Spending vs Depreciation : Reduce what you spend on things that depreciate!

One thing that made a big impact on me when I was trying to make the synthesis of the information available in ERE’s book and forum is the concept of spending vs depreciation.

Basically, we can divide our spendings in two categories :

  • The first category is Spendings that are not very impacted by the depreciation of what you bought. They usually meet one of these three criteria :

1.Something that you bought for your whole lifetime. it can be expensive but you know that it is so good quality that you’ll never have to pay for it again.
2.Something that you bought second hand. It has already been subjected to a good chunk of depreciation and you know that, if needed, you will be able to sell it for the same price that what you paid for. For instance : My touring bike is worth 1500 CHF new, but I bought it second-hand in excellent quality for 250CHF. I know that if I need to sell it again, I’ll be able to sell it for at least the same price.
3.Something that is so cheap compared to its value that it can almost be considered free. For instance, the furniture available on these kind of second hand Facebook groups : https://www.facebook.com/groups/848619798561876/
I got an IKEA wardrobe for free there, and I regularly see other ads for the same furniture for less than 30CHF (people are moving and want to get rid quickly of their furniture).

  • The second category of spending is the one that is severely impacted by depreciation. These spendings become rapidly worthless, and have to be renewed regularly. For instance :
    -The food
    -A monthly rent
    -Most services
    -Health insurance

Ideally, we want to minimize the amount of spending that falls into the second category. We do that by looking at our spending and trying to internalize all the skills that would prevent these spendings. For instance, learning plumbing to not have to call the plumber, learning how to cut yourself your hair to not go to the hairdresser, and so on.

That’s also why it is so interesting at the end to have your own home with a garden to produce your food. The target would then be, if these concepts are applied, that your only 2nd category spendings are your taxes and health insurance.

When most of your spending is done on stuffs that don’t need to be renewed, your cost of life becomes suddenly very low!

I hope that this concept will make as big an impact on you as it did on me :slight_smile:


Hello @Julianek

That seems like a very nice way to choose on what to spend.

You still have to be careful on the first category to not overspend simply because it does not deprecate. A good painting will not deprecate, but may not be a very smart investment. And some things are harder to sell than to buy, making them deprecate in another way.

Hi @Julianek,

Out of curiosity, I was wondering if you would like to share an update on how you’ve been able to maintain / apply these principles since your initial post, or if you’ve found some issues with it?


In no particular order :

  • I cut my hair myself. Since I am bald, it is quite easy so i just have to shave my head regularly.
  • For anything I need that is non-perishable, my first reflex has become to look-up on tutti.ch. The amount of stuff people want to get rid of for next to nothing is impressive. I got all my furniture for free or almost free.
  • We had a baby this year. I could apply the above principles in a lot of areas :
    1- We did not buy any new baby clothes
    2 - We bought a set of cloth diapers for 50 francs in total. This should avoid us to pay a huge amount for disposable diapers
    3- We got a stroller and a baby bed for free. The only thing we bought new was a car child seat.

My only regular payments are:

  • the rent, the biggest expense of all - quite optimized as we pay 1500 CHF for rent per month
  • health care insurance - we only use the highest deductible (except for the baby where the insurance is very cheap)
  • food. Around 400 CHF for two adults and a baby per month. This is quite low, and growing my food myself would likely incur more costs than this amount (buy/rent a garden…)
  • internet - 40 chf/month, i did not find a lower offer
  • phone - I have a prepaid card, but i mostly use wifi. Therefore I guess I recharge my 20 CHF prepaid card every 6 months.

The only thing I have yet to figure out is transportation when we travel (everyday transportation is already figured out since i have the SBB bonus card - 650 CHF/year and i can travel in the whole canton Zurich as much as i want.). This is always quite expensive compared to our regular expenses, but i did not find a satisfying solution yet.

Finally, a last example : I am an enthusiast reader, and sometimes the Zurich library does not have the books i am looking for. So I bought a second hand Kindle for 30 CHF on tutti.ch, and I filled it with all the books I found for free on libgen.io (for those who are still not aware of this website, this is truly a goldmine if you are looking for books in english. That way, I spend most of my free time between my son, reading and hiking in the numerous Wanderweg that i can find around my neighborhood.


What is the SBB bonus card? 650chf/year for the whole canton?

Yes, sorry it is not SBB but ZVV.

It is basically your employer subsidizing your commute.
The price is based on the distance between your home and your workplace, but the effect is the same : full mobility in the whole canton Zurich.

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I paid 1150 CHF for Jahresabo for just 3 zones. Are you telling me I could have a Jahresabo for all ZVV for just 700?

As i said the price depends on where you live compared to where you work (I live in Leimbach and work next to Zurich HB). But yes, once you have paid for the bonuspass you get all the ZVV zones for free.

There isn’t so many info on the site.
It would be nice to see more about the overall costs and if there is a GA/AG version…

That’s right.
To be honest the whole thing was proposed by my employer who gave me a private link to apply. So i do not know how it would apply to other conditions.

I have exactly the same costs for apartment, food, insurances, baby and Internet/phone. It’s pretty funny coincidence. The only difference is my train commute and car expenses.

I also have the same free time activities. I mostly read books on Kindle and walk with my son.

10 posts were split to a new topic: What is your food budget?