels. For instance, you can get a subscription to Zattoo. Zattoo is significantly less expensive than standard television subscriptions.
If you only watch TV shows and movies, you could also consider Netflix as an alternative. You will get access to a wide choice of shows and movies for a fair price.
Finally, if you want to get all the channels and a regular subscription, you must compare different offers. There are many offers, most of them linked with an internet subscription.
To save money on your Television subscription, you can read my article about getting the cheapest Television subscription in Switzerland.
If you have a car, it will weigh heavily on your budget. You have to pay for the gas and the maintenance of the vehicle. And you also have to pay for the car itself.
The very best way to reduce your car expenses is to downsize your car. If you have a big luxury car, you may save a lot of money by taking a cheaper and smaller car. A lot of people want to show off in their cars. It is a costly habit! You should buy the car you need, not the one that looks good.
If you have a car loan or are leasing your car, the easiest way to save money each month is never to do it again. You may not be able to do it now because you should not break the lease contract. However, the next time you buy a car, you should not make the same mistake. You will save a lot of money by purchasing your car in cash. And this will help you choose a car that you can afford.
Another thing you can do to reduce your car fees is to drive less. A lot of people take their cars even for very short trips. If you live in a city, you can probably do many things on foot. Moving without a car is a big advantage of a town.
Finally, you can also make sure you do not pay too much for your car insurance. If your car is getting old, you may not need full collision insurance, for instance. And you may want to compare the prices of the other insurances. You may be able to save money each month simply by changing your car insurance.
There are many ways to save money on your car. For instance, here are 10 ways to save money on your car.
The energy bill is not the highest of the expenses in Switzerland. But it can still be a significant bill. So it helps to try to reduce it.
In Switzerland, we cannot choose an energy provider. So, the only way to reduce your energy bill is to reduce your energy consumption. Whether you can save money or not, we should all strive to reduce our energy consumption.
There are many things you can do to save money on your energy bill:
- Always turn off the lights when you are not in a room.
- Ensure you fully turn off your electronic appliances when not using them. Once I do not use my TV and media center, I remove the power directly. You should do that for all your appliances. Unless you remove the power (you can use a plug with a power switch), they will consume electricity.
- Use LEDs instead of regular light bulbs. I do not recommend changing all your working light bulbs with LEDs. But once they die, you should replace them with LEDs. They consume much less electricity. These days, you cannot buy standard lights anymore in most places.
- Use less hot water. Without a heat pump, electricity will heat your water with electricity. Using less warm water will directly reduce the amount of energy you need.
- Dry your laundry in the sun. You can save a lot of electricity by letting your laundry in the sun instead of using the dryer.
A lot of these things may seem obvious. But most people do not do them. People could save electricity and money by doing some simple things.
I am not an expert on energy consumption. There is probably a lot we can do. Now that we have our house, we plan to be more careful with our energy consumption. But if you follow some simple rules, you will save money on your energy bill!
9. Other Insurances
Your health insurance will be the most expensive of your insurance bills. But this does not mean you should neglect your other insurances.
For your household and personal liability insurance, the best you can do is compare regularly to see if you can find a cheaper one.
If you have legal insurance, you may also want to check if you can find a cheaper one by comparing it. But you may also want to consider whether you need it. I have one because I deal with patents and intellectual property. But it is still unlikely that I will need it.
For each of your insurance, you can do the same two things:
- Make sure you need the coverage. Most of the time, you do not need it. But make sure you are ready to pay if you do not have the coverage.
- Make sure you are using the cheapest insurance.
When you have many insurance policies, you can try to see if some insurance providers can give you a discount if you have several insurance policies at the same insurer.
Even when you are traveling, there are some things you can do to save money.
It may not fall in the save money each month category, but generally, people save money all year to go on vacation. So, we will discuss it here too.
Now, you should not be too cheap with your vacations. You should not try to save every penny during your holidays. It is good to have a good time and not count every penny once you are on vacation.
But this does not mean that you should spend without counting. I prefer going on vacation twice a year with being careful than going once and spending too much. But in the end, that is up to you!
Here are some things that can make a significant difference in your travel budget:
- Buy your international plane tickets well in advance. Or at the last minute, if you are not too picky about where you want to go.
- Compare, compare, and compare! You should take some time to choose hotels and airplanes.
- Consider apartments as well as hotels. If you travel to a city, apartments are often cheaper than hotels. And you will have more room, but less service.
- Consider less touristic locations. There are so many great destinations in the world. You do not have to go to the place where everybody is going!
- Consider vacations in your own country. Every country has some great places to go to. And you can save money by not having to fly very far. On the other hand, in Switzerland, travel can be expensive. So you have to be careful.
If you want, I have a few more tips on traveling for less.
Many people spend too much money on food. Many people think that they have to lower the quality of their food to save money. But this is not true. There are many ways to save money on food.
You should not stop buying food. Food is something everybody needs. And eating less is not the best way to save money on food. However, if you optimize your food budget, you can save money each month!
Many people shop in costly shops like Manor. And some people think that Aldi and Lidl are for poor people and that they should not do their groceries there. Thinking like this is something I do not understand. On average, Lidl and Aldi are 50% cheaper than Coop and Migros. Shopping at Lidl makes a lot of difference per month for us. By doing your groceries in an adequate shop, you can save a lot of money.
Once you have reduced your grocery prices, you can cook more. I mean, you need to cook more at home. Restaurants and takeout make most of the food budget of people. You will save a ton of money by reducing (or eliminating) this.
For instance, for two people, we are spending about 400 CHF per month on food. Sometimes, we spend more when we invite people, and sometimes we spend less when we use our reserves. And we are still buying meat, fresh vegetables, and fruits. But this is only possible by being careful with our food budget. Most people spend much more than us. They could save money each month by doing some of the things we do.
If you are serious, there are many ways to save money on your food budget.
12. Bank Accounts
All the banking services you need, in a neat package, with extremely good prices!
Use the F9YMGT code to receive 10CHF!
- Pay abroad for free
- Everything from your phone
There are fewer and fewer free bank accounts in Switzerland. So, many people are paying money each month to their banks.
If you are not using a free bank account, you can save money each month by changing to a new bank account.
If you like digital services, you can use Neon. It is a free digital Swiss bank. Or, if you want a regular bank, you can use the Migros bank. It is free if you have more than 7500 CHF in your bank account.
If you are paying for your credit card, you should also know that Switzerland has several free credit cards. You should not pay for credit cards anymore. Unless you spend too much, you will not get enough bonus to pay back your fees. Instead, you should opt for a free credit card.
If you need more information, I have a guide about changing bank accounts.
As you can see, there are many ways you can use to save money each month on your budget. Even though Switzerland is an expensive country, if you are careful, you can save money.
Of course, some things will take some effort, like changing to a new bank account. But changing your health insurance is not difficult and can save you a ton of money. And writing a letter to your building manager is not a big effort either.
Hopefully, you will follow some of these tips to save money each month, or at least each year. Do not pay more than you should!
Saving money is essential. Starting with recurring bills is good because it saves money each month. But you should always try to save money to reach your financial goals faster.
For instance, you can reduce your expenses to reach financial independence. But if you prefer, you can also save money to enjoy more vacations! I will not go over the future value of money for such savings because this is just silly! But saving is important, and increasing your savings rate will help you reach your financial goals.
Nevertheless, you have to be careful not to overdo it. You need to find the level of spending with which you are most comfortable. There is nothing wrong with spending more than us.
Some people like to use the time value of money concept to think about their expenses. It is an interesting concept, but you should be careful not to overdo it.
Finally, if you are serious about your financial situation, you should not only focus on spending less. Income is a very important factor too, often left on the side by many people.
Do you have any other way to save money each month? Please let us know!
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20 thoughts on “12 Simple Ways to Save Money Each Month in Switzerland”
Formation & Power
forgive me for pointing out some linguistic errors.
The word “formation” is what is known as a “false friend” to linguists. It sounds like a word that exists in another language, but actually it means something different. So when you write “formation” in English above, you actually mean “training or education”. That is what “formation” means in French and what I believe was your intention. However, “formation” for an English speaker without knowledge of French means something unrelated to education.
Further, in the section on power you should really replace all instances of the word “power” with the word “energy” – exception bulletpoint 2 where the use of “power” is correct. In Switzerland, residential consumers cannot change or reduce their power consumption which would be reducing the maximum W-measure that can instantaneously be consumed at any given time.
However, all the measures you describe above reduce a household’s “energy” consumption which is measured in Wh (or commonly kWh on electricity bills).
As an example, when you turn off all appliances at home, you consume no energy, but the maximum power available to your home remains unchanged and in the future we will pay a fix fee for how much max Power we want to have available in our homes in Switzerland.
Most neighbouring countries have already undergone the step of liberalization of the energy market for residential customers, so for example in France you can chose your energy provider and you do have the right to reduce the maximum power available to your household and therefore reduce your fix costs in your home. The downside is that you are likely to increase risk of being cut off from the electricity grid when you exceed your maximum contracted power (example if you live in France and have contracted 5.000W maxP; if you turn on your oven, dishwasher, do some hovering and someone is drying their hair in your home it is likely to turn your lights off – which can be remedied, but nobody likes the idea of this happening often). This is not an issue we deal with in Switzerland, yet, but liberalization is on the roadmap also here and then we will be able to optimise by choosing our energy supplier (similar to our telecommunications provider), adapting our max power contracted at home and, of course, save energy by doing all the things you suggested above.
In the meantime the only thing we can do in Switzerland is save energy, not power.
Sorry for being Mr smarty-pants about this. When the time comes, I’ll be happy to provide support on your article on “choosing your electricity provider”…. ;-)
Thanks for pointing them out. I indeed use formation based on the French word, thanks! And you are absolutely right about power and energy! I have updated the article (may remain in cache for little while).
Please don’t hesitate to point out any error you find in my articles either in the comments or by email.
Has liberalization of the energy market already been voted or is it in discussion?
The issue of liberalization is a defined objective at the federal level, but without clear dates of implementation, yet. It has sort of taken a back-seat in Swiss politics during the recent energy crisis, but it is only a matter of time until it gets back on the agenda.
Essentially today the Swiss energy market for residential customers is composed of a large number of regional monopolies. It will take some time for this to open up, but the question is not “if”, but “when”.
Thanks for the details. It’s true that we have many small monopolies for energy. I did not know it was a goal to have it liberalized. I think it will be a good thing if done properly.
What is a money market account?
A friend told me her savings is in a money market account. Is it a good idea to put one’s savings in a money market account?
Re requesting a reduction in rent, wouldn’t the landlord use it against a tenant and not renew the lease? Apartments are not easy to find in Geneva.
A money market account is an account where you get interest based on the currency yields. They are very similar to a savings accounts except that they sometimes yield a little more, but they can also make you lose money, and the rate is more variable.
In Switzerland, there is not much advantage to use these. I would recommend a good savings account for your cash and investing the rest in the stock market. There are also money market funds which are the same but in a funds and they can be a bit more aggressive but more risky.
For the rent, in theory, they cannot refuse this and cannot hold it against you. This is by law. This does not mean some landlords will not try to screw you. There are some bad actors here. I would still recommend asking in any case because that’s simply the law.
Many people are afraid and as such do not request it and they pay too much money.
on internet, one swiss speciality many people don’t know is that they pay almost 400 chf a year to UPC for a cable connection (on top of the internet subscription of UPC) that they might not even use (for instance if you have fiber or you use the phone connection)! the trick is that UPC doesnt charge you directly, but the landlord such that it is not even visible in the rent. However, you are allowed to ask your landlord and tell him that you don’t need that connection such that you save the 400 chf or so. Welcome ;)
That’s a good point, many people don’t know about that. If you do not use Cable internet or TV, you do not have to pay this fee. In that case, they will come to your house and block the cable output and stop charging you.
I still remember having to do that when I moved in my first apartment. It took me an hour on the phone to get someone… I was disgusted forever of Cablecom.
If I resign from that, will I be able to use services of some other cable internet provider (for example Wingo) or not?
Wingo is not a cable provider, they use the telecom network (DSL) from Swisscom. Cablecom is the only national cable provider. So, you should be fine with Wingo.
Hi Poor Swiss! Thanks for the interesting article. When you speak of the 400 chf you pay to upc is it the same one paid to company called serafe that was once called bilag? Inger a yearly hill of about 400 from this company to do with Tv license. In my case I don’t watch any local tv stations even if I have a Tv I normally use the TV with apps such as YouTube operated from having an internet connection. Or does that count as cable? Or should I give it a try and find out if I am being charged for cable I have never used! Thanks
No, these two things are different.
With UPC, you pay a fee for the connection to the cable network even if you don’t use it. So, if you don’t use, you have to ask them to be removed and stop paying.
As for Serafe, it’s a stupid mandatory tax and there is currently nothing to do to avoid it.
You can check with your landlord to see if you get cable and if you are paying it in your rent. Otherwise, you would get a bill.
I heard that the rules for claiming withholding tax for B permit residents are charging in 2022. Also once you complete one tax return you are obligated to do a tax return every year. Is it worth contributing to the second or third pillar merely to claim a tax rebate anymore in this case? I’m new in Switzerland trying to understand the system. Thanks very much for any advice!
That’s indeed correct that the rules are changing. For people earning less than 120K per year, there won’t be a way, by default, to get returns for the third pillar. For people earning more than 120K, they will still do a subsequent tax assessment and this will let them declare 3a.
However, people below 120K can still request a subsequent tax asssememtn. In this case, they will be able to deduct 3a contributions. However, it’s not always in their favor to do so since tax rates are different between default tax at source and ordinary tax assessment. So, it becomes difficult indeed to choose between both.
People with high income should always invest in the 3a. The question is more difficult for medium earners taxed at source. They should put money on the side for retirement, of course, but each case will be different for the 3a and will depend on each canton.
Thank you for your prompt reply. I am indeed referring to the interest rate-triggered reduction. The issue is that many rental contracts have one amount covering the rent and hot water (sometimes also heating), the calculation of which is not substantiated. The ASLOCA form is based on the net amount of rent, which is impossible to know for sure. This is how one of my friends ended up paying more after asking for an index-based reduction. Well, I guess contacting ASLOCA directly would be the most reasonable approach here.
As you say, the reduction will only apply the rent part, not to the utility part (les charges, in French). So, the reduction should be calculated out of that when using the ASLOCA generator.
I already asked this twice and got it twice without issues. And I am going to ask it again for September.
If in doubt, ASLOCA should be able to help indeed. But I think you need to be a member
Thanks for stopping by :)
Hello, thank you for the interesting post.
Regarding requesting rent reduction – do you have a reference to the official source?
From what I know it ok to ask for rent reduction, but the landlord has a right to reject your request – and this is what happens in most of the cases. What leverage do tenants actually have?
It’s true that a landlord can refuse a regular rent reduction request. If you ask because you think it’s too noisy, it can be refused. Although, there is some basis for some reductions.
However, in the case I am mentioning it’s when the reference interest rate went down. And since rent prices are indexed on this interest rate, landlords cannot refuse this. They could try to mitigate the reduction by saying that the maintenance increased, but it’s unlikely.
You can get good information on the asloca website (here in French, but easy to translate with Google).
I hope that clears it up
Thanks for stopping by!
Another interesting blog post. Thanks for the tips. I did not know Zatto existed! :)
One question: what is Costs for formation?
By costs for formation, I mean expenses for education you may take for expanding your professional knowledge.
For instance, if you do a few days formation in your area of work, you can deduct this. You need to provide receipts of course and there is a limit that can depend from states to states.
Does that make sense?