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My first post of 2016 is about the winter sales. Sales are currebtly being held in shops across Luxembourg. But, before you go and empty your wallet, check out the helpful tips below. I already shared them here before but they are still valid.

Follow them to be sure you make the most of your money and of your sales!

1. Keep your sales receipts: too small, too big, wrong colour? You never know...

2. Make sure that you are aware of the return policy. Sometimes, during sales periods, there are special conditions – even no return!

3. Compare prices from different shops to get what you want at the best price and check if the applied reduction is correct.

4. The tag has to indicate the old price as well as the reduced price, or the percentage of reduction applied to the item.

5. Evaluate the item's price and quality by having a look at the tag. You'll find everything you need to know about its composition. For example, items in natural fibres are more expensive than synthetic ones.

6. Be careful with reductions above 50%. Often these items are from previous seasons or have defects.

7. Be careful not to overspend just because you’re paying with plastic instead of cash.

8. Pay attention when you look for items on sale: they have to be separated from new collections.

9.  If you have the feeling that you've been cheated, refer to the consumer protection association; in Luxembourg, it is the Union Luxembourgeoise des Consommateurs (ULC) - www.ulc.lu.

10. Even if it may be difficult, be careful at the excitement of shopping: have a look at several shops, compare prices and buy only items that you really need!

I wish you many happy hours of shopping!

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New Year’s Eve is just around the corner and we’re all waiting for the clock to strike midnight on 31 December.

Instead of writing about New Year’s resolutions for this last post of 2015, I decided to have a look at our neighbours’ traditions. As nations and regions differ in culture and history, so do their end-of-year traditions. Here are some examples of how some of us ring in the new year:

- Luxembourg: Besides the traditional fireworks at midnight, end-of year customs revolve mainly around food in the Grand Duchy. Luxembourgers likes to celebrate “Neijoerschdag” with meat, ranging from a simple plate of ham, sausage, cheese and pâté to a meat fondue. This is traditionally followed by a butter cake in the shape of a calendar. The preferred drink to wash it all down is a nice glass of ice-cold crémant.

- Belgium: For 1 January, children in Belgium write so-called “New Year’s letters” to their parents or godparents, containing holiday greetings and good wishes. These are often decorated with roses, angels, cherubs and a ribbon, and read aloud as the clock strikes midnight. Adults mostly stick to eating, drinking and merry-making. 

- France: What could be more French then eating a stack of pancakes, or “crêpes”, to ring in the new year? Chasing them down with some champagne, perhaps... Some also opt for the traditional kiss under the mistletoe at midnight. Oh la la!

- Germany: Our German neighbours consider lead to be auspicious. On New Year’s Eve, they pour molten lead into cold water and the resulting shape is said to predict the future. A heart shape symbolises marriage whereas any round shapes denote good luck. If you get an anchor, you may need some assistance in the upcoming year. All is well as long as you don’t get a cross – this stands for a looming death in the family.

So there you have it: people do crazy things to ring in the new year. Who knows, maybe we have inspired you to try out some of these customs or even start your own end-of-year tradition. Whatever you do, I wish you a Happy New Year!

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In approximatively one year's time, ING Luxembourg will move its headquarters to Place de la Gare in Luxembourg city; construction works are proceeding; workshops and reviews are being undertaken in order to make this new headquarters a great place to work. Let’s have a quick update about the project.

What is Orange Bricks?

Announced in 2010, Orange Bricks is the name given to an ambitious project of ING Luxembourg. The aim of  this project is to centralise and gather all of the Bank’s activities within one symbolic building instead of currently four separate buildings spread out across the city.

Being all together is important for the bank as we are convinced that we will improve ING Luxembourg’s services to customers, its accessibility and visibility. The central location of this new HQ will facilitate access to public transport and will also strengthen our local roots in the Grand-Duchy.

What about the building?

The construction of our new headquarters is on-going. The Orange Bricks team is confident that the “closed shell” phase, which includes the roof slab and installed window frames, will continue until the end of this year, to be thereafter followed by the completion and finishing works.

But the Orange Bricks project goes beyond simple bricks. It’s a project that has existed for 5 years now and that brings together multiple aspects such as infrastructure, organisation, sales, marketing & communications, IT, HR, legal, risk and procurement.

This move is also a great opportunity for ING to re-think the way we have been working - from our working environment to new working habits as well as new tools. So, it will be a real New Way of Working.

It is challenging in a way, but also really unifying for the whole bank! It’s a great way to listen to employees, to understand their needs and to give them the chance to express themselves.

A Proof of Concept was designed to test the diverse aspects of the Orange Bricks programme in order to take relevant decisions and choose the best options, always taking into account different parameters. One department of the bank is thus currently experimenting, among others, with the different working areas, the functionalities of new furniture and equipment, and the organisations.

If you would like to follow the construction of our new building, follow ING Luxembourg on Instagram (see http://instagram.com/explore/tags/ingorangebricks/)

 

ING SOLIDARITY AWARDS 2015-600

In connection with our active policy in the area of Corporate & Social Responsibility and following the successes of the last three years, we organised the ING Solidarity Awards also in 2015. This fourth edition was again a great success.

The objective of the ING Solidarity Awards is to reward and support the Luxembourg community sector, as only associations or foundations can participate, through a competition divided into 2 parts:

- The first part was an online vote competition where the public could vote online for the association of their choice. The 40 associations that received the highest number of online votes were the lucky winners each of €1,000. This year, 125 associations and/or foundations participated in the competition among which 40 associations each received €1,000. We collected more than 30,000 votes. You will find an exhaustive list of the 40 winners of the online vote here.

- The second part was a jury vote on a project competition where associations submitted a project that was assessed by an independent jury, subject to the conditions stipulated in the rules.

This year, 68 projects were submitted and 9 projects were awarded. Among the winners, 4 associations received €6,000 each, 4 others received €3,000 each and a special jury prize of €5,000 was given to a project that especially touched the jury.

You will have an exhaustive list of the 9 winners here.

ING Solidarity Awards‘ key figures for 2015:
• 4th consecutive edition
• An audience of 250 at the awards ceremony on Wednesday 25 November 2015 at the Geesseknaeppchen Forum. To see all pictures, click here (Facebook album)
• 49 ING Solidarity Awards awarded to associations
• €81,000 given to the associations

The major new aspect of this 2015 edition

This year, ING has offered the winners that were selected by the jury for this edition of the awards as well as those of the previous editions, the possibility to participate in a training given by the online crowdfunding platform KissKissBankBank. During this training they will get more information about this fundraising alternative and tips on how to set up an online crowdfunding project for their own projects.

Crowdfunding consists of raising funds by presenting a project directly to internet users, in this case via an online platform that is well known in this area: KissKissBankBank.

We believe that this new aspect of the competition will bring positive impact for all associations and foundations such as:

• More visibility thanks to a broad range of investors
• More funds

We feel the ING Solidarity Awards are well anchored in Luxembourg not only because they provide direct support to many associations, but above all by showcasing the significant value generated by the community sector in Luxembourg. This was clearly reflected by the quality and quantity of projects submitted by the participating associations.

 

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Two weeks ago, I talked about how to approach saving for your pension. Now that you know that establishing a pension plan is a MUST, you can re-assess your basic financials and start saving.

To help you out, I’ll compiled a list of useful tips and tricks that I found on eZonomics.

1. Make it happen

One of the biggest enemies of saving is procrastination – we tend to avoid doing certain tasks for as long as possible. When it comes to saving, it’s important to start early! Cultivate your savings habit by transferring an amount every pay day and don’t put it off!

2. Earn interests on your interest

Don’t underestimate the power of compounding interest. A dividend reinvestment plan is also an attractive option to maximise your return.

3. Do not ignore inflation

Inflation can be helpful for borrowers but eats away at the spending power of savers. Ignoring inflation is dangerous for savers, especially for those planning for the long term.

4. Harness the power of friendship

Use a self-imposed arrangement with someone – why not make a bet with a friend that you’ll save a set amount each month for a year? Even informal agreements such as this channel peer pressure in a positive way and undercut the temptation to skip a month of saving.

5. Don’t get stuck on a number

If you’ve been saving €50 a month and you decide that it’s time to increase the amount, try not to get fixated on the €50 as a reference point. Do an objective evaluation of how much you can save – that way, increasing or even doubling your monthly savings might not seem so daunting.

6. Make a list

The flipside of saving is spending. So controlling one might help control the other. The so-called ‘shopping list’ effect illustrates how impulse buys can be reduced by the simple step of making a list of what you really need before hitting the shops and sticking to that list.

 

 

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

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