Advised Podcast Ep 010: Maximizing Happiness, Not Just Wealth | A Modern Approach to Financial Advice

Exploring an unconventional approach to financial advice with Aaron Buchner, Financial Planner and owner of Cactus .

Aaron discusses balancing living in the moment with future planning. We challenge the traditional emphasis on retirement and building wealth, suggesting that you should prioritize happiness and fulfillment in your work and personal lives. We highlight the importance of finding a balance between delayed gratification and enjoying life today, as well as the need for financial advisors to support individual goals rather than prescribing a one-size-fits-all approach.

Key Takeaways:

  • Plan for happiness and fulfillment today, rather than only focusing on retirement and building wealth.
  • Find a balance between delayed gratification and enjoying life now.
  • There are multiple paths to financial success, choose the one that aligns with your unique circumstances and aspirations.
  • Financial advice should support your goals and provide guidance toward happiness and financial security.

Listen above or read the transcript below, and let us know what you think of the episode!

Rick Luchini (00:00):
I see a lot of things on LinkedIn and I comment on, yeah, but Rick, if you did that, you're doing it wrong because you would have a lot more tax-free money when you're 70 if you did it this way. I say, yeah, but I'll be 70. I make decisions for now. Yeah, I have an eye on the future. I don't want to be poor when I'm 80, but also I'm not making every decision based on how to maximize my seventies and eighties.

Intro (00:31):
You are listening to advise with Rick Lucine.

Rick Luchini (00:35):
Alright, this is our very first of many virtual podcasts. I got a guy here that's about as weird as I am in this industry all the way up in Canada. Aaron Buchner met him on LinkedIn and he's got a lot of cool stuff to talk about and I'm just going to throw it over to him right now. Aaron, tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.

Aaron Buchner (01:06):
I hate talking about myself as an advisor. I'm probably about the strangest one out there just in terms of the fact of I'm not your typical advisor that you usually assume you accumulate with an advisor with suits and ties and dress shoes and fancy cars. No, I'm the more the advisor that's band t-shirts, concert goer, have a good beer at the end of the day type of person. That's more where I am. So that's about who I am and then even I know you have Prick Free Financial with myself. The whole runabout with that was you can take it whatever way you want in terms of the prick free, which I love the fact of having it, but the whole point of the Prick Free was with our brand name of cactus was cactus and prick free means it doesn't hurt to talk about financial advice. I'm not the type of person

Rick Luchini (02:00):
Who

Aaron Buchner (02:00):
Likes to belittle people or put people down. So the prick free is more that aspect of it. You can take the other way of I'm not a prick. It also works for me.

Rick Luchini (02:12):
For the listeners, you kind of buried the lead there. Your business is called Cactus and you have I think the best URL in the business, which is prick free.com is your website and you can hide that. It's cactus and financial advice shouldn't be sharp. I guess the way I hear it is you're not an asshole and you're not afraid to be yourself and that's the way I take it and that's why I like it.

Aaron Buchner (02:45):
That was always the hope too. It was something that was only rebranded. It was almost an eight month project on the go of rebranding and trying to figure out this name. And I knew though, when I had to do this, it had to be different. I had to be me could be another advisor out there. And so when they came up with cactus and they gave me the prick free financial advice of the tagline and I just cracked up, I'm like, that's it. I'm done. I don't care. I didn't care what the brand name was. I'm like, that's the tagline. We're going with it. We're running with it because it's perfect for exactly who I am and who I wanted to be and how I wanted to set myself away from every other advisor out there because what other advisor on their main page just prick free financial advice on the front page.

Rick Luchini (03:29):
It caught my attention. Like I said, I love it and it really kind of tells the story. So why don't we go there a little bit. What is it that you do differently? I think from seeing some of your posts and stuff, we have a lot in common this way, so why don't you just give us a little rundown on what you think the differences between what we would consider traditional financial planning or traditional advice versus age appropriate or for lack of better words, prick free.

Aaron Buchner (04:09):
I think a lot of it is even from my aspect, people focus way too much on the numbers of things. It's always that focus, oh, I have to put so much money away at so much percentage to reach this magical number that's out there. And if anyone searches anything on social media, you can find every single influencer, guru, whatever you want to call them out there posting the exact same thing, saying, oh, to figure out what your number is at 4%, figure out what it is. And they all focus on the number. It's get the number, get this 500, 400, whatever it is a month. But for a lot of people my age, I'm turning 40, not even a month and a half, and I got two kids. I'm like finding $500 a month is difficult for people. No one can do that and our lives shouldn't be revolving around this almighty dollar amount that I have to reach and I have to get $2 million by 65 because I have to be the 1% it should be. I want to live my life. And that's what the main focus should be is just enjoying your life. You can script and save and make $500. Could I do it? Yes. Would I be happy? God no. I'd be very unhappy regular basis and that's what I had to do. I think that's a lot where my focus comes in is how can we let you enjoy life and still reach that goal later on.

Rick Luchini (05:39):
Yeah, and I'm with you on that. I think that our industry, it's not everybody. It's getting better. I don't know what it's like in Canada. I know in the United States there is a push for, there's generation X and Y planning and fee only planning for millennials. It's still a super tiny subset, but there's advisors coming out focusing on that. And so I think what the traditional old school advisor is missing is you might be focused on retirement 60, the majority of your clients might be focused on retirement 60, but don't project that on me when I'm 40. That's not my main focus right now. And I think that's the big deal is financial advice is often focused on retirement or building wealth, whatever that means to people. But that's not everybody's main goal. It's not to be the richest person in the cemetery. I see a lot of things on LinkedIn and I comment on, yeah, but Rick, if you did that, you're doing it wrong because you would have a lot more tax-free money when you're 70 if you did it this way. I say, yeah, but I'll be 70.

(07:21):
I make decisions for now. Yeah, I have an eye on the future. I don't want to be poor when I'm 80, but also I'm not making every decision based on how to maximize my seventies and eighties. And so I think that's where that mix comes in where you know what the 30 and 40 year olds care about, what we're going through, what's available. We know the traditional stuff, keep an eye on the future, but how can we maximize decisions today that allow us to enjoy our life today without leveraging the future? This is not a free ride to never save a dollar either.

Aaron Buchner (08:06):
Yeah, well you've seen my post, but I hate the term retirement. I hate the term because yeah, you can go into the whole aspect of, okay, well what is retirement? And really the end is retirement is just quitting. Your job is not being half to focus on working on a day to day. And I think I looked at one time and retirement was something that was created back in, it was 1890 or something like that, somewhere out in Germany. Somebody created it and it was just the whole point of retirement was so we could kick out the 70 year olds and bring in new blood and that's what it became. So there's still that focus of retirement is this date way out in the future when I'm 65, 75, even as a 30-year-old or 40-year-old, it's like, well, that's 20, 30 years from now. Why should I care?

(09:00):
So that's why a lot of times, and the problem is yeah, the old traditional advisors, they do the same thing where it's the focus is on retirement. They say, oh, this is why you should to save to save four retirement, but they don't care what life is in 30 years. They care about what about life now? Yeah, I want to make sure I can live, but what about everything Now there's even that stigma around, we talk about financial planning and or retirement planning. People always think even financial planning, it's for retirement or for someone who's in retiree and getting there, but it's like, no, it's really, life planning is really what it is. But even as someone who's in their thirties and forties, we're not just saying, okay, save every single penny you have for in your rsp, sorry, in Canada and TFSA, your retirement accounts

Rick Luchini (09:55):
And

Aaron Buchner (09:56):
Put everything you can into those. We're thinking, okay, you have all these other goals along the way and it's not just a straight shot. No one lives a shot where, okay, I graduate college or university, I get my first job and my goal number one is quit. Quit working and retire.

Rick Luchini (10:13):
Yeah, that's my point is that there's a big gap between now and when you're telling me that I'm going to maximize my wealth. Yeah, sure. If I can do both, that sounds good. But I am valuing today, and I think the more you talk to 70 year olds, they don't say things like, I wish I had an extra a hundred thousand dollars when I died. They say things like, I wish I would've spent more time with my kids when they were doing this, or I wish I would have changed careers and had the guts to do the thing I wanted to do. These are the things that they say, yeah, we don't want to be broke when we're 70 or 80. We're all intelligent enough to know that. But there's a way to balance planning for today and maximizing the future without only focusing on the future. And like you said, I just see a lot of stuff where I get replies to me that say like, but Rick,

(11:20):
If you did it this way, you would compound blah, blah, blah and have this much more when you're 75. I'm like, great, great, but I'm 40 right now and I'm going to do the thing that I value right now knowing that I'm still going to save enough for my future. I'm still going to not be destitute in retirement, but I don't really care to maximize my seventies and eighties. And I think a lot of people do. It's just being projected on them. This is what you should care about. You should care about this and you should sacrifice everything between now and then because that's what I'm concerned about as your gray-haired, empty suit advisor. And that's starting to get better because there's people like you and people like me talking about it, but it's not the norm.

Aaron Buchner (12:19):
He said, no, but yeah, you go back and you're talking about the, oh, but oh, but Rick, if you did this, you could maximize the savings and yeah, was it the future opportunity cost complaint is I guess is what comes in. That's what they all pitch to us and oh, what could be the future cost? What's the future opportunity cost? And you see it with another social media where I think I actually got into a lot of arguments with people about, they were saying, oh, if you had a car payment that was like $500 a month and they were showing all over that 500 a month, if you just dropped it down to 200 and then did the whole calculation to what it could be worth in 50 years. And I'm thinking to myself like, well, A, you're talking 50 years in the future.

Rick Luchini (13:07):
I really made, when I'm 90, I'm really going to pat myself on the back.

Aaron Buchner (13:12):
Somebody else

Rick Luchini (13:13):
Beating my ass, but I've got an extra couple hundred thousand dollars in the bank account. Who cares? Yeah,

Aaron Buchner (13:18):
Who cares? Does it really matter, Mike, be you're also assuming for nothing's going to happen whatsoever. You're living inside the eye of a hurricane and everything around you was going, Katie, but yours is going to go perfectly well and nothing's going to disrupt that return, that investment, that car, nothing. I'm like, you can't predict that stuff. And so I always laugh when I see the opportunity costs. I'm like, but what's the value to the person?

Rick Luchini (13:43):
And I think what I've been seeing working with some younger people, and I don't want to get into the technical stuff because there's a lost in translation between the USA acronyms and the Canada acronyms, but just in general, I'm finding that the things that I can do for people our age,

(14:07):
Maximizing what they're already doing, oftentimes I'm not telling them you need to save more. I'm just saying you might be doing it wrong, and so change it from this type of account to that type of account or change your investment allocation from this to this. Now you actually are projected to hit much better numbers and that extra money that someone else might've told you to save, you can start stashing away to take your kids to Disney in two years or do the kitchen remodel that you guys actually care about or all these other things that might be looked at as wasting money when you could put it in an account and let it sit there for 40 years.

Aaron Buchner (14:49):
And yeah, there is something to be said about the start earlier or put as much away as you physically can when you're 20. And that whole mantra, and it's great that people in their twenties and their thirties, if they're focusing on retirement, are able to, at least in the climate here, it's like half of 'em can't find homes right now where they can't even afford to rent. So they're just living at home. So it's great for them if they're taking that 30, almost like $3,000 and putting it into an account.

Rick Luchini (15:20):
I think that's where the planning comes into play because there's a lot of things that we see or have seen done or wrong that we can prompt you to think about rather than maybe your parents just continue to tell you, Hey, we wish we would've saved earlier, so save for retirement. It's just not that black and white. And I want to encourage people, and I know you do too, to don't ignore the future, but give today as much attention as the future is already getting. That's everybody's talking about retirement, retirement, retirement. But my kids don't care about that. They care about the things that we're doing today. And so, so I think there's a balancing act there and there's a lot of ways to go down that road. But something else that comes up a lot that I try to articulate is this rush to retirement or early retirement. And I believe that that would be different if people were happy with what they were doing in the first place.

(16:42):
You're retiring away from your job, you're not retiring to this other thing in a lot of cases, and if you just took that same energy or money or whatever it is and allocated that to following something that you're passionate about or you would actually enjoy, all of a sudden the years start falling off the calendar and you're not focused on retirement anymore because you're actually happy they're viewing retirement as this, I'll finally be happy because I won't be getting up Monday morning hating what I do and am saying, just stop hating what you do and then if you want to retire early, go for it. But I don't think you'll feel the same way when all of a sudden you're energized about what you're doing or you're working towards something or you have a bigger goal or whatever that is, and easier said than done, but I did it and so it can be done, and I really want to push that towards the younger people because it's easier for them. But listen, you're 50, you're 55, 60, it's never too late to be happy.

Aaron Buchner (17:59):
Even when you look at, I have a client right now who they have the money, which is funny. You talk about clients who want to get out earlier and trying to save to get out to quit their job. It's like I had one where it was kind of the mishmash. They actually had the money to retire based on the calculation, the amount of money they wanted. They could have retired two years ago, but he kept working and he didn't want it. The wife had stopped working, she was happy. She's like, no, I'm done. I'm quick. He wanted to keep going and it wasn't even effective. It was effective. He loved his job so he didn't, so there was no rush for him to get out of the job. But we found the other thing is I think for a lot of people is even the people who kind of are so focused on their nine to five and their nine to five being their work and people who start businesses but make their whole personality, their business is who they're, they're nothing else outside of the business or the business.

(18:58):
It was almost the same for him. He loved his business, he loved to do, he was great at it. It's not to shame him, but he was fearful to retire because he had nothing else on his plate. So he looked at it and said, what am I going to to do? Actually, this is more the fact that people don't understand. This is some of the conversations you have with the financial advisor. It's like we had a 20 minute conversation trying to draw. I was just trying to figure out why he didn't want to quit. They came to me saying, we need a retirement plan. We're coming to you to get this advice of can we retire? That was their concern. I'm like, okay. They gave me the numbers and I figured it all out and calculated it all, and I'm like, okay, well based on the numbers, you can retire. So do you want to start actions plan because we have to start making changes, blah, blah, blah, blah. And he had this pause of, I dunno if I want it.

(19:49):
So we then had just a 20 minute conversation back and forth. I'm just trying to figure out why don't you want to retire? What is it that's bugging you? Why is it concern it? This is bugging you, just trying to draw out these strings of what it is until finally he just blurted out. He's like, I just don't know what I'm going to do with my life. It took like 20 minutes, but I think even, I think a lot of people in terms of planning even that's the new age style of planning is I know I'm jumping bit to bit, that's

Rick Luchini (20:19):
My mind. It's life planning. I mean, you need to know what you're going to do before you can plan for it.

Aaron Buchner (20:26):
And I think it's a lot of people when you talk about old traditional protein versus new age, I'm like, that's the new age approach. Traditional approach used to be, okay, you need to save four x dollars, x amount

(20:38):
Math. Here's a sheet of paper, fill it out, perfect. This is your investment, don't touch it. You're done. Sign, seal, deliver, goodbye. And now it's okay. There's so much more psychology and human emotions that we have to draw out to understand why they didn't want it. If I didn't have that 20 minute conversation with them about why are you fearful of retirement, it probably just would've ended right there. It would've been, okay, yeah, you can retire. I would've give it to them. I sell the money and then every year I'd climb out, go, are you ready to retire? Call off. Are you ready to retire? Just ask him when he was ready until he finally pulled the cord. But it was once we realized, okay, what was the issue? Then it's like even for his spouse, choose something. Oh my God, okay, you need stuff to do. Let's go find hobbies. Let's go find things to do with your time. So you're not sitting in front of Netflix binge watching series from eight to five being born. I think

Rick Luchini (21:32):
For the younger generation too, what I'm noticing is obviously technology is on a very fast pace. We're doing a podcast in different countries on our computer, and that's only the tip of the iceberg. So what I can see already happening with myself, the way I work is my business or my work doesn't have to be tied to the desk that I'm sitting at right this second. And as people get better at that, and whether you are fortunate enough that your job can be remote and mobile or whether you put yourself in a position so that it can be now all of a sudden when you're sitting there saying, I want to retire, because the most that people tell me is I want big chunks of time. I don't even hate my job. I just want bigger chunks of time off. I want to be able to go down to Florida in the winter and spend a couple months. Well, guess what? You can do that if you have a laptop for most jobs now. And so starting to get to a place where you start thinking about if I'm actually enjoying what I do and I can either slow down in the future or be more mobile or whatever, why do I in a rush to retire as early as possible?

(23:14):
Why? What's the thing other than that always being projected on me? What's the thing that makes me want to retire early? I like what I do. If you don't get off your ass and change it now because there's a lot of time left to be miserable and you can change it by just going and doing something that makes you happy, but assume that you already like what you do. The technology's here for you to do it in other places, and it's only, I can't even imagine what it's going to be when we're to retire. What's the reason? And it's hard for me to even figure it out. So I'm not saying I'll never do it, but I don't anticipate having a cold Turkey, traditional retirement because I can do what I do or what I'm doing. Then it may be something different from my phone or my contact lenses or wherever the hell it's going to be then, but I've already done it.

(24:13):
I mean, we've gone to Florida and I worked from Florida. We come back to Pennsylvania, it's already happening. And so I think that the biggest challenge is not being miserable with what you do. I mean, that's it. If you already are happy doing what you're doing, doing it for a long time is not a big deal. If you are miserable, then you want to get out as early as possible. I just think that it all boils down to being happy, whether that's being happy by spending money on certain things and not others, whether that's a career change or following a passion project and doing it on the side and maybe it eventually becomes something like all these different scenarios. It just comes down to being happy and then all that other stuff takes care of itself.

Aaron Buchner (25:15):
Yeah, I agree. Yeah, no, and yeah, you can because clearly, yeah, if you're not happy with your job and your goal is to get out as early as possible or quick as possible, you're going to absolutely scrutinize that retirement fund. You're going to be scrutinizing on a daily basis if it's negative for whatever reason. And you're going to start, like you said, going online and trying to find, okay, what's the quickest method? What is the best way? Should I go drop everything into Bitcoin? Please God, no one do that. Not financial advice,

Rick Luchini (25:50):
That's investment advice from Aaron Ner podcast. No, but really, and here's the other thing. You're going to sacrifice more today too because you're trying to build that reserve up as fast as possible. So in order to do that, you have to sacrifice and listen. I'm a huge delayed gratification guy. I'm all about sacrificing today for the future. I really am in a lot of ways, but there becomes a breakeven where being miserable for 20 years straight

(26:26):
Isn't worth the retiring eight years earlier than what you thought you would be able to or whatever the number is. And so that's the thing too, is when you're miserable at work and all you're doing is trying to stuff away so much money that you can retire early, you're also miserable at home because you're starving yourself of cashflow because you're trying to save for this early retirement and why be miserable for 20 years so that you can get out five years earlier or eight years earlier, whatever it is, when you can just change industries or start a side project. It's not easy. I'm not saying it's easy, but people do it every day and you can look at some of the wealthiest people in the world that are way beyond having the financial means to retire, and most of them of them are continuing because they like doing it right, whatever that is, whether it's the competitive nature of business or whatever it is, they're not sitting on a beach watching the waves 365, they have the money to do it and they're still going to work.

Aaron Buchner (27:51):
You have to find that balance of and delayed gratification. I'm a 50 50 type person in terms of delayed gratification. I'm the type of person of, I'm going to eat half that marshmallow and I'll leave the other half for later rather than not eat any event and get two after because then I'm going to eat both at the same time, so I'm very much at 50 50. And then because the aspect of enjoying luck, it's you talking about delayed gratification doesn't mean, okay, I can't take this after all my expenses and my costs. I'm done with this pool of money and say, okay, you got to put all of it into investing and not enjoy life. Okay, how much do I need to still have a life and still put some of this away and be comfortable doing both? You got to still have that level of happiness and what is that balance enough that it's like, okay, I'm going to put enough money away so I can save for the future and enough money that I can still have fun today, but I'm not neglecting either side of the spectrum. And that's probably where I think a lot of people with a cashflow, they run into that issue. They don't know how much should I put away that allows me to still achieve that success

(29:01):
Of where I want to be in the future, whatever, and how much can I actually spend today on the things I want to so I can be happy today? Because you can have those trips and go on those vacations, vacation and still save for the future if you just plan for it.

Rick Luchini (29:18):
It's planning for happiness and rather than the biggest account value at death, and that's the biggest difference. Every time I hear maximizing wealth or growing wealth or what, I don't you, that's not the goal, man. These people are saving money to spend it and then they're being told, well, if you don't spend it, do you know how much more is worth? It's going to be worth. Stop that nonsense. Building wealth makes people feel good because they think that gives them freedom, financial freedom. You can have financial freedom without having every decision that you make be four 40 years from now. You can have a version of both, and I'm with you. I love reading your posts. I love what you're doing there, and I just want to spread the word that it's okay to be happy when you're 40. It's all right. It's all right to spend some of your money on things that won't be there when you are 80. It's all right, regardless of what this industry is telling you, and so if you needed it, this is your permission, go to the concert, buy the thing, get the new cook, do the thing. Just keep an eye on the future and be responsible. That's all.

Aaron Buchner (31:01):
Yeah, and I think a lot of it is people forget, it's like there's so many ways to reach your goal. No, this is the one route you can only take. It's not a one lane highway. This is like a super mega highway. Mario, Mario Kart, rainbow Road. You can jump off the bridge here. Land five. There's so many ways to get to your end line that there's nothing ever is wrong. I would say the only thing that could ever say could ever be wrong is doing nothing

(31:36):
Or going into massive amounts of debt. If you're not going into massive amount of debts and you're not doing nothing, you're on the right track regardless of where your goal is, it doesn't matter and to reach your goal, if it has to be, yeah, start a business because you want to get away, do your own thing. If it's still work, a nine to five do it. Either one is fine, it's not going to make a difference. You could gain wealth and accumulate wealth and get to the same aspect through both methods. So this is the one way, and if you don't do it, you failed in any way whatsoever. I think that's where people get,

Rick Luchini (32:12):
I think that's a great point, and our job is to help you make better decisions on the road that you've chosen yourself, not to show you the road we want you to take. That's the difference, right? I mean, there's not one way. It's not the traditional way and you need to change course because I'm a financial advisor and I said so. No, it's okay. I see the road that you're on. If you're going to stay here, here's a few ways to optimize it, make better decisions and still stay on the road that you've chosen yourself.

Aaron Buchner (32:54):
And that's whereas us as financial advisors and planners, we fill that gap in. It's like we're not the ones, like I said, I had that posted about it. It's like we're not the ones creating the roadmap for you. That's on our job. We're not supposed to sit here and draw how you get to a B. Our job is to say, okay, here's a fork in the road. Here's your options of, okay, well if we go this way, this is what you can, this is how you can still achieve it. You go this way. This is how you can still achieve it. Which one sounds better to you, but it's ultimately it's your decision. I shouldn't be the one saying, no, sorry. You need to get that to become part of the 1% and grant this massive amount of wealth that you can quote over. That's not my job. That's you as a consumer to say, I want to do this. This is where my goal is. This is where my objective is. I go, okay, how can we still achieve it through this? And are you comfortable?

Rick Luchini (33:46):
Yeah, I'm with you, buddy. I think the goal is to be happy and that means something different to everybody. Find out what that thing is and then start working towards it. That's it. And whether that's a different job, whether that's the same job with more off time or whatever the thing is, work towards that. Don't be afraid to be happy today for this, I don't know, dream of being ultra wealthy at 72, that that's not sexy to me. I don't know why that is. I know, and again, this isn't a license to just be irresponsible and blow all of your money, but it is the first step at just looking at things a little bit differently and then planning for it. So I'm with you on that. I love watching your stuff. I'm going to keep watching you. I want you to just tell everybody real quick if they want to learn more about you, what you're doing, where they can find you, and we're going to hop off.

Aaron Buchner (35:06):
Yeah, you can always find me. My website is prick free.com. Easy to remember, which is wonderful. Then I'm primarily on, if you want more financial advisor esque posts. I'm more on the LinkedIn with that. I'm very active on threads right now under Aaron cfp, cactus on Threads. I post there actually a lot and I'm enjoying that, and then I'm going to be going on Instagram hopefully start getting more active on that in the next couple of weeks, so I'll be pretty active on there as well for more consumer facing stuff.

Rick Luchini (35:43):
Awesome. All right, buddy. Hey, listen, I appreciate you coming on and we're going to end it there.

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Content Disclosure: Luchini Financial LLC is a registered investment advisor. This content is provided for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to be personalized investment advice, nor a recommendation to buy or sell any investment. Luchini Financial works closely with each client to gain a full understanding of their unique situation prior to rendering advice. The information contained herein is derived from numerous sources, which are believed to be reliable, but not formally audited by Luchini Financial. Information may include statements which are time-bound and subject to change without notice or opinions, which may not come to pass. Please consult Luchini Financial with any questions.

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