Your Personal Finance Pro http://yourpfpro.com Personal Finance for Young Professionals Tue, 16 Oct 2018 23:22:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 31591919 How to Thrive When Selling Clothes Online http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-thrive-when-selling-clothes-online/ http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-thrive-when-selling-clothes-online/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 14:49:08 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7768 The clothing business is a constantly expanding business. Everyone needs clothes, so everyone buys clothes. It’s a limitless demand. Its progress is directly proportional to the world’s population growth, which, by itself, is exponential. Whether you’re dealing with preloved clothes or handmade ones, selling them online can be a lucrative business. Of course, since many […]

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The clothing business is a constantly expanding business. Everyone needs clothes, so everyone buys clothes. It’s a limitless demand. Its progress is directly proportional to the world’s population growth, which, by itself, is exponential.

Whether you’re dealing with preloved clothes or handmade ones, selling them online can be a lucrative business. Of course, since many people are also into that, you may face stiff competition.

So then how do clothing businesses thrive? Here are some tips.

Create Your Own Website

You may opt for doing business on online marketplaces like eBay or Amazon, but if you want to have full control over how you want to sell your clothing items, consider creating your own website. It can give you a great position for your business. You’ll have a storefront that’s always open to the world, and your customers will less likely go to your competitors because only your products are displayed in your site.

Hiring a web developer and a web designer to create your website can be a good idea. A cost-effective way is to make one using an e-commerce platform. They usually have a variety of templates and themes, and you just need to pick out the right ones for your website.

There are many online platforms that make selling clothes online a hassle-free process for yourself and your customers. Some can easily be set up within minutes and for a very reasonable fee.

Post a Lot of Beautiful Images

For some people, pictures are more attractive than words. Items with high-quality photos are likely to sell better than those without.

You don’t have to be an adept photographer. You just need a decent camera and some lights. Because among the usual tips for taking marketable photos, the common denominator is to have adequate lighting—enough that the picture will show your item clearly. Don’t use flash; keep your lighting natural.

It’s also a good idea to take multiple shots using different angles shots so buyers will have a full view of your item and a general idea of its features. For the item’s size, you can add another object (like a banana) beside it for comparison in scale. 

Details, Details, Details

Any text used in your ad or listing should normally be limited to the item’s details.

Great descriptions usually include the clothing’s size and exact measurements, its condition, the feel of the fabric, the shipping info, and if secondhand, the extent to which it has been used.

Generally, you should include all the details that you can see. If it matters to you, then it matters to your buyer. Consider learning how to write great product descriptions to make your listing more appealing.

A detailed description will also save you from frequently answering questions from potential buyers.

Always Be Honest

If your item has damages, don’t try to hide it. It’ll only hurt your reputation and seller rating. For merchants, especially internet-based businesses, one of their most valuable assets is their word—their trustworthiness.

Sure, it’s easy to make another online persona and hide under a different name, but do you really want to keep doing that? Your business won’t grow that way.

That’s why you should always be upfront about the status of your item. Even if it may not always attract a lot of potential buyers, you’ll develop your reliability over time, and people will come to trust you and your business.

Besides, if you keep your buyers’ expectations low, they may be surprised that the item’s condition is better than what they thought after they receive it.

Good Luck!

If you follow these best practices, then perhaps you’ll become one of the best online sellers for clothes.

There are still many techniques and strategies out there. Be creative, and persist in your endeavor. Someday, maybe fortune will grace your fabulous fabric enterprise.

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How to Give Gifts on a Small Budget http://yourpfpro.com/give-gifts-small-budget/ http://yourpfpro.com/give-gifts-small-budget/#respond Thu, 30 Nov 2017 21:00:30 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7525 Shopping for Christmas presents to give to friends and family is one of my favorite parts of Christmas. It ranks right up there with baking cookies and trimming the tree. I love to see the smiles they give me when the gift they opened is just the right one for them. But shopping for holiday […]

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Shopping for Christmas presents to give to friends and family is one of my favorite parts of Christmas. It ranks right up there with baking cookies and trimming the tree.

I love to see the smiles they give me when the gift they opened is just the right one for them.

But shopping for holiday gifts is a lot more challenging when you are on a budget. While some people find the challenge exhilarating others have a hard time being up to the task.

Is there a way to give gifts on a small budget and still see satisfied smiles from your family?

1. Make a List

Make a list and check it twice. I’m not kidding. First list everyone you want to get a gift for. Next slash the list to only those people you absolutely must buy a gift for.

When you give gifts on a small budget you must think in terms of what you must buy first. After buying those gifts if you have a little money in the budget left over you can start adding names back to the list.

2. Decide What to Buy

Once your list has been made you can determine what to get each person. Remember, you need to keep the cost down enough for each person to be able to get a gift for everyone on the list.

3. Shop When Items are On Sale

It isn’t easy to find inexpensive gifts that you like for the holidays. One strategy that may help is to buy items when they are on sale.

Take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales as well as other sales throughout the holiday season to use your money wisely. If you made your list far enough in advance you can even shop in the spring or summer and save on off season and clearance prices.

4. Make the Gifts Yourself

If you are creative and talented you might be able to make many of the gifts you give and keep costs down further. For example, I can sew so I sometimes make gifts for my friends who can’t.

You can also set up an assembly line process to make similar gifts faster and cheaper. A friend of mine did this last year and saved a bundle.

5. Save on Internet Orders

Look for savings when you order gifts online by using coupon codes and rewards points. Some of the sources you order from may give cash back and other discounts. Look on their websites to get more information and take advantage of these money savers.

6. Avoid Shipping if You Can

Buying items in bulk may help you to avoid shipping charges. However, don’t order extra just to get the shipping free if it doesn’t make sense.

Did you know some stores will ship for free if you have items delivered to the store and then pick them up? Of course, you may have crowds to deal with, but it could save you enough to make the hassle worth it when your budget is small.

7. Comparison Shop

Comparing prices can help you give gifts on a small budget too. Check more than one store and the internet to see if the item you are buying is available elsewhere for less.

Don’t forget to look over items carefully to make sure features are the same or similar enough not to matter.

Holiday shopping can be a fun and rewarding experience despite the challenges of a small budget. Use these tips to help you give gifts on a small budget and still enjoy the happy smiles of your loved ones.

Are there other ways to give gifts on a small budget?

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How to Use BillSnip to Save Money On Your Bills http://yourpfpro.com/billsnip/ http://yourpfpro.com/billsnip/#respond Tue, 10 Oct 2017 11:00:00 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7370 When you’re working hard to cut expenses, save on your budget, and reduce debt, each extra dollar you can put toward your bills feels like a win. This is especially true if you have had bad spending habits in the past. As you pay debt, another thing you may find yourself constantly doing is looking […]

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When you’re working hard to cut expenses, save on your budget, and reduce debt, each extra dollar you can put toward your bills feels like a win. This is especially true if you have had bad spending habits in the past.

As you pay debt, another thing you may find yourself constantly doing is looking for other ways to save. In fact, it can almost become addicting – but in a good way.

Unless you are really good at negotiating, though, you may discover it can be difficult to get reductions when dealing with creditors.  Let’s face it, not all of us are comfortable making those kinds of phone calls.

Therefore, having help could make all the difference. To assist you, below I am going to review just how to use Billsnip to save money on your bills.

1. Identify Bills

If your month to month bills are overwhelming you, lowering them can make all the difference to you and your budget. However, first you have to identify which bills could be lowered. Some examples include:

  • Loan rates, including fees
  • Credit card interest charges
  • Cell phone bills
  • Internet fees
  • Cable or satellite television bills
  • Various music streaming services
  • Storage unit charges

Of course, they are not limited to only reducing your bills for these services alone. There are many other bills they can help you with.

2. Send Bills

Getting the bill to them is actually pretty simple. Just scan your bill into your computer or take a picture with your phone. Then, text or email the bill to them. That’s it.

3. Let Them Do the Work

Billsnip has staff members who are trained in negotiation techniques. These personnel will first look over your bills and figure out approximately what your savings could be.

Next, they contact businesses for you thus eliminating wasted time on your part waiting on hold or making zero progress.

Once they help you free up additional cash you can use it to pay off other debt, invest it, or use the extra money in other ways that improve your finances. It’s that simple.

4. What They Charge

Their billing is pretty simple. They charge 35% of the amount they saved you. You can pay that fee monthly or pay the whole thing at once and get 10% off the total.

But if they aren’t able to help you, you owe them nothing. Discounts for future bills should appear on your statements.

5. Who Qualifies

Anyone needing help with their bills can use the services of Billsnip. If the idea of calling one of your creditors makes you break out in a cold sweat and turn green, you may want to contact them for help. They can call in your place and remove the anxiety.

If you have no time in your schedule to call those places to whom you owe money, contact Billsnip instead. They can make the calls you just don’t have the time to make yourself.

When you call Billsnip you are making additional progress toward a future of less debt. So, go ahead and contact them. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Do you need help negotiating your bills? If so, use Billsnip to save money on your bills and do the work for you.

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Social Media Should Be a Part of Your Financial Firm’s Marketing Strategy http://yourpfpro.com/social-media-part-financial-firms-marketing-strategy/ http://yourpfpro.com/social-media-part-financial-firms-marketing-strategy/#respond Mon, 11 Sep 2017 22:44:54 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7351 Social media is a great way tool to use as a financial investment firm. Social media data can be used to help clients get access to credit, open bank accounts or get a loan. These platforms go beyond just providing a place for people to connect, share and socialize. These high levels of penetration, engagement […]

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Social media is a great way tool to use as a financial investment firm. Social media data can be used to help clients get access to credit, open bank accounts or get a loan. These platforms go beyond just providing a place for people to connect, share and socialize. These high levels of penetration, engagement and use mean there are countless opportunities for financial advisors. The way people are connecting impacts the value financial service providers are able to deliver.

Social Media 101

As a financial investment firm, you should have a social media marketing plan. It is important to leverage multiple streams on social media to get the most out of it. There are many benefits to leveraging these platforms.

  • Convert prospects: Fifty-percent of advisors claim they successfully used social media to convert a prospective into a client.
  • Increase exposure: Blogging, tweeting and posting can increase you search engine rating and funnel people to your website.
  • Develop trust: Trust is important. These platforms open up new avenues for relationship enhancing conversations.
  • More presence: Social media gives you additional platforms to sell your services beyond your website.
  • Show expertise: Different public platforms allow you to share your knowledge and expertise in a field and establish thought leadership.
  • Stay current: Social media allows you to stay on top of industry trends.
  • Connect with professionals: Social media is a great way to network. You can even establish a mastermind group to share ideas and strategies.

The Big Four

There are many social media sites in existence these days. Knowing where to start can be overwhelming. The big four are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. These are the only platforms you need to worry about. Each network is unique and should be leveraged for a specific purpose. By leveraging these platforms, you are likely to reach many different types of potential clients. LinkedIn should serve as a way to increase your referral network and connect with other professionals. Use Facebook to build your brand and enhance client relationships. Twitter is where you establish your firm as a thought leader and where you stay on top of news and trends. YouTube is a great way to use education as marketing.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is unique in that it caters to professionals. It is the most popular among financial professionals. It is a great place to stay in touch with colleagues and share industry knowledge. Since prospective clients might view your LinkedIn profile to establish creditability, make sure you utilize the space dedicated to displaying certifications. Don’t let your profile fall by the wayside. If your profile is not up-to-date it looks unprofessional. The more connections you have the more opportunities available to leverage. This is important, but don’t get carried away and try to associate with everyone. Make intentional and meaningful connections. It is these associations that will reap the most benefits. Join some groups that you are willing to stay active in.

Facebook

This platform is probably the most well-known. You can actually create a business page that allows you to promote your services, increase brand awareness and provide customer service. These also allow you to separate your business and personal accounts. Make sure all your photos and banners are consistent with your brand. Post engaging and helpful content written by you and other reliable sources. Mix up your content so it remains engaging and relevant.

Twitter

Twitter limits you to 140 character posts. Microblogging can be powerful if used correctly. It is a great way to connect and engage in ongoing conversations. Learn to use hashtags appropriately and effectively. Excessive use of hashtags can degrade your content, so use them sparingly and only when relevant. Use the @ symbol to bring others into the conversation. These are called mentions and are a great way to increase engagement and encourage meaningful conversation. Use your 140 characters wisely and don’t be afraid to retweet news sources and posts by other professionals to increase your credibility.

YouTube

YouTube is the unsung hero of social media. It is unique in that it incorporates many characteristics of other social media sites, but its functions extend beyond typical platforms. YouTube acts as a search engine almost as powerful as Google. It is a great platform for educating clients about your firm and financial topics. Give some information away for free. It is a great way to gain credibility. Videos can be more effective than text-based media, as they can better capture users’ attention. When leveraged properly, YouTube is a powerful marketing platform.

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Using a Side Hustle to Grow Your Net Worth http://yourpfpro.com/using-side-hustle-grow-net-worth/ http://yourpfpro.com/using-side-hustle-grow-net-worth/#respond Wed, 16 Aug 2017 11:00:58 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7291 This is a guest post from Eric Rosenberg, a finance writer at Personal Profitability, InvestmentZen, and other personal finance, technology, and travel publications. When I started my first online side hustle in 2006, I had no idea it would change my life. I was still a college student and began blogging during the summer before […]

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This is a guest post from Eric Rosenberg, a finance writer at Personal Profitability, InvestmentZen, and other personal finance, technology, and travel publications.

When I started my first online side hustle in 2006, I had no idea it would change my life. I was still a college student and began blogging during the summer before my senior year. As a finance major, I intended to get a good job in corporate finance, which I did. But along the way, I built a side hustle that revolutionized both my money and lifestyle ten years later. Thanks to this hustle, I’ve been able to save more, avoid debt, and live a low-stress financial life. Read on to discover the lessons I learned along the way.

A side hustle can help pay off debt

I have taken on debt twice in my life. First, I had a $10,995 car loan shortly after college when my old car broke down. Then I took on about $40,000 in student loans in grad school. It was at the time I was paying off these debts I started to take my side hustles seriously.

I had a good starting salary considering I graduated at the start of The Great Recession, but I wanted to get out of debt as quickly as possible. I kept my living expenses low, but the pay off my debt faster I wanted to attack both sides of the equation. While I started my first blog in 2006, I didn’t start to look at my blogs as a business until a couple of years later. As I began to focus on earning more online, I had more dollars to throw at my loans.

Through a combination of smart budgeting, aggressive payments, and a little help from my side hustles, I was able to pay off that car loan in half of the scheduled five years. I paid off my student loans exactly two years and six days after graduation.

A side hustle can fund your IRA

Over the years, my side hustle income grew to a more significant level. It covered a round of beers, then all of my bar tabs for a month, then it grew to a point where it could cover my rent and later my mortgage. Whoa, I realized I was making some serious cash with this crazy internet side hustle.

Because I kept my expenses low, every extra dollar I made resulted in bigger savings. Once I paid off my loans, I decided it was time to start focusing on my Roth IRA, which has a maximum $5,500 contribution limit every year. I split up the direct deposit from my paycheck at work to directly add $211 to my Roth each payday, resulting in a maximum $5,500 per year. I also increased my 401(k) contributions and added some padding to my emergency fund. Because I had extra income from outside of work, I was able to boost my automatic savings at my day job too.

In fact, my income from the side hustle grew enough that I added my wife’s Roth IRA to the mix. Between my 401(k), our IRAs, and other savings, we were putting about as much as I made from my side hustle into savings. In 2015, that was about $40,000.

A side hustle can revolutionize your finances

The core principle of personal finance is simple: spend less than you earn and use the rest to pay off debt or save and invest. But like most decisions that have the greatest positive impact on our life, that’s easier said than done.

I look at this financial conundrum similarly to how I view weight loss. If you are looking to drop a few pounds, common wisdom says to focus on diet (input) and exercise (output). But if you only focus on the exercise portion, you won’t see much success. You can spend hours on the treadmill every day, but if you only eat pizza, ice cream, and nachos all day, you won’t lose any weight. Why? Because you ignored the inputs. The same is true with your money.

You can budget until you’re blue in the face, but you can only cut your spending so much. You still need a place to live, food to eat, and clothes to wear. Further, you can’t cut your spending infinitely. You can only go as low as zero. And if you are earning only $20,000 per year, you will never be wealthy regardless of how well you budget.

Just as changing your diet has the most dramatic impact on your weight, focusing on your income has the greatest effect on your finances. If you can cut your spending by $5,000 per year, that’s great. But if you can increase your income by $10,000, that’s even better. When I increased my income by $40,000 through side hustles, it made more than a small impact. It completely changed my family’s finances.

Earn more or spend less: I prefer earning more

I’m not suggesting you ignore your budget. Budgeting and understanding where your money goes is vitally important. But if I had the choice between cutting my spending and earning more, I’ll pick earning more every time. Because personal finance isn’t so black and white, it’s most likely you can find a combination of the two.

It might seem like increased earnings are an elusive pipedream, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Adding a small side hustle can have big results on your life. You might just find your side hustle to be a growing success that lets you leave your day job. You never know unless you try!

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7 Tools to Make Your Business Look Professional http://yourpfpro.com/7-tools-make-business-look-professional/ http://yourpfpro.com/7-tools-make-business-look-professional/#respond Wed, 02 Aug 2017 21:43:11 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7257 If you are building a business you most likely have a target audience you are hoping to attract. For you to be successful in your endeavor, your business must project just the right image. Of course, what that image is may depend on the kind of business you are building. But when it requires a […]

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If you are building a business you most likely have a target audience you are hoping to attract. For you to be successful in your endeavor, your business must project just the right image.

Of course, what that image is may depend on the kind of business you are building. But when it requires a professional image, there are 7 tools to make your business look professional and help you achieve your goals.

1. Website

Does your business have a website? This is a tool that can make your business look professional and appealing.  It can also increase sales when customers do an internet search and your website pops up.

Your business needs to be visible and easy to find on the internet so potential customers don’t pass it by.  Creating a website can do that for you. However, to really get noticed and increase your business and professional presence you need to make it mobile friendly as well.

Creating a website is not all that difficult or expensive to do. There are plenty of companies available on the internet that can help.

2. Powerpoint

Putting together meetings and presentations that are organized and efficient can help to make your business look professional. Professional business powerpoint templates can help with this objective.

Furthermore, powerpoint presentations can assist your employees with information recall and job performance. One reason for this is ease with which information can be read and followed. They also allow for visual aids as well as reinforcement of important main points of meetings and presentations.

3. Social Media Presence

Another tool for use to make your business look professional is a social media presence. Some might not feel this is a valuable tool, but its widespread use demonstrates otherwise.

Linked, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are a few of the well-known social media platforms that can be useful for your business. Using them to advertise is another way to make your business known as well as grow.

4. Professional Invoices

Professional invoices are a must if you want to make your business appear professional and be taken seriously.  There are many different internet sites that can assist you with creating invoices that are clear and easy to read for your customers.

Creating a professional invoice and invoicing system will show your customers you care about quality and have quality products and services. Conversely, sloppy, unprofessional invoices can hurt your business image and may make you lose customers.

5. Business Email

Having a business email account separate from your personal account is important to creating a professional image for your business. Furthermore, the email address you create should be named something similar to your business name.

6. Business Cards

Believe it or not, business cards still have a purpose and can help to make your business look professional. When you attend a meeting or conference and need to net-work it can help those you meet remember you.

7. Personal Presentation

How you present yourself is another tool to making your business professional and successful. Take pride in your appearance and when you meet others you will make a favorable impression.

Projecting the right image for your business to make it successful is possible. Using the 7 tools to make your business look professional can help.

What tools have you used to make your business look professional?

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5 Percentages You Need to Remember That Will Optimize Your Savings Habits http://yourpfpro.com/5-percentages-need-remember-will-optimize-savings-habits/ http://yourpfpro.com/5-percentages-need-remember-will-optimize-savings-habits/#respond Mon, 10 Jul 2017 11:00:42 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7168 When it comes to managing our finances, Iíve got one trick for keeping it simple: The percentage. Itís the baseline for virtually any financial decision Iím about to make.† The ìpercentageî can either be how much money Iím going to make, or it could be how much money I stand to lose. Either way, determining […]

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When it comes to managing our finances, Iíve got one trick for keeping it simple: The percentage.

Itís the baseline for virtually any financial decision Iím about to make.† The ìpercentageî can either be how much money Iím going to make, or it could be how much money I stand to lose. Either way, determining what this value can be a simple and effective way to prioritize your next move.

Here are 5 of the main percentages you need to know that will strategically give you the most bang for your buck.

1. Get Your Full Employer Retirement Match

I put this saving goal first†because it’s the only thing I know of that could earn you as much as a 100% automatic return on your investment!

Your employer match is when the company you work for contributes or matches some amount of what you save in your 401(k). Though that might not sound like much at first, it could add up HUGE for you over time.

Letís say your company matches dollar-for-dollar up to 5% of what you save for†retirement. If you save $200 per paycheck, thatís an automatic $200 more on top from your employer for a total of $400 saved! Effectively, you’ve just doubled your savings rate for doing nothing more than … saving! Where in the world can you find a better deal than that?

Even if youíve got debt to pay at a high rate like 20%, earning a possible 100% return on those minimum savings can still highly out-weigh paying off that debt. In fact, even if your company only matches 50 cents or 25 cents for every dollar you contribute, thatís still reason enough to make getting your full employer retirement match your top priority when it comes to saving.

Talk to your Human Resources department and find out exactly what their rules are on 401(k) employer matches. You might just find out that youíve been leaving free money on the table.

2. Paying Off High Interest Debt

Interest can be a very good thing if we are earning it. But it can equally be damaging if youíve had some challenges being responsible with credit.

If youíre stuck with high interest debt, all thatís doing is eating away at money that should be going into your pocket. That’s why paying off your debt should be your next top priority. While paying off debt is not exactly “saving more money”, it effectively accomplishes the same goal by eliminating your future payments. To put it another way, paying off a credit card balance at 20% is almost as if you just gained a 20% return on investment.

When you think of your debt in those types of terms, it becomes a lot easier to see why you should focus your efforts on trying to eliminate this debt as quickly as possible, even if it means making as many†sacrifices as necessary so that you can†find extra money†to pay down the principal. Again, using the percentages,†itís not worth it to try to save any money in a savings account earning less than 1% when youíve got debt that is charging you 20% (or whatever ridiculous interest rate). By paying down that debt, you effectively give yourself back that 20% by not having to pay for it any longer. Thatís 20% more that you can use for whatever other financial goals you might have.

3. Saving Up an Emergency Fund

We all know that accidents are going to happen. No one knows when your car will decide to stop working , your basement will flood, or you’ll have to take an unexpected trip to the doctor. To deal with these kinds of things financially, youíre going to need cash that you can easily tap in a momentís notice to handle these things right away.

Most financial professionals will tell you that your emergency fund needs to be anywhere from 3 months to 6 months worth of your household income. Some people will even say to make it 12 months worth of savings. My advice is to simply come up with†whatever you can.† Even if you can only save up $1,000, thatís still better than having nothing.

You can almost completely ignore anything you read about emergency funds being a waste of money (the argument being that money could be better used as investments in the stock market getting possible 10% returns). Think about what would happen if you didn’t have an emergency fund and you had to put an unexpected $10,000 on your credit cards? Once that debt starts accruing at 20+%, then those returns of 10% aren’t going to look so good anymore!

The bottom line: Itís better to be prepared.

4. Save for Retirement

Even though we already touched on retirement savings above with employer matches, with debt and emergency funds out of the way we can now revisit this topic.

At its core, tax-deferred retirement saving†can be one of the best ways to save your money more wisely for two main reasons: Compounding returns and avoiding taxes.

Compounding returns are when you earn money off the money you already earned. Basically as you set aside money each month, that money will grow in earnings. And then those earnings will also grow with additional earnings, and so on. Though that doesn’t seem like much in the beginning, after a number of years, your earnings will actually start to add more to your overall nest egg value than your contributions will! The more time you give it, the†the larger and larger this fortune could potentially become.

For the sake of percentages, a good number to use for comparison is 10%.† This is approximately how much the S&P 500 has returned each year on average (according to data from NYU).† All you have to do is invest in a passively managed index fund to take advantage of it.

Avoiding taxes is the other huge†benefit to using retirement savings accounts. At a tax rate of 25%, you basically lose 25 cents for every dollar you wish to invest (if you save outside your tax-deferred plan). But when you save tax-deferred, you get to keep the whole dollar. Thatís effectively a 33% gain for simply using your 401(k) or IRA and being smart about how you save!

5. Saving for College

Though we all love our kids, saving for their college should come behind all of these other priorities. Even though it also has the power to produce approximately 10% per year, unlike your debt or retirement savings, your children can always get loans or financial aid for higher education. You canít ñ unless you want to take on more unnecessary debt.

If you are fortunate enough to have enough money to make your childrenís education a financial priority, use something called a 529 plan to avoid paying taxes. Think of it as something similar to a 401(k), but intended for funding college instead.

Summary

On the surface, personal finance can seem complicated. But if you stick to the percentages and keep these priorities in mind, youíre going to be on track. Not only will you be doing yourself a favor, but you’ll also be helping to take control over your finances in one of the most effective ways.

Author bio: DJ Whiteside is the author of Save BETTER! as well as several other personal finance ebooks. He is also the blogger behind the sites My Money Design and 1,000 Ways to Save; two places where you can learn a ton about how to optimize your saving and then use it to achieve financial freedom.

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5 Ways to Make Investing Fun http://yourpfpro.com/5-ways-make-investing-fun/ http://yourpfpro.com/5-ways-make-investing-fun/#respond Tue, 13 Jun 2017 16:23:31 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7125 Have you ever heard anyone say that accountants are boring? I have, and I would bet you probably have too. I think it is because there is a long-time stigma surrounding investing that it’s boring. In fact, according to Time.com, being a boring investor can make you rich. But I think there are at least […]

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Have you ever heard anyone say that accountants are boring? I have, and I would bet you probably have too. I think it is because there is a long-time stigma surrounding investing that it’s boring. In fact, according to Time.com, being a boring investor can make you rich. But I think there are at least 5 ways to make investing fun that can still make you rich.

1. Use Technology

One of the other things the article says it to automate your investing as much as possible. That is definitely one thing I think can be helpful, save you time, and make investing fun. For example, who these days isn’t attached to their cell phone almost constantly? Everywhere you look people have their cell phones in their hands and they are constantly tapping away sending texts or viewing social media. It’s become a part of everyone’s regular daytime routine to check their phone for messages or missed phone calls. But it can be used for investing too.

Through the internet you can track your portfolio from wherever you are by using your phone or other technology. One way to do this easily is to use a robe-advisor, like Motif, to make it both simple and fun. You can keep an eye on your investments and check on them at just about any time making it easier to invest than ever before. In addition, it is fun because you can do it from your phone and discuss different investing options and advice through social media.

2. Set goals

Another way you can make investing fun is to set goals for yourself. Ask yourself why you want to invest? Is it so you can travel in retirement, or is it to pay for a college education for your children or grandchildren in the future? Decide what your investment goals are and then watch how fun it is to see your money grow and bring you closer to your goals every day.

3. Invest in What You Like

Investing in what you like and what holds a fascination for you can add to the fun factor. If you are interested in technology, add this type of investing to your portfolio. Or, if you like to travel, find a good travel company that is doing well and invest in it. Do some research into what you like and then make an investment in what you know and feel has potential for growth. In addition, if you are trying to teach a child or young person about investing, this is a good way to get them involved and hold their attention.

4. Make it a Game

Even if you don’t want to discuss investing over social media you can set up rewards for yourself when things are going well. Let’s say your investments have hit a certain mark you were aiming for initially. Give yourself a small reward for attaining that first goal. Or, you could give yourself a small bonus simply for investing a certain dollar amount in a year. The point is, turn investing into a game for yourself and make it fun. Celebrate your successes.

5. Review Accounts

Whatever you choose to invest in, don’t forget to review your investments from time to time. This allows you the opportunity to make changes as they are needed, which can also be kind of fun. For instance, maybe you have always wanted to invest in Disneyland or some other amusement park. Or, if your passion lies more toward the silver screen, invest in the movie industry. Find something fun to invest in that you feel will offer you to grow your money toward your future goals. Or, rather than investing in something new, just rebalance your investments every couple of months.

Investing doesn’t have to be boring, as you can see. Use one or all of the 5 ways to make investing fun and eliminate the stigma that has been attached to investing for far too long.

How else would you make investing fun?

Kayla is a personal finance blogger in her mid-20s who loves to write about money topics of all kinds.

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Why You Don’t Need to Know EVERYTHING About Investing http://yourpfpro.com/dont-need-know-everything-investing/ http://yourpfpro.com/dont-need-know-everything-investing/#respond Wed, 10 May 2017 22:27:06 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7100 Investing as a beginner can be kind of intimidating. You may feel like a fish out of water because you don’t know a lot about it. But I will let you in on a little secret. You don’t need to know everything about investing. 1. Educate Yourself When the thing that is keeping you from […]

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Investing as a beginner can be kind of intimidating. You may feel like a fish out of water because you don’t know a lot about it. But I will let you in on a little secret. You don’t need to know everything about investing.

1. Educate Yourself

When the thing that is keeping you from investing is lack of knowledge, you can fix that problem fairly easily. Do some research about it. There are plenty of resources available to help you quench your thirst for knowledge about investing. Magazines, books, and internet articles are just a few of the ways you can learn about investing. You could also ask someone you work closely with. Or, ask a friend or relative what they know about investing. It may take you a little bit of time to learn about investing, but you can go at your own pace. Remember, you still don’t have to know everything, you just have to know enough to help you get started.

2. Know Your Goals

Do you know why you want to start investing? Is it to save for your future retirement? Could it be you want to invest for the future education of your children or grandchildren? Knowing why you want to invest can help you decide how you want to invest as well as how much to invest and the amount of risk you are willing to take.

3. Consider Options

As a beginning investor, there are many different ways you could invest to help you achieve your goals such as real estate, mutual funds, stocks, and bonds as well as several others. Here are a few options to think about:

401K

Ask your employer if they offer a 401K plan. If they do, find out more and then sign up for it. They will deposit a small portion of each paycheck into an investment account. In addition, they may match part of your contributions and increase the amount going toward your retirement savings. You can move money around in different funds to maximize your returns and make the most of your investment dollars. However, it’s usually a good idea to diversify by putting some of your money into lower and medium risk investments as well as high risk investments. This way, if there are losses in one area, you still have some money invested in other funds that are not experiencing losses allowing your investments to continue toward growth.

Robo-advisor

One other way to invest and keep it simple is to use a robo-advisor to do the work for you. They are easy to use and there are several different options you could choose from. Most have low minimum deposit amounts as well as low fees for their services. In addition, they automate investing for you so you don’t have to do the work yourself, which is a great feature for the beginning investor. Most robo-advisors have apps you can install on your phone enabling you to check your investment whenever you want.

Angel Investor

This is a type of investor who provides capital for a business start-up. They usually consist of wealthy individuals who has spare cash. This may be a bit risky for some since you basically invest in businesses who are still establishing themselves. However, if the company you invested in becomes successful in the long run you have a chance of earning a huge profit. If you think this is a type of investment that suits you and want to become an angel investor, do some research first to learn what you need to know to become one.

Don’t let a lack of knowledge about investing prevent you from getting started. As you can see, you don’t need to know everything about investing in order to save toward your goals. Rather than put it off any longer, go ahead and get started right away. The only thing you will likely regret is not starting sooner.

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How to Get Financially Fit by Summer http://yourpfpro.com/get-financially-fit-summer/ http://yourpfpro.com/get-financially-fit-summer/#respond Thu, 23 Mar 2017 19:54:12 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7043 This is a post from Pauline of InvestmentZen.com Summer is just a few months away, and as bikini diets are on the covers of so many magazines, I thought I’d cover little things you can do to get your financial fitness back on as well. The new energy brought by spring is a great time […]

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This is a post from Pauline of InvestmentZen.com

Summer is just a few months away, and as bikini diets are on the covers of so many magazines, I thought I’d cover little things you can do to get your financial fitness back on as well. The new energy brought by spring is a great time to get your financial house in order and prepare for a great summer. Ready?

Have a financial audit

Are you paying too much for things like cable, cell phone, utilities, broadband, the gym, etc? go over your expenses and try to get rid of the ones that you are not getting value out of. I used to have a subscription to NatGeo that I loved. And then I started traveling a lot for work, was never home, and before I knew it, a year worth of magazines was piling up in my living room. Sometimes it takes a while to realize you don’t need this or that. Going a month without (alcohol, meat, magazines, Starbucks,…) can be a great way to see if you miss the habit, or if it is just a mindless way to pass the time.

Use all the cash you save for your summer goals, debt payoff or holiday savings.

Know where you stand with your debt

Before anything, you need to know how much you owe exactly, so you can make a plan to kill your debt. Let’s be realistic for a moment though. If you have a ton of debt, just like if you are 100lbs overweight, it is unlikely you will be debt free by summer. You can however build some solid habits that can set you on the right track towards debt freedom.

Let’s list all your debts, and everything you owe.

  • Credit cards
  • Personal loans
  • Student loans
  • Car loans
  • Loans from family and friends
  • Mortgage
  • etc

Bargain and refinance

Once you have done that, let’s look for ways to lower your interest rate on your debt. Transfer your balance to a 0% credit card. Call your providers, and ask them nicely to give you a better rate. Yes, it works. If it doesn’t, take your business elsewhere.

A quick online search will tell you whether refinancing your student loans or your mortgage is worth it. Often, people focus on little ways to save $5 here and there. But by refinancing a mortgage that has 20 years left, even if the rate is half a point or one point lower, you can save thousands of dollars! It can be a bit overwhelming, doing all the back and forth with the bank, but seriously, when will you save that much money for a few hours of your time?

Start aggressive debt payoff

Spring is tax refund time! The average amount is around $2,800, which would make a nice dent to your debt and be sufficient motivation to keep going. Aggressive debt payoff means every little bit of spare cash is going to be used to reduce your debt principal. Minimum payments should be paid automatically every month, and then every time you have a little extra money, make an extra payment. Start with the debt that carries the highest interest. You wouldn’t believe how small amounts add up and can shave months off your payments.

If you want to enjoy your summer, you should start hustling right now, so you don’t have to pick up an extra shift when everyone is on holiday. The end of the school year means some kids are looking for tutors to finish strong, spring has a ton of cultural and sports events where you can sell bottled water or hot dogs, the days are nice enough to walk the neighbors’ dogs, mow their lawn, help them move,… there are many opportunities to earn extra money if you pay attention. Lady complaining she doesn’t have time? Offer to watch her kids, clean her house, do whatever she doesn’t have time to do.

Since you are already living on your normal income, 100% of your side income can go towards debt payments. Or if you are not carrying high interest debt..

Save for your holidays

A holiday can be as cheap or as expensive as you make it. If you work hard from now until summer, you’ll deserve a break, and should plan for it. What will you do, where will you go? A budget holiday can include visiting nearby towns and parks, hiking, free cultural activities, and a couple of more expensive things. There are free campsites all across the country. You can visit all the National Parks for a year for $80. If you apply for a travel reward credit card, you can earn miles and free hotel nights for the next few months.

Invest for the future

While planning and saving for the summer holidays, or other short term goals is great, now is the time to think about the future. Open a low fee brokerage account if you don’t have one yet, and once your high interest debt is paid off, start putting the amount your used to pay on your credit card, into a variety of index funds. Investing is super simple, you don’t need to know much about the stock market. Just keep investing, stick to indexes or solid companies that pay good dividends, and forget about that money for the near future. The S&P500 has returned over 8% on average over the past 30 years. Yes, there will be ups and downs, just do your thing and keep sending a bit of cash every month. Take advantage of your company match if there is one because that is free money, max out your 401(k) and Roth IRA, your tax refund might come handy if you didn’t need it to pay off debt.

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Breaking The Paycheck To Paycheck Cycle For Good http://yourpfpro.com/breaking-paycheck-paycheck-cycle-good/ http://yourpfpro.com/breaking-paycheck-paycheck-cycle-good/#respond Wed, 08 Feb 2017 12:00:38 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=6983 This is a guest post by Jon Dulin from Money Smart Guides. There is a saying that goes around that seems to be more common among our households these days: There is more month at the end of the money. A survey of households revealed that about one in three aren’t able to save money each […]

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This is a guest post by Jon Dulin from Money Smart Guides.

There is a saying that goes around that seems to be more common among our households these days:

There is more month at the end of the money.

A survey of households revealed that about one in three aren’t able to save money each month, which means they are living paycheck to paycheck. And no, that is not only those who are considered poor. That statistic includes a fair number of middle-class households.

Think about that, if not you, then one of your neighbors living on either side of you is having trouble making ends meet, or they are barely doing so. Does it concern you that your household is not able to put away any money in savings or toward vacation or retirement, because you need every dollar that the government doesn’t confiscate in order to live your life?

Maybe it’s time to take a realistic look at that life. Maybe just by having enough to cover your expenses means you are living beyond your means. And if you do take that step back, what do you do about it? First, let’s get into analyzing the situation you’re in, and then we can come up with some suggestions about how to change or fix the problem.

Conquering Living Paycheck To Paycheck

Face the Music, Buddy!

If you are finally frustrated with how your money situation is going (or not going), it might be time to get out some paper and start writing down the harsh reality of your life. This means writing down your expenses each month in as many general categories as you can (food, clothing, transportation, housing, utilities, recreation, miscellaneous, etc.). If you can, use an average of the last three or four months to give you an idea.

After you do that, put down how much take-home pay you have had over those same three or four months, and average it.

Is the expense total less than the income? Is it at least 10 percent lower?  Or is it higher, by any amount?

Then yes, we can confirm that you are living paycheck to paycheck. So now what? Well, we likely can give you some of the same advice you have heard other places, about cutting expenses and adding income, but we’d like to take this to a different level and come up with some specific tactics that can help with the overall strategy.

Once you have this listed out in all its painful glory, it will be time to start setting a preliminary budget ahead of time so you can actually start telling your money where to go before you wonder where it went. During this time, you can look at some of the suggestions for squaring up your budget better so you can balance it both by cutting spending and adding some income.

Find The Fat

Consider that paper that has your expenses listed. Find some ways to cut back on some of those expenses. The goal here is not just to get expenses to be less than income, but to find about 10 percent less money than you could use to save or pay off debt. There are probably even ways to cut back on the essentials like utilities and food, not to mention transportation. For example:

Unplug appliances you don’t use. If you only do laundry on the weekends, unplug your washer and dryer during the week. There is “phantom energy” that escapes out of your plugs that costs you money.

Buy generic. Store-brand food and merchandise can often be much cheaper than brand name items, even if brands have coupons.

Cancel cable. Stream Netflix and Amazon Prime instead of going to movies.

Run several errands at a time, traveling a loop. One trip instead of several saves gas and time, and wear and tear on the vehicle.

Pay cash whenever possible. We tend to spend less when we use actual cash than simply swiping our credit or debit card (hopefully only debit card). Cash has an emotional trigger to it, and it’s harder for us to part with actual cash than digits on a computer screen.

Get money back. Here’s an idea. Check out a smartphone app called iBotta. There, you can get money back on everyday purchases made at major supermarkets or national chain stores (such as Trader Joe’s, Safeway, Albertsons and even Costco). This essentially gives you savings (like coupons) after the fact, but the money can go toward your food budget.

Ride the bus or carpool to work a couple times a week. The less wear and tear you put on your car, the more money you will save.

Cut a habit. If you drink wine or beer regularly, or you smoke, you can save money by cutting back. Exchange wine or beer for soda or flavored water, and cut your cigarette use in half (if not eliminate it altogether). Those save you money and will actually improve your health, which will save you more money in the long term.

Shop auto insurance. Premiums can go up simply by loyalty. Companies don’t think you’ll leave. Being aggressive every year in shopping for better insurance deals could save you $50-$100 per month if you have a good driving record. This only needs to take 10-15 minutes of shopping online insurance comparison sites.

Ask to waive fees. Any bill that has a fee on it, you can at least ask nicely for the company to waive it or give you a lower rate. I filled out a customer survey with my Internet provider and made a comment about the price was spiking up over the last 12 months, and I had my rate restored to the same one from a year ago, which saved my family $10 a month. (Yes, this did happen.)

Shop credit cards. If you have a credit-card balance, there are many companies that offer no-fee balance transfers and lower interest rates. While I certainly don’t want you to have debt at all, if you do have it, it is worth the few minutes to shop around.

Build The Muscle

While it may seem tough to cut spending when balancing a household budget, it is actually easier to find areas to cut spending than it is to find more income.

When you are already putting forth a lot of hours working, and you really want that work-life balance, you will certainly be reluctant to add income with another job, but here are some suggestions of ways to get more money into your home.

Yard/garage sale. Or sell online through Craigslist or eBay.

Donate blood or plasma. As long as you are OK with needles, you can get a few bucks by donating once a week.

Be a digital guinea pig. You can check out sites like Smart Panel, where you can get paid for having the app on your device and feed it data about how you use the device (works for PCs, tablets, smartphones, music players, smart TVs, e-readers).

If you keep the app on your device, you will be paid a few bucks a month. That’s $75 (or more) during the first year.

You can also fill out surveys through such sites as Swagbucks or Ipsos Panel, where you can get paid for completing online surveys or watching a variety of videos. Combined, those could produce $30-$40 a month (around $400-$450 per year) in extra income just during your few minutes of down time!

Data entry, or do a little writing. If you have an interest or a skill that you don’t use enough at work, you could check out freelancing marketplaces like Upwork or Freelancer, where people can do data entry, accounting, website design, digital marketing, software development, or writing from home a few hours a week. You control how much you work and what you get paid by clients. You could turn it into a side business evenings and weekends.

Deliver pizzas. Having three of four evening shifts per week, including a Friday and/or Saturday night (or at the same time as a key sporting event like the World Series, Super Bowl or the Olympics) can make you $100 a week just in tips.

Walk neighbor dogs or do some babysitting.

Run errands for infirmed or elderly. Or do their yard work.

Reversing The Saying

Many of these suggestions don’t have to be permanent, but if you enjoy saving the money or making more income, you can certainly choose to keep them as part of your new life. The mission there though is to reverse the saying mentioned earlier in this article. We are here to help you have more money at the end of the month, instead of more month at the end of the money.

Every little way you can stretch your paychecks, whether by cutting expenses or increasing income (or both), the more money you will have to save or to use to get out of debt.

Let’s get more money out of our months, shall we?

Jon writes for Money Smart Guides, a personal finance blog that helps people get out of debt and start investing for their future.

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How Uber Helped Me Quit My Job Without Ever Driving http://yourpfpro.com/uber-helped-quit-job-without-ever-driving/ http://yourpfpro.com/uber-helped-quit-job-without-ever-driving/#respond Thu, 19 Jan 2017 17:40:46 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=6951 This is a guest post by Eric Rosenberg, a full-time freelancer and blogger at Personal Profitability. Eric writes about personal finance and entrepreneurship at InvestmentZen, his own blog, and other sites around the web. In April last year, I had my last day in corporate America. For the eight years before, I have been working […]

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This is a guest post by Eric Rosenberg, a full-time freelancer and blogger at Personal Profitability. Eric writes about personal finance and entrepreneurship at InvestmentZen, his own blog, and other sites around the web.

In April last year, I had my last day in corporate America. For the eight years before, I have been working online as a freelance writer, website developer, and consultant. That income grew enough that I thought it was worth taking the risk and quitting my job, but I still had some worries that it might not work out.

On that fateful day last April, as I literally walked out the door and exited corporate America, I knew that if things didn’t work out that I would need a backup to earn a little more. Thanks to the growth of gig and sharing economies, I had a plan. Read on to see how Uber, Lyft, and other gig and sharing economy jobs can help you navigate financial uncertainty or hardship.

It Can Act as a Financial Safety Net

For me, Uber and Lyft were a financial safety net in case my new self-employed venture didn’t work out. I am a big fan of side hustles, and the ease of joining Uber and other delivery sites makes that a lucrative option.

I never actually drove for a ride sharing or delivery service, but knowing that I could gave me peace of mind when I left my high paying job as a Senior Financial Analyst. If you want to become self-employed but want an extra safety net if things don’t work out, you can always hop in the car and make a few bucks.

It Can Help You Cover Bills in a Pinch

If you have a day job and still find yourself coming up short on cash when the bills are due, a gig economy job could be just what you’re looking for. You can make over $20 per hour if you pick a busy location during high demand hours.

Maybe instead of going out on a Saturday night and spending money on drinks, movies, dinner, or something else, you could go out driving and bring in a hundred bucks or so. It’s worth a shot!

Late payments on bills, particularly credit accounts, can lower your credit score. A lower credit score might not seem like a big deal today, but if you ever apply for a loan or try to buy a home with a mortgage, good credit is very important. It can save you tens of thousands of dollars in interest and might be the difference between an approved or denied application.

It Can Help You Earn More to Reach Financial Goals

Do you ever get depressed looking at your retirement account balance? Do you dream of a trip across the world but don’t know when you’ll ever have enough money? That is a perfect use for the gig economy.

If you earn an average of $100 each time you go out driving and go out once a week, you can save up enough for a plane ticket to Europe in less than three months! Finance an entire $2,000 trip in less than six months. You can take a trip spending far less, but this example shows how easy it could be for you to make any financial goal happen.

If you just want to save more, that $100 a week adds up fast. If you take a couple of weeks off each year, it is still enough to earn $5,000 per year just going once per week. That can fill your emergency fund, retirement account, down payment savings, or any other financial goal you’ve been working to reach.

It Can Help You Bootstrap a Startup or Side Hustle

When I left my job, I walked away with enough savings to survive about five years without earning a cent, but I know that isn’t normal. Would be entrepreneurs around the country put off self-employment, starting a side business, or other money making ventures simply because they don’t have enough cash in the bank to cover startup costs.

Jump onboard the gig economy and you will be in business in no time! If you can cut your expenses and spend your free time working on your new business. You know it won’t happen unless you act. So, what are you waiting for?

Maybe You Don’t Have to Drive, But It’s Always an Option

As long as you own a car, you can start driving and earning money by downloading an app, entering your information, and tapping some buttons. How cool is that?

In my case, my business has been quite successful and I never needed anything more than a couple thousand dollars from savings. But if I hadn’t had the option of driving for Uber, I might never have taken the risk to leave my job in the first place. And today, I’m happily self-employed, working from home, setting my hours, and working hard on building my brand. But I wouldn’t be here today without Uber.

It may not be glamorous, but it is a great way to earn more. So if you have any financial stresses, consider a side hustle or a job from the gig economy. There’s no cap to how much you can earn, and there’s nothing standing in your way of big time financial success.

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