6 of the Most Important Factors to Consider as You Plan Your Small Business

GBTI offers individuals a wide range of loan products, including those meant to fund the creation or growth of a small business. Guyana is quickly becoming an environment welcoming of entrepreneurs, with more access to support and guidance.

Still, the success of a small business largely depends on the legwork that you do prior to opening your doors. While money is certainly an important consideration, you should think about a wide range of other factors as you gear up to open your business. Some of the key considerations include:

1. Your Personal Strengths and Weaknesses

Before starting a business, it is important that you understand where your strengths lie and also recognize your personal shortcomings. Creating and running a business is hard work. You will need help and understanding of your weaknesses in order to find people who complement your skills and deficiencies.

Establishing a company involves financial, marketing, and legal considerations Think about what you can do well and what you might be able to teach yourself. Where you have gaps in your knowledge and proclivities, note them so you can find the right people to help you when the time comes. Ultimately, when you are honest with yourself regarding your strengths and limitations, you will be more prepared to run the company effectively.

2. Your Professional Support System

Opening a business is challenging. When you have more people in your corner, you have a greater chance of success. Try to find someone who can give you advice about different aspects of the business. For example, someone who has started a business in your town may be able to guide you through some of the legal hoops. Someone who owns a business in a related field can likely give you tips on expanding your customer base.

Ideally, mentors and advisors should be people you feel comfortable being completely honest with and who will make themselves available for questions or advice around the clock. You can find mentors a number of ways, from getting involved with local business communities to searching them out online.

3. Your Local Markets

Businesses are successful when they fulfill an unmet local need. You do not need to be the first one to the market with an idea if you improve upon current offerings and listen to what customers actually want. To that end, you should have a clear idea of your local market and its needs.

Talk to people and listen to their answers to make sure there is a demand for your product or service. Understand the demographics and their buying habits. You may also want to spend time research nearby markets so you can position yourself to expand in the future.

Pay close attention to competitors and how they have positioned themselves in the market to make sure your business is distinguished enough to compete successfully. Doing this legwork will also help you market the business well.

4. Your Business Plan

A key step in the process of opening a business is creating a plan. Entrepreneurship is a risky venture and a business plan is the best way to mitigate this risk. By creating a comprehensive business plan, you will force yourself to think through many of the issues that could arise and establish paths to deal with them.

A plan forces you to think in detail about your business and the various means of fostering its growth in the years to come. Additionally, a business plan creates a map for the company that you can go back to and assess whether or not you are on the right track.

If you have veered from the business plan unexpectedly, you need to think about why and whether or not you should steer back toward it. Changing courses is sometimes necessary for survival, but you need to do so in a calculated manner.

5. Your Estimated Costs and Returns

Part of the business plan is running the numbers. By looking at how much money you will need to launch the business and estimating the likely returns, you can verify that the plan is viable. Crunching the numbers will also help secure financing as you will be able to demonstrate how the loan gets repaid.

While the numbers are estimates, they are important for projecting growth and development. Think about the overall startup costs, sales, and cash flow. Depending on the nature of the business, you may need to seek out more data.

Look at the performance of similar businesses in your own market and others to get a better understanding of what you can expect. Mentors and advisors can also help a great deal when it comes to making these estimates.

6. Your Contingency Plan

Even when you think you are prepared to start a business, unexpected issues can occur. The past year was an example of that, with the pandemic rapidly changing how many people approached their own businesses. Contingency planning helps guide you when the unexpected happens and can help the business from floundering.

When first starting a business, you may also want to think about income and what you will do if sales are not at the level that you expected. If you have another job, you may want to keep working it for the initial startup period to make sure your business is viable. You may also want to consider different avenues of funding that could help keep the business afloat if you run into unforeseen issues.

How to Approach to the Question of Whether to Save Money or Pay Debts

Once you have established a budget and begin to save money, it can be confusing what exactly to do with those funds. On the one hand, you may be tempted to save and invest it to let the money grow over time. On the other hand, you may have some debt that still has not been paid in full.

Choosing how to allocate this money can be very difficult. After all, if you do not save enough money now, you may struggle when it comes time to retire. However, the prospect of entering retirement while still in debt can also cause a lot of anxiety.

For many people, the right approach is a blended one that allows them to save while also working on paying of debt. Here’s what you need to know to make that call:

What to Think about When It Comes to Paying off Debt

Paying off debt is a noble goal and should be a priority when it comes to personal finances. However, if you focus completely on paying off debt you will not have money to fall back on in case of an emergency.

If you do not have an emergency fund, you may end up taking out more debt to cover an emergency, which can make you feel like you are not making any progress. Unexpected expenses can creep up at any time, so it is important to have some amount of money set aside to help when this happens. Many experts recommend having $1,000 in a savings account to cover emergencies before focusing on paying off debt.

As you start to focus on paying off debt, make sure you make your high-interest debts a priority. By paying down the principal on these accounts, you reduce the amount of interest that you pay each month. This could ultimately have a bigger impact than you would make by investing the money.

For many people, it makes sense to focus on high-interest debt first and then make minimum payments on low-interest debt since they could actually come out on top by investing the money. Student loans and mortgages tend to carry fairly low interest, but it is important to keep track of each account on your own.

If you want to make extra payments on a fixed-payment loan, you will usually end up paying off the loan early as a result. The loan is not typically recalculated to lower your monthly payment. Importantly, if you make an extra payment, ensure that it is going toward the principal rather than being allocated toward a future payment, as that is the fastest way to reduce overall balance. You may need to request formally that the payment gets applied to the principal.

What to Think about When It Comes to Saving

Saving money is another important goal when it comes to personal finance and seeing the cash in those accounts grow can be very exciting. The primary issue that can arise when prioritizing saving over paying off debt is the fact that many debts have such high interest rates that you will pay more in interest charges than you gain by saving.

Also, if you prioritize saving, then you run the risk of carrying debt into retirement. Of course, many people have comfortable retirement lives while continuing to pay on debts. However, this can limit what you feel comfortable doing and place a significant strain on your monthly budget.

Some situations exist in which you should prioritize saving over paying off debt, such as any debt with a low interest rate. In this situation, you will likely see more growth in money saved in an investment account than you would avoid in interest payments.

If you find yourself with only low-interest debt, you should make sure you grow a significant emergency fund before you focus on paying off more debt. Ideally, an emergency fund covers between three and six months’ worth of living expenses.

However, if you do not focus on saving until your debt is completely gone, you will put yourself at a disadvantage in terms of retirement savings. Putting money away early gives you the benefit of compound interest. When money is invested for a long period of time, you will start to earn interest on the interest you already earned. These ultimately means you get exponential returns. This is the reason that it is so important to save for retirement as early as possible.

The Bottom Line in the Question of Saving Versus Paying Debt

In the end, it will probably be best to both save and pay back your debts simultaneously, but the balance of these actions will likely change over time. While you have high-interest debts, it is important to focus primarily on paying them off. If you can, however, you should also save a small amount in a traditional savings account to ensure you have money to cover unexpected expenses as well as invest a small amount in retirement savings to take full advantage of compound interest.

As your high-interest debts are eliminated, you can begin to focus more on saving since the benefits of paying off this sort of debt are more limited. The balance you strike between paying off debts and saving also depends on your own feelings. If you can only have peace of mind when you are free from debt, it could make sense to focus on that. On the other side of the coin, if not having anything saved gives you anxiety, prioritize that process.

Guyana Opens Small Business Incubator in Berbice to Help Entrepreneurs

GBTI maintains a number of unique lending programs to help people in Guyana. One of these programs is specifically designed to benefit small business owners in Guyana as they create ventures that can support their families and foster growth in their communities. Recently, Guyana has spearheaded new initiatives to help small business owners, such as the Belvedere Business Incubator Center, which opened in February 2020. This facility is designed to reinforce strong entrepreneurial skills and serve as an educational center where business owners can obtain direct, practical support.

A Look at the Belvedere Business Incubator Center

The new Belvedere Business Incubator Center includes six distinct pods. The first three pods are reserved for entrepreneurs to participate in a three-year training program to support inexperienced entrepreneurs. Once they graduate from the program, other people can enroll and obtain the same support. The other three pods contain manufacturing equipment that small business owners can use at a subsidized cost to help process products and boost inventory without the need for too much upfront capital. The point of the center is to provide Guyanese entrepreneurs with the support and guidance they need to launch successful companies that continue to thrive without the center’s continued intervention.

Many small business owners in Guyana have already celebrated the opening of this facility, which is helping many people to meet goals that they would otherwise not be able to accomplish. For example, one entrepreneur who creates coconut products stated that he is unable to adequately process his supply at home, but said that it will be possible using the equipment at the facility. Another entrepreneur who sells treats said she looks forward to the training in finance and marketing, which will help her to sell her products more effectively and ensure that she can save for important financial milestones. The center will provide a range of classes and seek to inspire people to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.

How Guyana Could Benefit from a Larger Network of Incubators

Alongside the Berbice facility that opened earlier this year, another one is already being constructed and developed in Lethem that is expected to open in the near future. Such facilities are extremely important for Guyana, as entrepreneurship is challenging regardless of the physical location. The Caribbean provides its own unique challenges. In Guyana, the space for home startups is quite limited, yet renting space for a business can prove to be an insurmountable financial hurdle. Incubators like the ones being opened provide a solution to this problem and offer additional support to ensure that the businesses being launched are successful. Many people who wish to start companies may not have the business training needed to make the process efficient and cost-effective, yet an incubator can provide this sort of assistance.

Incubators tend to closely examine the communities that they serve in order to understand more fully the particular challenges of starting a company in that location. To that end, incubators can prove even more helpful than typical business courses, as they provide localized support and instruction that can respond to changing conditions. In Guyana, there has been a general consensus that the country needs to scale and grow more businesses to boost economic development and participate more fully in global markets. Guyana struggles with a shortage of business mentors. In this sort of environment, the coaching and networking facilitated by incubators is a great way to produce successful entrepreneurs who can later become mentors.

The Role of Accelerators for Small Businesses in Guyana

While incubators are already opening in Guyana, the country has a limited number of accelerators. An accelerator operates much like an incubator except that the engagement is typically limited to a few months rather than a year. An accelerator is sort of like a jump-start for a business. By participating in an accelerator, entrepreneurs can obtain help on particular issues related to the business, whether that means the business model, avenues for revenue, or professional networking. Accelerators — especially when paired with incubators — can create a large group of business-savvy entrepreneurs who can collectively help new generations of entrepreneurs as mentors.

In Guyana, an ongoing accelerator program has been offered through the World Bank. Known as the Women Innovators Network in the Caribbean, this opportunity is specifically focused on female entrepreneurs. The accelerator works specifically with women who have an established business, but who need to learn how to grow and scale as their companies expand. The program fulfills a key niche need identified in Guyana, yet many more unmet opportunities exist to address the needs of local businesspeople. The community hopes that more accelerators will develop to complement the offerings from the two incubators. If these incubators are successful in facilitating business growth, then a rise in accelerators is the next logical step.

What You Need to Know about the History of Sugar

Known as the “breadbasket” of the Caribbean, Guyana is one of the world’s top producers of rice and sugar. GBTI supports local Guyanese farmers through its agricultural loans, and it has emerged as one of the largest agricultural lenders in Guyana. Sugar is one of the most in-demand crops around the world with an incredible array of applications. Sucrose, the white sugar that you can buy from a grocery store, is the most widely used sweetener in the world, which is remarkable considering that it has only been broadly harvested for about 400 years. Prior to that time, honey, dates, and other fruits were the primary forms of sweetener.

Key Points about the History of Sugar Cultivation

As a crop, sugar likely originated from a perennial grass that grows wildly in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. Sugar has been a domesticated crop in New Guinea for as long as 12,000 years, and records from India show people using sugar as early as 800 BCE. However, sugar was not popular elsewhere until much more recently. Sugar first became popular in Europe in the late Middle Ages. People from the Middle East brought sugar to Spain, and its popularity grew from there. However, sugar cost a great deal of money at the time since it was imported to the Middle East from India. “Sugar” is actually an Arabic term that referred to the imported crop.

Today, the most popular source of sugar is sugar cane, which appears to have originated in the Canary Islands. Christopher Columbus brought sugar cane to the Americas in 1493, by which time it was already very popular throughout the Caribbean. Sugar cane was used in the production of sugar, rum, and molasses, all of which were important exports. By the 1700s, settlers in the Americas had begun growing sugar cane to support demand from Europe. Between 1700 and 1800, the average consumption of sugar in England rose from about 4 pounds per person annually to 18 pounds. The production of sugar cane has actually decreased since 1967, as more farms have begun to grow sugar beets.

The Difference Between Sugar Cane and Sugar Beets

Today, commercial sugar comes about equally from sugar cane and beets and the sucrose produced from each is identical. Resembling a turnip or large radish, the sugar beet grows best in temperate climates. An average sugar beet weighs about 2 pounds and produces 14 teaspoons of refined sugar. The sugar beet industry began in Europe in the 1700s after Andreas Marggraf discovered the wild beet, and one of his students figured out how to extract sugar from it a few decades later. Sugar from these beets was first commercially produced in 1802 in Germany. Napoleon played a major role in the widespread popularity of this crop, which can take up to two years to mature, although it is less labor-intensive than traditional sugar cane.

Sugar cane, which many people are likely more familiar with, resembles a stalk of bamboo. The sugar is in these stalks grows best in tropical climates. Each stalk has a purple outer covering that needs to be peeled or ripped off before enjoying the sweetness of the inner stalk. While the stalks are too fibrous to eat, they can be chewed or processed into sugar. A press can be used to excrete brown sugar cane juice that is directly consumed or processed further. Since sugar cane is a type of grass, it grows very quickly, and several harvests are possible before farmers need to replant it. Like sugar beets, the crop requires a great deal of water to grow it. Sugar is more labor intensive than beets and is typically grown commercially, although the stalks are sometimes sold without being processed. 

How Sugar Is Processed

Once sugar cane is harvested, it is pressed either by hand or a machine. The resulting liquid is brown and extremely sweet. Subsequently, the juice can be consumed or turned into molasses. Steaming and smoking this juice will result in brown sugar. Also, this juice can be fermented directly into rum or other spirits. Byproducts of the steaming process are used to feed livestock, and pressed stalks become fodder and fertilizer. In some commercial processes, the cane is pressed so thoroughly that it becomes dry enough to fuel boiler fires. The typical treatment process for sugar cane juice removes impurities and simultaneously produces molasses and white grains of sugar that are then separated with a centrifuge.

Raw sugar is typically a light brown color and quite sticky, as it still has some molasses in it. In order to remove the molasses, the sugar is dissolved into warm water and filtered, which also helps to remove any lingering impurities. Then, the filtered fluid is recrystallized in vacuum pans that help to wash and dry the sugar. The final step involves granulating the final product into white crystals that are sold commercially.

5 Benefits of Online Banking with GBTI

GBTI strives to provide a full range of financial products to people throughout Guyana. Part of the bank’s suite of offerings is electronic banking, which is accessible from any Internet-enabled device at any time of day. Knowing that security is extremely important, GBTI offers a guarantee for the safety and security of its online banking system with automatic logouts and unique login credentials. Electronic banking is free to all GBTI customers, and people can sign up online or at any of the bank’s branches. Customers do not need to load any new software onto a device in order to access mobile banking, as they can sign in directly from the GBTI website. However, the bank offers an app that can be downloaded to your phone for easy access. Online banking offers a number of great benefits for banking customers:

1. Instant account access

One of the primary benefits of electronic banking is that it offers easy account access regardless of the time or place provided that you have Internet access. You can easily check your balance before making a purchase in order to create a more realistic budget. This instant access is also helpful for tracking direct deposits from employers or other money placed in an account in order to ensure sure that everything is accurate and up to date. If you notice an issue, you can quickly address it. However, you can also go back several years to ensure that your accounts are accurate. Without electronic access to your accounts, it can prove difficult to keep track of your money.

2. Tracking your transactions

Transactions are instantly recorded, and electronic banking makes it simple to ensure that the charges are accurate. Mistakes happen, and sometimes businesses enter incorrect charges. With online banking, you can quickly catch mistakes and ensure that they are immediately fixed. Also, it is sometimes beneficial to know whether a transaction has cleared your account. Plus, electronic banking makes it easier to catch unauthorized transactions so that you can dispute them immediately instead of weeks down the road when you finally look over your statement. Keeping track of your transactions is an important part of budgeting, particularly if you are trying to cap spending in a particular area. For example, you can subtract transactions from your clothing budget as soon as they occur rather than wait to see what you spent at the end of the month.

3. Easy fund transfers

GBTI offers its customers checking and savings accounts, as well as credit cards. All of these accounts can be accessed online, and transfers between them can be easily initiated. Depending on how you manage your money, you may choose to make deposits directly into your savings account or alternately transfer funds between your checking and savings accounts on a regular basis. Doing so with the click of a button will save you time and energy, as compared to initiating the transaction in person at a GBTI branch. Also, you may be able to save money on transaction fees by handling them online. These easy transfers make it simple to set up multiple accounts for different purposes. For example, you may want to create multiple savings accounts for retirement and vacation, as well as a down payment for a home in order to avoid mixing them up in a single account.

4. Schedule bill payments

GBTI enables users to pay their utility bills online through an electronic banking portal. These payments can be scheduled to transfer directly from a GBTI account in order to avoid the need to write a check each month. Furthermore, the payments can be scheduled so that you never forget a payment, which could trigger late charges. Online payments are instantaneous, so they are immediately reflected in your account. Furthermore, you will not need to worry about a check becoming lost in the mail or forgetting about the payment before it is processed. GBTI has a helpful feature on its website that takes customers through the process of signing up for this service.

5. Online service requests

Many of the services offered at a GBTI branch can be completed online, which saves people a trip to the office while ensuring that the process is completed in a timely manner. For example, you can place a stop payment on a check or other process that was incorrect before it is completed. Moreover, the online portal makes it easy to check on the status of loan accounts, as well as any checks that have been sent or received. All account statements can be easily accessed online, which can prove helpful if you need to submit financial records for a loan or other applications. On the portal, you can also change your mailing address and other account details. A more complete list of these features is available through GBTI’s electronic banking platform at GBTIBank.com.

7 Ways That Companies Can Show Their Commitment to Sustainability

Consumers are becoming increasingly conscientious about their purchasing decisions and are often choosing companies committed to sustainability. GBTI offers green loans that can help companies adopt more environmentally friendly practices. Often, companies believe that going green involves time and money. Certainly, some of the options for making business processes more sustainable do involve a significant investment, which is where GBTI loans can help. Read on to learn about some steps that companies can take to demonstrate their commitment to the environment.

1. Use green web hosting.

Virtually all companies need to have an online presence. In order to launch a website, companies will need to find a web hosting provider. Business leaders may not know that green web hosts exist. These providers plant trees and buy carbon offsets, in addition to using renewable energy, in order to mitigate the environmental impact of maintaining infrastructure and running servers. The majority of these green web hosting companies actually charge the same as other options that are more reliant on fossil fuels. Some options may actually be cheaper, which means that companies can go green while ultimately saving money.

2. Replace the lightbulbs in your office.

One of the primary ways that energy is used in an office environment is for lighting. However, not all lighting is created equal when it comes to energy use. Companies can invest in compact-fluorescent or LED lights to help reduce their energy consumption in the office. While these bulbs cost more money upfront, they last significantly longer than more traditional options and use much less energy than incandescent lighting. With these replacements, companies can actually end up saving a great deal on their energy bills. Best of all, the replacements can be gradual, so there is no need for a huge upfront investment. Instead, bulbs can simply be switched over as they burn out.

3. Use post-consumer waste supplies.

An easy way for companies to go green is by reducing their use of paper. Nowadays, many business processes can be handled online, so companies’ reliance on paper is much less today than it was even a decade ago. However, green companies sometimes need to use paper products and packaging. When this need arises, companies can switch to post-consumer waste products. Importantly, companies should always investigate the source of these products. Companies can demonstrate their dedication to green processes by going the extra mile and ensuring that the products they purchase are truly made of recycled materials. Post-consumer waste products take less energy to produce and keep material out of landfills.

4. Purchase biodegradable cleaners.

When companies consider adopting greener practices, they may not realize how their cleaning supplies come into the picture. Biodegradable cleaning products have a number of important benefits. These products lack harsh toxins and chemicals that can harm the environment once they are rinsed down the drain or thrown into the trash. Also, using these types of cleaning products reduces employees’ exposure to harmful materials. Biodegradable products are often available in bulk, so companies do not need to pay much more for them.

5. Look for green energy sources.

In some parts of the world, companies can sign up for green power from their utility providers. This electricity is generated through renewable means, such as hydropower, plant matter, and wind. Keep in mind that green power options may be slightly more expensive. If companies do not have access to green power, they can always generate their own by investing in products such as solar panels. These panels can produce a surprising amount of energy and actually reduce utility bills. In some places, excess energy can even be fed back into the grid to provide companies with a credit on their utility bills.

6. Adopt a recycling policy.

A key to going green is recycling products. Companies that do not already have a recycling policy should move to figure out how one would work for them. However, many companies can adopt a recycling policy that is considered somewhat outside of the box. For example, instead of purchasing brand-new furniture, it could be possible to invest in vintage furniture for the office that provides a unique ambiance while offsetting the environmental impact of new pieces. Ensuring that the old furniture goes somewhere other than a landfill is also a great way to reinforce a company’s recycling mindset.

7. Embrace the cloud.

Cloud computing has revolutionized the way that companies approach their workflow. For many companies, the cloud has allowed them to become more green. Several companies now offer cloud-based solutions for businesses, ranging from Microsoft Office 365 to Google Apps. These apps make it possible to access and share information from anywhere in the world. In other words, the apps reduce reliance on paper while making collaboration possible across large spaces. Companies can rely less on travel and promote remote work, which will reduce the carbon emissions associated with commuting. Moreover, using the cloud eliminates the need for power-intensive servers, which will further save on energy bills.

6 Great Apps to Take Charge of Your Budgeting

Managing your personal and family finances can quickly become overwhelming. Luckily, a number of excellent tools exist than can help you to keep track of your spending and get a better picture of where your money is going so that you can make any necessary changes. As one of the core elements of personal finance, budgets are often an evolving concept, and people need a clear idea of their baseline spending as they create them. People may want to consider using one of several budgeting apps now available. These apps can vary quite a bit in terms of their functionality, from applying specific budgeting methods to helping people adhere to those guidelines to simply tracking how much money is spent and where. Fortunately, many of these tools are free and offered on a variety of different platforms. Here are a few of the top apps to consider:

1. YNAB

YNAB

You Need a Budget (YNAB) is an app designed for people who are committed to living within a budget. The app uses a zero-based budgeting system, which means that every dollar earned must be allocated to the overall budget. YNAB has a number of great features designed to enable people to budget effectively, including various workshops and budgeting advice. Individuals can set goals on the app and monitor their progress in order to ensure that they achieve them. While the app is not free, new users are not be charged for the first month. Students can use it for free for an even longer period. For many people, the wealth of resources offered through the app make the price worthwhile.

2. Goodbudget

Goodbudget

People who are interested in the envelope system of budgeting, which involves portioning out monthly income toward specific spending categories, should look into Goodbudget. This app provides access across a variety of devices so it is a great tool to use with partners and the entire family. Goodbudget does not automatically sync to a bank account like other apps, so people need to add the balances manually each month. Once this input is recorded, money is assigned to envelopes or specific spending categories. The free version of the app allows for one account across two devices with a limited number of envelopes, although individuals can pay to expand their access.

3. Mint

Mint

A free budgeting app, Mint has become one of the most popular choices for budgeting across the world. The app connects directly to a user’s financial accounts and updates balances and transactions in real-time. Furthermore, the app automatically categorizes transactions into various buckets, which eliminates much of the guesswork involved in the process. The major benefit of Mint is that it offers an updated picture of spending, so people always know exactly where they stand. Moreover, users can create their own special categories, track bills, and create alerts that will let individuals know when they exceed their spending threshold.

4. Personal Capital

Personal Capital

People with investments that they want to track along with their budget will benefit most from Personal Capital. This app is primarily an investment management tool that offers robo-advisor services and access to financial advisors. The app also includes tools to track spending and connects directly to credit cards, savings, and checking accounts, in addition to retirement accounts, loans, and mortgages. Users can view spending snapshots that are split into personally defined categories while also tracking their net worth and examining portfolio breakdowns. People with more complex financial needs may like Personal Capital more than other apps since it has such a broad reach and can accomplish much more than budgeting.

5. PocketGuard

PocketGuard

Anyone who believes that they do not need all the bells and whistles offered by many of the apps on this list can turn to PocketGuard. This apps boils budgeting down to a single question: How much can I spend? The app leverages personal data and information about budgeting goals to crunch the numbers and let people discover exactly how much they have to spend after bills and savings contributions. Users can quickly obtain a sense of how much money they have left for a given day, week, or month to answer the question of whether or not they can afford a purchase. PocketGuard also makes it possible to track categories, such as restaurant and clothing expenses.

6. Wally

Wally

Wally is a great choice for individuals seeking a no-frills approach to budgeting. The app tracks income and expenses and gives individuals an instant snapshot of the budget remaining for incidentals. Individuals can easily track this amount to avoid exceeding their budget. The app is free and offers versions for both iPhone and Android. Another major benefit of Wally is that it comes with built-in support for basically all foreign currencies. Thus, it is a great option for people who live outside of the United States, frequently travel, and make money in multiple currencies.

Spotlight on 7 Interesting Facts about Rice

Guyana is one of the top producers of rice in the Caribbean, and GBTI supports much of its agriculture through its loan services. In fact, GBTI has emerged as a leader in agricultural lending in Guyana, where agriculture is a key part of the overall economy. Rice is a staple food across a number of different cultures, yet few people understand how the crop is grown. As a staple food around the world, rice feeds more people than any other crop, so it is important to understand what makes this food so popular, from the ease of growing it to its nutritional value. The following are some interesting facts about rice:

1. All rice originates as brown rice.

While some people may think that brown and white rice are difference parts of the same plant, this is not a correct assumption. In reality, all rice starts out as brown rice, which is considered a whole grain since it has a bran, germ, and an endosperm. White rice results from removing the husk, bran, and germ of each grain. In addition, white rice is typically polished after this process, which makes it appear more uniform and palatable. Often, white rice is fortified with key nutrients such as iron and calcium. Brown rice has more protein than white rice, as well as large amounts of carbohydrates, fiber, and healthy fat.

2. More than half the world consumes rice as a staple food.

Around the world, people consume rice in massive quantities. For example, in Asia, the typical person eats about 300 pounds of rice each year. However, people in Asia are not the largest consumers of rice. In the United Arab Emirates, the average person consumes 450 pounds of rice each year. Americans tend to eat over 20 pounds of rice on an annual basis. One of the countries in which individuals eat the least amount of rice is France, where the average person consumes an average of 10 pounds of rice per year.

3. Rice requires more cultivation than corn and wheat.

Aside from rice,the primary staple foods are corn and wheat. Rice actually requires more effort to grow than these other two foods. Farms grow rice from seeds in different beds. Once seedlings start to appear, the plants are relocated to flooded rice paddies, where they can finish growing. The plants can be grown on any continent except Antarctica, where the climate is too cold. Cultivating rice requires a large amount of water, as well as labor. Rice harvests occur once a year. The actual techniques involved in rice farming vary quite a bit between the East and West. In the West, lasers level the land, and airplanes are used to drop seeds. In the East, animals are used to plough fields, and the seeds are often planted by hand.

4. Rice is one of the oldest-known foods.

Archaeologists trace the consumption of rice back to about 2,000 BCE in China, which makes it the oldest-known food that is still widely consumed today. Moreover, cultivation first began throughout China, India, and Thailand in about 5,000 BCE. Merchants most likely carried the crop to the West, where it also became a popular crop. However, cultivation has always been more widespread in Asia than in other parts of the world. In India, Japan, and Thailand, rice is closely associated with specific goods, which made it an important part of the daily diet.

5. Farmers classify rice according to the variety and type.

In general, there are three different types of rice: short-, medium-, and long-grain varieties. Historically, long-grain rice has been considered the best option because it does not easily clump. In terms of variety, more than 40,000 kinds exist. In the West, people tend to prefer aromatic varieties such as Basmati and Thai Jasmine, although Italian Arborio has also become popular because it is used in risottos. Some varieties are considered to have a natural sweetness and are thus used in puddings, as well as other desserts such as cake. Basmati rice is considered the most fragrant variety in the world, and it is produced primarily in the Himalayas between Pakistan and India.

6. The Guinness World Records has a record for the largest bowl of rice.

Currently, the Guinness World Records recognizes a bowl of rice weighing 6,944 pounds produced by the Turkey Culinary Federation as the largest ever produced. In 2015, 300 cooks in China teamed up to break this record, and they collectively made a bowl of Yeung Chow fried rice that weighed 9,242 pounds. Unfortunately, the bowl of rice was deemed unfit for human consumption. Guinness ruled that the entirety of the bowl of rice needed to be edible in order to qualify for the record.

7. Sticky rice holds the Great Wall of China together.

The Great Wall of China was built in the 15th and 16th centuries under the Ming dynasty. During construction, workers used rice mixed with calcium carbonate as a sort of mortar to hold the stones in the wall together. Remarkably, this mortar still holds strong, although anyone who has had to scrape caked rice from the bottom of a pot is probably not surprised by this fact.

7 of the Best Tips for Managing Your Credit Wisely

Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI), one of the largest banks in Guyana and the Caribbean region, offers a full range of personal and commercial services, including small business and “green” loans, large commercial loans, savings and checking accounts, credit cards, and more.

GBTI also provides customers with helpful tips and tools to assist with personal finance and banking in person and through its website at GBTIBank.com. 

GBTI VISA Gold and VISA Classic credit card accounts offer customers numerous benefits, including the convenience of shopping online and in local stores and restaurants, all with the peace of mind that comes with the bank’s PIN-protected system and 24-hour customer support. 

GBTI’s VISA cards are accepted by more than 25 million businesses all over the world and at more than 1 million ATMs across the United States. Additionally, GBTI VISA customers enjoy competitive interest rates, online account statement access, free monthly statements, and a maximum one-week turnaround time for replacement of lost, stolen, or damaged cards. 

Anyone at least 18 years of age with valid picture identification is eligible to apply for a GBTI VISA card. The bank’s branches offer application forms, but customers may also access forms online, print them, and fill them out before their scheduled interview with a bank representative. 

credit-card

Thanks to the expansion of access to personal credit over the past few generations, credit cards have become ubiquitous worldwide. There are numerous excellent reasons to open a credit card account, but it is also vital to keep sound principles of managing credit in mind when using it. 

Here are a few tips from experts in personal finance that can help consumers manage their credit card accounts in ways that will most benefit them over the long term:

Pay bills on time

Paying your monthly statement—or at least the minimum repayment amount—by the due date will prevent late charges from racking up, and it will also help you maintain a good credit score. In fact, one leading reason why consumers fall into steep credit card debt can be traced back to a failure to make repayments on time.

Pay as much of your balance as possible

Experts advise paying off your entire card balance every month, or at least as much of it as possible, to keep interest and additional fees down.

Of course, there are reasons when it’s just not possible to repay your full balance every month. Even then, it’s still important to repay as much of it as you can—and on time. 

Keep balances low

It’s also a good idea to focus on keeping card balances under about 30 percent of your total credit limit.

Carrying forward more debt than you are prepared to manage puts you in a less favorable position for obtaining a mortgage or financing your child’s higher education. For many potential lenders, credit card balances that continuously hover just under the limit are a sign that a consumer may present a higher risk when it comes to a loan. 

Traditional thinking on this issue also advises credit card holders to spend at most one-third of their monthly income on servicing debt—automobile loans, student loans, and credit card bills, for example.

Keep spending under control

Use only as much credit as you can afford to repay. A store discount of 20 percent may sound exciting, but if you can’t afford to pay off the purchase in your upcoming billing cycle, that discount could end up costing you far more than it was worth.

Make a budget

A simple monthly budget is perhaps one of the most underrated tools for curbing excess

spending and making credit work well for you.

Outline all your monthly income, create a list of all necessary expenditures, and the difference will show you how much debt you can realistically take responsibility for and repay.

You can even use your credit card as a budgeting tool. By planning to make all your regular recurring purchases and bill payments by card, you are helping to build your credit while maintaining an up-to-date log of expenditures. 

Get a copy of your credit report

Experts recommend requesting a copy of your credit report every year from any of the relevant credit reporting companies. Check this report carefully to note and report any errors, and be particularly alert for any signs of fraud or identity theft. Make sure to correct any wrong or incomplete information, such as address, marital status, or current mortgage or loan status. 

Let your bank help you

GBTI’s free monthly statements and easy online account access can become powerful budgeting and tracking tools for helping you keep track of your cash flow every month. Try logging in to your account once a week to make sure you understand your usage patterns and available credit. This will also allow you to promptly bring any problems you see to your bank’s attention.

How to Discuss Money with Your Significant Other

Managing your money well is no easy task, and it can be doubly difficult when you become married or enter into a common law union. You’re now having to sort out expenses and budget effectively for a household rather than for an individual.

Depending on your prior circumstances, you and your partner may have had different experiences with money. You’re also likely bringing diverse budgeting skill sets into the relationship. Since decisions about money often have to be made daily, making those decisions jointly can be a challenge for couples.

Read on for some helpful tips for managing money as a couple from our GBTI banking experts.

1. Begin with Honesty

Money can be a touchy subject. Some people find it relatively straightforward to discuss their finances, while others are reluctant or become anxious. Think honestly about what money means to you. Do you value having the spending power acquire nice things or is it satisfactory just to have sufficient funds to pay the bills and put food on the table? Do money worries have you up at night or is your financial health rarely a source of stress? Be as clear and truthful as you can with your spouse.

2. Recognize Differences

After opening up to one another, you’ll probably discover that you and your spouse or significant other have some different feelings and expectations on the topic of finances. This will involve decisions about how to spend, save, and invest your wealth. In addition, one of you may feel much more comfortable handling the family budget. Note where you differ and where you can find some common ground for agreement. You don’t have to have everything figured out at once—just enough to begin the budgeting process.

3. Be Compassionate

couple

Take some time to understand where your partner is coming from. What was their exposure to money management growing up? Did they benefit from solid financial literacy training or were they shielded from discussions about money? If they have difficulty talking about budgeting, it could be that they witnessed their parents having financial troubles or disagreements.

4. Decide on an Approach

The next step is to figure out your money management approach. Many couples who bank at GBTI have joint checking and savings accounts. However, you may decide to keep your GBTI accounts separate from one another, or have a joint account for common expenses and individual accounts for personal spending and saving. If you have individual investments or bank accounts, be sure to designate a beneficiary.

5. Play to Your Strengths

If one of you is better at handling the family budget, it makes sense to have that person take on the responsibility. Some people have a natural aptitude for dealing with finances and know how to spend and invest wisely. They may also thrive on looking for deals and ways to stretch dollars for more buying power. Play to your strengths as a couple while making sure that you are both aware of your budget details and in agreement with all financial decisions.

6. Build in Flexibility

The best budgets have some flexibility built into them for contingencies. Whether it’s rounding up regular expenses to the next few dollars to provide a cushion for price changes or slowly building an emergency fund to prepare for large unexpected expenses, take care to use a few proactive budgeting practices. The more prepared you are for increases in living costs and emergencies, the more trouble-free your money talks will be.

7. Review Regularly

Your financial situation will change over the course of your relationship. Hopefully, your situation will improve with job promotions, profitable investments, and increased expertise in managing your funds. Having said that, the opposite can certainly happen, and you may struggle with your finances at times due to various adversities. By regularly reviewing your budget and financial goals together, you’ll make sure that you are on track and make adjustments as needed.

8. Make Room for Mistakes

Making mistakes with money cannot be avoided. You might forget to pay a bill, overspend on holiday, not set aside sufficient funds for repairs on an older vehicle, or commit a more serious oversight. Poor financial decisions don’t need to lead to anxiety and guilt. Just use it as a learning experience and move on. Remember, if you start to find yourself out of your depth, GBTI can help.

Finally, don’t forget to celebrate your successes. After putting in place the above strategies and experiencing the advantages, it’s important to celebrate the fact that you’re working as a team to manage your money.