The Best of the Bunch

best of the bunch - money monkey

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The “Best of the Bunch” is a list of top tips, tricks, lifehacks, guidelines, principles, advice and secrets on money (personal finance, saving money, spending money, investing), health (physical, mental), and everything else (mindset, productivity, confidence). I have picked up some of these from books, from the web, from people I have met or from my own thoughts. While this list is useful for anyone, it is especially valuable for international civil servants working for the UN in Geneva. Whether you’re looking to optimize your finances, improve your physical and mental well-being, or simply live a more frugal and intentional life, we’ve got you covered.

The list below is divided into three sections – Money, Health and Everything else.

It is constantly optimised to help you achieve your goals and unlock your full potential. So sit back, grab a banana, and let’s dive into our specially curated list.

Let’s live our best life.

Money Monkey

Money

  1. Be patient – 90% of finance are: Live below your means. Invest, diversified, with a 10+ year horizon. Expect and accept volatility.
  2. Worst case budgeting – Round up expenses and round down income to the nearest CHF5, 10, 50, 100 etc. You will likely end up with net positive in your account. This tips is from the YouTuber Miki Rai.
  3. InvestOpen a brokerage account to buy ETFs. I use and highly recommend Interactive Brokers and Schwab (previously TD Ameritrade).
  4. Automate – Automatically send money to a brokerage account and invest in a globally diversified ETF (e.g. VT, VWRA). Do this consistently and stay invested as long as possible. Sit back and watch your money grow.
  5. Best credit card in general – Get the UNFCU Elite Visa – Free airport lounge access, 1% cashback, no foreign transaction fees. This is simply the best USD denominated credit card.
  6. Best credit card in Switzerland – Get the Cashback American Express – 1% cashback. This is the best credit card to use within Switzerland or for purchases in CHF.
  7. High interest savings for CHFLa Mutuelle is the best place to store your emergency money in CHF – high-yield (1.35% in 2023), safe and can withdraw anytime.
  8. High interest savings for USDUNFCU shared certificates (“fixed-term deposits”) is the best place to save USD, offers high yields (4.25% in 2024) and protected up to USD250,000.
  9. Hassle-free shopping – Buy clothes from Zalando.ch. Free shipping. Free returns at the post office.
  10. Cheap electronics – For electronics and household goods, compare prices on toppreise.ch but only buy from galaxus.ch, microspot.ch or melectronics.ch.
  11. Cheap dining – Sign up to The Fork and watch out of 50% deals on restaurants. Great opportunity to try new places while saving. Check out my other food/dining tips.
  12. Reduce risk – “Investing is risky.” These are more risky: One 9-5 job, No growing assets, No passive income sources
  13. Get Cashback – Sign up with Rabattcorner and receive cashback while you shop!
  14. Transferring money from UNFCU – Sending money out of UNFCU is expensive but do it for free or minimal fees with this hack.
  15. Worried about money?
  16. What wealth means to me:
    • More time, choices, flexibility, freedom
    • Less worry, pressure, stress, anxiety
    • Allows you to be happy and live on your terms
    • Gives you the power to say no
  17. UN PensionYou need to plan your retirement as soon as you start working.
  18. There are at least 4 types of wealth, be wary of jobs that lure you in with 1 and 2, but rob you of 3 and 4 (quote from James Clear):
    • Financial wealth (money)
    • Social wealth (status)
    • Time wealth (freedom)
    • Physical wealth (health)

Health

  1. Happiness – There are 5 simple rules 1) Free your mind from hatred, 2) Free your mind from worries, 3) Live simply, 4) Give more and 5) Expect less
  2. Breathe – Focus on one thing at a time, one step at a time.
  3. Stay hydrated – Bring a water bottle every time you go out. It’s cheaper and healthier to drink water.
  4. Stay healthy – Eat more vegetables, commit to regular exercise, manage stress and take your essential vitamins.
  5. Rest – Sleep at least 8 hours a day. Get rid of electronics from the bedroom, do the same rituals e.g. stretching so that your body knows it is time to sleep, always sleep at the same time.
  6. Laugh more – Don’t take yourself too seriously, be able to let go of ego and laugh at yourself. Most important thing is to have fun in your life and laugh more. Life is too short.
  7. Reset yourself – Clear your mind (mindfulness, gratitude, letting go). Clear your physical space (keep a minimalist and tidy space). Clear your digital space. Clear your social life (ditch people dragging you down).
  8. Let go – Focus on the things you can control and let go of the rest. Worry about things you can’t control is a pure waste of time and energy.
  9. Put your happiness over everything – This is your life, so don’t worry about what they will say.
  10. Use sunscreen – Protect your face from aging. Make sure it does not have toxic ingredients. I use Yuka app to check this.

Everything Else

  1. Create a system – Instead of focusing on a goals, create a system that works for you and focus on improving the system (e.g. automate, make it efficient, reduce friction). You will reach your goals eventually.
  2. Build confidence – Confidence develops after successful repetition of any endeavor. But forgive yourself if things don’t work out.
  3. Skip life insurance – If you must buy life insurance, buy term life insurance and avoid the expensive investment-linked life insurance. It is better to invest it yourself.
  4. Read – Fall in love with reading. It is the cheapest way to learn from someone. Don’t like reading? Start with Blinkist.
  5. Presentations – The best method to prepare for a presentation – 1) Video yourself 2) Watch yourself 3) Improve one thing (e.g. slow down, improve tonality, articulate more).
  6. Failing is OK – Be gentle with your failures 1) Find one positive outcome, 2) learn one lesson, 3) make one plan to prevent it next time.
  7. Embrace imperfection – Creation/innovation matters more than being perfect. Create, improve, iterate.
  8. Compound – All the best returns in life operate under the “law of compound interest”: relationships, investments and reputation.
  9. Don’t give up – Most success in your life is due to consistency, not talent. 80% of life is just showing up no matter what. Repetition and discipline beat talent.
  10. Use AI – Learn prompt engineering. This will 10x your ability to use ChatGPT. Don’t get left behind.
  11. Get a quick mentor – Find someone you admire or look up to and invite them out for lunch. You will get a whole lot of knowledge, connections and experience in 2 hours.
  12. Improve writing skills – Embrace “Free Writing”. Write non-stop within a set time limit without any pressure. It is OK to make mistakes. Just relax and keep writing until time is up.
  13. Progress over perfection – Focus on progress so you can keep moving forward. Perfection is an illusion.
  14. Absorb what is useful – discard what is useless, and add what is specifically your own. This is a quote from Bruce Lee.
  15. Two traps to avoid – Caring what others think and thinking that they care.
  16. You cannot please everyone – life is too short, smile and enjoy your life to the fullest. Stop worrying about pleasing everyone. Stop fretting about things you can’t control.
  17. Simplicity first – Then then add bells and whistles later. Always delete, simplify, optimize. Stick to first level principles and question every requirement. These are extracts from Elon Musk’s biography.
  18. Be patient – Never expect immediate results. Be patient and keep at it.
  19. Focus on what you can control, ignore what you can’t – Under your control (your boundaries, your thoughts/actions, your goals, what you give energy to, how you speak to yourself, how you handle challenges). Out of your control (what happens around me, what other people think of me, the outcome of my efforts, the opinions of others, the actions of others, the past, the future).
  20. Get better at anything – If you want to get better at anything, do it for 30 minutes a day for 30 days.
  21. One plus one is greater than two – If someone belittles your accomplishments, cut them out of your life. Choose friends and companions who help you be your best self and uplift you. Together, you should be greater than the sum of your parts.
  22. Turn wisdom into a business idea – Reflect on your past 5 years’ challenges (to be where you are today), current obstacles (you wish someone could solve for you), and advice for your 20-year-old self.
  23. Rich life – Make the most of your life. Save as much as you can but live a little too.
  24. Millionaire Habits – Watch what you consume, start investing, learn critical skills (sales, coding, marketing, communications), understand leverage, get comfortable with saying no, slow down and focus.
  25. Spend less than you make
  26. Invest your money in index funds
  27. Learn marketable skills and grow your income
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