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 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 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 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



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.


- 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.

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. 

Tuesday, 26 May 2015 16:12

Barbara Daroca: An All-Round Partner



I can't wait to blow the candles on our 10th anniversary of ING Night Marathon cake! It's difficult to put in words the pride and the joy we feel. It has been an honour to be part of this adventure so far, to see what a great celebration the event has become.

Some people wonder why ING does these things: the ING Night Marathon, the ING Route du Vin, partnering up with the Villa Vauban or the Abbaye Neumünster, the Philharmonie or the e-lake Festival. And they wonder why we limit ourselves to supporting only a handful of activities.

The answer is simple: at ING we like to go all the way. That's why, for example during the ING Night Marathon, you don't just see our logo and our orange colour everywhere - you actually see US everywhere. We started online weeks before the event ( and we have different actions prepared for the D-day for runners and spectators alike: at LuxExpo, the Glacis and the Place d'Armes.

And, of course, we take the same approach when doing our core business: empowering you to stay a step ahead in life and in business, by providing you with accurate, relevant financial information so you can make the best decision and achieve your goals.

Do you see the link? Maybe this video will help clarify - enjoy!

ING Night Marathon Luxembourg, ING your partner in life and in business! ING, empowering people.




You might not see the link between both activities at first sight, but believe me when I tell you that both activities are complementary; and when practiced together they will help you achieve your objectives on both sides.

Goal setting

Before you start running/saving you need to set a specific goal that will keep you motivated. It will be key down the road. Make sure your goal is adapted to your capabilities – goals that are too high or too low can be counter-productive.


A successful runner/saver knows that a previously laid-out plan of when and how much to run/save is crucial to achieve one’s goals. Plan your running sessions with the aid of reminders on your smartphone. In the case of savings, an automatic savings plan will help you stay on course and save time.


Sometimes it is hard to stay on track with your plan. An afterwork invite after a tough day in the office or the latest gadget in the market are dangerous traps! Resist your impulse, grab your gear and go out for a run, alone or in a group – once you’re done it will be more satisfying for mind, body and pocket.


Like with a marathon, saving is a matter of endurance. Remind yourself of your goals if you’re feeling like giving up midway (that’s why goals are key!).

Fast results

Shortly after you started running/savings regularly, you will be able to see the first results of your efforts – physically and financially!

A long-term commitment and the will to keep getting better are common values of running and savings. And of ING. So much so that this year we are proud to celebrate our 10th year of partnership as main sponsor of the ING Night Marathon.

ING: empowering people to stay a step ahead in life and in business!




On Tuesday 21 April 2015, ING and UNICEF celebrated a 10-year partnership in favour of underprivileged children. Both of them want to defend children’s rights that are often violated in poor countries, by acting in the fields of education and health.


The United Nations Children’s Fund is a United Nations Programme, created in 1946, that ensure children’s rights around the world through equality, access to education and health.

ING’s humanitarian actions

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) means a lot for the ING Group that want to act in this direction by helping underprivileged people. Luxembourgers have one of the most important gross domestic product (GDP) in the world, whereas in Zambia they have one of the lowest. That’s why ING Luxembourg decided to support a project in Africa by financing a school for children in Zambia. As children, they are the future and educated people can make things change, change society.

ING Luxembourg with UNICEF

For several years now, ING Luxembourg donates 1 euro cent to UNICEF for each transaction made using a ING Visa card. This action comes from the global development programme created by the ING Group, “ING Chances for Children”, thanks to which UNICEF and the ING Group have given 1 million children access to education. In the case of Luxembourg, the more ING Luxembourgish clients use their Visa card, the more they contribute to helping UNICEF and so underprivileged children in the world.

ING and UNICEF Luxembourgish partnership’s results

In March 2014, ING Luxembourg gave UNICEF Luxembourg a €32,500 cheque, worth more than half of the cost of a school in Zambia and, in March 2015, UNICEF Luxembourg was given a €35,000 cheque. That means a school is about to be built in Zambia. Good job!

To be continued…

Next challenge for the ING Group: after 10 years supporting children’s projects, ING will support UNICEF’s efforts with teenagers, helping to equip young people with the knowledge and skills they need to build a better future for themselves, their families and the society in which they live.

At ING we are proud that through the support from our customers and our employees, the ING-UNICEF partnership has positively affected the lives of so many underprivileged people.

10 years of partnership, it’s just the beginning…

Find this partnership in pictures





Once of the most widely-spread urban myths is that it's a hassle to change banks. Well, it isn't. At least not in Luxembourg, where it's both easy and free!

It actually happens in 3 easy steps:

1. Open your new account

The easiest way is probably to do so online from your couch, like the ING Orange Account. In case you are already client of two banks and just want to switch your in- and out-flows, forget this step :-)

2. Transfer your recurring payments

Switch all your (recurrent) in- and out-flows. This is the step that can scare people off when, in fact, it's just a matter of organisation. Set up a list of all your direct debits and standing orders (typically you can see this list in your internet banking access) to establish the minimum reserve you should keep in your old account during the switch. Once you've established that, switch your in-flows (salary, pension, allowances...) to the new account to start building it up. If you had extra cash in your old account, transfer it to the new account and switch all your standing orders (alternatively, wait for the first inflow to come before setting up the new standing orders!). Then draft a sample letter or email with your new account details and inform all of your service providers (direct debits) of the desired change. They might need a few working days to set up your new account details, take it into account before asking your original bank to cancel all of these to avoid penalties. After a few weeks check that there are no more movements in your old account, in case you forgot a direct debit.
At ING we make it even easier - we do (almost) everything for you! Our free, online Account Switching Service makes the "big leap" easy by producing the needed letters and contacting your old bank as well as your direct debit creditors to ensure a smooth and worriless account switching.

3. Close your old account

But only after you are absolutely certain you have no outstanding payments linked to this account!

I told you the difficulty of changing your main bank was a myth!!



ING-Sam bank

If teaching children about money is crucial while they’re growing up, so is learning about banking. And again here the point is to develop a natural relationship, not a scary experience when they have to open their first account - does anybody remember the scene in Mary Poppins when Jane and Michael visit the bank?

After all, sooner or later they will have to deal with a bank.

Step 1 – explain what is a bank
If you’re not sure how (which will probably be the case if you don’t work close enough to the industry – and maybe even if you do), search a bit the internet. Or come by an ING office and ask for “Sam’s book”, available in four languages. Sam is our children’s mascot and we especially developed a little book in 2013 to explain to young children the role of the bank and initial concepts around money, like interest. You can also download the booklet here

Step 2 – actually visit a bank

Make an appointment and explain to your relationship manager the object of your visit, so they are also prepared and can actively support you. If your child has a piggy bank it could be an opportunity to transfer the money to an account that accrues interest. If your child already has an account (maybe one opened at birth) you can discuss the interest earned and the bank can explain what a statement looks like. If you have teenagers that earn (pocket) money, why not set up a savings plan

Step 3 – Introduce Internet banking

Once the children are old enough, allow them access to internet banking in a consultation mode, or at least show them from time to time the balance of their account and other banking products they might own. Money may have become more virtual, but we should still be on top of our finances.

Step 4 – Borrowing money costs money

That borrowing also costs money is a lesson they should learn as early as possible! Use the loan simulator of your bank with a teenager and discuss the different options and costs associated with each option. And when it comes to actually borrowing (studies abroad, scooter or first car) take your teenager with you to the bank so they have a first-hand experience, even if they are not the borrower.

Step 5 – Saving for the future

Before they leave the house, discuss with them the importance of saving (from day 1!) and of preparing for retirement through investment products. If you don’t feel comfortable enough advising them (or you just want an expert opinion to add weight to your arguments) set up an appointment with your relationship manager to discuss different possibilities.

Instead of scary adversary, the bank should be a true partner in our financial life. And children, especially young adults on the verge of independence, should be able to trust this!




Last week we celebrated the European Money Week,  a joint initiative by European banking associations to raise public awareness on financial literacy.

Here in Luxembourg, the ABBL rounded up volunteers from banks to discuss with 5th graders in participating schools concepts around buying, budgeting and saving. And of course this raised the question: should we really teach children about money?

The answer is yes. And as early as pre-school! Whether you’re a parent or not, you will relate to this situation: Mother and son arguing in the supermarket about buying a certain item, with the irritated mother trying to end the discussion with a “We cannot buy it because I have no money for it!”. And the naive yet logical 7-year-old answering “Then go the wall and get more!”. Of course, by “the wall” my colleague’s son meant the ATM. In my case, my 3-year-old took my wallet out of my handbag to (what I can only phrase as to) kindly remind me where the money is…

Learning about money – where it comes from, what it takes to earn it, how to spend it and how to save – is very important. It shouldn’t be boring nor scary – money forms part of everyday life; it should be part of the experiences we accumulate while growing up.

That’s what Scott Parker thought too. One day he asked his bank to cash out his account balance of $10,000 in $1 bills – which he took home and dumped on the table for his children to see. Can you imagine their faces? Then Mr. Parker started making piles: what is paid in taxes, food, mortgage… but also soccer and scouting. And what was left wasn’t all that impressive.

His method, while radical, was effective. The key to teaching children about money is openly talking about it. The need to build a healthy relationship with money, to think of money in a rational way, rather than an emotional one. When we don’t give straight answers, children think of money in symbolic terms and might leave them with illusions about the power of money. This doesn’t mean we need to burden our children with money issues we might have, nor share with them our tax return, but as they grow up they can slowly adopt new concepts and begin to understand the real value and use of money. In this age of credit cards, Internet shopping and mobile banking, at some stage a weekly or monthly allowance (pocket money) might come in handy as a source of discussion and first-hand learning experience.

Don’t be afraid when (even young) children ask questions like: Why can’t we buy this? Are we rich? Or even, how much money do you make? Instead of dismissing the question try to understand what prompted the curiosity (“why do you ask?”) and take advantage of the situation to discuss concepts as budgets, in- and out-flows, needs and wants, or how and why money is earned. Next time you plan a trip or a short holiday, why not include them in some of the budgeting discussion? You’d be surprised how much they understand!

I could go on writing forever. There are infinite tips on how to prep our little ones for the future. So I will leave you with this: don’t turn money into a taboo topic!




I am one of those people who never have cash with them. Never. And I work just upstairs from two ATMs… literally!

Everything I can solve with a card (debit or credit, as is most appropriate), through a direct debit on my account or through an online transfer (ideally on my mobile), I do. It saves me time and headaches. But are we really moving towards a cashless society? Will we pay our babysitters by bumping our phones? Grandparents will do online or Whatsapp transfers to their grandchildren on their birthdays?

And what does it take to build such a society? Dave Birch, a research fellow at the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation, has given it some thought and shares his hopes and fears in this short TEDx video. Enjoy!




You gotta love the European Central Bank (ECB) for being so inventive! After bringing us the Inflation Island game, or €conomia game, in order to reveal the new security features of the brand new €20 banknote the ECB presents Tetris® New €20

The game, fashioned after the very popular and addictive Tetris®, reveals the four security features as you add pieces and build lines: the hologram, the watermark, the emerald number and the innovative portrait window. So, if you were any good at Tetris® growing up, feel free to try your luck! The 100 best scores will receive a €10 banknote sealed inside a block of transparent acrylic worth €20. The competition is open until 31 March 2015 at 23:59.

The new €20 banknote that will be presented by president of the ECB, Mario Draghi, on 24 February, is the third euro banknote to change its look since the introduction of the euro in 2002. First was the €5 banknote and last autumn the €10 banknote. In fact, the ECB has a programme to upgrade all banknotes in ascending order over several years.
Why do we change banknotes? The new banknotes include developments in banknote technology to make them more resistant to counterfeiting, thus reducing the risk of fraud for all of us. Additionally, these new banknotes are better for the environment: they have a protecting coating that makes them more durable, thus having to be replaced less often. This is especially important with banknotes of smaller value, like the €5 and €10 banknotes, as they are widely and intensively used; and more durable banknotes means their reproduction will cost less overall.
In case of doubt, the first time you come across a new euro banknote you are not familiar with, it is easy to check manually and visually its security markers. Other than the hologram and watermark, the number changes colour from emerald green to deep blue when tilted. You can see specimens of the different banknotes here.
Q. Do I need to go to the bank and change all my banknotes?

A. No. The exact date of circulation of the new €20 banknote hasn’t been announced yet and, in any case, the change doesn’t happen overnight. During a sufficiently long period both new and old banknote will co-exist until such time as the ECB announces the end of the old banknote. It’s been more than a year since the new €5 banknote was introduced and we can still buy goods and services with it. And even after the banknotes are no longer valid in shops, you can exchange them for new banknotes at any of the European central banks, including the Banque Centrale de Luxembourg.

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