Wed08162017

Monday, 02 November 2015 10:51

Barbara Daroca: 7 Tips for Pension Saving

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As life expectancy increases, planning for your retirement becomes ever more important. Pension plans remain the most popular way to do so; With this in mind, I wanted to bring you these tips for pension planning inspired by an article found on eZonomics. that’s why we decided to share some tips on how to make the most of your retirement savings.

1. The early bird catches the worm.

Our first tip might sound simple, but it makes all the difference: start early! Starting your pension fund as a young professional means that you’ll amass a considerable savings amount as well as reap the benefits of compound interest. Just consider the following example: a 30-year-old putting away €1,000 a year into a pension account earning 5% annual interest will have accumulated €71,000 by the time he/she reaches 60 (if the funds are left untouched). In comparison, a person who waits until the age of 45 to save for retirement has to put aside €3,000 a year (under the same investment conditions) to gather the same amount by the time they turn 60.

2. The power of habit.

To build a nest egg that will allow you to live comfortably once you’re retired, you should not only start early enough but also keep at it! Most people find it easier to make small contributions on a regular basis than to deposit big chunks of money every once in a while. Turning saving into a habit is a sure way to get you results in the long run.

3. Thanks, boss!

Some employers contribute to their workers’ retirement funds by matching their savings. Make sure you’re not missing out on these employee benefits as it is basically free money!

4. Make pension saving less ‘taxing’.

Most governments offer tax advantages to citizens who make regular deposits into designated retirement accounts. In Luxembourg, taxpayers who have concluded a pension contract with a financial institution can deduct their contributions from their tax burden. You can deduct up to €1,200 annually. If you have any doubts, you can always visit www.guichet.lu.

5. Hands off!

While some pension plans allow you to dip into your savings, it’s best to leave your pension account alone. Withdrawing money reduces both your reserves and the earned interest.

6. Forget-me-not

While setting up a pension account is a great first step, it doesn’t stop there. To make the most of your savings, you should review your pension scheme on a regular basis. Have your needs and plans for the future changed? If so, is your retirement plan still in line with your goals? It’s always a good idea to take a step back and re-evaluate your monthly or yearly contributions, the fees you’re paying as well as the risk profile of your investments.

7. Is your retirement plan right for you?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to pension saving. How much money you will actually need once you’re retired depends heavily on the kind of life you envision yourself leading after leaving work. For instance, if you want to spend the majority of your time at home close to your family and friends, you’ll need less funds then if you plan to travel the world when you retire. As you approach retirement age, it’s useful to calculate your annual expected income from your state and private pension and see how they fit your plans for the future.

 

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The Home and Living Expo is now over and you may have thousand questions in your mind. Should I buy a house? Should I rent a house? Should I buy a house and rent out part of it ? Considering the real estate market in Luxembourg, the last option I mentioned could be an idea to lower your monthly repayments but let’s find out if it is worth it...

Having it all

Let’s assume your mortgage application gets approval. Having a tenant to earn a little extra cash seems sensible on the face of it – but can actually be a bad decision. Unless there’s a pay rise or a windfall to reduce the mortgage debt, a house that has stretched your budget may still cause difficulties. What happens if your tenant doesn’t pay, or leaves without warning? It could be a dream house, but a financial nightmare. You might also worry about paying other home ownership bills – such as maintenance and insurance. Further costs may be added as interest rates rise. You may end up envying your tenants.

Having discipline...and commitment

Alternatively, if you use the rent to turbo-charge your mortgage payments – shrinking your debt more quickly – the strategy might work. Avoid any temptation to use the rental income for other purposes – even if they’re urgent. Set up a separate bank account for the rent received, and make automatic, regular payments from that account to reduce your mortgage debt. This approach uses the thinking trap of mental accounting to your advantage. Commit to this strategy from the very first rent payment. Don’t put it off and procrastinate - it’s one of the worst things you can do when it comes to financial planning.

Work out your goal

To help you stick to the plan and reduce your mortgage debt, figure out what a manageable level of debt would be. Write that number down. This will be your goal. Then ask your bank to send you automatic alerts to remind you as you progress towards the goal.

Devil in the detail

With renting, situations in different countries can vary widely. The laws can be a real minefield. Often, there are many potentially expensive traps – and unexpected obligations – for landlords. It is really important to do your homework here. You may wish to speak with others about their experiences with renting – although it is easy to fall prey to confirmation bias. Guard against the temptation to give more weight to the stories of those who have made a gain. Seek out and learn from people who have had bad experiences as well.

Do all the sums

Your mortgage provider may need to know you want to rent part of the property. This may affect the interest rate charged, taxation and insurance costs as well as other legal obligations and documentation.

It goes without saying that it is important to do your sums carefully. A few small costs can quickly add up. It sounds like you want tenants for a finite period, maybe a couple of years, rather than a permanent arrangement. Remain fully aware of the risk you are taking.

Don’t forget also that house prices fall as well as rise – you can end up with mortgage debts greater than the resale value of your house. Try to avoid feeling the full effect of the winner’s curse of paying over the odds for something you really want, then ending up regretting it.

I found this article on ezonomics.com written by Ian Bright and find it helpful that is why I wanted to share it with you.

 

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Did you participate in the third edition of Board Games Day this week end in Place D’Armes? Did you know that  besides the fun part of playing at these games you also can educate your children? Indeed, as parents we always try to find and use new and inventive ways to educate our children and have some fun at the same time.  

Through this article, I would like to recommend the 3 best board games for you and your children to learn about economics. We have selected a range of board games and each one teaches you about different aspects of economics while you play. Let's get started …

Monopoly

Although a lot of people dislike this game and consider it to be boring, Monopoly is the cornerstone of these board games as it covers a little of everything. First, you get to handle cash, which helps children manage their money as they soon discover that investing everything and not leaving anything for contingencies does not usually end well.

It also lets us better understand the concept of opportunity cost. As resources are limited, we have to choose which streets to buy with care and, above all, decide on which streets to build, as while it is cheaper in some streets to buy houses or even a hotel, in others the return on our investment (what the other players pay for landing on our property) is much greater.

The downside to Monopoly is that, for reasons of chance, nobody gains a monopoly, the streets are shared among all of the players (to build on the streets, the player needs to have the neighbouring properties of the same colour) and the game never ends. Nevertheless, in this case, another aspect of economics comes into play: negotiating.

In fact, Monopoly would not be as much fun without negotiations between players to gain a longed-for (mini) monopoly over a street and to be able to build. If you are not a smart negotiator and you let yourself be won over by a large amount of money for a key property, you can quickly lose the game. These mistakes teach us to value our assets and to try to reach an agreement that is beneficial over the long term.

Risk

You may be asking yourself why a military strategy game is in a selection of games related to economics, you will soon see why. Risk is a game in which the players quickly learn about opportunity cost.

In this game, resources are limited. At the start of the game, we have a certain number of battalions. Whenever it is our turn, we receive a small number of battalions based on the territories that we own.

It is therefore important to manage our resources and choose which territories we attack carefully. Otherwise, we end up 'investing' a lot of troops in one territory that is not strategically valuable or does not provide us with more battalions when our turn comes round.

Risk also offers interesting lessons in game theory, as during the game, tacit agreements between players with a common goal have a big impact, as does the player who lets the others wage bloody battles while he pretends to look confused and then goes on to sweep everyone away like Attila the Hun in Europe.

Catan

Catan, or The Settlers of Catan, is a resource management game in which the players compete to dominate a board that changes from one game to the next. The aim of the game is to build towns, cities and roads in return for points. The player who is the first to reach ten points wins.

It is a game in which managing scarce resources, negotiating, and building cities and roads strategically are essential. There is an element of luck but not as much as in other games such as Monopoly, in which luck with the dice in the first few rounds has a big impact on the rest of the game.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015 15:13

Barbara Daroca: Why we Give to Charity

 

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A few weeks ago, we launched the fourth edition of the ING Solidarity Awards: a key event for non-profit associations and foundations incorporated and established in Luxembourg.

This is a great opportunity to look back at some of our actions in the community.

It is all about responsibility and sustainability

As a socially responsible bank, we organise several activities/actions in which our employees are at the centre. Charity lunches are organised  by our employees each year to raise funds for associations. Run for UNICEF is a run organised each year for ING employees and their family  all over the world. This year, ING Luxembourg raised €1,161 and ran 505km.

It can lead to win-win partnerships

This year again, IMS Luxembourg organised the Speed Meeting Part & Act that enables the exchange of services, goods and/or skills between associations and companies. During this event we agreed to donate 50 computers reconditioned by our Facility management team to 6 associations that in turn will provide their know-how and/or ideas to ING.

An exchange like this drives ethical and social sustainable progress: the associations can use their funds to act and do not need them to equip their administrative teams. 

Because we want to help impoverished people

For each transaction made using the ING Luxembourg Visa card, we donate €0.01 to UNICEFLuxembourg to help adolescents in a developing country. This year, we aim to raise about €35,000.

As from 2015-2016, our “ING chances for children” programme has evolved  into a new programme called “Power of youth”, an innovative educational model from which 250,000 teenagers in Zambia will benefit.

and we take actions internationally

ING embraces the world and tries to be as reactive as possible in case of emergency. We organised an internal fund raiser via UNICEF when the earthquake destroyed Nepal.

We are currently repeating this action to help Syrian Refugee children.

… as well as locally

As mentioned before, the ING Solidarity Awards were launched in 2011 with the aim to support Luxembourgish associations through a contest. Each year, non-profit associations and foundations incorporated and established in Luxembourg can participate in this contest. The aim is to financially reward and support the associative sector in Luxembourg. Associations are at the center of the contest which contribute to increase their visibility and thus donations.

Inscriptions for this year’s Awards are open right now, so go for it and register your association (see http://bit.ly/1YtESjL)

If you want to know more about our Corporate and Social Responsibility programme, check out this video

Monday, 07 September 2015 19:34

Barbara Daroca: Back to … Running

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Summer time is coming to an end. Some of us are back to school, others are back to work and all of us back to our routine. For ING, it’s back to running. This month, we will be present as sponsor of three running races.

Sport is really important for ING and it always has been in its DNA. Through the years, ING has expanded its local presence as well as its involvement in the community by being the main partner of major sport events; more than strengthening its local connections with groups community and spectators, such events are also a way to pass its values.

As a matter of fact, each running race is a testimony of ING’s values:

- athletes/sportspersons share ING’s values which are setting new targets, a long-term vision and the drive to do more,

- Running races (whatever the distance) attract spectators of all ages and backgrounds. As ING’s staff and customers, they all are from different ages, backgrounds and circumstances,

- Running races are a group experience: all runners face the same challenge, the one of covering kilometres. They all share a unique human experience with other runners as well as spectators along the race. ING also uses this spirit of community and solidarity as basic features of its operations.

So, put your trainers on – come and join us as runner or spectator at one of these running races:

13 September 2015 – ING Tunnellaf

ING Tunnellaf is a unique and unusual race (5K or 10K) that will take place only once. This race will launch the new section of motorway A7 between Lorentzweiler and Luxembourg (Grouft Tunnel). www.tunnellaf.fla.lu

20 September 2015 - Kannerlaf

For the third year in a row, ING sponsors the ING Kannerlaf which is a run across 5 continents through the Parc Merveilleux. The race is dedicated to children (from 3 to 11 years-old) www.parc-merveilleux.lu

27 September 2015 - ING Route du vin half marathon

For the second year in a row, ING sponsors the ING Route du vin which is a half marathon that starts in Remich and passes through the vineyards on the banks of the Moselle. The race is one of the largest races in the Grand Duchy, second only to the ING Night Marathon www.routeduvin.lu

Monday, 24 August 2015 11:34

Barbara Daroca: What is the IKEA Effect?

 

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I’ve just installed some shelves that I actually painted and decorated all by myself. Once done, I sit back and contemplate the finished work and I started to think “Well, my shelves may be a little crooked but they're as nice as ones I could buy one ready-made in a store – I built them myself, after all!”.

I don’t mind that it took me a week or a month to build them. Whatever the hours of preparation and the time I spent to paint and decorate them, I just enjoy the finished product and I feel even more satisfied for that.

This is basically what the IKEA effect is. The term has been popularised thanks to a behavioural economic professor and author: Dan Ariely. The effect refers to the value people are willing to put on things they are actually creating or making themselves. The effect is named after the famous Swedish home furnishing store IKEA that sells flat-packed tables, drawers and beds that shoppers assemble themselves at home.

Ariely was indeed wondering why people seem to end up in love with products that require assembly or make themselves? Through a video (see below), he explains that whatever the difficulties you encountered in the fabrication of your object, there is a tendency to love more the finished product because of the role and the energy you had to put in building it. This feeling can come for a room you’ve painted yourself, a garden you’ve weeded and planted by hand, etc.

A study published in 2011 also showed that people don’t only enjoy what they’ve made themselves but expect family and friends to treasure the products as well. So, from now on, don’t be surprised if your Facebook stream starts to become full of DIY (Do It Yourself) projects.

It is also important to keep in mind that not everyone sees the same value in our creations as we do ourselves, and it is even more relevant when you try to sell. For example, buyers could see your shelves in a wonky way rather than a beautiful asset that is worth paying extra for.

The IKEA effect may also have costs associated with it; the effect tends to be lower when it comes to expensive goods and complicated tasks such as home improvements. Researchers wonder if “people may see the improvements they have made to their homes such as the brick walkways they have laid by hand – as increasing value of the house far more than buyers, who see only a shoddily-built walkway".

From now you’ll understand why you’re such in love with your crooked shelves and your wonky Ikea table.

 

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We have already established I am somewhat of an anti-cash freak, so not surprisingly here is a post with money-savvy tips about credit cards on holidays.

We all know we should keep them in a safe place, we shouldn't share our PIN code and we should cut them in half before discarding an expired card. But we forget often simple things in our everyday use of our credit cards - simple tips that are especially important when travelling and distracted by the nicer things in life :-)

The one and only

Your credit card if yours and yours alone. You should not lend it to anyone, not even family and friends. Ideally no one should ever see the whole number on your card (mind you, it's long enough for you to put a thumb on top of it!), and definitely they should never get a chance to note it down together with the expiration date and the security code on the back of the card (the CVV number). Be careful when typing these on a shared computer or giving them over the phone. And you should be the only person wielding your credit card so never lose sight of it! Nowadays most retailers (especially restaurants) have portable terminals to come to you if you wish to pay by card.

Mind the PIN

No one should know your PIN code, the same way you shouldn't have your PIN code noted anywhere - least of all in your wallet next to your card. How often have I seen people in the supermarket line with a post-it glued to the back of their card with their personal 4-digit number... that's calling for trouble! As soon as you receive your card change the PIN number to a personal one only you know (this you can typically do at an ATM of your bank) and if you absolutely must write it down, do so hiding it in another piece of information, like a fake telephone number or address.
All eggs in one basket?

Diversification to avoid risk is one of the best known economic maxims. And it applies here too. Do not carry all your credit cards together while travelling. From the moment you pack until the moment you unpack, there are many places you can distribute them - wallet, rucksack, mobile cover, luggage, sunglasses case...

Keep track of things

Paying with a credit card instead of cash has the risk of losing sight of what we're spending. Especially on holidays, when our spending patterns change and aren't planned. Nowadays it's easy to keep track of things logging into your mobile banking app from time to time, even from abroad. The ING Mobile app it's quite convenient as it only requires a password once your mobile device (smartphone or tablet) has been identified. Not only will it help you keep an eye on your budget, it can help avoid uncomfortable situations of refused cards at the most critical moment.

Pay smart

When travelling you have three choices: exchange cash at the airport, withdraw at a foreign ATM or pay with your credit card. Believe it or not, the latter is often the cheapest of all three! Plus it often comes with guarantees and insurance. Check the applicable tarifs of your bank and the extras of your card before deciding - you might be surprised of what you've been missing.

More tips? Check out our Security Center for more tips about money (cash, plastic or digital) or subscribe to MyMoney.lu for more money-savvy insights!

And above all, have a great summer!

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Tuesday, 28 July 2015 10:07

Barbara Daroca: Pay Now or Pay Later

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Money-savvy people agree: building up savings is not only important for our financial health and helps us prepare our future, it makes us feel good about ourselves.

But for this to be true we need to save well, without jeopardising our future and focusing on long term benefits. And so we need to learn to stay away from what I call “fake savings”. Have you ever bought a product at an irresistible low price that ended up costing you much more due to bad quality and issues post-purchase?

Technology – victims of our own savings efforts

Every day, consumers across the world acquire cheap household appliances or technological items sold at a price that is “too good to be true”. It very often is! Retailers set the price so low it’s difficult for us to bypass our limbic system (the part of your brain that houses our emotional life) and not acquire the product, especially online where we fool ourselves and try to rationalise the “fake savings”. The rude awakening happens when we open the box and discover the truth: loose cables, dead batteries, frail screens that break just by looking at them and buttons that disappear into the belly of the beast… The neocortex (you probably already guessed that’s where conscious, rational thought happens in the brain) turns on and the what-was-I-thinking? discussion with your inner voice commences...

Maintenance costs and expensive consumables

Good quality consumer goods can also lead to “fake savings”. Think of a printer: expensive laser printers use much less ink in the long run than ink-jet printers, which are much cheaper if we only compare the initial investment. Having to renew pricy cartridges regularly might turn up costing us more in the long run. Other examples are cheap items of clothing that are ruined in the first wash; shoes whose soles wear out after only a few weeks; cheap repair works that require a second or even third intervention…

Planned obsolescence – driver of our economy

Low-price items have a shorter life span than their pricier competitors. This is partly due to the planned obsolescence (or built-in obsolescence) of the product: after a time it will break down, become obsolete or unfashionable and we’ll have to replace it, i.e. purchase and thus inject money in the economy – but diminish our savings. Another reason is cost-savings in the design or R&D to build the product, and also disposable or single-use products. An example of the latter are single-use batteries: we all keep buying them although rechargeable ones are much better for our pocket, and our environment!

True savings

So the key is to save well. With a plan, committing for the long term, without difficult sacrifices or extravagant excesses.

Being a good saver is not synonym of being cheap! False savings, like in nutrition, can affect our health – on we should never skimp! Running or buying a bicycle can help us build up savings and exercise. Planting herbs and vegetables in our garden can save some money and contribute to a healthy diet. Using public transport is good for our pocket, for the environment, and might allow us to arrive home rested after a tough day in the office.

Avoid fake savings. Be good at money!

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Knowing a bit about economics comes in handy in many situations of our daily lives, from planning our future to buying at the supermarket.

It comes as no surprise that this also applies to our holidays. So for those who have not decided on their summer plans yet, here some tips to find cheap summer destinations applying some economic principles.

The Currency Exchange market, a good place to start

The currency exchange market is a good place to start because the strength or weakness of the currency of a country influences the final cost of your trip.

On a site like http://finance.yahoo.com you can find graphs that show you the evolution of other currencies against the euro over different time frames. And like this you can see that maybe this is not the best moment to travel to the United States as the Euro is on a very low point compared to the USD. On the other hand, looking at the strength of the Euro against the Brazilian Real, maybe a trip to Brazil could be a good option.

Of course you can look at more things than just the currency rate to find a truly cheap destination. For example, even if Swiss Francs have become a lot cheaper lately, Switzerland is still an expensive country, mainly due to the high purchasing power of its inhabitants. That’s why it is also important to compare the standard of living of your possible summer destinations.

Comparing standard of living indices

As a first step you can look at the GDP per capita of each country. This information can easily be found on www.Wikipedia.org and gives you an estimation of how cheap or expensive life is where you want to go. Although you still have to be careful, there are cheap destinations in rich countries and expensive destinations in poor countries.

Another index you can use is the Big Mac index, created each year by The Economist and comparing the price of the famous hamburger in USD all over the world. It tells you that the most expensive countries to visit the fast-food chain are Switzerland, Norway, Denmark and, surprisingly, Brazil. The cheapest countries are Ukraine, Russia and India.

The Beer Price Index is also useful. This index gives you an overview of the price of a beer in 40 cities all over the world. Important to know if you are a fan of the drink!
 
The final index we want to point out here is the Club Sandwich Index published by Hotels.com. It shows the average price of the classic sandwich in a range of countries. It may come as no surprise, that the most expensive country is ... Switzerland.

Other costs

Of course there are many more costs you could and should compare and/or investigate. Just remember to apply your economic knowledge to be sure to get the most out of your well-deserved summer holiday!

This article is an adaptation of an article that was published on www.ennaranja.com

 

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The summer holidays are around the corner. Here are some tips to enjoy them without breaking your bank account.

Prepare how you want to get there

- You can opt for first minute or last minute reservation for reduced prices. In addition, if you choose to fly on Tuesday or Thursday or at night, prices normally are lower as well.
- You can share the transport cost(s) by car sharing. It is cheap (half the cost of the train) and it works for many destinations. A perfect way to go on vacation and to meet new acquaintances. Some open-mindedness is needed though. The cheapest solution for transport is the bus. If you are not running out of time, you can go on holidays by bus for both long distances and low prices.

Activities on the spot

- Set yourself a daily budget: make it realistic, keep in mind that you will go out for dinner often, have more cocktails and ice creams than usual. That’s how holidays work.
- Pre-book tickets online for major touristic attractions. Sometimes cheaper, always faster, and we all know that time equals money.
- Rent your car online in advance. Like this you have all the time to search for the best solutions and you avoid the queue at the airport (or the train station).
- When you don’t know a country it is easy to fall into tourist traps. These are usually located in touristic places and you pay quite a lot for a low quality meal/services. Check out the best places on the Internet or in a travel guide before leaving the hotel.
- Think twice before buying souvenirs or food or drink to take home. An ouzo in the Greek sunset is just not the same as an ouzo in Gasperich - the same goes for other souvenirs.

Accommodation

- Hotels are expensive and can rapidly become a money pit. But there are alternatives. Some people offer to stay in their home for free or for a tiny price to share their culture, their way of life with you. Once again the Internet will help you to find this kind of deals.
- For a friendly solution, youth hostels are also a nice alternative. You get to meet people and share commonplaces with them for a low price.
- For an accommodation that costs nothing you can choose house sharing. You live in the house or flat of someone else who lives in yours. Sometimes you even exchange cars.

… and don’t forget

- Check if your credit cards are activated for the country you are visiting and make sure your credit card limits are ok for you. You should also take with you the emergency numbers of your bank… just in case. www.ing.lu/web/ING/EN/Personal/Topay/haveanicetrip/index.htm

Whatever your wishes or your budget, these tips should help you to enjoy your long-awaited holidays as well as to keep your bank account safe. 

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