Millionaire Teacher Speaks At The International School of Zug and Luzern


“We save about 80,000 Swiss Francs a year,” said the frugal, young teaching couple at the International School of Zug and Luzern

That’s equal to about $81,400 USD.  Until recently, I thought it was impossible for a teaching couple to save that much in Europe.  I’ve written about some schools where teachers save a lot, here and here.   But most of the teachers I profiled worked in Asia or the Middle East.

This particular couple doesn’t have children.  But they save enough to leave a lot of wiggle room for kids.  As with most international schools, savings rates vary.  Some couples (as is always the case) save next to nothing.  Others, like this couple, save a small fortune.

Let’s introduce a Swiss caveat first. Eating out and drinking at pubs and restaurants carries crippling costs in Switzerland.  Teachers who save large sums in Switzerland choose to rarely (if ever) eat out.

Here’s an extreme example of a ludicrous cost.  I’m sitting in a café, in Lausanne.  I just came from a sports store.  Check out the image of the hat that I’m holding.  It’s similar to the one I’m wearing.  But this pricey Swiss cap costs 69 Swiss Francs.  That’s about $71 USD.



I used to compare Lausanne, Switzerland with my hometown, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.  Consumer prices are 72.02 percent higher in Lausanne.  Groceries cost almost 60 percent more. 

But check out the local purchasing power below. 

Salaries are higher.  That means the typical person in Lausanne, Switzerland can save a lot more money than the average person in Victoria, British Columbia.  According to, their local purchasing power is 21.68 percent higher.





I was at the International School of Zug and Luzern (Lucerne) to speak about saving and investing.  As for that young teaching couple, I was preaching to the choir.  They already had portfolios of index funds.  They had sidestepped the “Septic Seven” investment firms to which so many expats fall victim. 


What’s the Septic Seven?

They represent seven investment firms that are prolifically sold to (mostly) non-American expats.  At some schools, they represent the school’s official providers.  In some cases, schools provide matching incentive bonuses for teachers to invest in these platforms. 

They usually charge hidden fees of 4 percent or more each year.  If the stock and bond markets averaged 7 percent per year (before fees) such investors would be giving up 57 percent of the stock market’s annual profits–straight into the mouth of one of the Septic Seven. 

How much do you have to make, to recoup a 57 percent fee laden loss?  The math is surprising.  You would have to make an extra 132 percent.  So much for any school related matching incentive program.  With such high costs, it would be a waste of time.

Many of the teachers at the International School of Zug and Luzern have fallen for one of the Septic Seven firms.  But fortunately, the school doesn’t encourage these firms.

I was happy to share what I knew about saving and investing with the teaching staff.  With luck, many will venture down the simple path towards effective (and essential) investing and retirement planning.

If you would like me to speak at your school in Europe this September or October (2016), please let me know. It’s free. 

I’m just asking for return train tickets for two (I’m traveling with my wife) as well as accommodation.

I’ll be in the Middle East for talks in February and March.  Our schedule is filling.  So if you would like me to speak, please let me know.

Contact me at:


Andrew Hallam

I’m a financial columnist for Canada’s national paper, The Globe and Mail, as well as for AssetBuilder, a financial service firm based in Texas. I’m also the author of Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School (2nd Ed. Wiley 2017) and The Global Expatriate’s Guide To Investing: From Millionaire Teacher to Millionaire Expat (Wiley 2015). My mission is to educate, motivate and inspire people on basic retirement planning and best practices for investing, using evidence-based strategies. I’m happy to comment on your questions. However, please read the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and the Comments Policy.

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1 Response

  1. andrew hallam says:

    Andrew, These investment firms for international expats sound usurious! I mean, who takes 4% fees these days?!! At a time when we are optimizing portfolio expenses from 0.25% to 0.1% or less, these fees sound like daylight robbery. I am glad I am far away from such toxic products. I love that you are an educator, please let me know if my website content is useful for your work. Thanks, TFR

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