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Money Diary How does a sales clerk with a net wage of CHF4,482 live? 

From time to time we ask people in Switzerland to keep a diary of their expenses over a week. The aim is to give our readers abroad an idea of wages, expenses and living costs in Switzerland. Today’s money diary comes from a full-time sales clerk with a monthly income of CHF4,482.95 ($4,559.40). 

Money diary
(Kai Reusser /


Short introduction 

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At the moment I am saving for a small home – a tiny house, a circus wagon or something similar. This week I managed to save a lot. That’s not always the case. I don’t always manage to spend so little. On the one hand, I wish I did, but then there should always be some leeway for going to the cinema, having a drink, or occasionally treating someone to something. My most important principle during this saving phase is – never become miserly! 


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Restaurant with friends. Unfortunately not just around the corner, but more than 100 kilometres away. Visited an old friend on the way. Coffee was free, no parking costs. Free parking at the restaurant too. The food cost CHF39, but I rounded it up to CHF50 because I found the service great. I also had a CHF30 voucher a present for my birthday), so it only cost me CHF20 in cash. We filled up with petrol on the way home, and I gave my girlfriend CHF25 for half a tank. 

Expenses: CHF45 in cash, CHF30 voucher 


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I rarely eat breakfast, just sometimes at the weekend. I have got out of the habit because fasting a bit helps my digestion. Twice a week I fast at lunchtime as well, mostly on Monday and Thursday. Today I managed that, so I didn’t eat anything until the evening at home. So I didn’t have to spend any money eating out all day. I went to the swimming-pool in my lunch break but didn’t have to pay admission because I have an annual subscription (CHF275 a year). So this day cost me nothing. 

An important note here: I walk to work, so have no commuting costs. Just occasionally, if I am feeling lazy or the weather is really awful, I take the bus. 

A second very important point is coffee! Yes I drink coffee and I need coffee, but I actually take some coffee with me from home. Because of the morning fast, I have got used to black coffee and have become much pickier about it. The coffee in the shop isn’t bad but mine tastes a lot better, and I save CHF4 a day. The rest of the day I drink water, which is free, and occasionally tea. I also bring tea leaves from home. 

No expenses. 


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A normal working day: Coffee from home, walk to work, no breakfast. No expenses this morning. Another quick trip to the swimming-pool at lunchtime. I brought lunch with me from home. No expenses, apart from a small donation for a colleague who is leaving the company – I pay CHF5. Dinner at home. My girlfriend bought food for CHF30 using our shared household account. So these expenses don’t go on my account. (We have a shared household account into which we each pay CHF500 for food per month.) 

Expenses: CHF5 


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No expenses in the morning. I went home at lunch time and ate leftovers. Swimming-pool in the evening, no costs. Supper cooked at home in the evening. 

No expenses. 


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I bought food at the Coop at lunchtime, I spent CHF9.45. Not all of it went on lunch – I also bought a packet of vegetable crisps and a packet of these amazing protein crisps that have only become available relatively recently. I love crisps, I plan to go hiking at the weekend, and hiking is impossible without crisps in some form or another. Crisps are perfect: easy to transport, salty, fatty, that is just how I like them best!

In the evening I felt too lazy to walk home, so I took the bus. It’s a short journey, so costs CHF2.60 with the half-fare annual subscription that I buy every year for CHF165 (the first year costs CHF185, in the following years there is a discount of CHF20).  

I ate at home in the evening. Later I bought some more food, this time from the farmer around the corner, for CHF15.80. 

Expenses: CHF27.85


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I unexpectedly have the day off. My partner’s car has a problem, so I take it to the garage. It’s a false alarm, I give the friendly man a tip of CHF20. 

Expenses: CHF20 


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I have the day off and go hiking. What a cheap hobby it is (once you have all the gear). I baked two lovely loaves of bread the day before, we had the ingredients in the cupboard. I had already bought the crisps, so homemade bread with sandwich fillings bought by my girlfriend. I had bought an apple from the farmer on Thursday. So I only had to spend money on the train, which cost CHF4.80 with the half-fare card. 

Expenses: CHF4.80

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