Family of 4 in the academic world


I am looking for advice on where to put our money and on ways to increase our savings rate!

About me: Mid-30s, married, 1 kid (soon, 2). Single income for at least near future. No house, no car. In Switzerland since about 2 years on B permit, non-EU.

My FIRE approach is a maybe bit different to the majority here as I actually quite like my job/industry and the flexibility I have in it, thus it is mostly the FI part of the RE that interests me.

I have spent basically all my life up to a couple years ago in school and now work in academia, thus my (and thus my family’s) savings are quite limited. Luckily for me, Switzerland is possibly the best place in the world to be an academic, at least financially (I think this is true of many jobs). I have always been, by necessity, a bit frugal, although I am a travel addict and have spent a fair bit of money (and lost potential earning time) on backpacking trips to >50 countries. Since becoming a parent, I am recognising the need to play financial “catch-up” and plan for the long-term financially!

Goals: I am trying to optimize our finances in order to put money aside to buy a home within ~3 years, and to save a larger percent of our money for the long-term.

Current family assets are approximately:
CHF22k in 50% cash + 50% stocks in home country
CHF5k in retirement fund in home country
CHF8k in Pillar 3a (VIAC Global 100)
CHF4k in CH bank account
CHF15k in Pillar 2 (FreizĂĽgigkeitsleistung/Libre-Passage).
TOT: approx. CHF54000

Current plan is to transfer most of my cash from home country to here and invest in VT or VWRL via a Degiro custody account, and then make montly or quarterly contributions + max out Pillar 3a. Another shitty but important item is that I might owe ~CHF8k in fines/taxes in my home country for having contributed to a tax-sheltered retirement account in my home country while being (possibly) non-resident some years ago… long story, still sorting this out and hoping for the best :frowning:

Here is our family’s typical monthly budget (approx.)… we are planning to actually record all expenses for at least a few consecutive months soon to give some precision/reality to these numbers.

I am very happy to have found this community and the blog. Lots of great info here. Thanks in advance for any tips!


Rent deposit insurance. NoooOOoo… :slight_smile: I don’t like that. I wonder if we have already talked about it. I personally don’t like it because it will cost you more than what you lose by leaving money on a normal apartment deposit account.

Thanks for the tip - we did it only because we didn’t have the cash in CH when we signed the lease. The premium is 4% of 3 months rent (not including charges). I have thought about it and figure that this is in fact an OK deal as one should be able to make >4% annual return, at least over the long term, when investing - and that cash would be available for a house down payment at any time. But yes, it is an unnecessary insurance.

Hello there!

I’m also a fellow in the academic world (scientist, non professorial role)

For sure it is the best place for us in the world here. Like you I also enjoy my job and the freedom it gives, and also the work/life balance… not to mention being able to save. Elsewhere it’s pretty much impossible unless you stay living like a student.

I Net just a bit below you 5100 and I think your budget is quite on point (however I don’t have to support a partner or a child). I can pocket away 1000/month and can pay off some loans in my home country that I still have (500/month; hopefully for just another 6 months).

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Yes, for early/mid-career scientists, Switzerland is certainly one of the best places in the world in terms of salary. Denmark, Norway and Australia also have decent salaries for standard post-docs and similar positions (although these are all rather expensive places to live). In terms of the classic career progression towards tenured professor, it is obviously super competitive here, as it is in most of the world! And obviously, opportunities outside of the academic world will vary depending on one’s field.

One thing that is quite particular about those of us on the academic career path is that we rarely make any decent money before we are finished our PhDs (which usually means late 20’s/early 30’s)! So we get a late start to FIRE…

But the work/life balance, flexibility and freedom really make academic careers great (unless the lab head is an asshole, of course).

Glad to hear that my budget sounds reasonable… fortunately for me I am not in Geneva and can find OK rental prices without much of a commute.

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