Thursday, August 20, 2009

Eight Ways to Save Money in Switzerland

Welcome to Switzerland. Land of the most expensive Big Mac in the world. Land where a plate of Chinese food costs the equivalent of $25 (Come on, Chinese food?). Land where two rib eye steaks will set you back $35 at the meat store. Whew. It’s enough to make any former tightwad like me reconsider her Swiss residency. So how has a former American cheapskate survived living in der Schweiz for three years? Read on, my fellow money-savers, read on. Below is part one of a two-part series.

1. Grocery Shop after 5 p.m.
For those of you who work, shopping after 5 p.m. is probably the only option you have, but it’s a smart one. Many stores will add 25-50% discounts to perishable items towards closing time. At the grocery store inside the Coop City in Baden, for example, the clerks go around with their 50% stickers beginning at 5 p.m.--and yours truly is stalking them. This is how I’ve managed to buy 750 g of beef for CHF 3,75, two chicken breasts for CHF 3, and a 1.5 Liter of Fanta for CHF .90. (Yes, even soda is perishable in Switzerland).

2. Buy big items during the traditional sale months
January and July. That’s when I do most of my clothes and home accessory shopping in Switzerland. For example, my husband and I waited to buy some pillows for our outdoor furniture until July and were rewarded with a price of CHF 5 per pillow (originally CHF 40). So we bought seven pillows at Manor for less than the price one. To quote a Guinness ad, “Good things come to those who wait.” And if you hurry, there are still some sales out there left over from July as I write this.

3. Book hotels in Switzerland last-minute using
Planning an overnight trip in Switzerland? Chances are you don’t want to go if the weather’s bad anyhow. I spent a rainy weekend in Locarno a few months back and I wouldn’t have gone except I had booked a hotel and they wouldn’t let me cancel without penalty. So why not wait until last-minute and book your hotel on the Swiss Budget Hotel website, where last minute rooms around the country go for CHF 99 for two people.

4. Border Shop
If you live near a border town, shop there. I’ve written about the benefits of shopping in Germany before and I still go every month or two to stock up on things that are ridiculously priced in Switzerland like tortilla chips. At the Famila in Waldshut, Germany, not only are their Poco Loco tortilla chips tastier than anything I’ve found in Switzerland, but they also cost the equivalent of CHF 3 for a 450-gram bag. A 450-gram bag. Unheard of in Switzerland. And Moevenpick ice cream? We all know that costs at least CHF 10 in Switzerland, but in Germany, the same thing costs the equivalent of CHF 3,50.

Anyhow, I hope these tips will get you started on saving in Switzerland. If you have any tips to add, please leave a comment. Would love to know how to save even more money in this crazy country. Stay tuned next week for Part Two where we'll discuss budget store brands, discount stores (are they really cheaper?) and more.


Amanda said...

Great link for last minute hotels!

Chantal said...

Thanks, yeah I just discovered it last week and wondered how I could have missed it all this time!

Matt said...

Thx for sharing..

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MP said...

Great list of helpful hints! I'm bookmarking this post so if (and when!) we ever get the go ahead I'll be ahead of the pack. Thanks!

Chantal said...

Great to hear it's helpful. Hope you get the go ahead if this is the move you want to make!

Lori said...

You sound like me, Chantal. I buy my clothes here in the states during the sale months. Right now, you'd be shocked at how cheaply you can pick up summer clothes that can transition into winter.

Chantal said...

Yeah, only difference is that every day is the "biggest sale ever" at some places in the U.S. but in Switzerland sales really only happen twice a year.

Greg Christensen said...

Awesome post, Chantal. Living in Geneva, we shop in France all the time. Even if the kids want McDonald's we'd rather drive across the McBorder and save about 20% paying in Euros.

Chantal said...

Thanks, Greg. I know what you mean. The prices in Switzerland are insane! More tips to come next week.

Greg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mandy said...

Hi! I recently found your blog and love it! I especially want to say thanks for the "Shopping after 5 pm" info- I have saved so much money in the last couple weeks - just yesterday I bought chicken, sausage, fish, and a betty bossi pizza all at 50% off! Woo Hoo!

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