3 Easy Tricks to Help Moms Save on Kids’ Clothing

We are so happy to welcome one of our newest contributing writers,  Erica Gordon. Erica is a proud mompreneur of four awesome kids who rock, speaker and radio show host. Erica’s on a mission to empower moms everywhere to confidently follow their dreams without feeling guilty. She is the CEO of Defining Success, LLC and founder of Moms With DREAMS.

PlayDate

Moms, let’s be honest – kids grow super-fast! It seems like yesterday when mine were just little tikes crawling around in onesies and pampers. Now they’re in middle school and high school and only interested in the latest designers and the hottest sneakers. I guess it’s a classic case of the good old saying that time flies when you’re having fun.

How often have you thought about how expensive it is to buy quality clothes for your children, especially when you have more than one child? As a mom of four, that’s always been a point of concern for me.

As the weather transitions into spring, you’ll probably discover that your children have outgrown their cute little outfits from last season and if you’re anything like me, the thought of spring clothes shopping for four kids can be daunting and financially straining.

I’ve put together a simple checklist of 3 simple tricks to help moms save when shopping for your little tikes this season:

1. Consider shopping at a kids resale storeOnce Upon A Child, the largest kids resale franchise in the United States, is a great place to go for quality clothing, furniture and toys at discounted prices.  Here you will find the latest designers and stylish trends for your young fashionistas and GQs-in-training. I’ve found hidden treasures for my children at great prices. You can also bring in your children’s clothes and toys, sell them back to the store and get paid that same day.

Onceupona child

2. If you’re hosting, be sure to invite moms with children of varying ages to ensure that guests will have a nice selection from which to choose.  Set guidelines and let your attendees know that only clothes that are gently used and in good condition will be accepted. This is a great way to socialize with other moms and to find great clothes for the kiddies for FREE.2. Host or attend a kids’ clothing swap party. Hosting a swap party is a great way to kill two birds with one stone – you can have a reason to get together with your girlfriends and find great clothes for your kids at NO cost.

3Your kids are not too good for hand-me-downs.  Recycle clothes from older siblings to younger siblings, especially when your kids are young and growing like weeds.  Let family and friends (whose style you admire) know that you accept used clothing and will be happy to put it to good use. 

And lastly keep in mind that nothing beats free.  Let go of your ego and keep more of your hard-earned money.  Children don’t understand the value of money nor do they care if their clothes are new or used. Save your money so you can put it to good use on something that the whole family can enjoy.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Have you ever purchased gently used clothing or exchanged clothes with other moms? Please share your thoughts and comments.

A Gift for You! Happy Financial Literacy Month

Happy April and Happy Financial Literacy Month!

I want to take the time out to say thank you! You all are absolutely amazing and you continue to inspire me with your successes each and every month.

April is Financial Literacy Month so I wanted to give my readers a special gift. I worked diligently with my graphic designer to create this financial organizer for you. It is complete with a monthly financial calendar so you can track your bill due dates, a debt repayment plan sheet, an account information page, and more!

When I decided to get my finances together, getting organized was the first thing I did.

As you begin to spring clean, use this to organize your finances so that we can make this your best financial year yet! Print it out, put it in a 3-ring binder and whip your finances into shape. This template will only be free during the month of April, and after that I will sell it for a nominal fee.

So share it to everyone you know and let’s make the rest of this year fiscally awesome for you!

MFF Financial Organizer

 

And don’t forget that we have our Frugal Fab 5 Spring Clean & Grow your finances event coming up April 12th!

Attendees will:

– Create a debt reduction plan
– A clear understanding of how your credit score is calculated
– A credit plan to help you raise your credit score as much as 100 points in 1-year.
– A complimentary e-guide: 9 Ways to Successfully Handle Debt Collectors.
– Frugal, fabulous FUN!
– Lunch
– A complimentary copy of Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche’s bestselling book, The One Week Budget!

Click here to invest in your financial future and secure your seat today.

5 Money Saving Car Buying Tips

So I bet you are wondering what does this New Yorker know about buying a car? After all, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority happens to be my de facto chauffeur.

money saving tips, money saving tips for buying a car, tips on saving money for a car, saving up money tips, carsaleswomanWell, eight years ago, while in college I was a car saleswoman. Yep little ol’ me was selling cars. I was 22 years old, 5’5, 120 pounds and I was selling Nissan Titans to 60+ year old Texan ranchers. At the time I lived in San Antonio, Texas and it was one of the best paying jobs available since I hadn’t finished my bachelors degree.

I was actually quite good at it, but hated the hamster-wheel life of sales. You’d come off a good month and have to do it all over again, every single month. Although I walked away from it after 8 months, I learned valuable lessons about buying a car that I often share with those close to me. Since I consider you, my readers, close, I am going to share 5 car-buying tips from you that I learned as a new and used car saleswoman. This applies to traditional car lots, not “no-haggle” ones like Car Max.

#1 Get approved before you hit the lot- The customers we were most flexible with were the ones who secured financing before they came onto the lot.  The hard part was over by then because as a sales person, securing financing is one hardest parts of the job. Someone can love the car all they want, but if their credit score is poor, it will be difficult to find a lender who is willing to take the risk.  So a person with financing in their pocket is almost  a guaranteed sale. This cuts back on haggling and negotiations because their bank gave them parameters, it’s the dealers mission to sell you a car within those which they are willing and determined to do.

#2 Buy on the last days of the month- As I mentioned before, dealerships have target sales numbers to reach every single month. Now rather than operating with the mentality that they can chalk that sale up to next month, they want instant gratification and they will bend over backwards to move cars off the lot by the end of the cycle. I recommend visiting a day or two before the last day and walk away. They will be desperate to make your sale and will most likely call you offering to drop the price significantly in order to move that car off the lot and onto your driveway. I once saw my former employer slash the price an additional $6,000 to move a car off the lot on the last day of the sale cycle.

#3 Don’t buy the extras- Although its convenient to allow the dealer to tint the windows and install leather interior, it can be way more expensive. The dealer often doesn’t  provide this, they usually have a third party that charges their prices, and then the dealer tacks their price onto it. I will never forget selling a Nissan Armada to a family and getting them to buy the leather package. It added an additional $800 to my commission check that month so you can imagine how much the dealer made off of the couple.

Also be wary of the extended warranty offered t you during final negotiations. Read the fine print, because it often comes with very strict rules and regulations making it damn near impossible to cash in on the warranty.

#4 Know your values – The customers we hated the most were ones who came with print-outs of the Kelly Blue Book value of their car and the average price of the car they were interested in. An informed consumer is indeed a powerful consumer and often times we would end up giving them the trade in value they wanted for their car. So do your research before hitting the lot. At least know how much you should be getting for your trade-in because they will most definitely try to give you $2,000-5,000 less than it’s actually worth.

#5 Walk away if you don’t like the numbers-  Despite all of the previous steps, you might still find yourself in a deadlock with the dealer and the finance staff. Walk away if you are not happy with what they are offering you. Most likely, they are not the only dealer in town and someone else will probably be willing to be more flexible. I worked with several clients who were able to find favorable deals elsewhere. Also note # 2, I saw a man save $6,000 on a car because he was willing to walk away and wait for them to offer him terms that he found favorable. This doesn’t mean walking away and waiting for the dealer to drop the car $10,000, that’s not going to happen, but you’d be surprised at what a dealership is willing to do to get you back on the lot.

money saving tips, money saving tips for buying a car, tips on saving money for a car, saving up money tips, new-car-lot

While I can’t guarantee that all of these items will work for everyone, they are definitely worth a try. I have seen them in action with at least 15 customers or more

When is the last time you bought a car? Were you able to get the dealer to discount their prices significantly?

Discover New Ways to Save Money on Your Commute To Work

Living in New York  is exciting but also expensive! One expense New Yorkers understand very well is the cost of commuting. Buses, taxi’s, trains and rental cars, all add up and can really take a toll!

There are a few thing that you want to consider as you plan your monthly commute, for example;  how do you decide which metro card you should purchase? Keep reading and we will break down price per swipe to discover which metro card you need for your specific commute.

For the average work week, I use one fare and one transfer each way. With the current fare, that cost me $5.00 a day. With a 5 day work week, that brings to a total of $25.00 on traveling to and from work. But of course there is more to life than work. If I make one or two trips outside of my routine in a week, then it still makes sense to pay per ride, however, as soon as I take the 13th trip, I am no longer getting best value.

Most of us are making 13 trips or more per week, and should make the investment in the $30,  7 day unlimited. Even thought you may not want to make that commitment it is quite easy to go over 13 rides. (Work, plus two other trips with in the week.)

ways to save money, ways to save money on commuting, ways to save money for a trip, best way to save money, tips to save moneyWhen is it time to invest in a monthly unlimited?

Once you are making 48 trips a month, (12 trips a week or more) It’s actually a better investment to purchase the $112 Monthly Metro Card. (remember when this only cost about $94!?) This means that you are getting more for your money using a monthly metro card if you are traveling to and from work, and going out at least twice on the weekends.

Some times it can be a challenge to pay that $112 up front, but I hope this post will encourage you to write it into your budget. Recently I have been paying per ride, but numbers don’t lie, I need to go back to the monthly card.

I encourage you to check with your employer about pre-tax commuter benefits. Also, learn more about pre-tax commuter benefits here:  web.mta.info/mta/farebenefits.htm  This federal benefit allows a portion of your paycheck  to go towards transportation. This benefits you because the amount comes out before taxes.

Example: Your gross pay check is $100 and you are contributing $10 to pre-tax commuter benefits. You will only pay taxes on the net of $90 instead of $100. This will reduce the amount of taxes you pay. It works in your favor because you needed to pay for your transportation anyway, so why not budget exactly what you need and pay less taxes on your take home check.

60 trips per month is not a lot. Between commuting to work, and heading into the city on weekends, the average New Yorker can easily hit 60 rides. At 60 rides per month using a monthly metro card, you are only spending $1.87 per ride. That is a fantastic value!

I know it can be tough to pay that $112 up front, but I hope this article gives you the information you need, to make the best decision, for you and for your pockets.

As for me, I am letting go of the $10 cards here and there, signing up with my employer, and I will start using a monthly metro April 1st!

PS, there is talk of a fare hike coming to NY… Stay tuned!

<3 metrocard-machine

5 Ways To Transform Your Life- Takeaways from The 2014 Get Radical Conference

Everything happens for a reason. This weekend I was gifted with a ticket to Doreen Rainey’s absolutely amazing Get Radical Conference by my sis-STAR Kara Stevens. I headed to D.C for a conference that was promoted to a game-changer.

ladies-at-conference

My Sis-Star Kara Stevens pictured on my left and Julian B. Kiganda to my right

I was not prepared for how much this weekend would change me. I was excited to the conference but admittedly not familiar with Doreen’s excellence and ability to help you unpack your “baggage” and get to the business of bettering you.

I could rave on and on an on about this conference. About the absolutely amazing women I met. Oh the women. They were so beautiful, so bold, so courageous, so different so radical. I walked away with another speaking engagement that I am very excited about. I also decided to take the leap and enlist a coach, the dynamic Cheryl Wood, to help me with my professional goals.

But I want to share with you 5 take always from this event as they pertain to your finances

Here are 5 ways to radically change your financial life:

 1. If you want to win, you have to PREPARE to win. Champions prepare to win. @DoreenRianey

Do you want go to be the champion of your finances? I do and that’s why I created this blog as my accountability partner. So often we talk about what we want to do and were going to do this and that. But what are we doing to prepare ourselves?

At the conference I also had the pleasure of hearing Laila Ali speak and she spoke about her workout regimen to become the champion of women’s boxing. She was boxing men and running the hills of the Las Vegas mountains.

Are you preparing yourself to win financially whether it be asking for that raise, looking for a better paying job that also allows you to work towards you dreams. Okay you want to buy a house, but are you saving money for a down payment? Champions prepare to win, it’s not just a coincidence.

2. Identify your non-negotiables this year. What’s non negotiable for you when it comes to your finances? @DoreenRainey

Create your and then examine it. How are you doing on them? If you’ve identified them as non-negotiable meaning they absolutely have to happen, why aren’t you doing everything in your power to make them happen?

This struck a cord with me. I’m about 42 points off from accomplishing my original goal of a 750 credit score by the time I turn 30. This is non-negotiable for me but yet Im saving money for my ticket to Ghana and somewhere along the line threw a trip to Dubai in the mix. In actuality, I can use my airline miles, nix Dubai, and use that money to pay of a credit card which will improve my credit score. I really wanted to travel to Dubai y’all. I had already pictured my selfies on the dunes but! I had to change my plans because it was impacting my non-negotiable.

hope-hand3. Hope is not an investment strategy. @JeanChatzsy

Let’s get real. We barely discuss investing on this site. I admit I assume it is complicated, and it can be. But I voiced this to my sis-star and it turns out she introduced me to an investment banker who doesn’t charge an up front rate, only1% of your earnings.

I know several several women who aren’t even saving for retirement. In order to win big you have to play big. I advise that you start small when it comes to investing but start somewhere. Hoping you win the lottery, or that you business takes off so that retirement will not be necessary is not a sound investment strategy.

4. Do the people around you inspire you to be your best? Do they hold you accountable. For your goals. Are they who you aspire to be? 

This is a simple question yet a very different question. I know people who are married to people that don’t inspire them to be their best. Their husbands are spending frivolously or not abiding by the same financial plan as them.  I know people who are hanging around people they don’t even like let alone inspire them. Challenge yourself.

While remaining true to yourself examine your circle. Are most of them miserable and complacent or are they changing their own lives? Are the talking about their dreams or are they making their dreams happen. Are they encouraging you to reach your goals and motivating you to do so? Or are they sabotaging you? Are they inviting you out to dinner knowing damn well you are broke.

Or, are you the one sabotaging the group? Are you the one acting as someone else’s ball and chain? We are only as good as the 5 people we hang around. Let’s make sure we are worth being in the inner circle as well as everyone else is worth being in our inner circle.

5. Identify your big whys. Choose 3.

Why are you working to get your finances right? Is it to buy a home? Is it to pay for your children’s college tuition?

california-beach-house

My 3 big whys are:

I want a bi-coastal lifestyle that enables me to travel as I choose while living in a place that nourishes my soul.

I want to make a difference in the lives of others.

I want to make my parents proud. They gave up so much for my sister and I to have a stable live and a happy, healthy, enjoyable childhood. I want them to know that was not in vain.

 

I am so amped. This weekend helped clarify my personal goals and aspirations for My Fab Finance.  I look forward to continuing to bring you great content that will help you achieve your financial goals by making lifestyle tweaks that will enable you to accomplish your whys. I can be your accountability partner!

I need something from you though.

I need your comments. While I’ve seen traffic and reader engagement grow tremendously, comments have been lul. I hope you understand I LOVE reading your comments. It informs me of what you are dealing with as well as let’s me know you were here. Doreen made the comment that if you have a blog without comments, it’s a newsletter lol that hurt my feelings a bit. This is not a newsletter and I work damn hard including writing posts at 1am and waking up at 7am to finish the posts before going to work followed by class o followed by an internship.

So I invite you to leave your mark. Come from behind that keyboard and speak out!

Are there any items on this list that resonate with you? I’d love to hear your reasons for pursuing financial independence. 

 

3 Tips To Help You Survive and Prepare For Personal Financial Disasters

Personal Finance Tips

Back in 2007 when I graduated from college our country was facing an economic depression. I was laid off form my first 3 jobs out of college. Government officials were denying it and bickering over whether it was real or not, but if you were one of the estimated 2.6 million individuals who lost their job it was very real to you.

It seems that our economy is on the rebound for the most part, but, what about personal financial disasters? Just because the country isn’t experiencing one doesn’t mean that your finances and household are safe. Divorce, job loss, natural disasters, and illness are events that can throw a wrench in even a solid financial situation.

Portions of this post originally appeared in Madame Noire.

Here are 3 Tips to Survive a Financial Disaster

1)   Communicate: Many people do not realize how flexible and accommodating companies can be, especially if you have had great payment history. Reach out to your creditors, explain your situation, and find out if they have a hardship program that you would qualify for. During my job transition last year my credit card company waived the interest charges.

2)    Downsize your life: Contact utility companies and find out if you can reduce your cost by taking advantage of promotions or downgrading your package.  Do you really need the triple play package? Do you really need cable?  Eliminate unnecessary bills and reduce your spending to needs not wants. Sorry to tell you but weekly manicures and dry cleaning services are not needs.

3)    Assess your current fiscal responsibilities: Create a plan to manage your finances. Now that you have reduced your spending create a real plan that will sustain you during this disaster. Determine whether your going to pay down debt during this time or just pay on your debts. Determine if you can afford to put money aside for savings and investing.

No one likes to be caught off guard. Once you make it through a financial disaster try these things to prepare yourself for the next unexpected occurrence

 3 Tips to Prepare for Financial Disaster

1)    Financial Disaster Fund: Calculate how much you life costs you including all of your needs and save at least 3x’s amount. This account is for emergencies so once you reach the goal amount set up another savings account so that you don’t dip into this one.

2)    Get on a Budget: Control your spending. You don’t have to live like you are experiencing a disaster, but be conscious of your spending and question each purchase.  This will help you save more and will soften the lifestyle blow should a financial disaster occur. Do you have to have a “girls” night out twice a week or  can you host a girls night in potluck? If you want to eat out try substituting expensive dinners for happy hour deals (one of my favorites in NYC is $2 taco Tuesdays)

3)    Diversify Your Income Streams: Get resourceful and tap into your creative abilities. Create side hustles so that your survival does not depend on an employer. It could remain a side hustle or it could turn into a full-fledged business. You’d be surprised at the ways people are creatively funding their lives. Having difficulty figuring out your side hustles? Check out my girl over at Dear Debt Blog, I thinks she’s a master side hustler.

Have you experienced a financial disaster? How did you cope? Have you taken the steps to prepare yourself for the next financial disaster?

Save Money and Extend Your Manicures: Formula X System Review

Two weeks ago I announced the #MyFabIsLess Challenge . Rather than pay to get my acrylic nails redone  I decided to save $600 and do my nails myself.

In the past my nails would chip by the end of the first night so I knew if I was going to pull this out I needed to bring in a solid product. I received a sample of the Sephora X Pyrotechnic and really liked it so after reading reviews on the Sephora Formula X system I decided to give it a try.

And the verdict is:
I LOVE IT!

Formula-X-The_System-review

I ordered it online because I get airline miles for buying from the Sephora Storefront via my dividend miles account.

The set comes with three steps: Cleanser, Base Coat, and a Top Coat. Currently Sephora is running a promotion and they are throwing in a Formula X nail color for free. It’s a $54 value and you get it for $32.

You start with the “Cleanse” step (clear blue), which strips oils from the nails and peps your nails for polishing. Next you apply the base coat (clear pink) which creates “a tacky surface to help the polish hold”.

Next you apply the polish. I tried the system twice before writing this review because I wanted to provide an accurate review. The first time I used a drug-store polish from my existing collection and my manicure lasted about 3 days. The second time I used the Formula X polish I had received as a free sample. This made all of the difference.

Last you apply the top coat which gives you the long lasting shine of a gel manicure. It dries very quickly so smudging is also less of an issue.

Images below demonstrate the staying power.

Day 2

Formula-X-Nail-System-Day-2

Day 3

Formula-X-Nail-System-Day-3

Day 6

Formula-X-Nail-System-Day-2

Day 7

Nails Day 7

By day 7 the nails were chipping slightly at the tips but nothing compared to what I’ve experienced with other products. It even outlasted salon manicures. They aren’t gel but they remove quickly with acetone nail polish and don’t require soaking off.

I love the system.

The costliest thing would be collecting enough Formula X polishes so that you have a healthy rotation so I recommend choosing a color that you like a lot and then buy a polish once a month until you get about 4-5.

Do you currently use the system? Or are there other ways you have maintained your manicures?

Super Simple and Easy To Make DIY Body Scrub

How many of you love the smooth and supple feeling of your skin after you’ve used body scrub?

Others have told me how easy it was to make your own and over the past few months I gained confidence in making my own body butters so I knew this wouldn’t be a feat. Halfway through our last jar I vowed not to buy anymore and to make my own body scrubs at home instead.

I found a simple recipe on Pinterest and decided to give it a try this week. I was able to make with ingredients I already had in my home.

I must say that we think it turned out phenomenal. I can confidently say that I will never drop another dime on body scrub.

Here is what you will need:

Body-Scrub-Ingredients

2 cups of sugar
1 cup scented baby oil (You can use any oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil and the list goes on!)

3-5 pumps of hand soap or body wash
Essential oil (optional)
You will need  a container to put it in. I washed and reused the jar from the last body scrub I purchased. 
I also advise finishing a bowl that you don’t mind tossing out to mix it in. I used a chinese take out container.

Mix the two. If its a little too dry for your liking add more baby oil until you reach your desired consistency. If you want to alter the scent, add a few drops of lemon juice, essential oil, etc. Baby oil has a strong scent so it’s hard to mix other fragrances with it. If you want a certain fragrance use a less frangranced oil.

And TaDAA!

Here is my finished product.

close-up-of-body-scrub

 

Do you make your own beauty products at home? Feel free to share your recipe in the comments below.

 

Putting Our Pocket Change To Work

When Khomari and I moved into our apartment last year we decided to put all of our spare change into a “piggybank” my piggybankgood friend Javana bought me for Christmas. Our original goal was to cash the coins in and treat ourselves to a spa day at one of our favorite spa’s. We actually ended up learning to give each others massages (well I bought a massage tool from Target because it always makes my hands hurt) but we realized we needed things for the apartment since we never had a housewarming.

We’ve made due with the basics, but we were running low on drinking and wine glasses and wanted replace a few items that weren’t quite making the year. Since we are both on tight budgets we decided to use our piggybank money to buy a few nice things for our house.

Here’s a tip for those of you moving into a new place. Give yourself time to buy things you need. Don’t feel the pressure to buy everything at once. Buy necessities and build on it slowly and surely. This keeps you from buying things you don’t need as well as helps you remain in your budget.

We headed to a local check cashing spot to convert our coins into cash. Converting coins and purchasing money orders are the only reasons I would ever use a check cashing place. If you are using check cashing facilities to get your money, shoot me a message via the contact form and we can discuss getting you properly banked. These institutions make millions exploiting individuals often offering them subpar yet expensive services.

Brooklyn Check cashing location

We almost had $100 but due to the hefty 9% fee, we walked away with a cool $90 to fund our haul !

receipt

Because I operate on a budget I only purchase my home goods from three stores and Marshalls is at the top of that list. Marshalls is my mothers favorite store, I practically grew up there… No really, my mom was such a regular at Marshalls that she knew their delivery schedule and store drama. Aside from it being a familiar place, Marshalls is a wonderful place to find high quality products for less.

With our shopping list in hand we set out to Marshall’s. I always use a shopping lists because 1) I am forgetful, and 2) with a shopping list in hand it keeps me focused on getting the items I need vs sauntering through the isles and picking up impulse purchases. If you are not using lists, you should.

We ended up finding just about everything we wanted. Our drinking glasses combined were $21. We purchased a heavy duty frying pan for $24.99 and shower curtain hangers that are wayyyy more attractive than the current $0.99 ones we’ve been “styling” with over the past year. We couldn’t find a shower curtain that we liked so we held off and added Target to the mix. Our cost for wine glasses, drinking glasses, a frying pan, and shower curtain rods came up to $57.66 after taxes.

We were able to find the other items we were seeking out at Target. We also snuck a toy in there for Zorie since his toys have been affected by our budget and his favorite toy is hanging on to dear life via duck tape.

Shower Curtain and Towels from TargetIn Target we ended up spending $27.18 for new shower curtain, two washcloths (we’ve been having a lot of guest lately) and Zories toy (not pictured because it is currently serving its purpose). I know I could have gotten the shower curtain from a cheap store, but I love Target’s hotel quality curtains. My bathroom is very small and I appreciate budget friendly luxuries when I can get them.

Our total for the day was $84.84. We wanted a shower mat but I want to stick true to my budget and am going to head to a local liquidator store where I can score one with the remaining $6.

It was nice spending our piggy bank money on things we could use for the house and I am so happy with #myfabfinds . While those massages would have been nice, I will enjoy looking sipping wine out of those glasses, after cooking a tasty meal in those pans followed by a show in my “budgurious” bathroom. Having cash in hand and watching it disappear so quickly reminded me of how expensive furnishing a home can get.

We have decided to make it our piggybank busting a yearly ritual. I wonder what we will buy next year?

Do you have a Piggybank? What are your plans for the money or how did you use the money? Leave your experience in the comments below.

ABOUT
Created by nationally recognized millennial money expert Tonya Rapley, My Fab Finance is a leading financial education and lifestyle blog for millennials who want to become financially free and do more of what they love.

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