Savings

The Game Of Money: How Hobbies Can Make Finances Fun

Life’s pretty ridiculous, isn’t it? In fact, the whole thing just feels like one big game sometimes, which kind of got me thinking: What if finances were a game? A video game, to be precise! After all, many people find it hard to engage with stuff like saving and budgeting, and an off-the-wall approach might be exactly what it takes to get them involved. So, here’s a few ways that managing money is just like playing a game.

(This could work with any hobby, but I’ll go with gaming because that’s my thing.)

The Fire Dragon

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Whether it’s slaying Skyrim’s dragons or buying designer shoes at the mall, our goals are what keep us motivated. Sadly, they’re not always simple to achieve! Everyone wants to vanquish the dragon, but you can’t do that until you find its lair. You can’t find its lair until you get the map. You can’t get the map until you visit the temple. You can’t reach the temple until you visit the blacksmith, and so on.

Similarly, those sweet Converse won’t just appear on your feet. You can’t buy the shoes until you save up the cash. You can’t save the cash until you cut back your spending. You can’t cut your spending without making a budget. You can’t make a budget until you learn how. Sure, it all sounds tedious, but it’s merely the means to an end. Always keep the goal in mind, and you’ll be amazed at what you can slog through to get it.

Random encounters

Money - Savings

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Games and life both like to throw curveballs every so often. You never know when some goblin might score a critical hit and wipe you out, just like you never know when your laptop might crash or your energy bill might spike. Put money aside each month and consider it your backup save file, ready to step in and save the day if you take a nasty hit. A gamer will tell you that saving is the best way to counter unexpected mishaps, and a financial adviser will tell you the same!

Big, mean boss fights

Hokuto No Ken - Last Battle - Boss Fight #4 FALCO

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Sometimes the phrase ‘curveball’ doesn’t quite cover it. If your car dies, your ceiling collapses and your wallet goes missing all in one week, you might face bills that even your savings can’t handle. It’s life’s version of an unfair boss fight, and you’ll need a hand getting past it. This is where a loan may become necessary.

The loan you choose depends entirely on your situation. Make sure you do your research and don’t rush into anything blindly. A larger loan over a longer period is useful if you’re buying a house, but a short-term company (like New Zealand’s Pretty Penny Loans, for example) is the better option if you need cash right away.

It’s like heading to the tavern to hire help for the boss fight. Bloodsquisher the Monstrous may have a cool axe, but a closer look at Jane the Plain reveals that she can lethally exploit the boss’ biggest weakness. Be smart and informed, and you’ll do fine.

Anyway, this is all light-hearted, so don’t take it too seriously. It’s only meant to illustrate how a fresh perspective can make your finances seem more approachable. Much like backtracking through a level, you never know what you might’ve missed the first time around!


Real Estate Investment: It’s Not as Scary as You Think!

Investing is something that’s really important for you to do these days. You need to make sure you have investment opportunities lined up. Did you know 51% of Americans put off major financial decisions? You have to make sure you aren’t one of them. Investing for the future is important for your family’s financial security. And investment in real estate could be a very lucrative venture for you. You don’t need to be scared of the vast sums of money involved in real estate investment. Following these ideas will help you make the right financial decisions.

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Choose the Perfect Property

You have to make sure you figure out the perfect property for investment. A lot of people these days are looking into 1031 property exchange quotes. It’s important if you’re selling and buying, that you always have a property to fall back on. By doing an exchange, you can upgrade, downsize, or choose something better suited to you. The perfect property is crucial when you are investing because it’s a long-term purchase. You have to choose something that’s going to last you a long time. You will need to decide whether it will be a rental, or if you’re going to do it up and sell it on.

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Don’t be Reckless

The problem that a lot of people have when they invest is that they can be reckless. You’re dealing with an awful lot of money, and it can be easy to think you know it all. But you really do need to make sure you aren’t making reckless investments. It’s so easy to lose money when you try to invest. If you don’t know what you’re doing, then you’re as good as gambling your money away. There are a lot of mistakes people make when it comes to investing. Things like buying high and selling low are often a recipe for disaster. When it comes to real estate, you have to be especially careful not to be reckless.

Get Experts to Help You

It’s always good with any investment to have experts on board to help you. Speaking with investment gurus and specialists is crucial. It’s the best way of helping ensure that you have all the facts before you start. You need to have peace of mind and be comfortable with the decisions you make. And the only way of doing that is to make sure you have input and guidance from people who know what they’re talking about. It’s estimated 61% of adults would rather consult their financial advisors than family. This shows you the importance and impact that financial advisors have. And, with a decision this big, you can’t leave any stone unturned.

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Investment opportunities are ten a penny these days, but real estate can be the best choice. You just have to make sure you plan it all meticulously and make all the correct choices. Many people are scared of investing in real estate because of the amounts of money that are being dealt with. But, it’s not as scary as you might first have thought.


Dodge These Job Issues That Could Cripple Your Finances

Dodge These Job Issues That Could Cripple Your Finances

It should come as no surprise that your job can and will affect your financial situation. The two go hand in hand with one feeding into the other. If you don’t have a job, your finances are going to take a hit. However, there are certain financial issues caused by careers that people simply do not see coming. Due to this, they never have time to deal with them effectively. These are the issues you need to watch out for and how to stop them putting you in a crippling financial situation.

 

Long Periods Of Unemployment

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Leaving university this year, you may remember two words above all else. One year. That’s how long professors now believe it will take students to find a job in a permanent position. A job that is within their chosen industry that they studied for. Sure, there’ll be outliers and someone’s got to get the worm early. But for many, that one year will be the norm, and that’s a problem. However, when you’re young, it doesn’t matter too much. You can take other jobs until you find a career that you enjoy. You don’t need to settle into a permanent position just yet. It’s when you’re older that a long period of unemployment can become an issue. You see, a long period of unemployment is like a house that hasn’t sold. It looks terrible because it seems that no one is interested. This is exactly what happens to you after a long time of being unemployed. Employers start to assume you have nothing to offer. To avoid this scenario, you need to keep training and keep learning new skills. This will make you highly employable even if you are made redundant.

 

Unpaid Work

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Granted not quite as serious as redundancy, but this will have an effect on your finances. It’s always disheartening when you realize that you haven’t been paid for your work. Usually, this is because your overtime hasn’t been accounted for. Interestingly, there’s a confrontation in Hollywood about this right now. Workers on the film Sausage Party are complaining many were not paid for the work, nor did they receive accreditation. It’s unclear whether these claims are true but both sides are currently throwing punches. If you’re in Hollywood, this story will attract media attention. Due to this, any wrongdoing will most likely be resolved without legal action. In a typical work industry, there’s no such luck. Instead, you’ll need to contact an employment lawyer for unpaid wages. They should help you get what you are owed and keep your finances in the green.

 

Unfortunate Accidents

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In the UK, the government is doing it’s best to get AI lawsuits abolished completely. AI law has become a huge multimillion dollar industry with lawyers profiting every day. Unfortunately, these lawsuits tend to put immense financial pressure on companies. What about the workers, though? Without these lawsuits, an employer may not feel obligated to pay if an employee. Even if they are left unable to work. There are thousands of people off work right now and not receiving any compensation. Again to right this wrong you need to contact a lawyer. Only they can help you get justice and ensure you are paid when you are unable to work.

 


Hidden Secrets to Saving for Retirement

Hidden Secrets to Saving for Retirement

Gone are the days where you worked for a certain number of years and had nothing to worry about when it was time for you to retire. Now, in order for you to have a nice-size nest egg, you need to start saving for your retirement as soon as you start working your first job. The average person doesn’t give much thought to their retirement when they are just starting out. However, that doesn’t mean that it is too late for them to start today. Here are some tips and tricks that can help anyone save for their retirement so they can live a comfortable life, not an impoverished one.

Calculate Your Needs

You need to have a realistic picture of how much it is going to cost for you to support yourself once you retire. Don’t assume that if you stick with your employer long enough that you are automatically covered. Take a look at your retirement savings and do the math. Don’t forget to account for the cost of living and inflation. Ideally, you should expect to save up enough money to replace up 60 to 80 percent of your pre-retirement earnings.Brush up on your financial knowledge by readingbooks and surfing the internet on how to start planning for retirement.Fisher Investments Plan Your Prosperity by Ken Fisher lays out what to consider you should consider when planning for retirement. On the internet, Business Insider has a list of the best online financial websites. You can’t do too much research!Don’t forget to check out other sources of information as well.retirement

Check Out What Your Employer Offers

Many employers offer their workers a 401(k). This type of account can be a significant source of your retirement savings if you utilize it properly. Since most employers match a percentage of their employees’ contributions, increasing your own contributions can really pay off. You are essentially getting free money to improve your quality of living in the future.

Many entrepreneurs, independent contractors, and self-employed professionals do not have a 401(k). However, there is an alternative that they can still take advantage of: IRAs. There are two types of IRAs:traditional and Roth. Just like 401(k)s, you can contribute money to IRAs and watch the money grow without being offset by taxes. Just stay mindful of the limits and rules that govern IRAs. For example, the maximum contribution anyone can make to their IRA for 2016 is $5,500. Anyone who is 50 or older can contribute up to $6,500 a year.

It is also possible for you to have a 401(k) and an IRA. If you do, plan your contributions so you can enjoy all of the advantages and increase your retirement savings significantly.

Mutual Funds

Learn what you can about mutual funds, especially target-date ones. Target-date mutual funds can be great investment tools if you utilize them correctly. For example, the “target date” mutual fund uses the date you plan to retire and adjust risk. Once invested, the mutual funds regularly invest into products with consideration to your situation in life.

Social Security Is Extra

Think of social security as dessert. Since you don’t know how much of it will contribute to your monthly income, it is best to leave it as a possibility, not a complete certainty.

Investment Options

There are other sources of retirement income available; however, most require you to make an initial investment. Many of these options do not pay right away. In fact, many of them offer a bigger return on your investment if you are willing to invest for longer   periods of time. Talk with a financial adviser to learn more about your options. Investing for retirement is not as hard as it sounds. With the right amount of knowledge, guidance, and options, you can grow your retirement savings while you sleep. p>

Don’t Touch Your 401(k) and IRAs

If you switch jobs, you may be tempted to cash out your 401(k) or IRA. Not only is this a bad practice, it is one that can hurt your retirement savings efforts tremendously. Instead, a much better option is for you to roll your 401(k) over to your new employer so you can continue what you’ve started to avoid having your hard-earned money taxed at 10 percent and penalized by the IRS at 7.5 percent. IRAs also have age restriction rules that you need to be aware of.

Save Your Windfalls

Every now and then you may receive a bonus from work, a raise, or even win the lottery. While that extra money can help to increase your comfort and financial situation now, they can be more beneficial if you add them to your retirement savings.

Once your retirement savings reach $75,000, you’ll find that increasing it is much easier. Plan your savings decisions wisely and you’ll be able to reap the benefits when you retire.


Four Clear Signs You’re NOT Ready To Buy Your First Home

Four Clear Signs You’re NOT Ready To Buy Your First Home

First home

Many of us follow traditional career paths. We go through the educational system, eventually concluding by jumping into the world of work. It’s during this period of transition that we start considering where we’re going to live. It’s time to leave the nest, but is renting or buying a home the best option? It all depends on the situation, of course. If you’re feeling confused, follow our tips to help make your decision!

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#2

You’re In Debt

This is an obvious one! If you’re in debt, you haven’t got the money to be spending on buying a home. Purchasing a house is a massive consideration and one that can easily leave you with more debt in the future. First, you need to banish those current repayments as quickly as possible. Consider researching the Obama loan forgiveness scheme, and find ways to repair your credit if it has been damaged. For now, this is the most important consideration.

Future

#3

You’re Unsure About The Future

When you leave the educational system, you might feel a little uneasy. Some people seamlessly transition into the next phase of their career, of course. However, others stagnate and grow disillusioned. It might be that you seek a totally different career path entirely. Alternatively, you might need to look further afield to gain employment in your chosen area. If the future isn’t clear, you don’t want to jump into a decision like this. Buying a house is expensive, and selling it can be extremely difficult. Until you know where your future lies, you need to wait.

#4

The Negatives Outweigh The Positives

Sometimes, there just isn’t a good reason to buy your first home. For those who live on their own, buying a big home with multiple bedrooms isn’t worth it. Alternatively, it might just be that the house prices in your area are unreasonable. You don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, so for now, wait it out. There’s no shame in renting a home until a better opportunity comes along. Write down a list of pros and cons. If the cons are the most prominent, save your home-buying ventures for another time.

#5

You’ve Never Lived On Your Own Before

If you’ve spent your whole life living with your parents, it’s going to be difficult making the transition to living alone. Quite simply, you need some experience before making the decision to buy. This is a massive financial consideration, but how can you make an informed decision when you’ve only ever lived in one place? Before long, that big home you bought might seem too large and overwhelming for your needs. For now, take the time to rent and get used to living away from your parents. As you develop more experience, you’ll get a better idea of what you want out of your first home purchase.

It’s important to remember that buying your first home isn’t a race! It’s a decision that should be thought about carefully, and there’s no need to rush into it. Make sure you’re happy before buying that all-important first home.


How should you celebrate a month when you have saved up?

How should you celebrate a month when you have saved up?

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This doesn’t happen every year. You don’t get to count many months on your fingers when you have actually gone one up on your expenses. Consider the rent, food bills, electricity bills, entertainment costs, commutation costs, college fees and other debts. Your expenses are always on the rise and it is not easy to save. So, what exactly do you do when you actually end up saving a month- may be by cutting off the entertainment costs, or by ditching the public transport in favor of the walking? After all, you have done it! Any which way you have done it! And, it is extremely important to celebrate your financial victory as well.

Your celebration begins!

And, how exactly do you do it? By becoming more financially aware. Let us explore more in this regard. It is important to acknowledge your efforts – the steps taken by you towards fulfilling your financial goals. You don’t necessarily need to turn to the huge volumes of Economic books in a bid to understand how difficult it is to save. So, reward yourself when you have actually been able to do that.

What you need to be aware of

A part of your celebration is largely about tracking down your needs or financial obligations that you have not been able to fulfill so far- keeping your regular expenses in view. Come to think about it. Is there a debt which you can get rid of with the help of the savings you have made? Becoming debt-free itself is way of celebration. Don’t you think so?

If you don’t have any such debt as that of the aforementioned one, then consider investing a part of the savings in doing something fruitful- a life insurance policy (if you don’t have one) comes to mind immediately – but then again you need to consider the monthly, yearly or quarterly premiums as well. If there’s no assurance that you will be able to save as much every month as you have been able to do now then it would be advisable for you to give more time to this decision.

Do the needful

It is very important to identify areas where you have been able to save. Would you be able to continue with the money-saving measures that you had resorted to this particular month? What is it that helped you save up? Did you use your electricity more wisely? Did you cut down on your entertainment costs? Is it possible to continue with these efforts in the coming months as well? Identify all the avenues of savings so that you can actually embark on a more organized financial goal.

Please make sure you are keeping these points in view. Hope this has been a fun read!


ISAs Explained

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We would all like ways to maximise our money with a minimal amount of effort, but surprisingly few of us know of one that already exists: the ISA. Although you may be familiar with the term, the chances are that you’re not sure of exactly what it means or the benefits that it encompasses.

It’s time to change that. With numerous boons for those who take advantage of this financial instrument, it pays to know how you can profit from it, and how you can start investing. Read on to find out…

What is an ISA?

As you might already have guessed, the term ISA is an abbreviation, in this case for an individual savings account. It is, as the name implies, a savings instruments, and one that can be highly beneficial to a lot of people.

Essentially, it allows you to deposit a certain amount, without having to pay tax on any money that you make through interest. As it currently stands, the amount you can put into an ISA for the tax year 2016/2017 is £15,240, although this is set to rise to £20,000 for 2017-2018.

There are two main types of ISA: a cash ISA and a stocks and shares ISA. The former acts as a highly popular savings account; the latter as a tax-free wrapper for investments. You can pay into one of each, provided that the total value of both does not exceed the amount stated above.

Who Can Open an ISA?

Part of the beauty of ISAs lies in their flexibility, and taxpayers from every walk of life can benefit from them. The only bar at all is age, but provided that you’re over 16 you are entitled to open a cash ISA, and once you reach 18, you may also open a stocks and shares account. For those younger than this, a junior ISA alternative is available, which can be useful if you’re planning on starting a savings fund for your child or another minor.

How Much Can You Put into an ISA?

As stated above, every taxpayer can invest up to £15,240 for the 2016/2017 tax year. This can be divided between a cash ISA and a stocks and shares ISA in any way that you like, or else invested fully in one or the other.

Come the start of the next tax year, a new allowance is received, and the amount it is set at may vary from the year previously. Over time, this means that savvy investors can earn a significant sum thanks to their tax-efficient savings.

If you want to do more with your money, why not consider investing in an ISA today?


Energy Saving Tips that Keep Money in Your Pocket

According to many experts, people in the United States are on unhealthy financial paths that will make it difficult for them to retire. In fact, less than a quarter of Americans have enough money saved to live without paychecks for six months. About 50 percent don’t even have savings large enough to support themselves through three months of unemployment. Living paycheck to paycheck may not seem like a big deal until an emergency happens. When a unexpected emergency happens, though, households simply do not have enough money to pay their bills.

There are a lot of things you can do to start saving more money. Lowering your household expenses is one effective option. By lowering the amount of money that you spend on bills, you can put more in your savings account. Simply telling someone to lower their household expenses, however, isn’t very effective. They need to know what steps they can take to start saving.

In this infographic published by Griffith Energy Services, you will learn about several ways to lower your monthly bills. Something as simple as unplugging your electronics can save you up to $100 a year. Getting rid of an extra refrigerator could help you save up to $200 on electricity every year. When it comes to long-term savings, though, you can benefit from getting a an energy audit that will find inefficiencies like leaking ducts and poorly insulated rooms. You will also want to get your HVAC system inspected. It may cost a little bit now, but it will help you save money for years to come.

Note to publisher:

This is an intro text to an infographic post. You can find the infographic post here:

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Are You Planning to Retire Earlier?

retirementHave you ever asked the question, “can I retire early“? By retire early, most people mean before age 62. If one wants to retire early, the success of this comes down to a few different things.

Saving Enough Is Key

We hear it again and again. Save early and often. But that’s not enough. It must become something that is automatic. Saving should be like brushing your teeth every morning; it’s something we should do without even thinking twice about it.

Case Study In Saving

So how much to save? It is best to look at a case study for this. I ran some interesting scenarios for a 40 year old couple in our publicly available WealthTrace Retirement Planner. First, our assumptions:

1) I assumed they will spend $65,000 per year in retirement.

2) They have $250,000 in savings (75% stocks, 25% bonds) today, saving $20,000 a year.

The Results

I ran their retirement plan and found the following:

1) They will have $1.5 million at retirement. They will also have an 85% of never running out of money in retirement. I found this probability using Monte Carlo analysis, which runs 1,000 scenarios and calculates the number of times they never run out of money in retirement. To read more about how much money it takes to retire comfortably, you can take a look at our research on this here.

2) If they cut their savings by just $5,000 per year, their nest egg at retirement drops by $500,000! Their probability of never running out of money falls to less than 70%.

It goes without saying: saving is absolutely key. But it’s more than that. Saving consistently is very important to retiring when you want.

Which Accounts To Save To?

So you’re now in the habit of putting money away for retirement every single month. OK, that’s a good start. But which accounts should you save to? If you’re only saving to your taxable accounts, you are probably not maximizing your savings impact.

RetirementTaxes are an inevitability, but if you’re not using retirement accounts to defer (or with a Roth, completely eliminate) those taxes until retirement, then you’re putting a dent in your chance of an early retirement.

By first maxing out the $18,000 you can put in your 401(k), and then the $5,500 you can put in a traditional or Roth IRA — plus additional “catch-up” contributions for the 50-and-older club — before contributing to a taxable account, you’ll defer the tax impact until you retire.

Roth IRAs will allow you to withdraw your money tax-free in retirement, at the cost of paying taxes on that savings today. You can use our free IRA calculator to help you figure out which type of IRA is best for you.

Saving combined with good tax planning can lead to not paying any more in taxes than you have to. The differences add up and compound over time. If you want to retire early, it makes sense to develop smart tax management strategies. These tools will give you more money to work with and help to stretch your retirement funds even further.

Create Strong, Stable Income

Treasury bonds do not generate enough income for most people in retirement these days. That is why I recommend using dividend-growth stocks that have a long history of increasing their dividends. Dividend-growth stocks, such as Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Coca-Cola (KO), Procter & Gamble (PG), and Exxon (XOM), will provide stable income in retirement and will ensure that the principal value of your investments becomes less and less important. This is so important for your retirement years and is one of the best alternatives to bonds in retirement today.


Saving Money and Going Green Go Hand-in-Hand

money_savingThe main goal for most businesses is to turn a profit. However, in a world that is increasingly aware of environmental issues, many businesses are taking measures to reduce the negative impact their company has on the environment. It is a mistaken belief that going green can cost more money for your business. In fact, saving money and going green go hand in hand.

Reducing Electricity Usage

Electricity is often one of the biggest overheads faced by a business, but cutting back on the amount of electricity used is relatively easy. One of the biggest uses of electricity in businesses is lighting. Turning off lights when you are not using a room is really easy and is a habit that should be encouraged amongst all staff. Another way to cut the cost of lighting is to use energy saving lightbulbs. The initial outlay for these is more than regular bulbs, but you will soon reap the rewards of using them. They can last for several years before they need replacing and significantly reduce the amount of energy used to light your premises. A further tip for cutting back on electricity use is to turn off all the equipment and appliances each day as soon as they are not in use. You can make it the responsibility of the last person to leave the premises each night to make sure that everything is turned off.

Using Recycled Products

Using recycled products is a great way of both going green and saving money. Recycled paper is fantastic for everyday use, and usually costs significantly less than paper that has not been recycled. You can also make efforts to recycle paper yourself by shredding unwanted documents and sending the waste for recycling.

Similarly, instead of buying brand new ink cartridges every time they need replacing, consider using remanufactured Lexmark ink cartridges. Not only is this a step towards operating an environmentally friendly business, it can also save you between 40 and 50 per cent on the cost of replacing ink cartridges. Buying HP Laserjet p1102 Printer Ink from Original Cartridge Manufacturers and remembering to recycle your used cartridges will ensure no waste is created by your business. There are also many items of stationery that are made from recycled materials, such as recycled plastics, and it is worth considering only buying these if they are a cost-effective option for your business.

Cutting Down on Gas Use

If you use gas for heating your premises, this will impact on the carbon footprint of your business. If you are not careful, it can also make a big dent in your business overheads. Reducing the amount of gas you use to heat your premises has the double benefits of saving you money and lowering the detrimental impact your business is having on the environment. Luckily, cutting down on gas usage is really simple.

Your premises do not need to be heated twenty-four hours a day, so set your boiler’s timer settings so that you can limit heating to set times of the day. If you must have the heating on constantly, then turn the thermostat down. Even a few degrees can make a significant difference. Furthermore, you should take steps to prevent heat loss from your building. Close all the doors and windows, get the premises insulated and consider using draft excluders around the doors. Saving energy in this way can have a dramatic impact on the amount your business will pay in bills each month.

Any business that wishes to conduct themselves in an ethical manner should take steps to reduce the negative impact their daily activities has on the environment. The added advantage of taking steps towards being green is that you can dramatically reduce many of your costs, including electricity, gas and office equipment. Not only will your profits increase as a result of cutting costs, you can also inform clients that you are an ethical and green business and this can be a deciding factor for many clients when choosing a business to work with.

 


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