IFB97: A List of Really Unwise Financial Decisions

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Dave:                                    00:36                     All right folks, we’ll welcome to Investing for Beginners podcast. This is episode 97. Tonight Andrew and I are going to talk about wisdom, really unwise financial decisions. We’ve put together a list of some things that you should not do if you want to be wise with your money. So Andrew, why don’t you go ahead and talk about our first item, then we’ll kind of go down the list.

Andrew:                              00:59                     Yeah, sounds good. Making this list was fun, wasn’t it? It was fun because I’m guilty of these just as much as anybody else. I don’t like to think that. I don’t like to imply that I’m just like the super wealthy dude that doesn’t make any mistakes. But you know, I think we can kind of learn from other people sometimes. Maybe learn from ourselves sometimes and we can do some things with our money that, uh, you know, when it becomes a money pay, we don’t have to fall into those traps. So I think a huge one, and by the way, I think a lot of these are pretty controversial. I think this one’s controversial too, but credit cards. So my thing with credit cards is obviously my stance is I’m the super no debt guy, only by, you know, I only want stocks that don’t have a lot of debt.

Andrew:                              01:52                     I think that is the devil, the borrower, slave, borrower’s slave to the lender, you know, all these sorts of things when it comes to debt. However, I also like to think that I’m brilliant one. A lot of the times I’m not. So even with my anti-death stance, um, I’ve done like I’ve opened up a, a travel rewards credit card, even after everybody knows that my reputation is, I don’t like that. And I tried to play like the points game where I was telling myself, you know, I have these expenses every month, then might as well take advantage of them, right? If they’re just going to be normal expenses are, they always have. I’ve always been kind of a numbers guy. Math dude, I like to think I knew how to do a good budget at the time. So I said, yeah, well let me get this free interest rate.

Andrew:                              02:42                     Let me, let me get these free points. I fly a lot so this, this will be useful for me. So I did that and then I’ve maybe played the game the right way, maybe like a month or two, kind of paying it off every month like you should. And then after just kind of blew up in my face and it took me months, many months. So it’s a buckle down and, and basically clean up my own mess. So I think when it, when it comes to credit cards and when it comes to trying to play the points game, personally I don’t think most people should, there’s a reason that they offer it, right? These credit card companies, because for every one person who plays that game correctly, there’s nine who don’t. And so those nine other people are the ones who are funding that one person who’s able to pay off their credit card every, uh, every month and, and you know, actually make money from, from doing points and travel rewards and miles and all of that.

Andrew:                              03:43                     I don’t know who said it. I think I might’ve been Dave Ramsey, but he said something like, nobody’s ever gotten rich off credit card points or credit card miles, something like that. So I think that’s something to keep in mind. And when you really run the numbers, you start to see the percentages are actually pretty, pretty low. So it’s like if you really want like one, two, 3% back, why aren’t you getting into a dividend paying stock and watching that price appreciate. Right. So I don’t know. Those are my thoughts and I’m sure there’s a lot of people who they all have these justifications for and crackers. I’m not saying cut them all up, I still keep a credit card, but that thing is like, I dunno, I just got to not look at it and not be tempted to pull it out. And so I actually closed the one that had um, that had points because I didn’t want to deal with that again. So now I just have my name, my normal credit card and I’m not like tempted to use it to, to earn this or in that. I think I’ve been better off even though sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.

financial decisions

Dave:                                    04:48                     And to be honest with you, after working at a bank for a while, you are the perfect person that we look for when we’re trying to find somebody applying for a credit card. It like, you just, you know, you could just tell when they walked into the bank to that, hey, they want to play the points game and truth be told that’s exactly what for are the people that are going to try to quote.

Dave:                                    05:12                     And then I’ll run up a big bill and like Andrew said, you know, the one person out of the 10 that actually can manage it correctly and handle it the way it should be handled. Uh, you know, they are the ones that don’t pay for it, but the other nine are the ones that are paying for that one person that can play the game correctly. And I’m here to tell you, I saw a lot of that happened in the, in the banking world, a lot of customers would come back and you would see, you know, they would, you give them a $5,000 limit and three months later you look at their account and there it is at $5,000 you just Ah, you know your heart breaks because you know that they just went nuts and they thought that they hate quote unquote free money and now they’re paying, you know, 22% on that card in the earth thing that a lot of people don’t know or talk about is whatever they raise the interest rates like they’ve been doing for the last few years, that affects your credit card directly and immediately. So that balance that you have, that maybe a 22.5% is now going to be at 24% or 25% or 80% is going to go up to 20% and those one or two percents, man, that adds up real, real fast. And it can be real disheartening when you’re trying to pay that off

Dave:                                    06:28                     That sucks at it every month and you only see it go down $150 and it’s a, it’s a real, real, real big, big trap. But he’s doe this and they market it towards people like us. And I’ve gotten into the game before myself and I’ve made that mistake as well. And uh, I did the exact kind of the exact same thing Andrew did once I got to pay it off, I was like, okay, we’re done with this. Now. I can tell you a couple of things, uh, to give you a little bit of helpful advice on that. Um, having your credit card open is very, very beneficial for your credit. It’s a, as long as you have three different credit lines open, that will help your credit immensely. Even if you aren’t using the card, it still helps your credit. Now I came across this guy that I thought it was kind of a brilliant idea.

Dave:                                    07:15                     He actually put it in his credit card because he didn’t want to use it, but he wanted to keep it open to help us credit. He took a Tupperware container, filled it with water, put his credit card in the water and then put it in a freezer and froze it. And I thought, okay, first of all, you know, that’s kind of nuts. But then when I thought about it and he made the point, he said he can’t use it. The only way he’s going to use this, he has to thaw of the thing out to get it. So he really, really needs to use it to get it. And it’s a speed bump for him to not pull it out of his wallet and start Swiping away. And I thought, wow, that’s brilliant. And so I’ve actually passed that along to other customers when I was working at wells Fargo because I thought, awesome, great idea. And you know, so if you can’t, you can’t be disciplined enough and you still want to have it open to help your credit. That’s a little trick. A little helpful. Help you save yourself from yourself.

Andrew:                              08:11                     That’s a, that’s too funny. It was pretty cool. It’s pretty, pretty incredible. All right, let’s talk about the next one. Yeah. So the next one I wanted to talk about was student loans. And you know, not like having too much of a student loan if you’re going to have a high income job. But I think there are a lot of degrees and people are kind of realizing this now. But I remember when I was growing up going to school, like this topic of student loans was never a thing. It was always like, you know, I was in like the honors, the honors classes with all the honors kids. And so it was really like try to get into the most prestigious school you could get into. And money was never really an object. I don’t know if it’s because now because I’m all plugged in with the financial world or because I read finding personal finance blogs, whatever it is, or just the fact that, you know, I’ve gone through it myself and just seeing so many friends and peers go through with, you know, having, having a lot of debt and you know, you hear about that all the time.

Andrew:                              09:18                     It’s something that unfortunately is not really talked about much. I saw a article, this was a couple months ago, but basically it was talking about this woman who had so high of a student loan that basically she didn’t, I think it says she paid like 100,000 towards it over like a 10 year period or something and it hadn’t budged more than like $50 or just as it was something ridiculous like that. So obviously that’s like an extreme case, but I think it, it should be obvious if you’re studying for something and the starting salary for that career path. I think if the student loan amount is higher than, than how much you expect to make in the first year. I think that’s like too much. You don’t realize it until until you graduate and unfortunately it’s not thought about enough. But once you get to a part where it’s just takes up too much of your income, now you’re, you’re putting back so many other aspects of your financial life that it, it, it’s like it doesn’t even, it’s like you went to college to, to put yourself forward financially and now you’re going one step forward, two steps back.

Andrew:                              10:32                     I think I just kinda came up with that rule of thumb on the top of my head, but I think based on what I’ve seen and what I’ve kind of observed that it would kind of make sense if, if you’re not going to make at least that much when you graduate, why are you getting into that much debt? I Dunno. That’s my thoughts.

Dave:                                    10:47                     Yeah, I would agree with that. I mean you think about the, you know, here in Wisconsin to go to University of Wisconsin in state is $20,000 a year. That’s just for the tuition. And so if you’re there for four years, that’s $80,000 you’re going to spend. And if you go and get a degree in a career that’s only going to pay you 30 or 40,000 a year to start and maybe not a whole lot more after that. I mean that’s really digging yourself a big, big hole. And you know, it’s not like, you know, we’re trying to talk people out of going to school, but I guess, you know, have, have your parents involved, have you look into what it is you’re going to be doing and is it really the price really going to be worth it? I mean, cause that’s really digging yourself into a hole.

Dave:                                    11:39                     I mean, when you think about a hundred thousand dollar loan that you have to pay back, you know, your minimum payment every month, I’m just going to throw a number out there is going to be 700 to 900 bucks a month. I mean that’s, that’s rent or a mortgage in a lot of places. And so that’s what made me, not Los Angeles, but you know, the rest of the world, uh, that’s, that’s a really nice car. Yeah, exactly. No matter where you are, that’s a really nice car. That’s a big, big chunk of change. So I guess that’s why I would be like, [inaudible] want to think about that before you start dumping that kind of money into it. And I’m like, just kinda roughly, um, based sound like what I pay and then kind of like multiplying it to, to get to that 80 k that you’re talking about real.

Dave:                                    12:25                     Uh, yeah, you are, you’re about right. You’re actually like under estimating long it would be higher than like 900. Oh Gosh, that’s crazy. And it’s like, it’s not like you can’t Google like, hey, with this degree what we’re kind of an income. Can I make, what’s my career path? Right? Like, I don’t know why I never thought, I mean, I, I guess I kind of, I kinda did that research, but I know a lot of people did it. You know what I mean? Yup. And I mean, I can give you an example. What are my employees, uh, is going to score right now and she’s, uh, her, her desire is to work for the forestry agencies. She wants to work for the government, work in help, you know, preserve for us and save, you know, the, the environment, which is a very noble cause. But she’s also going to a local community college and is not going to be dropping a kazillion dollars to get her degree.

Dave:                                    13:18                     And so she not gonna make a lot of money when she gets out of school, but she’ll be able to make enough that compared to balancing out what he’s going to owe for any sort of student loans is it can be much, much more minimal, uh, then then what her salary is going to be. So it’s going to be something that she can actually do. So I mean in that, in her circumstance, um, she’s been really wise about it and you can build wealth that way and you can put little bits right what of your extra income and invest in and create another income stream. And that’s a lot better than paying six, seven, 8% back to s uh, fanny and what, what is it? Sally Mann is not what the hell it used to be called. Yeah. I don’t know if they call it any and Freddy was the student loan and then I don’t know. I, I know my loans aren’t Sallie Mae. They got sold to somebody else. But yeah, no, I totally get, that just blows my mind.

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Dave:                                    14:27                     All right. Moving on to the next unwise financial decisions being house poor. I think this, this one kind of speaks for itself. Now if you have all of your monthly income going towards a mortgage, then you’re not gonna have enough money to go out and do things. I think that’s, that’s pretty common sense. And especially at times when speculations kind of rampant, it all kind of coincides

Andrew:                              14:52                     with all runs parallel with each other. You’ll have people who are speculating in the markets and people who have, um, you know, you saw this with the real estate bubble with, with uh, people buying second and third homes and fourth homes and, and people trying to flip homes and, and it just kind of caught up in a craze. And so you have to be careful not only when you’re in the stock market, not only when you’re looking at investments, but also when it comes to pain, those debts, because on the one side, you know, you buy assets and those can fluctuate. When assets go down, you don’t necessarily get killed by it, right. When you have a debt or liability, yeah. Whether things go up or down, you still owe that money. So something that kind of keep in mind, I think is okay. When things are good and the economy’s booming, that’s not a good time. The beginning into debt. And I think that include, okay, getting into a house that’s taking up maybe a little more for percentage of your budget, then you should really think about there is a time and a place for everything, but you don’t want to do it when, and you don’t want to outstretch yourself.

Dave:                                    16:00                     Um, I’m sure you’ve seen this at the bank, right? Yes, yes. Worried. People would buy homes that they could quote unquote afford, but they really couldn’t. I mean, it didn’t allow them to do okay because they were so tight because of their mortgage or money that they weren’t willing to put into the home because they bought a house that they had to, we’re trying to fix up and you know, with the intention of either flipping it or just living, you know, living there, uh, there’s just, it’s a lot harder, I guess, thinking about this too, you know, if you’re, if you’re, if all your money’s going into the house, then you can’t take trips. He can’t do things for your kids because it’s all tied up into, into that house. And you know, yes it is where we live and yes, you know it is our castle so to speak. But I guess you have to balance that out with, you know, what do you really want to do with your life? Do you want to just spend it all sitting in your house because that’s all you can do because you’re spending more than you can really afford.

Dave:                                    17:08                     Or do you want to have the flexibility to do other things, to take trips, to take your kids to Disneyland to, you know, sign them up for beetle baseball lessons or whatever it may be. Any of those things that you can do when you have a little more flexibility, save your retirement, you know, pay off any other debt that you have. All those things, you know, are much more satisfying than, you know, buying the super nice expensive home they use sort of sorta can afford a sort of can’t and it just takes away so much of the joy that I just don’t think that that’s a really wise decision.

Andrew:                              17:47                     Yeah. I want to talk about depreciating assets instead of appreciating assets. So at least with a house, you know, that’s, that’s appreciating. So maybe you can justify it as in, okay, you know, I’m paying a lot now, but at least the mortgage is fixed, I’m getting raises. So it’s taking up less and less than my budget. And then that, that’s assets. Something that’s should appreciate over time. And over the very long term, I think we’ve seen, I think a is for the 5% a year for, for real estate, which isn’t terrible. Right? That’s pretty good. So at least that money’s going somewhere. On the flip side, when you buy like a really expensive car and those cars depreciate, if you buy a brand new one that loses a bunch of its value, when you drive it off the lot, that’s, that’s money that’s wasted. And so a lot of times we might think of a car as an asset, but that’s an asset with, with, uh, only a certain amount of life.

Andrew:                              18:42                     Right? So what you have in those situations, it’s, I think it’s, it’s funny to me how somebody could spend 70 grand on a car and then spend like, let’s say six grand on a vacation, but then they felt so much worse about spending the six grand on the vacation than they did the 70 grand on the car. And it’s because of the way that, you know you’re not, it’s just, that’s the way we’ve been trained by the financial institutions to think about. We think about money in the sense of monthly payments. We don’t think about it in the big picture. We see a car is like, well, I have to get from point a to point B, and while it’s true, you know, you, you do, no matter if you’re going to be the cheapest, most frugal person in the world, and you’re going to be like, you know what, I’m going to minimize my expenses for this car or I’m going to, I’m the buy them cheap and that, you know, I’m the, I’m the keep, keep buying these cheap cars as they break down.

Andrew:                              19:39                     No matter which way you do it, whether you’re, whether you kind of go the uh, the kind of I’m the whole this thing longterm or I’m going to try the try the play the game where um, I’m really getting a bunch of cheap cars and, and, and basically sucking the life. The last couple of drips, uh, drops other of them, right? Regardless of of which spectrum of that you’re in on the frugal side that you still have like a minimum amount of like, yes, this is how much you’re going to have to pay to drive a vehicle. That’s just something that you cannot get away from. So in that sense it’s true. However, there is a huge difference between spending let’s say 15 to 20 to 30 grand on a reasonable car and spending 70 to 90 to a hundred k on the, on the, on the car.

Andrew:                              20:23                     So that if that’s like your joy and that’s your thing, I think that’s 100% what you should do. However, it’s not something that you should look at it as if, well, I’m going to justify it as a, you have to drive a car or this is actually an asset for me because I can still resell it. When you look at depreciation of, of of certain vehicles, vehicles, and you think about that, depreciation is literally just money that you’re throwing in the fireplace. So you could have, if you want to spend that, let’s say 20 grand on a car, you’re going to think about you’re going to lose 20 grants to drive this car for three years. If you’re okay with that, that’s fine. You know, versus, okay, well maybe I want to take a three, $5,000 trips in that same three year time span. Well, who’s the most?

Andrew:                              21:14                     Who’s, who’s the more reasonable financial person? It, it’s not going to be one or the other. It’s just as long as your understanding when you buy these, these luxury vehicles and they’re appreciating that much, then that’s what you’re spending on. So I think the, the thing about it is if you’re aware of what you’re exactly what you’re doing financially, then at least you know, okay, well this is what I’m choosing to spend my money on versus not understanding, well, my monthly payments only this, it’s like, okay, well if you’d have taken that difference in the monthly payment, you could have had a five grand for this vacation or five grand for this. I don’t know, answer your, your expense, expensive, kind of luxury, hobby, whatever it is. We don’t tend to think of expensive trips in those terms, like, like people think of car payments, but really when you get to the bottom line of it, it’s, it’s literally the exact same thing. So keep that in mind and understand that it is a splurge. I guess splurges are kind of technically unwise if, if, uh, but at the same time, you know, it’s, if that’s your thing, well it’s, it’s also fun to be on why sometimes, but don’t confuse it to think, well, I’m actually being smart or I’m actually being wise with my money when I do this. Just understand that that’s kind of the reality.

Dave:                                    22:40                     And I think those are great points. And I guess one thing that I’d like to throw out there as a kind of a, an example, not necessarily in buying a car, but, um, as you guys know, Andrew and I have talked a lot about baseball and we’re big baseball fans and there’s been a rash of very high signings recently with in the baseball world of several guys have gotten over three, $400 million to play baseball, which you can argue whether they’re worth it or not. But one of the things that you can’t really argue about is they’re signing longer term contracts. So 10 12 eight years, eight, 10 12 years, and he’s contracts in 12 years from now, is Mike Trout going to be worth $35 million? Well, that’s really the $24 question. And when you look at the depreciation of some of these guys in their abilities erode over time and you think about, you go out, you buy a Maserati, you know, yes, you may own that for eight to 10 years, but is it going to be worth the 70,000 you paid for it 10 years ago?

Dave:                                    23:46                     No, it is not. When you go to turn around and sell it, it’s going to be worth $10,000. So you may have gotten that $60,000 with the joy out of that over the 10 years, but you’re only going to have the $10,000 you can recoup. So it’s not really an asset in such that real estate is, and it’s kind of the same thing with these baseball players. You know, you look at Albert Pool Holes, gazing player when he was with the cardinals, one of the best ever. But when he signed with the angels, uh, seven, eight years ago, he was kind of on the downswing. And now, you know, he’s almost out of baseball and he’s still making it hotter money, but he’s not worth it. And that’s one of the downfalls to having these large contracts. And it’s kind of the same thing with these high depreciation luxury vehicles, whether it’s a camper or trailer or a boat or a really expensive car. You know, your soon as you drive it off the lot, it’s not worth what you paid for it. And if you go into it knowing it, sure, no problem. But if you go into a thinking, Hey, I’m buying this car because I can use it for work and blah, blah, blah, and all the other things that you rationalize it for, then you’re kind of fooling yourself because you’re just getting into a situation where you’re not going to be able to recoup the money that you originally spent on it.

Dave:                                    25:02                     Okay guys, the next thing I’m going to segue into his payday loans. This is something that I dealt with, uh, when I was at the bank, and I’m going to say it pretty bluntly. Don’t ever do it. It’s the biggest, stupidest mistake you could ever possibly make with your finances. If you’re not familiar with what these are, they are evil. These are loans that you can take it or you can take on our your vehicles. And basically what it is is you go, and I’ll give you an example. I had a customer come in to me one day and when I was at the bank and said that they wanted to borrow $500, which we didn’t loan because that was too small of amount. So they decided they were going to go and do a payday loan. So they’re going to take their paycheck over to this company and they would basically front them $500 off of their paycheck and then they could pay them back.

Dave:                                    25:50                     Now what the dumb dumb didn’t realize is that that $500 that he was borrowing, so he could go have a party for the weekend, was really going to cost him about 17 or $1,800 over the life of the loan that he had to pay back. Because the interest rates generally are anywhere from 50 to 85% on these things. And it’s such a scam and it preys on people that are unaware and it is. I so wish these things would be illegal and they put these companies out of business because it, it just drains every single penny these people. And it becomes a vicious cycle because you can’t afford to pay the loans back, but then you need your paycheck to pay all your other bills and now it just escalates and they are just so, so, so bad. And for the love of God, please never, ever take one of these out, please. That’s all I got to say about that.

Andrew:                              26:44                     That, that, that’s a good warning. I think. I understand. Like I, I’ve never personally experienced it by understand your vitriol towards it and I know that you are not the only person in the finance community. There’s a lot of people that hate the pay. They sharks. Awful, awful, awful. If we can keep one person from it, I think that’s worth the whole effort of this episode. Yeah, absolutely. All right, next thing. Rent to own. And so I’m talking about rent to own. Like when you go to a furniture store, let’s say, and uh, you don’t have the money right now. You don’t have any money up front, but you still want to purchase this, this piece of furniture, you can kind of do a rent to own program. So I guess ironically enough, one of the stocks, I own profits off this, but you know, those are people choosing to make these poor decisions.

Andrew:                              27:36                     So I’ll just give you a list of some of the, I’ll talk about some of these additional fees and, and, and then why actually rent to own furniture and they do it for other, other pieces of retail too. So here’s just a small sample of, of fees that they could tack on. Just as a, just as an example here, processing fees, delivery pickup fees, set up installation fees and home collection fees. Uh, which is if an employee comes your home to collect payments, sales tax, assess of damage fees, reinstatement fees, late payment fees. I were talking about how, um, something about like if it’s store that the at the store or something, uh, you get a fee too. But the big thing is, and the way they do is they basically take however much that, that piece of furniture or that, that fancy TV at you’re trying to buy, whatever it is, they’ll, they’ll, they’ll make you do these payments and they’ll make them real cheap and either extend them really long or just make it like super cheap.

Andrew:                              28:40                     Right? And what, what happens is you, you think that you’re getting a great deal, but what they do is they jack up the price of that item. And so over the life of that loan that you paid them, it might not be necessarily all of the interests you paid, but the fact that they jacked up the price of it that makes you have lost out. So, as an example, I’m reading this off actually, consumer.ftc.gov. So that’s a pretty good reliable source. They actually called this article rent to own costly convenience. They gave a couple examples. You could get, uh, a TV for 78 weekly payments of $8 and 50 cents each. That sounds like wow. Okay. Uh, it’s like, uh, I’m buying like a pack of gum. Right? Really, I’m in that same example for the way that they would kind of proportionally price these things.

Andrew:                              29:43                     You could buy the same TV for $250. So over the life of those 78 weekly payments, you actually paid $700 where you could have bought it down the street for $250 if you just would’ve saved. So that would have been like $450 extra that you pay just because you did this program. And if you didn’t do math, we didn’t do the math on it. You went to realize, wow, I really overpaid for this even though it didn’t feel like I did. So they even said, uh, in this website that you might want to actually use a credit card, which is kind of funny. I thought use a credit card if you can rather than doing a rent to own because they just jack it up so much that yeah, I mean uh, a doubling or tripling of how much you really should pay. Also on the retail front, and I’m going to close with this last little tip.

Andrew:                              30:37                     This one shocked me. So I used to work at a furniture store way back in the day and they have these programs where you basically can sign up for a furniture credit card and you get no interest over the life of the loan and as long as you pay off the whole, you know, basically you get no, it’s a no interest loan. We will pay no interest as long as you pay off the whole loan by let’s say 24 months, 36 months, whatever it is. And then if you did not either, I think it’s either if you miss a payment or you don’t pay the whole thing off in that time period, then you have to pay back interest on, on the whole thing. What blew my mind and I’m really lucky I caught this and glad I did. They set the minimum payment, at least the one that I dealt with.

Andrew:                              31:27                     Okay. I don’t know about the other ones. They set the minimum payment so that I would just barely miss paying off the whole thing. So unless I was paying extra on my payment it one that paid it off in time and I would’ve gotten back interest on the whole thing. So you think they’re sending a payment for you that would satisfy so you don’t have to pay any back interest when in reality they I, I just, there’s just so much wrong with that and I think it’s so immoral and misleading, but check those sorts of things. If you have any sort of promotion with no interest, make sure you’re looking into that and making sure that you’re fulfilling the terms and because they might, they might do something like that and that’s just something to keep in mind with the no interest stuff and all the other stuff. Just don’t do it. Don’t do it.

Dave:                                    32:16                     All right folks, we’ll that is going to wrap up our discussion tonight on some unwise financial decisions. I hope you enjoyed our conversation. Hopefully you got a point or two out of here that can help you in the future. Avoid making some of these mistakes and without any further ado, I’m going to go ahead and sign this off. You guys go out there in the best with a margin of safety, emphasis on the safety. Have a great weekend. We’ll talk to y’all next week.

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