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What you need to know about spending and saving money



What you need to know about spending and saving money

One question which each person ponders upon, apart from what is the purpose of life, is How to make money? Spending money and making money are two major aspects of this life and somewhere equally important is saving money! Financial Literacy is an ongoing topic – similar to finding the purpose of life. The 2018 NFCC’s Consumer Financial Literacy Survey[i] found that 1 in 4 Americans do not pay their bill on time almost 1 in 10 have debt waiting to be collected. 43%[ii] of student loan borrowers are NOT paying on time! Now that’s alarming , especially after a college degree.

Money as a Source of Happiness

Can money make you happy? Yes, ofcourse it does upto a point. According to a 2018, study by Gallup World Poll,[iii] a survey of 1.7 million individuals found that “income satiation of an individual occurs an earnings of $95,000 for a life time and at $60,000 to $75,000 for basic emotional well-being”. It means that we all require a minimum level of income to make us feel secure and happy enough to be able to enjoy other aspects of life.

The common practice of previous generations was to work longer hours to earn more. But the norms of work cultures are changing and the new generation, especially the millennials are looking at consulting, freelancing as a means of a fruitful life which will provide a balance with personal life. A disciplined approach to money saving becomes all the more essential to fulfil the needs and desires of life then. Let us look at in detail how you can approach the practice of money management the philosophy to adopt.

Approach to Managing Money 

Most people falter in the basic approaches to the entire process of financial management. The default mindset is about saving and living with a sense of scarcity. A tough financial spot should not become the reason for an attitude of misery and also should not create a sense of desperation for material things. Striking a balance can be tough when you are deep neck.

The steps below if followed will cater to your goals and also enhance your lifestyle by creating the discipline in all aspects. How you save, how you earn, how you invest – all are interlinked to your approach to things in life.

  • Budgeting is a Saving Plan

Most people are not disciplined enough to maintain a regular log of expenses. It becomes a chore to fill up a sheet with daily expenses. However, a simple log maintained in an unbiased manner will provide a good snapshot at interval of few months of where you are over-spending and potential for saving.

Look at budgeting as the first step in creating a Saving Plan. You have to do it as part of prudent investments. There are various apps available on mobile as well as desktop to ease your effort of creating a customized tool to enter daily expenses.

  • Once you start using one, start comparing different expense heads and follow the logical approach of curbing expenses in that area.
  • While it is easier than done, a prior mindset and self-regulation has to be created. You have to agree with yourself that once you have chosen this path of “Conscious Spending” , you will follow all the rules of the game.
  • Hiring a financial coach or planner might also help for few months till the discipline sets in.
  • Discuss the areas to be curbed with your family and spouse and become a check for each other’s over-spending.
  • Credit Card can be your best friend and worst enemy. Use 2 credit cards to split expenses and get free credit for a month. However, indiscriminate use without a track of your numbers can give a false sense of available credit and time to repay.
  • Small but disciplined Investment is Good 

While keeping track of expenses is one part, making your money work for you is equally important. The propounder of this theory in “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, Robert Kiyosaki changed the concept of financial independence when he stated the obvious in the simplest of ways. Increasing one’s Financial IQ is by investing in a disciplined manner is the way to building wealth, not just working in an office.

  • There are umpteen number of financial blogs and advisory available online for anyone willing to invest time.
  • In case you cannot spare time, be sure to hire a trusted financial planner through references.
  • Investing is the next step after Earning and Saving.
  • Even paying fees for a well-seasoned investment professional will only give geometric returns in the future.
  • Quick Return, Quick Losses

First understand how investments and returns work. There are no “get rich quick” schemes which are legal – you might have a lure of creating a YouTube channel to start earning – Legit enough, true. But is it sustainable. Stray clear from schemes which sounds like pay X amount to receive X raised to n number of times in a short duration. This is the easiest form of a Ponzi scheme where you get paid initially out of the money invested by other gullible investor. However, since there is no real further investment or work being with this money, eventually the incoming investors might dry out thus leading to a breakdown of this scheme.

  • No Risk, no Gain

When you are on a clear investment path, taking risks is essential to gain multiple returns. Investing in Equities is one of these choices. You can discuss such details with your financial planner to understand the risks involved in direct equity investing, how much can you really afford to lose and finally other options such as ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds) or Mutual Funds.

Depending on your Income level, Age, liabilities, dependents , and above all your willingness to take a chance, your risk appetite is determined. You can look at equity and derivatives as an investment option with proper guidance, provided the money you are investing is not out of your savings or emergency funds.

  • Save and Spend per Your Life Stage

While the above rule applies, so does this one in equal measure. Even if you are willing to take risks, be sure to provide for your dependents and medical emergencies before you invest beyond your means. If you are a young turk with 20 + years to go for your active career life, you can bear some losses more easily than a person who is nearing retirement or needs to plan for children’s education. The latter should be looking at fixed interest bearing instruments along with a small portion of equity. 

  • Retail Therapy Can cause More Heartburn

This demands a special mention as retail therapy is the bane of prudent financial decision making. A good sale can makes the wisest of them go weak in their knees. Retail analytics show that weekends  and festive seasons are the biggest push points for easy and convenient retail therapy. Even “festivals” like Valentine’s day have opportunities for marketing for couples and singles in equal measure. However, a burst of emotional shopping can cripple your financial plan like nothing else.

Shopping sprees are encountered across countries in different formats –American spend an average of US$900[iv] on Christmas gifts with an average monthly net salary of US$4,158. Singaporeans are near to it with an average spend of US$800 from a salary of US$3,973. In UK itself, RSI or Retail Sales Index is an important measure of economic activity and is tracked closely each month by the Office for National Statistics. [v] 

How to Save Money – Methods and Tips

You have created a Budget. Great! Now let us look at ways to save money so you can stick to it. One question most family households have is how to save money fast?

  • Create a Family Budget

            The money managers of the house know how much the essential and utilities cost.    Many financial experts advise on a 50/30/20[vi] approach. Here 50% of the income is dedicated for necessities, 30% for wants and desires and 20% to savings. Investing  this 20% smartly to finance your future goals is the key.

In the family, one spouse can take the role of “Cost Controller” to keep a tab on good deals available on essentials like groceries and miscellaneous things in the house. Ensuring a control on unnecessary expenses can be fruitful in the long run and create a discipline in kids as well.

To instil a sense of correct spending, give your kids only hard cash as pocket money and take a percentage from them to put in a savings account. Parting with real cash is always hard and will teach them from early on that saving a portion before spending is essential.

  • Savings plan

Finding cool discounts, reward programs, even loyalty programs can save up to the tune of 20 – 30% of your actual expenses. Credit cards come with various facilities such as discount on billings on specific locations, airport lounge access, freebies, movie ticket discounts and various other things. The idea is to subscribe to a card which provides certain benefits which you can avail. All these small savings sum up to a large amount.

How to Make Money

There are multiple ways to make money. You can augment your primary income in many ways.

  • Secondary assignments such as freelance work and on-demand consulting.
  • One can look at monetizing certain hobbies and find segments of people and communities where you can share your creative products and also earn money. This way you can start building a name for your art and a brand in future.
  • Most importantly you need to find suitable investment options per your risk and financial goals for future

There are multiple investment options you can look at –

  • Equities –these are the most common choice of investor due to ease of investing and associated hope for quick riches. However, stock selection should be done only after careful study of the economic environment of these stocks, competitors, management operations and share price movements. A suitable level needs to be looked at for investing.
  • Debt – You can invest in T-bills, government bonds, short -term debt papers issued by the government. However, one needs to know the basic eligibility criteria a minimum certain amount is required for retail investors. Also, first understanding the process of applying and redemption.
  • Mutual Funds – These are the easiest instrument of investment for retail investors where they can only buy the units of a well-performing fund with either equity/debt or balanced orientation. Investing and redemption is easily done through basic accounts and one can track the performance via regular statements. You also have the flexibility to create a portfolio of various mutual funds to create a cushion of debt oriented investments and the high risk-high reward benefits of equity investment.
  • ETFs – Exchange Traded Funds are a similar collective investment vehicle but for tracking a particular index. This way you can also purchase “units” of the index and gain atleast equal to the index performance of your country.
  • Banks and other deposit accounts – these are considered the safest accounts as they are guaranteed by the government through their entities. Also the time deposits are a good option in a high interest rate time period
  • Futures & Options – These are instruments for real risk-takers and experienced investors. One needs to understand the risks involved as these trades work on high borrowing called as leverage. However the gains can be multi-folds if the call goes correct.

How to Spend Wisely

Most of us are clueless about if we are spending our money carefully or not. This doubt leaves either a fear of spending money or the indecisiveness on how to spend our money.

The wisest way to look at an spending decision by

  • Cost- Benefit analysis

When comparing 2 or more options – which grocery brands to buy , which holiday package to choose – list down the costs breakup of each along with the associated benefits. Then rank the benefits for each option and cost. If the one with maximum benefits suits your cost budget – go for that. This will work only if both or more options mean the same to you. Herein the emotional bias of preference will always creep in and may make you change your mind finally. If you can afford it without considerably damaging your bank savings, go for it. 

  • Opportunity Cost

This is the most used economic concept in daily life. It is the cost you incur for choosing one option over the other. If you eat apples over oranges – both cost different. However, the satisfaction in one might be greater than the other. Hence this is not only a numerical measure but also a sum total of the intangible benefits one might receive – Ease of purchase of apples, flavour of the apple which you favour. However you let go of the cheaper oranges and maybe some extra Vitamin C! This way opportunity cost will be different for different people. 

Professional Management of Money

Finally, for making all of the points work for you and getting you in the habit – professional services can help in a big way.

Money Management though financial planners is one option. A financial coach will understand your spending and earning habits and guide you on a day to day basis. Credit Counselling will be useful for advising on how to fulfil your various debt and in what manner can you do so in the best way possible. Debt Consolidation Companies come into the picture if you need to service a larger mound of credit card bills or home mortgage but are unable to. They also help in setting your credit score right by advising you to control your spending and keeping a minimum balance in your bank accounts. Finally, you can always self-help and utilise the various freely available Money Management Apps which can give you alerts and reminders along with tips to invest and save.


[ii]4 Stats That Reveal How Badly America Is Failing At Financial Literacy

[iii]Happiness, income satiation and turning points around the world.  –

[iv] Commentary: Retail therapy won’t repair your damaged sense of self-worth

[v]Retail sales, Great Britain: January 2019



The potential of Open Finance and the digitisation of tax records



The potential of Open Finance and the digitisation of tax records 1

By Sudesh Sud, Founder of APARI 

The world is undergoing huge changes at the moment. Between coronavirus pushing the economy to the limit and a group of Redditors challenging the financial market hegemony, people are questioning the role of established institutions. If finance doesn’t work to enable the economy, businesses or individuals, then who is it for?

Before the digital revolution, financial experts were seen as a necessity. They knew how things worked, what everything meant, could provide good advice and were employed to sit at the heart of the action. Now, trading can be done by anyone online through established platforms, with a wealth of information available to hand.

Yet, as the 2008 financial crisis proved, established financial institutions have made themselves too big to fail. Simply tearing down the existing financial system would leave many ordinary people, along with businesses and government treasuries, in ruin.

However, as legendary futurologist, Buckminster Fuller, once said: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

Traditional banking models are already being upended by technology. Through Open Banking, challenger banks are able to connect services digitally, cutting inefficiencies and costs while speeding up transactions. Now, Open Finance is seeking to build on this model to connect financial services via technology, potentially making the existing financial model obsolete.

Just as Open Banking led to greater democratisation of money, Open Finance has the potential to transfer power back to individuals. Not only would this benefit society as a whole, but it would help minimise the boom-bust cycles that cripple entire economies. No individual would be too big to fail, and bailing people out would cost far less, having minimal impact on the economy overall.

With more information available to them, Open Finance businesses will be able to use technology to make better decisions instantly. Many people struggle to get onto the housing ladder due to a poor credit score, for example, yet they have been paying rent every month of their adult lives. Why, then, can they not access mortgages? A company called Credit Ladder is addressing this through Open Banking, reporting rent payments via challenger banks like Starling to credit agencies, helping good renters to access mortgages.

While it is still very early days for Open Finance, there seems to be an endless raft of possibilities to benefit individuals, businesses and national economies. Faster, more secure, and less risky access to credit can help grow the economy, transforming finance from something that benefits a few wealthy capitalists to something that enables growth in the real economy.

So how else could Open Finance benefit society?

Using Tax Information

Every working adult pays income tax. Some of us via self-assessment while others are enrolled in PAYE. Regardless, we all have tax records with a wealth of financial information that has been verified, at least in part, by HMRC.

This centralised repository of financial information could be put to better use, such as allowing credit reference agencies to better understand an individual’s risk profile or helping to prove income as part of a mortgage application. Unfortunately, HMRC is a black hole of information ‒ its sheer size and power sucks information in, but nothing comes back out again.

However, by Making Tax Digital (MTD), HMRC are effectively allowing individuals to keep validated tax records on the software of their choice. Software providers may then be able to use this information to enable certain aspects of Open Finance. The information doesn’t need to be protected by HMRC, it is the individual’s choice and responsibility over how to use their own information.

As MTD software develops, we will see it connected to Open Banking, allowing self-assessed taxpayers to connect their business account directly to the software, effectively getting their tax return completed for them by an AI program. They would simply check the details, add any adjustments, and click submit. HMRC would then validate the records, providing assurance for any financial institutions using that financial information.

More Growth, Lower Risk

With access to complete and validated financial information, lenders would be able to more quickly and accurately assess individual risk when considering a loan or mortgage application. This would greatly speed up the process of applying for a loan, whether for a business venture or property purchase, for example.

Take residential landlords, for example. They may own a few properties already, with equity coming out of their ears. If that landlord wants to obtain another property, they would need to get their accountant to assemble their financial information, complete a SA302, and send everything off to their mortgage advisors who would then validate the information before submitting the mortgage application.

The application can then take months to approve, slowing down the process and potentially leading to missed opportunities. Since property sales usually occur in a chain (the owner of the property you are purchasing is usually purchasing another property, and so on), these inefficiencies slow the process down for everyone and can have major impacts.

If, however, mortgage applicants could simply share validated financial/tax records, mortgage providers could use that information to make quick decisions with reduced risk. What’s more, applicants could share only relevant, high-level information, rather than expose their entire financial history.

Individual Risk Management

Currently, individuals can manage their credit score/risk profile via third party providers like Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. These credit reporting agencies use limited information, such as credit cards, store cards and loans to assess risk. Individuals need to understand what factors each agency uses in order to ‘game’ the system.

For example, someone who has always been careful with their money, kept to a strict budget and never taken out a loan or credit card will have a far worse credit rating than someone who regularly uses debt to finance their lifestyle. So, even though they may have amassed a good deal of savings, they cannot get a good deal on a loan or mortgage.

With Open Finance, these individuals would be able to quickly prove their earnings, spending, and savings, decreasing their risk profile in line with reality. Rather than crude measures of creditworthiness, financial institutions would be able to use accurate and validated information to make quick decisions based on realistic risk. This both transfers more power to individuals and contributes to faster growth while reducing overall risk.

As a centralised repository for validated financial information, MTD providers will be in a unique position to develop a two-sided marketplace for finance, allowing credit providers to match products to individuals’ risk profiles. When a customer needs a loan, credit card or mortgage, they can simply browse products for which they have already been approved, applying and receiving finance instantly.

Empowering PAYE Taxpayers

Currently, PAYE taxpayers have little, if any, visibility or control over their tax contributions. They will see the amount paid in tax and national insurance, but to claim any allowances requires them to submit a self-assessment tax return. For most PAYE taxpayers, this simply doesn’t seem worthwhile.

Yet, self-employed taxpayers can claim for things like travel to their place of work, a proportion of living expenses when working from home, even their lunch. These things are necessary for productive work yet, for PAYE taxpayers, come out of their already taxed income. Meanwhile, businesses tend to make use of every tax allowance available to them.

This imbalance could be rectified with Open Finance connected to tax software. As MTD becomes a validated system for self-assessed taxpayers, a new version could be developed for PAYE taxpayers, putting them in control of their tax and finances. Not only would they be able to benefit from Open Finance in the same way as self-assessed taxpayers, but they will also be able to claim for reasonable allowances. What’s more, HMRC/the Treasury/the government would be able to hold employers accountable for pay disparities and unreasonable tax avoidance.

Open Finance, then, has the power to speed up and reduce the cost of obtaining and providing finance. It would make the finance system fairer and most transparent while distributing financial power, and help to avoid the creation of too big to fail financial institutions and the boom-bust cycle that has become unfortunate features of modern capitalism.

Ultimately, Open Finance has the potential to help the UK and other nations recover from the seemingly unending series of crises that have plagued the early 21st century by allowing people to access finance quicker in order to grow their business and personal finances while reducing risk, inefficiencies, and costs.

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Three ways payment orchestration improves financial reconciliation



Knowing the best alternative payment methods

By Brian Coburn, CEO or Bridge,

When Luca Pacioli, the 15th century Venetian monk, invented double-entry account keeping, managing financial reconciliations had its own unique challenges. The father of modern accounting didn’t have to deal with glitches in his book-keeping app but he did have to write with feather-based quills by candlelight. Five hundred years later the challenges are different but no less onerous.

As in the 15th century, solid financial reporting is at the heart of every successful high-transaction business. As Pacioli no doubt knew, up-to-date, well-documented accounting ensures good operational health and makes it easier to grow. And that’s never been more important.

While it might not be feather quills by moonlight, today’s environment of multiple customer channels can be time-consuming and labour intensive, with various payment methods and financial reconciliations from multiple data sources.

Understanding cash inflow through online transactions is a critical element of financial reporting. However, when these involve multiple payment processors and payment methods and a complex system of disjointed silos of payment data, this can become a cumbersome and arduous manual task.

Common issues in this fragmented payments landscape include working across different formats, managing different data owners and access as well as inconsistent process timings. The result is often increased inaccuracy and inefficiency. Procuring multiple tools and software can end up being uncost-effective and unwieldy. Though the current digital transformation is an exciting time for retailers, staying on top of the ever-changing payment options can be an overwhelming burden for many business owners.

Introducing payment orchestration presents a single, accessible, creative and accurate source of transactional data, crucial for today’s complex challenges around financial reconciliations.


Today, commerce is 24/7, so being able to access and analyse real-time information is vital to managing business controls. Many organisations have looked to automate these processes with account reconciliation software.

However, one key challenge is the sheer volume of transactions and the need to capture data from a variety of different sources. Payment orchestration enables transactions to be carried out by multiple payment processors and payment methods with simple and flexible plugins, centrally monitored and routed in the most optimum way.

It allows users to add or remove providers easily, knowing the complexity (detecting outages and automatically rerouting payments) is being handled by a trusted specialist partner via an intelligent platform.

Bringing disparate sources of online transaction data into one place simplifies how enterprises access and operate with multiple payment processors and payment methods. This makes it easier for businesses to remain agile.


For organisations that still depend on manual, spreadsheet driven processes, the mechanics of reconciliation can be extremely time consuming.

A payment orchestration layer creates the opportunity to automate processes and reduce manual intervention. By bringing multiple payment processors and payment methods into an integrated service layer with intelligent routing capabilities, the impact of individual outages or failed payments can be mitigated to ensure optimum payment success rates, saving crucial revenue.


Naturally, significant manual work brings with it the added risk of human error. The speed with which business moves today demands accurate accounting processes. Checking for error takes up valuable time that could be spent focusing on business growth.

Payment orchestration can improve accuracy and reduce the opportunity for error. Providing a holistic and central source of real-time transactional data, payment orchestration can offer improved transparency and greater visibility of financial data.

With all transactional data captured in one source, payment orchestration can present a data source to feed other applications – such as automated reconciliation tools and fraud management – automating business processes in a seamless way across the enterprise. Good practice like this will, of course, enable a consistent approach to fraud management across all channels and payment services.

Multiple payment choices can be onerous but, today, not adopting them at all is unwise. The key to success, and good financial reconciliation, is being able to streamline and manage them.

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Circular Economy must be top of the business agenda in 2021



Circular Economy must be top of the business agenda in 2021 2

By Andrew Sharp, CEO of CDSL, the UK’s leading appliance spare parts distributor

The last year has been one in which we were all forced to change our behaviour. We have become far more familiar with the four walls of our home than we would have liked, we have had to give up the social activities that mean the most to us and we have spent much longer apart from relatives than we could have imagined.

But alongside the many reluctant changes that we have made, there have been some silver linings. Both consumers and businesses have reassessed their priorities, and we have seen a noticeable increase in the importance of sustainability and social value in everything we do.

Within this has been a rise in awareness of the power of the circular economy. Research from the Recycle Now campaign shows nearly nine out of 10 UK households now say they “regularly recycle” (September, 2020), while environmental organization Hubbub found that 43% of people are more concerned about plastic pollution than before Covid-19 (September, 2020).

The role of the circular economy in underpinning wider sustainability targets is now being widely realised by Government, consumers and businesses alike. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation recently found that circular economy policies contribute towards tackling the remaining 45% if greenhouse emissions that cannot be resolved by transitioning to renewable energy alone (January, 2021), and the circular economy can offer solutions to the 90% of biodiversity loss and water stress that traditional resource extraction and processing require.

However, reducing the impact of our current linear economy will require widespread change and every product that we use will need to be accommodated within this. One area that is yet to be fully incorporated into a circular economy model is e-waste – an area where the UK is unfortunately a world leader. Other than Norway, the UN has said that the average person in Britain discards more electrical items each year than anywhere else in the world, and the UK is also the worst offender in Europe for illegally exporting toxic electronic waste to developing countries.

1,000,000 tonnes of e-waste are produced annually in the UK, enough to fill six Wembley Stadiums. The WEEE Forum estimates that only 17.4% of e-waste was recycled in 2019 (October, 2020), meaning the vast majority of this is burnt or thrown into landfill, creating environmental hazards for years to come.

However, the good news is that 100,000 tonnes of e-waste would be avoided if we fixed just 10% more perfectly repairable appliances. As an electrical spare parts retailer, we have seen incredibly encouraging trends throughout 2020. Our leading consumer brand eSpares has seen record-breaking surges in demand over the past year as consumers look to fix appliances themselves rather than kicking them to the kerb.

We recently conducted a survey of 5,000 people and the results clearly show this growing interest among young people for repairing and recycling their electrical goods. The answers suggest that three times more young people than over-65s would try to fix a broken appliance at home and that the environmentally conscious under-35s are increasingly keen to fix gadgets rather than throw them away.

That is why we have taken steps to encourage our customers to drive a circular economy throughout the year with the campaign #FixFirst. As a business and a retailer, it is our responsibility to help educate our customers on the benefits of a circular economy. Free services like our Advice Centre, which has over 700 step-by-step articles and attracted 1.2million visits in 2020, contribute to this by offering assistance on making repairs around the home whenever and wherever it is needed.

It is up to businesses to ensure that we champion the benefits of the circular economy and ensure these behaviours are maintained permanently.

Certain sectors are already leading the charge in doing this. In fashion retail for example, Levi’s is paying consumers to bring back old pairs of jeans for sale on a second-hand marketplace. Patagonia similarly will take back old pieces of clothing to repair and refurbish them.

Plastic packaging is also receiving some tough attention from across the retail and food and drink manufacturing sectors. Tesco has announced that it has removed one billion pieces of plastic from its UK business in just one year through a policy of Remove, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, while consumer brands like Nestle for example are testing reusable packaging to reduce the amount of single use plastics.

Consumer attitudes are moving in one direction on the topic of the circular economy and it is therefore essential that businesses also get ahead of this as a commercial priority. In 2020, Deloitte found that 43% of consumers were already actively choosing brands due to their environmental values, while 2/3 of consumers have reduced their usage of single use plastics. In direct to consumer in sectors like the one in which we operate, sustainability credentials are fast becoming a purchasing priority alongside price.

Legislation in the UK is also increasingly clamping down on businesses that do not champion circular economy in the products they create and use. The Environment Bill that is expected to be passed in Autumn will give Government powers to introduce new targets on waste reduction and packaging. Extended Producer Responsibility expected to be introduced in 2023 will also lead to major fees for manufacturers of products that cannot easily be recycled.

As the circular economy rises in priority over the next year, businesses must act fast. Robust policies on the circular economy will both drive environmental benefit and allow businesses to stay ahead of a trend that is fast becoming a priority for consumers.

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