SBB CFF: Comfort vs Savings?

Hi there, not sure about the category…

I have a dilemma and would love an external point of view. I’m struggling to decide if I downgrade to 2nd class or not for my daily ride.

I’m using 1st class in CFF for years now. With about 1h ride every morning (a bit less with Covid), being pretty tall and working often during the trip, I got really used to the comfort 1st class provide (especially the Quiet zone). Obviously it is not reall a mustachian choice…

As my wife is using a 1st class AG as well (she’s not interested at all by the FIRE concept…) I’m benefiting of the “AG Partner” prices. And I’m looking to pay anually starting next month if I go 2nd class. That woud mean :

1st CHF 4340.– /year or 4560.- if I pay monthly
2nd CHF 2700.– /year

So 1640.- or 1860.- saving per year. Which don’t sound like a lot, but still a nice amount in 10 years.

Up to what extent do you, personally, put individual comfort at work today, compare to the futur modest savings it can bring?

I know no one can answer the question but myself at the end, but sometime hearing other people vision help us give a different perspective. Thank you!

P.S : I didn’t found similar topic, but if it exist already, my bad.

I think we don’t just live to work, we also work to live. It’s okay to also enjoy life a bit before we retire, as part of our mental health too.

I take a more global approach to comfort: I list all the nice things I would like to have, and know I won’t have them all. Then I take those that matter the most to me. So I’d put this choice on 1st class in perspective: how important is it in comparison to other things that increase your comfort?

Since you spend several hours in the train every day, I wouldn’t be shocked if you picked 1st class even in a FIRE context, knowing the difference it makes in Switzerland, including being almost guaranteed to be able to sit.

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In german there’s a word “Wertschätzung”.

Not sure how to translate it, maybe like this: if you value something, then it’s ok to pay for it.

Personally, I would value the comfort of first class.

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In fact, no one can answer this question for you.

I could ask you “what is luxury resp. what is it worse to you?”

I know people flying business class on vacation (2 x 6 hour flight) and then staying in a budget hotel (during 10 full days). Personally, I would be inclined to do just the opposite, flying Eco but upgrading the hotel instead… You see? In the end, it’s really up to you!

P.S: Hard work and modesty were always good Swiss virtues. One would not notice that this is a rich Swiss fella sitting in 2nd class in the train. Looking around these days I see everywhere Teslas on the streets… Times are definitely changing. One could sometimes even thing the Swiss invented capitalism and consumerism :slight_smile:

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Travel one month second class and then reassess.

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I’m frugal so 1st class is a luxury I don’t “need” but IMO the nice thing about FIRE is you travel outside of rush hour. I have Fridays off & travel weird times-of-day around CH. The 2nd class is mostly empty. :+1:

Travelling 2nd class now is hardly representative of what 2nd class normally looks like. :wink:

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Even better. Travel 2nd until it gets worst.

Nb: If i were every day 2h in a train, partly working, and my budget would allow me to do it, i would choose 1st.

But as others already said it, it depends. So try.

Under normal conditions (no covid):

  • you travel for work about 230 days/year
  • each day, you spend about 2hour on train.

It means, you would pay 1860/(230*2)=4 chf/hour more.

Thanks to these money, you’re able to don’t waste 2 hours/day, because now you are better able to do:

  • morning: personal and working related stuffs
  • afternoon: 20 minutes of meditation for refreshing your brain, recover some energy, personal stuffs, read something, reflect, etc.

I would not able to do all stuffs above in a busy train, crowd, etc… So I would not consider the first class as a luxury, but just a way to easily buy buck some time(at discounted price).

In my personal case, commuting was <10 minutes, so 1st class would be wasted (unless I would have a crying baby at home)

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Having been in 1st class trains as daily commute for over a year, just keep it. That’s assuming you don’t have some expensive/uneconomic car on the side too.

We are having the same discussion with my wife. Both commuting to another city with approx. 1h30 oneway in public transportation. My wife is now reducing to part-time and the remaining job is mostly from home because of the covid thingy. This means she will have to commute once or twice a week.

We are looking at it from 2 different perspectives: purely financial, or fatigue/stress

  1. Financial: We are considering 3 options between
  • 1st class Partner GA/AG (CHF 4340 annually)
  • 2nd class Partner GA/AG (CHF 2700 annually)
  • 2nd class Halfprice/Halbtax/Demi-tarif (CHF 185 annually) and you buy the return or day tickets when needed. This brings you a nice optimization problem, because you could then buy cheap off peak tickets (Sparbilletten/tickets dégriffés). If you plan it in advance (60 days before), you can even do this for peak hours. It also depends on the season, school holidays, corona rules, length of the train…
  1. Fatigue: The psychological strain of fighting for just a seat at rush hours is maybe not worth the small difference if you commute all week. You need to take into account the hidden costs of fatigue, time meditating or at least doing something for yourself (possible in 1st class), time working on the train (some employers count this as time on-duty)… Count it with Vicky Robins’ framework or

In practical terms, you can try 2nd class for a few months, then switch back to 1st class easily if you take the monthly GA/AG. The difference between monthly and annual GA/AG is not huge (you save less than a month’s worth).

I changed my travelling hours. I wake up and leave earlier. So in 2ndclass, I have normally one block for me.
When it’s not possible, I buy an upgrade Ticket.

Just to add fuel to the fire… if your wife is not interested in FIRE, what would you do with the saved money? FIRE earlier alone?

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You can get a good part of the benefit of first class (except the increased chance of getting a seat) from buying active noise cancelling headphones for 200-300 CHF and they’ll last you for a couple of years. :slight_smile:

While that is also a very good recommendation for 1st class traveling, the main issue is indeed for people with long legs the 2nd class “block” can cause unwanted knee or leg touching with other people…

Hello, I don’t know if my experience could help you, but I’ll share it :wink:

I was a commuter during 2 years between Geneva and Lausanne and had the 2nd class GA. I used to take my IC around 7am and always find a block alone or share with someone. During the morning, if I had to work for my personnal project I could easily do it on my phone or with a tablet, but it was exceptionnal. However, to get back home between 6 and 7 pm the 2nd class was really too crowded to work comfortably.

If I had to travel more than 1h and have to work during this time, I’ll definitly take the 1st class. You can maybe ask your employer if the company has a mobility project to help employee to take public transport instead of their car. One of my previous employer offer 700 CHF voucher for the CFF AG 1st/2nd class.

Moreover, I think that once your try the 1st class for too many years, you won’t be happy to downgrade your habit to the 2nd class, unless you can travel after crowded hours in order to have a block alone.

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Thank you all of you for your insight. It helped me choose. I’ll stay with my monthly 1st for now. And I’ll focus on income increase instead of cutting cost at all cost (no pun intended).

Merry Christmas! :wink:

Good question! :smiley: Short answer is Yes, I would not mind at all FIRE alone. Even if at my age and late start I aim more for the FI part and to have something to eat in my regular retirement…
Long answer is a discussion for another topic ^^

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Why not move closer to work and stop spending so much money and time?

Because being closer would mean an insane increase in rent price, for a decrease quality of life in almost every aspects…

I’ve been travelling first class for 8 years and it is nice (I had a huge discount from work, so extra cost to 2nd-class was about 1000.-), at the moment I have a half fare card, because I’m with a new employer mainly work from home (covid). In the future I’ll try 2nd-class (if I have to go back to office more than 3 days/week which I hope not) but could decide to switch back to 1st-class.

You can upgrade anytime from

  • half fare tax to GA (1. or 2nd class)
  • 2nd-class to 1st-class, no need to decide monthly

Just call the Callcenter.

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