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BANKS

What’s the best way to make money on your investments in Switzerland?

You must have noticed by now that your bank savings accrue very little interest these days — well below 1 percent. And rates are not likely to go up in the foreseeable future.

What's the best way to make money on your investments in Switzerland?
Where should you put your Swiss franc in 2020? Michele Limina/AFP

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) is keeping its key interest rate at minus 0.75 percent, charging banks that park their money there negative interest. The pressure is now increasing on the banks to pass this penalty interest on to their customers.

You may therefore be tempted to invest your money elsewhere, but be cautious. The promise of a potentially higher yield may actually backfire, according to the financial expert from the VZ Vermögenszentrum in Zurich

Consider these options carefully:

Shares

Shares are an attractive investment, Rolf Biland, head of investment at VZ Vermögenszentrum told the Bluewin.ch web portal. “Depending on the stock index, dividend income of around 1.5 to 3.5 percent is distributed before taxes,” he said.

However, keep in mind that there are risks involved: larger fluctuations in value can occur in the equity area, which can significantly — though temporarily — reduce the invested assets. “Therefore, in addition to the necessary risk capacity and risk tolerance, equity investors also need a multi-year investment plan,” Biland noted.

Gold

In terms of risk, investing in gold is similar to investing in stocks but, unlike stocks, “no long-term asset accumulation is to be expected”, Biland noted. And gold does not generate any returns, while savings interest rates could rise again.

However, “gold can make sense in a diversified portfolio as an addition to other investments”, he added.

Bitcoin

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are hot-button topics, but they are “a highly speculative investment”, according to Biland. The price fluctuations are immense and there are no signs that this could change in the future. Bitcoins should therefore “not even be seen as an investment, let alone as an alternative to cash or bank balances”.

READ ALSO: Switzerland leads the way as Bitcoin makes a return 

Real estate

Real estate can generate a higher dividend yield than other investments. “However, there are also major risks on the real estate market, particularly in Switzerland, such as bubbles or liquidity risks”, Biland said. But, like gold, real estate could make sense as part of a diversified investment portfolio.

Art or vintage cars

If you are considering investing in art objects, watches, vintage cars, and such, think again, Biland said. The lack of a regulated market is particularly problematic and “a very high level of specialist knowledge is required to make a purchase decision. Such items should, in the best case, make up a small proportion of a large fortune”.

Conclusion:

You have to decide how much of a financial risk you are willing to take in order to grow your assets. If you are not totally risk-averse, then a diversified investment portfolio may be your cup of tea. Otherwise, stick to the traditional savings account, which will not yield you interest but at least your money will be safe — unless the bank goes bankrupt.

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GENEVA

Six tips for how you can save money if you live in Geneva

If you live in Geneva (to just visit it), you know just how expensive this city is. But there are ways to keep your spending to a minimum — by Swiss standards, of course.

Six tips for how you can save money if you live in Geneva

Geneva is not Switzerland’s most expensive city — that ‘honour’ goes to Zurich.

But as a new international study, Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey, shows, Geneva is in the fourth place worldwide (just behind Zurich), in terms of its prices.

The good news is that if you are a Geneva  resident, you will find ways to curb your living costs — at least somewhat.

Here’s how:

Shop in France

OK, this may sound like ‘cheating,’ but the fact is that just a short drive away, prices for groceries and other products are much lower than in Geneva.

People who regularly shop in Carrefour and other supermarkets just across the border fill their shopping baskets with essential goods for much less than they would have to pay for the same merchandise in Geneva (and elsewhere in Switzerland as well).

‘Too Good to Go’

If you want to save money on some food items (without going to France), download the Too Good to Go app, which will allow you to buy various foods for a much lower-than-original price.

That’s because when shops close at the end of the day, they must throw away unsold items, including those that are still fit for consumption.

The app will direct you to places where you can take advantage of these deals.

Go swimming

Entrance to one of Geneva’s most popular beaches, Les Bains des Paquis, costs 2 francs for adults aged 16 and over, 1 franc for children and pensioners, with no charge for ·children under 6.

So that is definitely a good ‘deal’, as you can spend the whole day there for this low price.

Take a water taxi

The so-called ‘Mouettes genèvoises’ are the little yellow boats that carry passengers across Lake Geneva to various points in the city.

Here too prices are very reasonable: 2 francs to go from one port to another, and 3 francs for an hour’s trip out on the lake.

Or…

You can take public transport for free

While the water taxi is used by local residents as a public transport mode, if you are a tourist staying in a hotel, hostel, or camping in Geneva, you will benefit from ​Geneva Transport Card, which gives you unlimited travel around the city for the duration of our stay.

It also gives you free access to some museums and other attractions.

Head to the outlets

There are plenty of designer boutiques on Geneva’s fancy Rue du Rhône, but if you want to buy more affordable clothing (and other products as well). there are plenty of discount stores where they can be purchased at a fraction of the price.

These are just some of them:

  • Boutique Outlet, 12, Rue du Lac (clothing)
  • Pop In, 62, Rue de Stand (clothing)
  • Maxi Bazaar, 48, rue de Carouge (decor, home appliances)
  • Off the Shelf, 14, Boulevard Georges-Favon (books in English)
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