The build-up to the festive season is now underway: now that Thanksgiving in the United States is over, and particularly here in Luxembourg that we have just held the International Bazaar and St Nicolas arrived a few days ago, we can well and truly start the planning for the celebrations.

While our traditional meal with family may be on the 24th or 25th, whether we are having family here in the Grand Duchy or we are travelling abroad to be with family and friends, many of us have now started to plan the main meal, including baking the Christmas Cake and Christmas Pudding, as well as ordering the Christmas Turkey and Ham, or Goose or....

And when Christmas is over, we then have New Year's Eve to look forward to; whether planning a party at our own place, or going out to celebrate with friends, or both!

To be able to do this and not freak out when the ATM won't let you withdraw any more, or your credit card limit has been hit, let me share with you a few tips that should help planning - both financially and otherwise - for the festivities ahead.

1. Celebrate with … the financial basics: A new shirt? A toast with Champagne? It can be delightful to splash out for special occasions but make sure it’s within reason. One of the best ways is to make a budget a year in advance, put money aside regularly, then enjoy the results of your effort on the big day. A solution for this year? Agree before to cut the amount to be spent on presents. While this might be a challenge globally, setting spending limits within a family or within a group of friends may help.

2. Celebrate with … an eye on your credit card: We spend on credit cards differently to the way we spend cash; the theory is that the physical pain we feel parting with physical cash is diminished when we swipe a credit card now and pay the bill later. With emotions (and temptation to spend) high during the festive season, it might pay to keep a closer eye on credit cards – or consider a cash-only diet to keep tight control on money.

3. Celebrate with … a gift list: Gift givers typically want to give a surprise present, while recipients want to receive what they asked for. So what's the solution? Recipients make a list of several possible gifts, perhaps covering a range of price points, and givers can chose from it. It actually brings back memories of letters to Santa.

4. Celebrate with… homemade gifts: You’ve made a batch of Christmas pies, handmade cards or a toy for a child. This do-it-yourself way of making gifts can be particularly satisfying, with the recipient often valuing the thought and time put into creating their present more than any monetary cost.

5. Celebrate with … doing something: A ticket to a concert or a holiday away could be a good way to celebrate the festive season. Many happiness economists argue that experiences (such as going to a show or on vacation) make people happier than objects (such as getting a new dinner set or coat). One example is the research paper Does consumption buy happiness? from the United States, which says part of the joy is – again – spending time with others.

And last, but definitely not least: Celebrate with … family first: Spending time with friends and family has been found to make us happy; time with loved ones could well add a happy boost to the festive season.

You can find all these tips as well as some others also on

Monday, 25 November 2013 12:39

Barbara Daroca: Optimising your 2013 Taxes


The difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion is actually quite simple: you can avoid paying a certain amount of tax by claiming specific tax allowances, etc., all completely legitimate, while tax evasion is succumbing to illegal activity to hide money to escape paying tax; here I will tell you about how to optimise your taxes, i.e. how to reduce the amount of tax you pay while putting your money to good use.

As the end of the calendar year, and tax year too, is drawing ever closer, you should be starting to think about gathering together the various documents required for your annual tax declaration you will be submitting next spring.

In order to benefit from all of the existing opportunities to reduce your taxes as much as possible, you will need to gather insurance certificates, bank account details and the like - these all concern existing situations. In addition, you may also want to look at other ways that you can initiate before the end of the year that will help you lower your tax obligation even further; there are many fiscal products on the market to help you optimise your tax obligations for this year - below are listed a few.

One such initiative is a Home Savings scheme where you make your money work for you, take advantage of a tax break and save for a home. This high-yielding low risk-free investment allows you to build up your savings while taking advantage of a tax break of up to €672 per member of your household and gaining access to a loan at a preferential rate when the savings period comes to an end.

A second initiative concerns a private pension. You can save taxes by putting money aside and grow your savings without having to make cutbacks today, and you also can stop worrying about managing for the future. In Luxembourg one way of doing this is by taking out some form of a pension insurance allowing you to deduct the money you set aside for your supplementary personal pension from your current tax, provided the statutory criteria are met.

Another initiative is to claim tax relief on personal loans. Are you looking to purchase a new car, replace your furniture, etc., on favourable terms as soon as possible? You can deduct from your taxable income up to €336 per household member in interest on your loan.

And fourthly, you can take advantage of a tax allowance for insurance premiums of €672 per household member. If a single premium is paid for the Debt Balance Insurance, the ceiling rises by €6,000 (doubles if you are taxed collectively), plus €1,200 for every dependent child in your household.

These are some of the ways in which you can prepare now while there is still time left, to optimise your taxation for 2013, during the current tax year. For further details on these fiscal products, contact your financial advisor or ask us at ING by visiting one of our branches, or by contacting our Customer Care, tel: 4499-2273 or by sending us an email:



The holiday season is fast approaching and what is more convenient than doing our shopping whilst sitting comfortably on our couch at home?

While online shopping may indeed be fast and convenient, and we do not have to brave the wet and windy winter conditions outside, it pays to be aware of the associated risks. Just like when we go into a shop and pay by credit/debit card, where we are taught never to let the card out of our sight and not to divulge our PIN code, we need to take similar precautions when shopping online.

One of the easiest ways to protect oneself is by using sites that offer a system like Verified by Visa (3d secure) or similar. However, in general:

- Be careful with sites that look suspicious or unprofessional. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is!

- Always keep proof (receipts) of your transactions;

- Read all the small print before you purchase (it is too easy to click on "I have read and accept the terms and conditions" without actually reading them);

- Inform yourself about delivery costs before buying;

- Get the contact details of the webshop, in case you need to contact them about their service or their product;

- Before sending any credit card information over the Internet, check if the data is encrypted (the web address should start with "https");

- Keep your software and anti-virus programmes up-to-date;

- Use a prepaid (debit) card like the Visa CyberCard – it does not prevent fraud, but it helps in limiting the risks (the amount that can be used via these cards is limited) and you often have extra guarantees that come with your credit card.

Happy shopping!


ING regularly conducts Europe-wide surveys to know more about how people save, invest and feel about money.

ING Luxembourg also participates in these studies and for each study, 500 respondents from Luxembourg are included.

According to the results of the ING International Survey on Mobile Banking, Social Media and Financial behaviour, 93% of the respondents from across Europe state that people should receive financial education. In Luxembourg, 77% of the respondents claim school is the best environment in which to receive financial education; however, only 21% said they received financial education when at school.

Financial education is important because it helps us to manage our finances in adulthood and helps us to make informed choices. It helps us budget for big spends (e.g. cars and holidays) as well as everyday expenditure (clothes, household shopping, entertainment, etc.) and also managing financial risk, from household to life insurance, etc. A sound understanding of the concepts and reasoning behind financial education helps understanding of money management and cashflow.




Read the full report here.

Thursday, 10 October 2013 09:00

Barbara Daroca: Solidarity with the Community


A few months ago I announced the launch of the ING Solidarity Awards; the voting period how just started and now it is up to you to vote for your favourite association on  

As a brief reminder, ING Luxembourg decided to relaunch the Solidarity Awards following the tremendous success of the initiative last year. The aim of the ING Solidarity Awards is to reward and support the Luxembourg community sector through a competition, with the initial phase linked to nominations and the second to public voting.

Participation was open to non-profit associations or foundations registered and established in Luxembourg, and matching the eligibility criteria stipulated in the ING Solidarity Awards rules, regardless of whether or not they are ING Luxembourg customers.

The 40 associations with the higher number of online votes registered between 10 - 30 October 2013, will each be the lucky winners of a cheque of €1,000. In addition, The Jury will reward each of the four best projects nominated with a €6,000 prize, as well as each of the four projects in second position each with a €3,000 prize.



One of the advantages of working for a large financial institution is that you can avail of the expertise and experience of colleagues from all over the world.

Below you find an interesting article on how to bargain for a better price written by our colleagues from the economic research desk in London, for their financial blog

Experienced market shoppers will know negotiating a good price takes skill. The same holds true in other shopping situations as well – think of buying a house or haggling over the cost of a car. And different “rules” apply in different parts of the world. Our six tips examine some of the research about how to drive a hard bargain.

1. Who “anchors” wins. The anchoring effect is a tool used to pin buyers’ expectations on a (usually high) price. Market shoppers may remember a time a seller offered a high price and then discounted it – making the reduced price seem more attractive than if it was the original offer. A lesson to be learnt is to be aware and to try to be the one to set the anchor rather than letting the seller do it for you.

2. Know your neighbours. Being alert to local customs can go a long way when negotiating the best price – especially when travelling, writes Yale political science and economics assistant professor Chris Blattman. In many countries there are what he calls the “national bargaining fraction”, an unwritten rule which gives a guide to by how much to negotiate. In order to find out this fraction, Blattman suggests calling upon the locals and quizzing them on the “real” price.

3. Busy is best. Market sellers might agree on how much they will charge for certain products, but University of Chicago economist John List wrote in The Economics of Open Air Markets that these agreements tend to break down on busy days. This means when markets are busy, it might be easier to strike a cheap deal.

4. First impressions. The same research by John List also suggests that market sellers are more likely to offer higher prices to well-dressed individuals, especially those shopping with children. As the old adage says “first impressions count”. To try and avoid being offered such extortionate prices, try leaving your best outfit (and the children) at home.

5. Flash the cash. Paying with cash can reduce spending because you are forced to think harder about the purchase process. Behavioural economists refer to it as the “pain of paying”. When it comes to negotiating taking cash rather than card may bring the true cost to the top of mind and encourage buyers to drive a harder bargain.

6. Out of season. Picking the right moment, or in this case season, is a great way to give shoppers an advantage when negotiating. The off-season shopping style can apply to a wide range of products, from small items such as clothing through to holidays and homes. Take advantage of sellers wanting to get rid of stock. Budgets are Sexy blog even goes as far as to recommend a “best time to buy list” to give a guide as to when to negotiate on what.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013 00:29

Barbara Daroca: Teen Bank Accounts


For many families the start of the new school year is a rite of passage: children start junior school or senior school; new sports and extra-curricular activities are planned; it might be the first year the children are taking the bus to school…

It seems like a good moment to give your child more financial independence and allow them to learn to be more responsible for his/her own affairs. One way to help them at this stage of their lives is to give them a fixed amount each month which they can then use as they want, but within specific guidelines. For example, it could cover pocket money for entertainment, presents and treats, as well as savings; it can also include allowances for clothes, mobile phone calls/texts, sport and transport.

The advantages of this approach are that you can teach your teenager how to budget, and how to manage that budget, without being scrutinised on every individual expense. Sitting down with your teenager and working out expenditure can be an eye-opening experience for them, but one which will help them learn, with your understanding and trust.

This may result in an agreement that you contribute part and they contribute part, the latter for which they may need to do some babysitting or other jobs in order to fund their part of the budget.

Your teenager would then have a bank account with a debit card with which he/she would use the money according to their budget and without the need for an overdraft or credit line, therefore reducing any financial risk.

At ING Luxembourg, the Teen Account is set up specifically for such requirements. Withdrawl limits can be set to keep some control on your teenager's spending, and it also teaches them about the costs of borrowing. Letting them make some (controlled) mistakes will benefit them either immediately or in the medium- or long-term.

The ING Teen Account is for those aged 12-17 years and comes with a debit card which allows him/her to:

• pay for his/her purchases in Luxembourg and most of the European Union;

• withdraw money for free at any ATM in Luxembourg (not only ING ATMs) and most of the European Union;

• get a free Visa Cybercard for his/her online purchases;

• Access to web banking & Mobile Banking.

In addition, it provides various benefits for parents, including:

• Setting of a weekly spending limit: this limit can be defined by the parents at the opening of the Teen Account (0, 25, 50, 75, 100, 150, 250, 200, 750 euros). By default, the spending limits are set by ING Luxembourg in accordance with children’s age.

• There is no credit line for the Visa CyberCard to avoid unwanted or unintended expenses            

So take the time to sit down with your teen and introduce him/her to this next step on the road to financial independence!






Tuesday, 27 August 2013 09:57

Barbara Daroca: Would you recommend ING?



Have you ever filled in a satisfaction questionnaire? And while you were doing it, did you wonder if it was a waste of time? Let me explain how we do this at ING.

At ING, we believe in dialogue. We want to take the time to listen to our clients’ needs and expectations and to them telling us what we can do better or different. In turn, it is our responsibility to be open and clear about what it is we do and why we make certain choices.

We have adopted NPS (Net Promoter Score) ® as the methodology to support such dialogue and improve client experience and delivery excellence.

NPS ® ( is the industry standard for measuring and improving customer loyalty. It is a recognised concept that has been embraced by leading companies worldwide, not only in the banking sector but also in other areas such as telephony, airlines, online hotel reservation websites, etc.

How it works

NPS ® is based on the fundamental perspective that customers (and even employees!) of any company can be divided into three categories: Promoters, Passives and Detractors.

The NPS ® process consists in emailing questionnaires on specific topics (e.g. account opening or electronic banking) to clients in order to gather their feedback. A company representative will follow up responses by a phone call, in order to further discuss and understand suggestions or issues completely. Basically, to “close the loop”. This feedback represents the voice of customers.

By asking one simple question “How likely is it that you would recommend [our company] to a friend or a colleague?” you can identify these groups of people and get a clear measure of the strength of the relationship between customers and brand.

Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fuelling growth; Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied but enthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offering; Detractors (score 0-6) are unhappy customers who can damage brand by a negative word of mouth.

To calculate a company’s NPS ®, take the percentage of customers who are promoters and subtract the percentage of detractors.


Copyright NPS ®

Why we do it

NPS ® is at the heart of the client feedback culture at ING Luxembourg!

NPS ® is both a loyalty metric and a discipline for using client feedback to improve client experience and operational excellence within organisations.

The score itself is not the objective; it is what we do with our client feedback that counts!

All the information collected in these surveys is integrated into a customer relationship management tool, allowing our sales staff to have as much information as possible about their clients. As a result, they can be better equipped to meet client needs. Improving the score over time will result from improvements in our processes, services and products. This is a long-term process.



Tuesday, 06 August 2013 18:08

Barbara Daroca: Emergency Funds



An emergeny fund is all about creating accessible cash for use in an unexpected life situation. Let’s see how to set one up and how much money you need.

Saving money is a good habit to get into, with an "emergency fund" the first thing to consider as it can ease the financial strain when one of life's unexpected events affects you directly. The emergency fund can soften the blow if you lose your job, fall ill or have an accident or are faced with an unexpected expense.

It also helps to reduce the strain when faced with such an unexpected situation, and also reduces the possibility of needing to borrow money to cover such costs. Paying off debt can be difficult, particularly if you don't have the level of income as you once did, and it can be stressful too.

How much you need in you emergency fund depends on your personal circumstances but you would ideally want to be able to cover all your expenses for a few months - experts quote 3-6 months on average - including rent/mortgage, household bills, transport, etc. You may also want to protect yourself from other large outgoings, e.g. if you think you may need to replace your car, laptop, tv, etc. - here, saving up beforehand will help soften the financial blow when you do need to make a significant purchase. Some people refer to such emergency funds as “rainy day savings” because the cash is used when times get tough. Saving for holidays and dining out is also a good idea; however, they do not fall into the emergency category as these are deemed to be luxuries and should be budgeted separately.

You should have a fair idea of your monthly income and outgoings, so you can then work out how much you can save, i.e. what you can put away each month. This may mean making some reductions, e.g. on your monthly entertainment or telecomms spend; or you may be able to make savings by cheaper insurance or energy supplies.

Saving is described as more of a marathon than a sprint, so it may take several months, or even longer, to attain your target. According to the latest eZonomics online poll, 35% of people take six months to reach their target in their emergency fund.

See the video How much should I be saving? which explains how to make a basic budget, work out how much money is available to put into savings and form good money habits. It involves building a basic budget by assessing income and expenses to see how much money can be saved each pay cycle. Build a savings habit by opening a dedicated emergency fund account, giving the account a suitable name and setting up automatic deposits at the start of the pay cycle to build up to the amount you need in your emergency fund.

The underlying message here is about giving you more power over your own finances; should something unexpected happen around the corner, you should be in a position that your foresight will protect you in this eventuality and that your savings will see you through until you get back on your feet again.

If you are serious about saving, make the cash for your emergency savings fund the first thing you set aside. That way you will find it is the little extras that you can’t afford at the end of the week, rather than the saving. It’s amazing how many of life’s apparent “essentials”, such as a meal out or a new jacket, are things you’ll never miss.

This month’s inner piggy rule: Your inner piggy’s very smart: he saves for when times are hard!


 With 41% of Luxembourg residents using mobile banking services, according to the 5th study of the ING International Survey (IIS) on financial behaviour, mobile banking and social media, 24-hour access to banking services has never been easier.

The international survey was undertaken by ING and polled 12,000 people in 12 countries across Europe, between 18 April and 15 May, and included 500 who live in Luxembourg.

Luxembourg residents are more likely to use mobile banking services compared to consumers in neighbouring countries, with 41% for Luxembourg and 25% for France, 26% for Belgium, 33% for Germany and 37% for the European average.

But why use a mobile banking app? First of all because mobile banking apps in general let you handle your daily banking business whenever and wherever you want. You can check if your payments have been processed, as well as your current balance, while sitting on the train or wherever you may be; you can quickly change your V PAY card limit before doing some shopping; you can check the last transactions on your Visa Cyber Card before buying another app or a new e-book. The only thing you need is Internet access and your smartphone with the mobile banking app installed.

Secondly, mobile banking is a safe way of banking. By adhering to some basic security rules you can greatly reduce the risks: Block your phone when you are not using it, do not bank via public networks, only download apps from official, trusted sites, etc. You can find more tips on:

ING Luxembourg offers customers the ING Mobile application for iPhone and iPad, enabling the bank to be always within reach. The smartphone app has both public information (branch locations, card blocking info, messaging, etc.) as well as a secure area (after enrolling the device using a Digi ID available via the Digipass, only your own chosen password is needed to log in) offering a series of features and functionalities enabling customers to undertake eBanking anywhere and at any time:

- Consult the balance and the movements on your accounts (last 100 transactions)

- Make transfers – no need for your bills to pile up until the weekend!

- Manage your Visa card, including check transactions since your last statement

- Subscribe to new products, e.g. open an additional savings account – the perfect tool to put money aside for special occasions!

- Send and receive secure messages

- And even consult your securities portfolio and life insurance policies

Some of these features require a Digi ID for enhanced security purposes.

We are very proud of the fact that ING Luxembourg's mobile app is currently the best rated banking mobile app on the app store in Luxembourg.


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