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"Many people are surprised at how much they actually spend."

Budget expert Andrea Schmid-Fischer talks about costs often forgotten about, day-to-day tips and how even children can learn to handle money.

Ms Schmid, what do people expect when they book an appointment with you?
A neutral, professional outsider’s perspective. And of course practical tips. Many have a vague feeling that something isn’t quite right with their budget. Or they want to know why so little money is left at the end of the month. We bring clarity and show you exactly where your money is going, how you can better manage it and what reserves you need to sleep well at night.

Do you only advise low-earners?
No, because having a huge salary does not necessarily mean that money is not an issue. We welcome anyone who has questions. Take young families as an example: They suddenly only have one salary instead of two but have maintained their standard of living. This normally doesn’t last long. It is important to adjust and reorganise.

"Cars are money grabbers and are of course something we talk about."

Andrea Schmid-Fischer, budget consultant

Taxes are definitely often underestimated or easily overlooked as an item of expenditure.
Absolutely. You should set aside monthly reserves for foreseeable bills. And not only for taxes, as other expenses are as sure as day follows night and nevertheless surprise many people again and again. For example, TV and broadcasting licences, the deductible for health insurance or holidays.

In countries like Germany, health insurance premiums and taxes are deducted straight from salaries.
I think this is an excellent solution. Directly deducting them provides you with a much better overview of what you actually have to hand. The Swiss system can quickly overstrain someone and lead to serious miscalculations.

On the subject of miscalculations: many people don’t know that a private car costs over CHF 10’000 each year. Is this something you discuss in your consultations?
Cars are money grabbers and are of course something we talk about. If they are necessary for work or fit into the budget, then that’s one thing. It’s another thing however if you cut back on essentials such as food or education to cover their costs. In this case, we recommend alternatives such as Mobility, public transport or bikes.

Does every little bit saved really add up to enough for a rainy day?
And more! Many people are amazed at how much they actually spend on clothes, shoes, haircuts, cosmetics or food. This is exactly where households are parting with uncontrolled amounts of money.

Do means of payment such as credit cards or apps amplify such uncontrolled spending?
You can't generalise that. No person is the same. Young people are used to cashless payments, which definitely calls for one thing: discipline. When you pay by credit card, the money takes time to be debited from your account. It’s therefore important to prevent nasty surprises.

In all honesty, I think I would struggle to closely monitor all of my expenditure.
You of course don’t have to do this all the time. Keeping records for one or two months is enough to draw some conclusions. The main thing is that you focus on keeping to your budget and you don’t make any purchases based on a gut feeling or because your account balance is looking healthy at that moment in time. In this context, I would like to add something important.

Yes?
It is crucial that we learn how to handle money sustainably at a young age. Even small children should understand that saving, sharing and spending all fit together. Instead of giving a child a five-franc coin as pocket money, you could give them three two-franc coins: One to buy what they want; one to put in the piggy bank; and one to do something good for others. For example, they could buy their friend a nice treat at the shop. This is a lesson that will be imprinted on their brains forever.

Andrea Schmid-Fischer is the Chairperson of the Dachverbandes Budgetberatung Schweiz (Swiss Budget Consulting Umbrella Association) and Head of Budget Consultancy at Frauenzentrale Luzern (Lucerne Women’s Centre).

www.budgetberatung.ch / www.frauenzentraleluzern.ch