There are plenty of ways to enjoy Switzerland without spending a penny. Many museums and historic sites are free to visit. While the best of nature can be hiked to without paying a penny.
Even cheap hotels and hostels are still pretty steep compared to other countries. A night in a hostel in Geneva will put you back around $40, a single room is around $100. There is a couchsurfing network in Switzerland and camping is possible, but beware that wild camping is not allowed everywhere.
Agrotourismus is a site that hooks you up with holiday homes and farms around Switzerland, some of them offer basic accommodation but at cut-back prices. If you want to save cash and get in touch with your rural side, then check it out.
The perks of staying in a hotel or hostel in many of the bigger cities is that you get a pass for free public transport. Lucerne, Geneva, Bern, Basel or Lausanne are some of those taking part. This isn’t negligible as a day pass on public transport is around $8.
If you know where you want to go and have an itinerary all planned out then a Swiss travel pass might be a good option and gives good value for money. Otherwise, you may end up wasting your money by buying a card you really don’t need. An other option is BlaBlaCar which is quite widely used.
Chain stores, cafés (Starbucks, Pret a Manger etc, and restaurants (McDonalds, Burger King etc) aren’t safe places for cheap bite to eat. They are often more expensive than other joints. Usually it’s a good idea to stay away from Swiss restaurants that cater to tourists as they also have inflated prices.
Alcohol is expensive in Switzerland. Whether it’s a beer, wine or a cocktail you’re after, then you’re going to have to pay through your teeth for it (cocktails are around 12-15CHF). Water is free. However, if you want to try great Swiss wine for cheap prices you can enjoy the annual wine tasting at local wineries.