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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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
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. 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.
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 (www.mytrainer.lu) 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.
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!).
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!!
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!