Sylv’s various hints and tips on Budgeting

For variable costs such as household /food etc, collect ALL till receipts etc. for about two to three months (no cheating J)

You’ll be surprised to see how much money one spends already there.

It is time consuming I know but it really works and IMHO, wisely done, you can save a lot of money by clever shopping etc.

Subscribe to the COOP and Migros weekly Newspaper, there you’ll find the weeks special sales announced and you can make your shopping list according to the sales, for the same reason allow advertisements to be delivered to your post-box.

Compare prices!!

Always make a shopping list and keep to it or even better, make an approximate weeks menu plan before writing the shopping list and consider all the special offers in there.

Shop once a week in bulk instead of daily or every two-day, you’ll be more tempted when you dip frequently into the shops and will buy stuff you don’t really need J

Build up a stock of long lasting goods in good times so you can live off that, when there is more month than money left L this stock should include things like;

Pasta, Rice, Flour, Sugar, Various Cans of vegetables, pulses and fruits, Salt, dried herbs, Cocoa powder Vinegar, Oil, Mineral water, Honey, Jam, UHT-Milk etc.

A stock like this, is also handy when you get unexpected visitors and you can rustle up something to eat from it.

Invest in a good freezer, for the above reasons as well as to freeze leftovers or for pre-cooked meals. By example make two lasagnes, one you cook for immediate consumption and the other goes into the freezer BEFORE baking it. Saves time, money and energyJ

Try to cook as much as you can from scratch, ready-made meals and convenience foods are overpriced in Switzerland!

Buy fresh products, such as fruits and vegetables, when they are in season .Best on a  weekly farmers market, it’s in season and very cheap as well!

~ Dry and grind stale bread to get breadcrumbs.
~ Make your own croutons to strew on top of salads.
~ If you have time to, learn to make preserves.
~ Make new food from leftovers J by example make ;
~ Pasta bake with diced left over meat and vegetables in it.
~ Finely chop left over veggies and stuff and form ravioli.
~ Grind the left over Sunday roast, mix with onions, herbs and some diced tomatoes and stuff hollowed out vegetables such as tomatoes or zucchini with them, top with a slice of cheese and bake.
~ Make a Pasta salad with left over meat and / or veggies

Use your imagination and you’ll find ton’s of variations of how to use leftovers, this will also save you loads of money!


If you have children, I can almost hear you sighing J, me too, I know too only too well about the amount of clothes that a child can go through, the torn trousers, stained t-shirts etcJ

In my opinion, children don’t need to be Barbie Dolls and be clad in brands from top to toe!

I might sound naïve to some, but in the region where I live, the pressure on a child TO NEED branded clothes to belong, has not yet arrived.

So for every day use my kids are not dressed in their Sunday clothes, on contrary. A child should be able to run around, climb trees, play in mud and sandpits, go to trips to the forest with the class etc. WITHOUT the need to remind itself all the time to pay attention to the clothes that they don’ stain, tear etc.

What I want to say is, invest in a few choice items, of better/best ( or even branded) quality that you can mix and match for  going out, for special occasions etc ( we called these the Sunday clothes)

For every day use shop around in H&M, C&A, second hand shops, Brockenhaus,start a clothes exchange with friends who have children of a similar age etc.

Invest in a simple sewing machine, learn to mend clothes and /or alter clothes.

Torn (un-patchable) jeans make good shorts or can be turned into a (mini) skirt for a girl or make a schoolbag even.

A shirt with torn elbows looks also good without sleeves or short sleeves.

Stained, light coloured t-shirts etc. can be coloured in the washing machine to a darker colour and look like new

An A-line cotton skirt of your daughter is too short? Add a frilly ‘extension’ on the seam and it’ll fit again perfectly.

Knitted Jumper is in bits and pieces and not to be mended, wind it up and put the wool away, if you don’t need it for knitting, your child might use it for an art project or similar.

Sleeves of knitted jumpers make good leg warmers for girls in winter for their PE outfit

Daddy’s sleeveless vests can make a dress for 2- to 4-year-old girls, dye it in the machine and decorate with beads or so. Did this for my two younger ones, worked very well.

Mum’s colourful t-shirts that have gone out of fashion, can be used the same way for girls.


The same principle as for clothes applies here, partly the other way round.

My kids have some good quality shoes for everyday use, they walk 1km to and from school everyday (4km in total), but for going out (see Sunday clothes) each of them has a fancy pair of shoes (colour matches the ‘good’ clothes), not necessarily expensive ones (15.- to 20.- chf. a pair) and the quality is not top of the range, but as they are only worn for short times, I don’t think they’ll damage their feet.

And they have two pair of sandals, one very cheap ones to run around in the garden, sandpit etc and the better quality ones for the daily school run. If you need to replace shoes for running around it won’t cost you an arm and a leg and you always have some ‘good’ ones in the shoe cupboard to use anytime! 


Sylvie is a born and bred Swiss woman who dedicates a lot of her time , trying to help expatriates understand Switzerland and the Swiss a little bit better, by explaining customs and behaviour out of her vast  knowledge of  her homecountry.She's married and a busy mom of three girls. 


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