I don’t get credit cards

Hi RIP friends,

I got my first real Credit Card few days ago. I didn’t own one before. Well, as I’ve previously explained, I had some sort of similar tools, like prepaid credit cards and a Hooli issued real credit cards, but that’s another story. With the prepaid cards you don’t get a line of credit and the Hooli card is for work related expenses. I’ve never considered it mine.

I never had a real credit card, I’ve never experiences this sort of monthly threat “pay your bill or we’ll destroy your finances“. It feels strange. And wrong.

Anyway I don’t get it. I don’t understand why it works this way. The system is broken and inefficient, I really don’t understand why.

Let me explain.

RIP, why are you complaining? Why you got this card??

Ok, let’s start with why.

Apparently some sort of Visa/Mastercard is needed in modern world if you want to buy things online. Physical purchases in your home country can still be resolved with debit cards / atm cards / cash. Did I tell you I hate cash? I’d love to experience the disappearance of physical currencies! Physical purchases in another country usually require either cash or some sort of credit card, regular or prepaid. And then there’s US, where for most actions you need a credit card, like car rental, bike rental (!!), hotels… That’s because with credit cards they can reserve an amount for eventual damages or “in case you don’t return the bike”.

Most of the purchases I do in Switzerland can be resolved with PostFinance card, which is a debit card that’s accepted on every Swiss website and physical shop, and it’s bound to your PostFinance bank account.

I hate cash. I avoid using it as much as I can. Did I tell you?

There’s only one money related thing I hate more than cash and it’s debt. I hate debt! Maybe it’s because I experienced so many time (in third person) people going mad due to it.

So, I got the card. It’s a Cumulus Mastercard, issued by Cembra Money Bank and connected with your Cumulus Migros account. Essentially your fidelity card for the Migros world. Migros is the biggest grocery chain. Well, not only a grocery chain: Migros is everything. A bank (Migros Bank), phone company (Migros mobile), IKEA-Like (Micasa), electronics (M-Electronics), gas (Migroil), language courses, flowers, travel, farmacy, you name it.

How does this card work?

  • You do your purchases, they anticipate the money for you. You pay later.
  • If you pay your monthly credit card bill, it will be the face value of the money advanced. No interests, no fees. A 0% loan.
  • You get points for using your card. We’re talking about 1% of your purchases in the Migros circuit and 0.5% of your other purchases back in terms of cumulus points. Actual cash, if you’re a Migros customer (I challenge you not to be one!).
  • You don’t pay any annual fee.
  • You get sign up bonus (3000 points, i.e. 30 CHF).

My first reaction was “where’s the trap? It can’t be that good!

I’m so used to only spend money when I have them, I’d never miss a payment. Why am I rewarded to get a service from an evil company without paying a dime?

Are they just hoping I miss a payment so they can charge 9.99% interests? Is that all?

If that’s all, the system is bugged my friends. It’s an horrible system. Ok, I get the benefits while someone else is paying with interests rates above usury limit, but that’s stupid!

Then I start looking closer at how people use credit cards, reading posts about “avoiding credit cards debts” or the concept of “minimum payments”… holy sheet, do people only see the “credit” word in “credit card”?

Apparently yes, they do. If you get a credit card with 10k limit, you may see it as “cool, I get another 10k to spend“. No no no no it doesn’t work this way! It shouldn’t! Credit cards are not cheap loans.

Credit cards are too good for smart people to be true. You get rewarded for getting a 0% short term loan. This is not a stable system, it’s based on financial illiteracy! Too bad for dumb people.

So I thought: “well, if everyone started using credit card correctly they’d go out of business overnight!

That’s also not true.

They’re not charging you for your purchases, but you’re not the only one involved in the trade. They’re getting a hefty percentage from the merchant! That’s where things go really evil. That’s why some merchant will charge you extra fees for credit cards payments (looking at you, my dear low cost flight company). That’s why some shop won’t accept your card below a certain minimum purchase amount.

And here’s where the system is purely wrong and evil.

Ok, I can’t easily articulate all of my concerns, but I’ll try. Please, understand I’m an old man, getting dangerously close to my 40s, a man who’s born in an age without easy access to credit and always been scared by debts.

The system is based on splitting consumer and merchant worlds. They (credit card issuers) befriend and reward consumers and drain merchants. Divide et impera. They drain way more (2-7%) the merchants than they charm consumers (0.5-1%). Plus signup bonuses. Ok, that’s a little bit of exposure on their side, but the break even for them is probably very close to few thousands spent on your side. Plus yes, they’re close to explicit thievery when it comes to currency conversion fees, but that’s not an issue for most people who (unlike the RIPs) don’t live a three currencies life.

The system is inefficient. Consumers and merchants could find a 1.5% discount or so for “cash payments” and credit cards will be cut out. I don’t understand why merchants don’t offer discount for cash payments. Are they forced to be silent? Ok, I admit handling cash is boring, risky and obscure (money laundering? tax evasion?) and it doesn’t work for online shopping… but what about wire transfers? Ok, I know, debit payments are not immediate and can’t be…

But…

But what about cutting out the middle man here?

Why can’t I just have money and send money to someone without a middle man?

Than I watched this TED Talk. Did I tell you I love TEDs?

Enjoy

In my EGN about future I missed this one!

Are cryptocurrencies the solution for this inefficiency/robbery?

I think so.

Are they production-ready today?

I don’t think so. But sooner or later they must become. I don’t like the mechanics and the whole speculative world behind Bitcoin, but if I have to guess how the world currency is going to be in 100 years I’d bet on a decentralized credit system almost impossible to hack, i.e. Cryptocurrency.

Have a nice day… and use your credit cards judiciously!

Gifts Ideas: ideas!

2016, December 24th

Hi RIP friends,

Those who know me know how I don’t usually like gifts.

No, I’m not an ultra evil person, let me explain it a little bit more. I hate to have to buy gifts for “special occasions”, which appear to be every other day.

The RIPs are very social, especially Miss RIP. We have tons of friends. Add to that tons of relatives in both families. Plus, we both have lived in several places, like Rome, Naples, Milan and Switzerland. In every place we’ve established strong connections and dates to celebrate.

Integrate this over almost 40 years and essentially every day in your calendar is: “today it’s exactly 17 years since we painted the living room, what a coincidence, how are we going to celebrate?”

Or something like:

Miss RIP: “Honey, tomorrow will be exactly 1000 days since the child of WhoTheHellAreTheySorryIHaveForgottenTheirExistence-Friends was born! What are we going to gift them with?

Mr: “I don’t know… btw, if tomorrow is the 1000th days it means we’re getting close to his 33rd month, can’t we wait and just gift once for both these ‘special days’?

Miss: “Uh… you’re right…

Mr: “Thanks my love 🙂 I knew you’d have understood and agreed on a single…

Miss: “You are right… you are right… in 5 days it will be exactly 33 months since whatever and I wasn’t prepared… panic mode on! Check out how many pajamas that kid has, be quick!! Let’s look for one that matches the shirt he’s going to get from us for his 1000th day!!

Mr: 🙁

Ok, jokes apart, I and Miss RIP have a slightly different view on who, when, how and what to give. For example, I don’t like to bind gifts with special dates. Whenever I feel the duty to give I feel something is wrong. I like to spontaneously give to people whenever I like, not when it’s exactly their 300,000th second since last time they had an hiccup. I must admit that my behavior leads to slightly less gifts in general, since there are way more “special dates” than times where I feel like giving something to someone. But it’s ok, I’m fine with that.

I don’t like to physically go buying stuff. I hate shopping malls, I hate being within that crowd of people in a fake place with fake music and fake piazzas. I feel in the wrong place. I’d rather shop online. That’s not only for gifts but for regular stuff too. I hate shopping in general, feeling forced to go buying craps for someone else is even more annoying.

I don’t like buying things that 90% of time are going to be thrashed, recycled or in best case scenario they’re going to clutter people’s houses.

I usually don’t like receiving gifts too. It’s rare I receive something I really would have purchased myself. To give you an example: last year I wanted to try to run a triathlon (failed way before taking it seriously due to several minor injuries) so I received an expensive sportwatch I’ve never used. I feel sad about it, but I didn’t need it. And I didn’t need the extra digital clutter associated to having yet another account to setup and keep up to date, yet another flow of spammy emails to filter out and god knows how many other hassles.

I believe I’m the best person in the world in the “knowing what I like” contest. And even if I like something, if I didn’t schedule the purchase it means I don’t really need that something right now.

RIP, you’re being mean. If you have in your radar object X and I buy it for you what’s wrong? It’s free money for you, why do you complain?

No my dear friend, it’s not free money. Yes, I’m not paying for the stuff I’m receiving but I’m paying for the stuff I’m giving to you and this is an inferior solution compared to “everyone buys their sheet whenever they want”. Plus, why the hell should we play the evil game of comparison? What if your gift is way more valuable than mine? I hear backtalks everyday on “how cheapass X is” for their giving behaviours and poor gifts choices. I hate that, seriously.

Ok RIP, what about gift cards?

That’s just another inefficient idea. Gift cards are money placed under a shop. Which one is better, 50 Euro or 50 Euro to be spent in shop X? It doesn’t make much sense to me. It would make sense if the face price of the card were lower that its value (i.e. if a 50 Euro gift card would cost 40 Euro) and if the receiver is already a regular customer of shop X.

I don’t even know what kind of objects people need. I’m not good at it. If we meet and talk together for an hour I will forget 90% of this experience, I’m sorry. I won’t remember how you were dressed or what’s that thing you’d like to buy. Forgotten in a second! I won’t remember most of the uninteresting things you’d tell me. Though, I’d remember every detail of the new ideas we threw on the table. I’d remember the deep discussion we had about a topic we both care. I’d remember the projects you’re passionate about and the feedback you gave to me about my ideas. I just won’t remember what colour your shirt was, sorry about that.

My guess is that people don’t need more stuff. I’ve the feeling that most of the things we exchange as gifts, especially during Christmas, are unwanted, unneeded and are going to clutter our houses. Plus, as an investor, I think the economy would still be fine without all this garbage game.

Maybe gift lists can help here. Like a wish list on Amazon or a wedding list. One should put some effort to keep it up to date and who wants to buy stuff to someone else can get inspired by stuff the receiver signaled they’re interested in. I don’t know if there’s a universal killer app for wish lists, maybe amazon’s one is fine. Anyway, no. No, no no it still doesn’t make sense. If I really want those items I’d buy them myself.

Ok, what’s left? Gifting is not just a matter of stuff, it’s mainly a way to tell someone you care about them, isn’t it?

I like handmade gifts: a handwritten letter, a knitted hat, a homemade cake, a 6 pack of craft beer, a painting that you made… The point here is that you showed you care about me, not that you felt obliged to buy me sheet. And I’d love to dress a unique hat instead of a 5.99$ one from H&M 🙂

I like consumable gifts: a bottle of olive oil (better if it comes from a farm you know directly), spices, tea, high quality pasta… The points here are (1) you don’t clutter myself in the long term (2) you let me know about a product I may like but I don’t know yet.

I like (slightly less) experience gifts: a flight ticket for a weekend in a city we wanted to visit, a ticket for a SPA experience… The point here is that you still don’t clutter me but the risk of something under appreciated is still high. Good for very close friends and/or couples.

I like (a lot) time gifts: a handwritten coupon for a binge watching marathon of Game of Thrones together, an evening of no duty (no preparing food, table, cleaning and dishes), a promise to play Pandemic Legacy together for 24 sessions straight… The point here is that I know time is your scarcest resource and you care about me so much that you’re offering part of it to me.

And finally I like idea gifts! What’s that? Please, follow me…

Surprisingly this Xmas Miss RIP approached me with

Miss: “hey honey, why don’t gift each other with an idea for this xmas?” – then she suddenly said – “… it will be tough for me, I don’t know exactly what kind of idea can I give to you, but I’ll try!

Mr: “That’s awesome, that the perfect gift! Now, what do you mean by an idea?”

Miss: “Freedom of interpretation, ‘an idea’ 🙂”.

Mr: “But for you? For us? Ok ok don’t ask 🙂

I really enjoyed the process of coming up with my idea: I focused on what can make her a better person. I packed my idea with a long handwritten letter (how impossibly hard has become handwriting?) with few thoughts on her and on us. I took time to focus on what’s important but not urgent and I hope she’ll appreciate my idea. I’m not going to disclose here what’s the idea, it’s not important.

I enjoyed the process so much that I’d like to make this a kind of routine, maybe yearly, maybe quarterly. I want to become a better person and I care about my beloved Miss’ feedback.

Providing some form of written, recorded and slightly committing feedback is a powerful tool to help your friend/lover and show you care.

 

2016, December 26th

Holy sheet Miss RIP took it seriously and offered me 10 ideas (instead of one) to improve myself by installing new healthy habits. Cool, I’ve got new years resolutions written by someone else. But honey, waking up so early every morning to exercise, meditate and write?

Anyway, I also committed her into something with my idea. Now we’ll walk together on the sharp edge of soft commitments, hoping that it’ll give strength to both our goals and our relationship.

At least I hope so!

Happy holidays everybody!

Beauty Case

Good morning RIP minions!

Today we’ll take a look at the minimalist body care of a FI seeker.

I told you about my last visit to Hooliland, didn’t I? Well, let’s take a look at my travel beauty case:

chiuso

What a big bag! It will surely be full of products! Please RIP, open it! Open it! Let us know!!

Sure guys, as you wish 🙂

aperto

What?? Where are… items? Is that all you need? Really? You joking?

Yeah. Let me explain why I (and you) don’t need too much stuff to take care of your body:

I have a toothbrush (u-uh) and toothpaste (surprise!), that make 80% of my needs. I wash my teeth very frequently (3 times per day) and I spend no less than 2-3 minutes per wash, with peaks up to 5 minutes in the evenings. I do several passes and insist until I feel my mouth very clean. Thanks to my accuracy I never had to visit a dentist so far in my life.

If I could give you a single body care recommendation I’d go for “learn how to brush your teeth and enjoy the process. It will save you tons of problems“. And I actually like the process itself, it’s like meditation. It’s a moment of deep mindfulness and it’s not rare that ideas – and new blog posts – get their birth during a teeth brush!

I bring a razor if I’m traveling for at least a week and I didn’t shave on the day of my departure or the day before.

I bring earplugs, I hate nightly noise of every kind. Hotel rooms are usually noisy due to several factors. I usually unplug fridge and air conditioner.

I bring cotton swabs, you don’t always find them in hotels.

I bring few medicines (aspirin), you never know.

That’s it!

Ok, this is my travel beauty case. At home I use more products for my body care, of course. Like… a soap. Now that’s really all!

soap

Wait, RIP, are you joking?

Absolutely no, I’m not joking this time. Let me explain:

  • I don’t use perfumes. “Holy sheet, RIP, you smell a lot than! I hope I won’t meet you anytime soon!”. No, dear friend, it’s not true. I can safely claim that I don’t smell. Like I said for my teeth, I shower a lot. At least 2 times per day, very deeply. Showering is another activity that I love. Another meditation moment. I do shower mindfully and it’s just another opportunity for my idea muscle to work out. It’s not time lost. Let’s be honest: it’s a good 5-10 minutes of disconnection from the web, i.e. it’s when good things happen!
  • I don’t use shaving foam. “Whaaat? RIP, you’re going to record a splatter movie every time you shave!”. No, that’s not true either. I do start shaving my beard while showering, with my skin hydrated and normal soap as softener. I complete the action at the bathroom sink in front of a mirror, after another dose of normal soap. Nothing happens. I do this since forever and I’m ok.
  • I don’t use aftershave. What’s it for? Disinfecting? Perfuming? Both cases I don’t need it.
  • I don’t use deodorant, but I may consider using it. I sweat a lot, specially during summer. I may reconsider this. It’s just that I hate the whole “poison industry”, I really think all these products are killing atmosphere and are harmful for life on earth. I’d rather use Potassium alum or other natural deodorants.
  • I don’t use shampoo. I do use the soap, either liquid or solid, for everything. Skin, hairs, whatever. No need for 10 different products like balsam, shampoo, body soap, face soap, moisturizer,…
  • I don’t do any hair removal practice, just shave my beard. I heard about people taking care of eyebrows or ear heirs or whatever else. I just don’t do it.

I listed body care items I don’t need. And, btw, let me explain how I handle those that I need:

  • I use a very cheap soap. I buy them in bulk or get store brands. If I take the liquid one, I’d buy at least a liter of basic soap for close-to-zero CHF. Sadly in Switzerland I can’t find nice big bottles, so when I go to Italy I buy them there. I use the same soap to wash my hands, hairs, skin, face, whatever else.
  • I use cheap 2 blades razors for beard shaving, bought by the dozen for close-to-zero CHF.
  • I use a razor twice. I shave once per week or sometimes (driven by laziness) every 2 weeks. I like my beard but after 2 weeks it becomes hard to manage so I prefer to not let it grow to much. Once per year I give up on my laziness and I let me grow a Goatee. It’s cool, I enjoy it for a month then it makes me scratch so I cut it out.
  • I cut my own hairs with a machine. I do this since I was 18 years old. I’ve changed 2 haircutting machines in 20 years. The one I use today I bought for 20 Euros I don’t remember when. I usually cut my hairs 6mm height, once every month or two. The day I shorten my hairs I like myself more than usual 🙂

Total cost of my body care: negligible.

The good news is: you can do the same. These costs can be cut to the ground. If you, like me, don’t get any value from a better body care, why spend money for it? I get value from being clean, having my teeth in good shape, not smelling and not putting on my body artificial poisonous flavors.

Frugality means cutting costs on unimportant sectors to free resources for things that matter more.

I have a friend whose house is full of beauty products. He needs 5 blades razors, sold by 50 CHF a pack of 8!! Crazy! On his last birthday we were instructed by his wife that “he uses Aesop products, so you know how to make him happy with a gift”. Aesop is an Australian body care brand that makes shops like Lush appear cheap. I’ve been wondering who is really willing to spend money on those useless things, but I didn’t have to go far to discover. A lot of people do. I discovered the existence of hand soaps, hair soaps, face soaps, body soaps,… what? There’s no nose soap? Or left ear soap? What a shame! These items are insanely priced, there’s no way I’m going to even think about shopping there.

lushOk, I lied. I do occasionally buy products from Lush (which in Switzerland, as I said, is the cheapest alternative). I do buy fizzy bath balls that make your bath experience more intense. Why I do that? For the experience, not for the quality of the product. I’d never buy those expensive single usage useless things for their quality.

I and Miss RIP like to take a long bath on weekends together, talking about projects, sharing thoughts or simply cuddling and listening relaxing music. We may spend an hour in the bathtub and our ritual begins with a fizzy ball being thrown at the hot water and watching it dissolve and liberate nice smells (claimed to be all organic) in the air.

Are we hedonically adapted to this? Would our baths be of inferior quality in case we wouldn’t use these relatively expensive things (5-7 CHF each ball depending on the flavor)? I’m sure it won’t change the experience too much. In the end, the moment is magic because of us. The music, the hot bath, birds singing are just very pleasant side dishes. I’m aware of this and I’m ready to cut off such a minor splurge as first in case we need to shrink our budget. But now we’re ok allowing ourselves this ritual moment once every 2-3 weeks on average.

Anyway, let’s take a look at my beauty case when back home, after the Hooliland trip:

dopo

Oops… it’s full of shit! RIP, you liar!! No guys, I simply believe and exercise my right to take consumable goods from hotel rooms. All the soaps will be used at home (and last for months) or on multiday hiking or biking trips, thanks to their reduced weight.

Bottom line

Be frugal, cut costs on items that don’t bring lasting value to your life to free resources for what really matters. In my case, I value natural body care: being clean and not smelly and having my teeth in order. I don’t give additional value by putting poisons on my skin or using useless product to ease shaving or paying a professional to cut my hairs. So I cut these costs (and hairs too!) as much as I physically can.

Have a nice day!

Big Spender

Hi RIP fellows,

This post is about splurges. I’ve previously mentioned that I spend ~60K CHF per year, on track for the unambitious prize of the least frugal FIRE seeker of the world. So let’s show off how I burn my money by the thousands!

Actually no, this is not a story about me burning money, but about me spending money on a business trip. A lot of money according to my standard, few dust particles for Hooli.

hollandigansThe story is: I recently switched team and most of my new colleagues are not in Switzerland, but in Hooliland. Hooliland, which is not to be confused neither with Holland nor, definitely, with Hooligans (and not even with hooligans from Holland), is the headquarter of Hooli. It’s one of the most amazing place in the world and you’ll find there all kinds of crazy stuff. It’s in another continent, not hard to guess which one though 🙂

So I decided to go visiting the rest of my team to meet and greet them and to understand more about my project and people involved. So let’s go to Hooliland!

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 17: Andre de Grasse of Canada (L) and Usain Bolt of Jamaica (C) react after competing in the Men's 200m Semifinals on Day 12 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

I’m writing the first part of this post while in the lounge of my favorite flight company (Swiss, of course) in an alien airport in another continent, waiting for the flight back to Switzerland to take off. The Hooliweek is over and it’s been useful and fun, as always. To give you more data points: while you, dear European friends, set your alarm clock very early in the morning to watch 20 seconds of Usain Bolt, here in Hooliland I watch him live right after work, with the sun not yet set. Anyway, I’m sitting on a comfortable chair in this elite lounge for people who paid tons of money for their tickets and I’m writing this post.

Flight

Yes, I flight business. Like Louis CK (well no, he flights First) says: “that’s simply the way it is”. Whatever you do, I do a better version of it.

Before you get angry, I’m joking. Obviously. I’ve never flown anything but economy before today. Yes, even for work. Never done it. I deeply feel that it’s simply wrong.

What happened this time? Well, Hooli has this policy about flights and hotels: you have a maximum allowance for a trip, if you spend less than that you accumulate credits. If you spend more you either pay extra or use credits (or ask for extra manager’s approval). I’ve been traveling quite a bit in last 4 years, always economy, so I accumulated a lot of credits. This time I wanted to try it. I had to fight the feeling of guiltiness associated with flying Business. I can’t explain, but it never felt right to me. Anyway, I told myself it’s fine, I have credits, I’m doing an actual business trip… so I did book my business flight, but only the return trip. I’ve flown economy, as always, last Sunday to come here in the fairy woods of Hooliland and I’m sitting in the lounge waiting for my Business priority boarding. I’ll then jump on board earlier than the poor economy passengers and I’ll sip my champagne glass while they wait patiently in the veeery long line. Life is awesome, life is amazing, this is totally worth it. Isn’t it?

Let’s take a closer look: the price difference between economy and business for this very long flight, operated by Swiss, with departure from an expensive Swiss airport is in the range of 2000 CHF. I’ve paid 5K CHF for both legs (economy + business). If I flew economy I would have spent less than 3K on such a short notice.

[Fun story: if you want to spend half or less and you want to visit another continent from Switzerland, just buy the same ticket but from Milan. You’d get half the price for the very same flight, but you’ve to start from Italy. We discovered this trick too late. We would have saved tons of money for our trips to Japan, California and New York of last 2 years…]

So Hooli paid 5K for my flight. I consumed something like 500 credits out of the ~5000 I have. I can safely fly business every time in the future for Hooli, maybe even both ways if tickets are purchased in advance or if I accept flying with intermediate stops (no, sorry, I hate it).

Am I bragging too much? Are you disgusted? You should, cause I am too. I really feel like being in the wrong place! Is this thing worth its price? Would I ever pay for an experience like this one? What a question, RIP, are you joking?

Let’s break down the benefits of flying Business:

At purchase time:

  • You get way more miles on your frequent flyer program if you flight Business. And Hooli lets you take advantage of these benefits on your private account. That’s the actual single best reason to fly Business on other wallet’s money!

At the Airport:

  • Priorities everywhere: priority check-in is useless, just to show off and create a not-necessary envy-driven need in the heads of economy passengers. Priority security screening. Useless too, unless you arrive very late at the airport. And, btw, quicker checks here in Hooliland’s closer airport are slower than the regular ones in Switzerland. Just sayin… Priority boarding, uber-useless. I usually sit down until I’m the very last one boarding on economy. Or just exploit this arriving at the very last minute to the gate. I’ve never understood those who wait in a line at the gate. Sir, your ticket is numbered! Ok, maybe with ryanair or easyjet you need to fight for a seat, got it. Anyway, having to board before others is a factor that kind of forces you to arrive earlier making all these priorities less useful. Priority luggage delivery. Ok, this saves time at the arrival airport in the order of… few minutes?
  • loungeThe Lounge: this is the most elitists of all benefits. You get exclusive access to this special place where you get free food, wifi, cleaner toilets, comfortable seats, etc. I arrived very early at the airport. today. The flight is scheduled for 7.40pm and I arrived at 4.15 and by 4.45 I’m sitting in the lounge. Note: there’s a Silver lounge for Business passengers and a Gold lounge for First class… you always have to envy someone else. You always have to desire something more. Btw, was the lounge worth? Well, a little bit. Yes, I got free food and some relax time. Have to say that the lounge was full and noisy, because rich people demand to be able to do all the noise they wish. It’s a shitty world.

On the plane (I’m writing this section 30 minutes after takeoff):

  • Welcome drink. They claim it’s champagne, I don’t buy it. It’s a prosecco, not even the best quality.
  • Way more space for your feet. A lot. This is actually useful. I’m 1.80 and I can’t fit in economy seats. Extra space is a good thing.
  • Extra lateral space. I didn’t do the online check-in so I didn’t chose my seat. I thought anyone would be ok. Bad thing, I got the worst seat in business class. Still amazing though, but the worst one. On aisle, shared with another person – that turns out to work at Hooli. Actually half of the business class of this flight works at Hooli. Anyway, extra lateral space, no elbow-to-elbow fight happening. There are individual seats though. Next time…
  • The seat become a fully horizontal bad. It’s fully flattenable and I guess it’s amazing for sleeping (EDIT at landing: it was!).
  • There are plugs to recharge your devices. I can blog the whole 11 hours, awesome! EDIT: turns out I didn’t use it. My laptop battery lasts for 6 hours and I wasted another 6 sleeping!
  • You get gadgets you can take home and collect: toothbrush, earplugs, eye mask and a small bag.
  • Dedicated staff. It’s full of hostess and they are coming frequently to serve you. That’s obviously good, but not worth that much.
  • Better food. Yes, it looks like a restaurant. You get “a la’ carte” menu and you’re served several times during the flight. It’s nice, the food is high quality, like a real restaurant. It’s awesome, but how much would I pay for it? Probably no more than 20-30 CHF.
  • Most important of all, you get to watch the envy faces of those poor economy passengers that walk by while you’re sipping your champagne. I don’t mean I enjoyed it, I just want to report that’s one of the benefits.

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In the end, was the Business flight worth it?
Totally yes, on Hooli’s money!

Would I pay that amount for a business flight like this if it were on my budget?
Absolutely no.

How much would I pay for it if I had to set a price?
Nice question, thanks for asking. I would say no more than 15-20% of the economy price. Let’s say that if 1500 was the economy price, I’d pay 1700 for a business upgrade. But I wouldn’t even pay 1500 per leg for such a flight, I’d find ways to pay less than half. So my actual economy price would be 1500 total both ways and my bet for business would be 1700. Ok, make it 1750.

Would the business class be sustainable with people like me willing to pay 15% more for it instead than more than 2x?
Absolutely no. Let’s do the math. There are 38 seats in business class for this flight. 8 rows of 4.5 seats each, plus an aisle extra row with 2 seats. If this area would be arranged to host economy class seats there would be 10 rows (less space between rows) with 8 seats per row = 80 seats, more than double. Given all the other benefits, this business is sustainable with a ticket priced between 2 and 2.5 times the economy price, right where it is now.

What would happen if every client were like me?
They would simply dismiss this area and fill it with economy seats. If they couldn’t (thanks to some safety rules like limited maximum passengers allowed on the plane) either they’ll make seats more sparse, with global benefits for the everyone, or prices for the business would be way lower.

Ok so you said you’d be ok with paying 15-20% more for a trip in business class. You’d pay 1750 instead of 1500 for business class. Is it correct?
Now that I think about it, I’m not sure anymore. in case I and Miss RIP would do an intercontinental flight together like this one, I signed in to spend 250 per person more, i.e. 500 CHF to simply improve the flight experience. 500 CHF are a lot of money. I used to do weeks of vacation for that amount. I’ve been biking in French Riviera for a week with a budget of less than 100 Euro! So no, let’s take a step back: I wouldn’t pay a dime more for a business class flight on a regular basis. Yes, not even 1 CHF. I’d only accept free generous upgrades. I’m willing to splurge once or twice in life for very very special occasions, like honeymoon or other one time celebrations. Of course I’ll keep taking some business flight when actually flying for business reasons.

Why did you change your mind so quickly?
Because there’s a hidden cost here that would mess everything up and it’s hard to see at first: Hedonic Adaptation. I don’t want to adapt to this new normal. I want to feel the uniqueness of the experience.

Don’t let luxury becomes your standard!

Hotel

Hooli Hotel caps for Hooliland area are pretty high. Hooliland is uber-gentrified and lodging is crazily expensive.

I picked an hotel just below cap that was somehow sufficient but not extraordinary. Must admit that all the credits I accumulated so far are due to flight savings, not hotel. I always try to book hotel just below cap but not super cheap.

Nothing much to say about hotel spending, no comparison with “would you spend that much if it were on your money” makes sense, since I’d never ever ever go there, in such a crazily expensive area for leisure.

I’d never spend more than a third of what I’ve spent here on Hooli money.

Car

I don’t own a car since 2008. I’m proudly getting close to the 10 years mark of car freedom (come on, FIers, who beats me on this? Eh? Where’s my prize?). Last few times I’ve been to Hooliland I took a cab from the airport to the hotel. Sadly there’s no acceptable-quality public transportation available, it’s Hooliland country. A shitload of Tesla, Porsche and Self Driving Cars but not a 20th-century-or-above train or bus. Last time I took a taxi to reach the hotel it was a 120 CHF equivalent for a single ride of 40 minutes. Crazy. I rented a car for the week for less than 200 CHF. Hooli covers for these costs, obviously.

Anyway, I didn’t want to rent a car, I don’t like to drive. I’m actually getting unskilled at it, after years without practice. And driving for the week, even though we’re talking of ~4km between hotel and Hooliland, was an horrible experience for two reasons:

  • I’m lazy and since I had a car I didn’t ask for a visitor’s bike at Hooli. I used to take the visitor’s bike and bike to work along a creek, getting lost in the noise of nature, birds, squirrels and sun on my skin. Taking the car to go to work was boring and senseless.
  • Hooliland is traffic intense. On one morning it took me 40 minutes to drive for 4km. It’s an average speed of 6km/h. Walking would have been as time efficient as driving. That’s… unbelievable. And in the evening is not getting any better. I spent a typical day waking up (early, jet lagged), driving to work, working at a desk, driving back to the hotel, going to sleep early. Is this life? Do people who commute by car live like this? Never using their muscles? This life would kill me in a month, I’m glad I’m coming back to bikeland!

So the car experience was something I’d rather avoid at all. I was kind of forced in, due to the lack of better alternatives, but I’d rather not drive for leisure. I’m not a big fan of road trips, I’d rather go on bike or hike trips!

It was fun though to see a lot of fancy cars. Teslas and other versions of electric cars are everywhere. Hooliland is equipped with hundreds of free recharge parking lots. As I said so many times, I’m not a fan of cars anyway but I do sympathize with Elon Musk companies’ missions to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, revolutionize public transportation, use solar power and duplicate humanity on mars.

Anyway, goodbye Hooliland! See you next time!