findependent logo on the left, piggy pig on the right

Saving money in Switzerland – how and where?

You can save money not only when investing. We show you how and where else you can save money in everyday life.

Saving is now more important than ever. In its monetary policiy assessment in December 2022, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) announced that it has raised the SNB key interest rate in order to “fight” inflation. Inflation in Switzerland was above 3% at the time. Inflation devalues the purchasing power of your savings. So optimise your spending and save!

With findependent you save a lot of money when investing. But where and how else you can save in your everyday life is explained in this blog post.

P.S. We are completely independent, receive no remuneration from the companies listed below and make no claim to completeness.

Budgeting

To get an overview of your income and expenses, you should compile a budget. You will quickly have your income together. When it comes to expenses, however, it’s a bit more difficult. Very few of us have an exact idea of how much we spend each month and on what. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on your expenses.
Many banks automatically categorise your expenses. In the Neon account app, for example, your expenses are divided into categories such as mobility, household, shopping or food & drink, which makes it easy to see what you spend your money on.
If your bank does not offer such a solution, you can make a “monthly statement” yourself at the end of each month or use special apps for this purpose.

Saving money with comparison platforms

Insurance

Insurance is one of the biggest fixed costs in the private space. Whether health, legal protection or household insurance – we are all insured. Some insurances you can’t or don’t want to do without, because you don’t want to be on your own in the event of a claim. With most insurances you have a cancellation period of 3 months, sometimes at the end of the year or at other times depending on the contract. That’s why it’s worth looking into it now, taking action and saving money for the coming year. There are about 200 insurance companies in Switzerland. It is not easy to keep track of them all. That’s why we have collected some interesting addresses for you here.

There are free platforms where you can compare different insurance solutions. On some platforms, you can compare offers for health insurance, mortgages, car insurance and telecom providers. You can find the links here:

Banks, bank accounts and credit cards

It’s not just your insurance policies where you can save money. You can save decent money on the fees on your accounts and credit cards. Have you ever been abroad and accidentally paid with the “wrong” card? You are not the only one who has experienced this unpleasant surprise. Depending on your account and card, you’ll pay a lot more per transaction. Over time, these amounts add up and you are left with less. When it comes to bank account and credit card fees, it’s worth comparing the different providers. Good sites for this are Moneyland or Comparis. There you can compare account and credit card fees, get tips in the guidebook and read the latest news on the fintech industry. You could also check out our partner offers.

The most common credit card brands in Switzerland are Visa and Mastercard. One distinguishs between prepaid credit cards and “usual” credit cards. Prepaid credit cards have to be topped up and you can then spend this money again via the credit card.

With many providers, you have the option of acquiring a free credit card (i.e. without annual fees). With others, you pay a fixed annual fee.

Other important factors besides the annual fee are processing fees, fees for cash withdrawals and foreign currency rates. Especially if you use your credit card abroad, you may experience unpleasant surprises.

For foreign transactions, so-called neo-banks (digital banks) are interesting because you benefit from low fees and favourable exchange rates. Some examples of neo-banks are: Revolut, Neon and Zak.

Neo-Banks

A neo-bank, or online bank, is a bank that offers its services completely digitally. From account opening to transactions to billing data, you can control everything online, usually via your smartphone. Neo-banks have grown rapidly in recent years and offer an alternative to traditional banks in the business sector. Customers of digital banks usually benefit from lower fees and easy handling of their payment transactions in the app.

Communication and internet

Fixed costs in the household also include the costs for internet, television and telephony. Even though the fixed network is becoming less and less important for private use in Switzerland, around 99% of all households have broadband internet access and almost every inhabitant has their own mobile phone. The costs of this user behaviour should not be underestimated. That’s why we recommend you compare the costs and find the best provider for you. With the various providers, you often benefit from special offers around Black Friday (at the end of November, the day after Thanksgiving) or before Christmas/New Year.

Travel at low costs throughout Switzerland

SBB

Switzerland is very well served by public transport. So you can easily do without a car, which is advantageous at this time with the energy supply crisis. At the SBB, you can find so-called “Sparbillette” tickets, with which you can easily save money on your next trip. The only small disadvantage is that the Supersaver Tickets are only valid on certain routes and at certain times. You should also book earlier, otherwise they will no longer be available.

If you are planning a longer trip on a particular day or want to visit several places at once, it is worth buying a travel pass. You can buy SBB travel passes online, at ticket machines or at the ticket counter. Some municipalities also offer municipal day tickets. These are even cheaper and you can get a day pass (half-fare card) for less than CHF 50. It’s best to find out what’s on offer directly from your municipality.

If you are travelling abroad by train from Switzerland, it is worth buying an Interrail ticket. Alternatively, you can also buy tickets from Deutsche Bahn or other foreign providers.

Carpools

You don’t always need your own vehicle to get from A to B. In Switzerland, carpooling is becoming more and more popular. This way, you can leave your car at home on your next trip or to work and join forces with others to form a carpool. This is good for your wallet and good for the environment. One interesting provider in Switzerland is HitchHike. And if you are planning a trip between two cities or even abroad, you can find carpooling and long-distance buses on blablacar.co.

Borrowing instead of buying

Sharing, borrowing and renting, the whole sharing economy is in fashion. More and more people, especially young people, are giving up owning “things” and renting or borrowing things rather than buying them. This has many advantages. For one thing, it is always more ecological. The lower the demand for new products, the less is produced and the less material and energy is needed. Especially in the case of expensive property like a car, buying it is rarely worthwhile when you factor in the loss in value. The average Swiss spends about 90 minutes a day on the road (not counting transfer and waiting times). 41% of this time is spent in the car, which is about 37 minutes a day. So only 37 minutes per day is the car actually used or driven. What happens to it during the remaining 1,403 minutes of the day? It sits around somewhere in the underground car park or in a car park. And that costs money too, apart from the lack of parking facilities in some Swiss cities.

Car-sharing offers are a good alternative. The best known of these is Mobility. You can choose the car you want online, then pick it up and return it to the desired location and only pay for as long as you need the car.

Meanwhile, you can also find other car-sharing offers. We have selected a few for you here:

A good alternative to buying a car is a car subscription. Here you subscribe to your car for a certain period of time and then you can cancel your subscription and get a new car and a new subscription.

A similar principle can also be found with bicycles and cargo bikes. You can find interesting providers for this in the Bikesharing Switzerland forum.

The concept also works for everyday items such as garden tools, carpet cleaners, drones, sports equipment and much more. The Sharley platform comes to mind here.

And if you still want to, have to or should buy some goods, then we recommend that you compare prices. You can do this easily on toppreise.ch and preisvergleich.ch.

Consumer loans

If you are short of money or prefer to finance a purchase with a loan, Credaris, an independent credit service provider, can help you. Credaris describes itself as follows: “You get an independent assessment of your creditworthiness including a background check, competent advice and quick and uncomplicated processing. On the Credaris website, you can simply enter your loan request, compare the offers and conclude the loan.

You can also get your money through peer-to-peer lending, where Lend, for example, has a good offer. At Lend, borrowers meet investors directly. This saves costs and both sides benefit from better conditions.

Shared costs are half the costs

As Mark Twain said “Joy shared is joy multiplied”, this section is dedicated to sharing. With many providers you can now take out a “subscription for the whole family”. This means that you benefit from favourable conditions if you join forces with others and share the costs. You can take advantage of this, for example, with health insurance, Spotify, Netflix, mobile phone subscriptions, entrance fees, etc. Check the websites of the different providers for details and conditions.

Save money on taxes

Dealing with tax returns is a tedious business. However, it is well worth investing time and filling in all the details correctly to hopefully save tax. However, it is important to collect all receipts during the year to make the task easier for yourself.

A good way to save taxes and deal with your finances at the same time is to pay into pillar 3a. The payments can be deducted from your taxable income. You also do not have to pay tax on your Pillar 3a balance as assets. For 2023, the maximum tax deductions allowed have been increased to CHF 7,056 for those with a pension fund. And CHF 35,280 for those without a pension fund, or 20% of annual income (after deduction of social benefits). You can find a lot more information on the pillar 3a pension solution, the pension fund and the free assets in this blog post.

VIAC and frankly are two well known provider of digital solutions for your pillar 3a in Switzerland. We have written a short review for both, they are both in German though.

F&B food and beverages

In Switzerland, people spend on average about 6.6% of their average disposable income on food and non-alcoholic beverages. This is not an insignificant item when you consider that 31% goes on taxes, social contributions and health insurance, and another 14.4% on housing and energy. An exciting point here is that another 5.8% of income is spent on restaurants and accommodation. With an income of CHF 6,600 per month, that is the equivalent of about CHF 380 for restaurant visits, for example, in addition to food purchases of about CHF 425.

The first tip here is to make meal plans! If you know in advance what you are going to eat and when, you will spend less money on shopping. This means you cook more at home, which is cheaper, and spend less money on food. Important sites for you in this context are Too Good To Go and Äss-Bar. Too Good To Go allows you to download the app and pick up food at discounted prices from shops, bakeries and restaurants that have not been sold. The Äss-Bar has a similar idea: save food instead of wasting it. Here you can find delicious baked goods at lower prices at certain locations in Switzerland.

With Madame Frigo, you can also help fight food waste. The “shared fridge” already exists in over a hundred Swiss cities.

Nowadays, almost every retailer offers its own customer card to collect so-called points and benefit from special offers. The best known of these are probably the Cumulus card from Migros and the Coop Supercard.
Since there is no way around grocery shopping, a card is quickly worthwhile. With the above-mentioned examples, you collect points that can later be converted into (cash) money.

A good support for shopping is the app Bring! With Bring! you can plan your shopping (find recipes, create & share shopping lists and even save your loyalty cards in the app). This means you always have everything with you and can even access the latest special offers, so you always know where you can do your shopping at the best price.

The supreme discipline – investing instead of saving

When it comes to saving money, there is no getting around investing. Most banks still do not pay interest on savings accounts. Even if the SNB has lifted negative interest rates, this is no guarantee that you will receive interest on your savings in the foreseeable future. On the contrary: with the current inflation, the money in your savings account is even losing purchasing power. That’s why it’s important to consider alternatives and let your money work for you. With findependent’s yield calculator you can easily calculate your advantage over a savings account.

One way to save on fees when investing money is to look for providers who offer a “free” trial. With findependent, you invest the first CHF 2000 free of charge for life! This is a good opportunity to try out investing in ETFs. By the way, you can start with an investment amount of only CHF 500.

Another point you should consider is the fees. High fees reduce your profit. That’s why you should try to keep your costs as low as possible.

According to an Moneyland, findependent has the lowest all-in fees in Switzerland.

We’ve also published a comparison on investment apps in Switzerland.

Let’s assume you have found a favourable provider and only have to worry about the investment strategy. In asset management, a distinction is made between active and passive asset management. In this blog post, Kay explains the most important differences and why a passive investment strategy is worthwhile for you.

General tips & tricks

After this brief summary on the topic of “Saving money in Switzerland”, here are some tips and tricks to finish off:

Thrift stores: Whether you need furniture, clothes, crockery, toys or other items. A visit to a thrift shop is always worthwhile. With a little luck and patience, you will find what you are looking for. On the following website you will find a list of all thrift shops in Switzerland.

Second-hand: Not everything always has to be new. Often the quality of second-hand goods is at least as good as buying new (be it clothes, bags, electronics, etc.). You can now find many second-hand retailers, online or locally. We have listed some exciting sites for you here: ricardo.ch, secondhandkiste.ch, revendo.com, anibis.ch. 

Simply earn extra money: Another way to get a grip on your finances is to increase your income. If you cycle regularly, then Working Bicycle is an interesting option for you. You get a small rack with advertising space for your bike and can earn money during your rides.

Partner offers/marketplaces: Many companies have close partnerships and cooperations with other companies. In this way, they want to ensure that they can always offer their customers the best conditions. With the same idea in mind, we have launched great partner offers for our findependent customers. This means that you not only benefit from the lowest fees when investing, but you can also save money on alternative investments, insurance and when opening a Neon account. Die App von findependent mit den Partnerangeboten drauf.

Affordable housing: Housing can quickly become expensive. Especially in larger cities. Cooperative flats offer a good alternative. Depending on the cooperative, you have to meet special conditions for a flat and buy into the cooperative. On a website of the Wohnbaugenossenschaft Schweiz (Swiss housing cooperative), you can find tips for finding a flat. And on the Living in Switzerland page you will find a list of important association members.

Platforms and vouchers: You can always find exciting and new offers on the following platforms: daydeal.ch, deindeal.ch, preispirat.ch, qoqa.ch, poinz.ch. Other ways to save even more money are offered by the following voucher books: 2f1.ch, prozentbuch.ch. Or the cashback platform Rabattcorner.

Debt trap – what now?

Even if all else fails, you should not hang your head. If you have fallen into the debt trap, please consider the following: The most important thing is that you are aware of your situation and know how and where you can seek help. There are various counselling centres throughout Switzerland. Let a professional help you get back on your feet. On the SRF website you will find a list of all the important advice centres on the subject of money.

Conclusion

Even in a country like Switzerland, saving money is not impossible. When it comes to saving money, the saying “good preparation is half the battle” also applies. In other words, if you keep an eye on your expenses, compare prices and do your research, and are therefore well prepared for the “price war”, then you have almost won. In this blog post, we have given you the most important tips and tricks. Now you just have to put them into practice.

Do you have any other ideas and tips that you would like to share with us and/or the community? Then send us an email at hallo@findependent.ch.

You might also be interested in

findependent Blogartikel Banner "Partnerangebote in der findependent App"
findependent Blogartikel Banner "Wie du dein Geld besser sparen kannst"
findependent Blogartikel Banner "5 Gründe wieso du als Frau Geld anlegen solltest"
findependent Blogartikel Banner "Säule 3a, freies Vermögen oder Pesnisonskasse"