Advised Podcast Ep 013: Taking Control Of Your Financial Journey | with Brandon Lovingier

Today is an important discussion around mindset for any stage of your financial journey. Listen as we discuss finding balance between saving and living, and defining success on your own terms. Enjoy!

My guest, Brandon Lovingier, ChFC®, MQFP® aka The Enlisted Money Guy™, has served over 18 years in the Army – including deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He established Enlisted Money to help enlisted service members avoid the same mistakes he made and achieve financial freedom. He’s spoken at MilMoneyCon and loves mentoring other service members.

Brandon Lovingier (00:00):

No matter where you start, no matter what you have now, you can chart a path forward and you can start taking action to make your life incrementally better over time. And if you just keep doing that, you'll look back one day and be amazed at how much progress you've made.

Rick Luchini (00:17):

I played college football at a very small school, and something that our offensive coordinator used to say was, take the crumbs. If the defense gives you a three yard cushion, take the three yards. Don't look for, just keep taking the crumbs, taking the crumbs. And before you know it, you're on the goal line.

Intro (00:38):

You are listening to Advised with Rick Luchini.

Rick Luchini (00:42):

I'm excited for this one. We've got a guest that I believe is going to add a lot of value to all age groups and honestly different stages in your financial journey. We're going to talk a lot about some of the things that I've been pounding the table about recently, mindset and how that can actually make a big impact on your finances now and in the future, and some tips and strategies on how to start actively affecting that today. So I'm going to toss it over to our guest, Brandon, but before we do that, I just want to, on behalf of myself, my family, and the listeners, thank you for your service and if you just want to give us a quick rundown on who you are, what you do, and we'll dig right in.

Brandon Lovingier (01:35):

Yeah, well, yeah, I appreciate that. It's definitely an interesting career choice. Not everybody does it, but I really do appreciate that. It does mean a lot. But yeah, I mean, the quick down and dirty for me grew up without a lot of money. We weren't necessarily poor per se, but bread and gravy was not an uncommon meal at our house. So it was definitely, there wasn't an abundance of things, so to speak, but joined the military, joined the Army right out of high school, basically. There wasn't a lot of jobs out there, and I didn't want to go to college because it seemed like high school, but you had to pay for it. And I didn't like high school, so that didn't make a lot of sense to me. Fast forward, I've gotten my degree and all that kind of stuff, and then voluntarily went back to college to learn about all this personal finance stuff.

And so I'm kind of working on putting a bow on my military career and going into retirement. But along the way, I've kind of gotten into personal finance stuff. I went through and got my chartered financial consultant designation, and I'll eventually take the CFP exam and all that as well. But I just really got into all this. I wanted to help people like me understand that you don't have to make a ton of money to make a big difference in your own life and take control of your finances. And that's kind where I kind of got started. I really just started just trying to create something for people like me. Really?

Rick Luchini (03:11):

Yeah, and I think that's important. And you have a blog. That's how it kind of got started.

Brandon Lovingier (03:19):

Yeah. So as far as content creation stuff, I started with a YouTube channel, which was me just scribbling on paper and talking about it. I wasn't good at all. And then that morphed into a podcast, which was okay, but then I just couldn't keep up with the editing. And then I kind of found out that really writing is kind of my natural thing. And so I attended Mill Money, the first mill money in 2022, and just found out there's a ton of people doing stuff with military folks. And so that was really the catalyst for me choosing the niche of enlisted military. And that's basically where enlisted money was born. And so really just trying to create the content that I wish I would've consumed and applied when I was 18, not

Rick Luchini (04:13):

28 years later. I think there's a couple things to take away from that. One is you don't have to have a ton of money to enjoy your life and to still build a prototypical retirement if that's what you're after. And you touched on that because listen, I don't think that in most cases you go into the military for the money. So that's what you're kind of talking about is you can, but it doesn't have to be in the military. You can have a regular nine to five job and still live a fulfilled life financially and otherwise. But the other thing that I heard was I tried this, I tried that, I tried that, and then I found my thing. And that is super important and it should be applied across the board to everybody, is I started a YouTube channel and I tried a podcast and I did this, and I found my thing. You might not have found your thing had you not done the others. And I'm always a proponent of that. Just get started. It doesn't have to be great. I mean, we're sitting here talking on a podcast that I just started out of thin air, and every episode gets better. I learn a little bit more, but I'm doing it myself. I don't know what I'm doing. Just get started and what you're good at will eventually rise to the surface. And the other stuff doesn't matter because listening anyways, right?

Brandon Lovingier (05:48):

Yeah, yeah. No, I mean, I love the just get started. I mean, that was literally my tagline for my podcast at the end was, now go get started. Awesome. Because that was the whole concept behind that was like, Hey, if I can get people to their first $100,000 of net worth, then they've got a good start and they can kind of take it from there. And really, it's just getting that momentum. Yeah, that first, getting to ground zero is tough because we started in debt and all that, and it took a while, and it is kind of frustrating, especially whenever a lot of the stuff you see is like, oh, well, I had this big six figure salary working in tech and just wasn't fulfilling, so I decided to live on half my income for five years and now I'm retired. It's like, well, okay, well, that's a neat story, but that's not really applicable to, I don't know, probably most of America. Not everybody can just choose to be financially independent as a hobby. And so it takes a little bit of work and it takes a little bit of time, but you can get there. I mean, I started my Roth IRA with just 50 bucks a month, but it's continued to grow.

Rick Luchini (07:06):

A lot of the influence out there is for bigger and better, and it makes oftentimes the regular person, it makes it seem so insurmountable that why even try? Why even try? There's no way I'm going to be retired at 42 on a beach like that guy who's talking on YouTube all the time, or there's no way I'm going to have a private jet like this guy that's in my Instagram feed all the time. So why even try? I don't have a chance. And there's a huge life between not trying and having a private jet that a lot of people can be financially stable, eventually independent, and be happy along the way, not chasing something that is insurmountable.

Brandon Lovingier (08:02):

Yeah, no, absolutely. And that's the thing too. And I'm not saying that those people don't have good advice to give because that's where I started learning about personal finance. So there's a lot of goodness in them sharing their stories. But I think it's important for people to know that your arc, your trajectory is not going to be the same as a lot of the people that are doing some of these more extreme things with retiring at 35 and all these kinds of things. And really, I do think that the fire or now people are trying to drop that retire early piece because I think people are starting to kind of realize people want purpose. They want to live life now, and not everybody wants to just push everything into the future. So yeah, I mean, it's been a tough mental shift for me because yeah, I mean, I grew up in a place where you just knew you were going to work until you died. The only retirement plan you had was social security, and then you would eventually go to the local nursing home and faith. And so I wanted more than that, and that was part of why I took a different path and tried something different. And it's worked out well for me, but it's been a wild ride.

Rick Luchini (09:30):

Well, that's a good point because you don't have to your version, and not you specifically, but whoever's listening, your version of what makes you happy, what your life now looks like, what looks like in 10 years and what your retirement looks like can be equally successful and completely different than mine, yours, your neighbor's, or somebody else's. Your version of success isn't measured by the zeros in your bank account. And oftentimes that can be very misleading because you had mentioned fire. For those that don't know, don't look it up, but it's financial independence retire early, and it's this movement that is to push all of your energy and resources towards retiring as soon as possible. And I think that the people that are attracted to that aren't happy. They're retiring away from something instead of towards something, whether it's high paying or not. If you can find something that you actually have a passion for or a purpose around, all of a sudden retiring early, isn't that attractive? I'm happy every day doing what I'm doing. I don't need to retire all of a sudden. And it's just a mindset shift. You're the same person the next day.

Brandon Lovingier (11:03):

I don't know. I don't really even like the word retire. I don't think that it fits me. I just don't imagine in a world where I'm just sitting around not doing something productive and not say that retiring is bad or anything like that. If that's your jam, then hey, go for it. But I, I'm crafting my entire life around what memories do I want to leave with my son? What do I want my friends and family to remember me by? What impact am I leaving on the world and how can I balance having, because you want to balance tomorrow with today. And so I think about it of take actions and move in a direction that are not going to harm the future, are also going to serve you today. And so if you can find that overlap, I mean, of course there's always some give and take there, but for the most part, finding that balance between today and the future is really important. But I think it's really damaging to just, Hey, there's the yolo, like, hey, tomorrow's a long ways away. But then there's also the other end of that, which is like you were talking about

Rick Luchini (12:22):

Maximize wealth, which really to me oftentimes means maximize your eighties and nineties. And so that's what you're pulling from is that balance between don't just throw your hands up and say, I don't give a shit about tomorrow. It's so far away. Who cares? But also, let's not make every financial decision based on the amount of money I'm going to have when I'm 87, because a lot of times that's what I'm seeing and hearing. I will say something on LinkedIn, for example, Hey, this is how I do it, but Rick, you would have so much more tax-free money if you did it this way when you're 80. I'm like, yeah, but I'll be 80.

I don't care. I'm not going to be destitute when I'm 80, but I'm also not trying to maximize the last 10 years of my life. And so having that permission to be happy today while still planning for and having an eye on the future, we don't want to just do nothing, but I'm trying to, and you're doing the same thing, get that message out that you can actually have it both ways. You can be happy today if you know that you are checking some of the boxes for the future. Maximizing the future doesn't necessarily have to be the goal because your kids are going to remember today, they're not going to care how many more extra zeros are in your account when you're 88.

Brandon Lovingier (14:07):

Yeah. Well, I mean, that's just the thing. I mean, I think, unfortunately, my mom passed away fairly young. She died at 55, but that really gave me a lot of perspective. And just being in the military, we're constantly faced with our own mortality, or at least the idea that, hey, tomorrow could all be gone. Now, that's true for everybody, not just the military. It just so happens that every single time that a military member dies in combat is put all over national news. Now, that doesn't happen to an electrician or somebody that dies on the job. We're one of the only professions that, other than maybe police and firefighters, other first responder types that it's broadcast everywhere. So your mortality is brought straight into your face on a regular basis. And so it's kind of a gift, but also it can be stressful too, but it's a gift in the fact that you're aware of the fact that this could be your last good day, good week, good month, good year, good decade.

So really, or at least for me, it makes me think about, well, if this was my last decade, what do I want that to look like? What do I want to leave behind now? I hope that I have several decades ahead, but I'm not going to regret focusing on things that I think are going to be important in both places. And so that's really helped me shape the direction that I go. And another big reason why I'm not staying even longer in the military, a lot of people, I'm pretty successful and in my own, a lot of people are surprised that I'm getting out at 20 and they're like, well, you're not going to stay. You could do X, Y, and Z. It's just not my path. And I think I've done a really great job, but there's a lot of other things that I find fulfilling that I want to pursue. And so I think I would regret not pursuing those.

Rick Luchini (16:10):

Well, what do you tell somebody that is listening to this and says, yeah, maybe I was focusing on the future too much, or maybe the advice I'm getting is through the lens of maximizing my eighties and I feel like I'm doing the right thing. I'm trying to be responsible, but I'm listening to you and I'm agreeing saying, yeah, you know what, I do want to enjoy the next 40 years. In the meantime, what do you say to somebody like that to get started on that shift, and what should they be focusing on financially to try to balance those two things?

Brandon Lovingier (16:57):

Well, I mean, one kind of how I like to do it is I like to say that we lay all the emotions out on the table. We lay all the money out on the table, and then you kind of reconcile the two. And that was really helpful for me going through the training for all the financial planning and all that. And so also learning the value that financial planning can bring is like, okay, well, I can sit down and see, okay, you're saving this amount, assuming things go the way we think they will, which they won't, but we're going to change that target, and it's something you should revisit every year. But assuming things go somewhat like what they've gone in the past, you need to save about this much. But then the rest of that, you can do what you want with. And then also too, you're able to do the calculations.

For me, I was feeling stressed out about transition out, transitioning out of the military. It's like, well, we're saving a little bit more than we have to. So in theory, that's extra money. And so well, instead of pushing that extra money to the future, let's take that extra money and bring it to the present to use it now, because that's the best use right now. If we end up when that changes or if that changes, then we can make that adjustment. But on the other hand too, I don't think anybody, there's very few people that really truly regret not having extra money later on. Now, there's some, but studies have shown there's a small percentage that do regret saving too much early on. But most people, the regrets around money later on is going to be around not saving enough or not being financially responsible earlier. But there's other places that we can find efficiencies. For instance, you look across the parking lot at the Walmart or wherever, there's a ton of money in cars sitting all over the place that probably not necessary. And there's a lot of things that we think that we have to have,

Rick Luchini (19:11):

But how else am I supposed to impress my neighbors?

Brandon Lovingier (19:14):

Right? Yeah. I mean, it's tough. I will admit, I don't think any of my neighbors are impressed by my Chevy Malibu, but they are impressed with my skills that I've learned over the years. So I know how to brew beer, I can weld, I do carpentry, all these different things. So I guess that's a byproduct of growing up, having to do everything yourself.

Rick Luchini (19:37):

Yeah, I think that's important though, because what ends up happening is I'm not saying live poor, so you can have a big future, but buying things for the wrong reason, that then does either put you in a bad situation in the future, or what actually is happening is the person's still trying to be responsible and saving for the future. And they're starving themselves today by having the big car lease and having the fancy house that they don't need and all this stuff to not always, but oftentimes impressed people that they don't even care about in the first place, when the happiness could come by living within your means, saving for the future, but now actually having experiences today and spending money on things that actually do matter to you. And the car's the easy just example. But there's a lot of things that we don't need to be saving, we don't need to be spending on, and they don't actually make us happy. The other things would, but we don't have any money left over to buy 'em or to go on the vacation or do the things that maybe other people might think are irresponsible, but they're not.

Brandon Lovingier (21:08):

Yeah. Well, and I mean, that's the thing too, is there's kind of, like I mentioned earlier, there's a lot of things that we think we need that aren't necessarily needs, and sometimes it's nice to just try to live life without them. And that was actually, I mean, it was a pretty great exercise whenever we lived in Korea for two years, and part of the rules of whenever we moved over is you can only ship half of your allotted household goods, which is kind of tough. It's like, well, what do you not want to see for two years? Okay, well, so yeah, unfortunately that was the heavier stuff, all my tools, all that kind of stuff. So pretty much all my stuff that I found that I thought I couldn't live without, if you would've asked me before we went there, but it was really interesting because some of our best memories were just hanging out.

We had none of our stuff, but we just went out and just saw things we didn't really need as much as we thought we needed. And so that was kind of a good limiter on that kind of stuff. And so I think sometimes it's good to really look at that. And I also have gotten more fond of trying to borrow stuff from neighbors and things like that. There's a lot of things that I think we all want to have our own everything, but I think there's a lot of value in asking for help from neighbors and stuff like that. You get to know people better. And I think, yeah, I mean, just point of case, my neighbor, I needed to borrow a trailer, well, actually and his truck too, to go,

Rick Luchini (22:48):

Yeah, you're that kind of neighbor.

Brandon Lovingier (22:50):

Right. But we became friends because I saw he had a truck and a trailer, and I just knocked on the door and asked like, Hey, and so we've become really good friends and I've been able to help him work on his motorcycle and stuff like that. So it's been a pretty good relationship that I wouldn't have had if I just said, oh, well, I need to go buy a trailer or whatever. Well,

Rick Luchini (23:13):

I think the other thing that I notice a lot too, I have three young kids, and when you do something simple that you don't even think about with a young kid, you can quickly realize that money is not going to be the cause or a direct correlation with happiness. I mean, we've done some and they love it. We've done some expensive things for them, taking them to places and all that stuff, and they love it. But also, I get almost just the same level of excitement by taking a walk in the woods with the dog. They just want to be doing something with you, with your attention, not on the phone, not worrying about work, all that other stuff, a fire in the backyard. The simple things that you do is that close to the expense of things that you do. And so you can have those experiences, those memories. You're not starving your kids of happiness by not blowing a ton of money on experiential things. If that's important to you, great, budget it out and do that. But the simple things often are going to be just as memorable for them, and you don't need to spend thousands of dollars to do it.

Brandon Lovingier (24:46):

Yep. Yeah. Well, and it's funny too, what kids pick up. We wanted to make sure we never got to go to Disney as kids, neither my wife nor I. And so we wanted to make sure that our son got to do that. Well, afterward, one of the things he was talking about was just staying in the hotel on the way down there, not even, right.

Rick Luchini (25:06):

How cool is that? I know you're thinking, oh my gosh,

Brandon Lovingier (25:10):

Wasted all this money.

Rick Luchini (25:13):

I know. But that is the point is that you start to pick up on those things and those things, and again, it doesn't mean don't do stuff. It means do stuff. Absolutely. But find that balance between being happy today, not being poor when you're 80. There's a balance there. And something that I've seen you say and right before is to not be a victim of your current circumstances. Why don't you explain that a little bit and dig into that, because I think you can add a lot of value there.

Brandon Lovingier (25:53):

Yeah, I mean, yeah, I think there's a big, it's easy to fall into the victim mentality of, well, I can't just, like what I mentioned earlier, you look at, oh, well, I don't make six figures, so I can't do that. I don't have any inherited money. So you can't yourself into the grave. But if you've kind of flipped that switch and go, Hey, well, alright, yes, this is where I'm at, accept where you're at. Well, what can I do? And maybe, like I said, I started investing with $50 a month. Actually at the time, I didn't even actually know what a Roth IRA was. I just knew that it was supposed to be something to save money for later. So I did, it automatically came out of my bank every month, and before I knew it, I had $20,000 in there.

And that has doubled by not doing anything to it. So it can start small, but if you let yourself kind of get stuck, and I see all the memes and stuff all the time, oh, well, a house in 1950 cost X, an average house costs, well for one, you would not want to live in an average house in 1950 because it may or may not have air conditioning, probably doesn't. It may or may not have indoor plumbing. It may or may not have the garage. It may or may not have any lights or so people try and draw these comparisons to try and make our situation look so terrible.

Rick Luchini (27:31):

Your average salary was $7,000 a year.

Brandon Lovingier (27:33):

Right? And so yeah, they try and draw these comparisons just looking at the numbers, and it's so different. It's not the same. And whether the poorest person in the United States right now, their lifestyle is inflated even compared to the poorest people in the United States 50 years ago. And so you can sit there and try and make these comparisons and make it look like it's terrible and all that, or whine about taxes or whatever. But the fact remains, at least in my opinion, you're living in one of the best places in the world. You have an abundance of opportunity everywhere. It's just your choice on whether or not you take advantage of that.

Rick Luchini (28:20):

Yeah, no, I totally agree. And somebody, no matter how bad you got it, somebody's got it worse and did more with it. There's a million documented stories and a million more undocumented, somebody has it worse, somebody had it tougher than you and got off their ass and did something about it. So I think that to the opportunity point is the same thing. I hear a lot of must be nice and well, if I had that, then I would listen. Maybe that person you're talking about did have an advantage or didn't, but they did something with it. And especially in today's day and age where we have access to all this technology, anybody can pick up their phone for free and start a YouTube channel, an Instagram account, whatever it is, and have the same opportunity for exposure as everybody else. You've got opportunity at your fingertips that you do not need a wealthy family to get started. Just do something get started that's saving 50 bucks a month, or whether that's starting a passion side project or whatever the get started is for you, just get started and do something and quit. Making excuses. Must be nice, woe is me. All that other stuff, other people are doing it and it's just because they got started and started doing something.

Brandon Lovingier (30:04):

Yeah, yeah. No, I just can't say that enough as just doing something, getting started and don't let all the super sexy stuff gets you distracted either you don't have to optimize every single account to get every single 0.01 extra or you don't have to get the best stock returns in order to have a good retirement. I mean, really, if you work hard enough, you could make a retirement portfolio of, I don't know, roof shingles or something like that and sell them to live off of later. I mean, I'm making jest, but,

Rick Luchini (30:49):

But there's more than one way to get there. And sometimes the simpler ways are better, but I think just doing nothing isn't going to get you there. And then the other side of that coin, what you're saying is you don't really have to be super fancy about it either. Just do something, get started and stop making excuses. A lot of the stuff you're talking about, a lot of the mindset is applicable to everybody across the board, but you also have a unique perspective and something that a lot of people like myself don't, which is having a military background. What's some of the stuff that's different or some of the value adds that you can bring up that would apply to military or ex-military people that maybe doesn't cross over as much and is more unique to that niche?

Brandon Lovingier (31:58):

Yeah, I mean, I think one of the biggest places where military members and veterans leave money on the table is just knowing about their benefits that they have earned. There's a lot of veterans that aren't applying for a lot of benefits that they have access to. Same with military people that are in the military. A lot of just point in case like college free college and things like that. There's a lot of people that I know that went several years without taking any college classes. I mean, I didn't take very many, but I always took one or two here and there. And so there's a lot of advantages that we get from different programs and things that are out there. And so I think that's one of the big things. But then also too, not leveraging their veteran and military community to look for mentorship and stuff outside of the military too.

So we talk a lot about counseling, coaching, mentorship and stuff like that while you're in service. But I think it's equally important and way more valuable on the outside, at least way more valuable in terms of dollars. I would say my number one asset that I have as far as if I found myself on the street tomorrow with nothing, the most valuable thing that nobody can take away from me is my network. I know a lot of great people and I know that if I found myself with nothing tomorrow, I can reach out to some folks. I can shake some things out of the bushes and I can get back on my feet in short order. And so I think that's something that often gets overlooked.

Rick Luchini (33:41):

Yeah. I know you had mentioned to me before that a lot of veterans as they transition out, tend to lean towards entrepreneurship. Is that something that you're seeing often?

Brandon Lovingier (33:59):

For me, that's a path that I'm going to take. And I think that it's a pretty common path. And I'm even in some veteran entrepreneurs groups. There's veteran tribe on Facebook, and then I'm part of their warrior council as well. And that's been really good to connect with other people doing some really creative things. And I think military in general, I think we have a lot of experiences within the military that really help out with entrepreneurship. Your whole life in the military is basically just being handed something. It may or may not really be possible, but you have to figure it out. And so I think that's a lot of what entrepreneurship is in general is like, here's a problem in the world, how are we going to solve it and how are we going to make it profitable? They just add that last little piece on how are you going to make it profitable, and then you've got a win in combination. If

Rick Luchini (34:59):

You wanted somebody listening to this just to take away one thing, say I made an impact, what was the biggest takeaway here that you can leave us with?

Brandon Lovingier (35:13):

I think the biggest thing that I would leave people with is that no matter where you start, no matter what you have now, you can chart a path forward and you can start taking action to make your life incrementally better over time. And if you just keep doing that, you'll look back one day and be amazed at how much progress you've made just by doing that, taking some action and just keeping after it and just keep working at it and you will find more success than you could ever imagine.

Rick Luchini (35:47):

Yeah, well said. I think we'll leave it with that. It's something that just made me think about, this is why I'm grinning. I played college football at a very small school. Cool. And something that our offensive coordinator used to say was, take the crumbs. And it's the same exact thing. If the defense gives you a three yard cushion, take the three yards. Don't look for, just keep taking the crumbs, taking the crumbs, and before you know it, you're on the goal line. And that's the same thing with what you're talking about is get started, take what's available to you little by little, and all of a sudden you look back and there's 90 yards behind you and you actually did something. But if you keep swinging for the fences or throw your hands up and say, somebody else has it easier than me, I'm not even going to get started. You're not going to get moving.

Brandon Lovingier (36:42):

Yeah, no, absolutely. I think that's great.

Rick Luchini (36:44):

Alright buddy. Tell everybody how they can learn more about what you're talking about, what you're writing about and how to follow you.

Brandon Lovingier (36:56):

Yeah. The best place to find me is just at I've got a newsletter that I send out twice a month, and then on socials I'm most active on Instagram. I put up a bunch of goofy reels and stuff like that. But I also put out a lot of really important information. Like I'm on a campaign now talking about continuation pay because I just don't think enough service members know about it. So I'm at enlisted money guy there on Instagram. But yeah, I mean really I try and put out fun content, but I do some deep dives on stuff and I just really want to make sure that the information is available. So for the ones that do take that challenge to take a little bit of action, they can kind of shortcut that process and not have to start from scratch.

Rick Luchini (37:46):

Alright buddy. I love it. Thanks for coming on. That's enlisted money and we'll talk to you later. Thanks. Yeah,

Brandon Lovingier (37:53):

Thanks for having me.

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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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