Feeling like a stranger in a strange land? It can be hard to start over in a new city. But part of the fun is making new connections and finding a new crew.

When my husband and I moved from Indianapolis to Denver a couple years ago, I left behind a solid core of friends that made up the bulk of my social life. I was sad to leave them, but confident I could do the same thing I’d done when changing schools as a child or moving out of state for college – maintain my old friendships and start some new ones.

While I had no problems staying in touch with my friends from Indiana, making new relationships was so much harder than I ever expected. Not only did I lack any kind of social base to start from, but I had just left an office job to start my career as a freelance writer. You don’t realize how important the workplace can be as a social tool until your only office mates are a husband and two dogs.

It took some time, but eventually, I was able to meet some great people and form lasting friendships. Here are some of the methods I tried, and how well they might work for you.

MeetUp.

MeetUp is one of the best tools to find new friends with similar interests, and almost every major city has an active MeetUp community.

MeetUp is a haven for groups based on every kind of interest imaginable. I’ve joined book clubs, art journal groups and card-game nights. Many of these have hundreds of members, so don’t expect to see the same faces every time. But if you attend the same event frequently enough, you’re bound to make some connections that stick.

Go to two or three events before you decide you don’t like a group. It can take time to get out of your comfort zone and feel at ease around total strangers, but since most MeetUp groups are based on a specific activity you’ll always have something in common.

Make sure to look at the age range of the groups you’re interested in. I once joined a movie MeetUp without realizing I was the youngest person there. I went a couple times, but ultimately decided I couldn’t make close friendships with people close to my parent’s age.

Bumble.

This tip is only for the ladies. The dating app, Bumble has a feature where women can look for other women to be friends with. When you download the app, choose the BFF setting when prompted. You’ll only see profiles of other women who want to find a new shopping buddy or movie companion.

Bumble starts by showing you a series of photos. Like many dating apps, you swipe right on the prospects you like and left on the ones you don’t. At first, I swiped right on almost everyone, but I quickly realized I wanted to be more selective.

Almost half of the girls I saw said they loved drinking wine and going to brunch – but doesn’t everyone? I decided to swipe left on anyone who had such a generic profile. I swiped right on girls who said they loved comic books, playing with their dog or reading detective novels. I wasn’t trying to be judgemental, but it’s easier to make a connection when you have something in common.

I met a couple cool girls through the app, but staying in touch on a long-term basis proved harder. That’s not an indictment of the service, but you’ll need to invest some time and energy into the app if you want it to pay off long term.

Volunteer.

When you’re in a new city, it can be hard to get the lay of the land. What events are cool? Which museums are worth going to? Where can you find the best ice cream?

Volunteering for local events is one way to have fun, explore, and make friends in a new city in the process. Most volunteer spots last several hours, so you’ll have time to chat and get to know people. Plus, you often get free swag or privileged access.

If you hear about a local event that sounds interesting, but you don’t want to go alone, contact the organizers to see if they need volunteers.

Sports leagues.

Joining a local bowling league is the best way I’ve made friends in Denver. We played one game a week for six weeks, meeting at the same time and place consistently. Having a regular time to hang out proved to be the key to making a new group of friends. When you sporadically attend functions, you don’t get the consistency that’s required to solidify new friendships. Seeing the same people once a week made it easier to develop actual relationships.

We started planning other activities together pretty quickly, like going to the movies, attending musicals and going on short hikes. Eventually we started watching “Game of Thrones” together every Sunday and later transitioned into a weekly trivia group when our bowling season ended.

Every city has local sports leagues you can join and participate in. Most people won’t care if you’re unathletic, as long as you have a positive attitude and a cursory knowledge of the sport. Often, groups go out afterward for drinks or dinner, giving you another opportunity to establish roots.

Moving to a new city is the perfect chance to find new friends and reinvent your life with people who you can enjoy time with.

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You could spend your whole life chasing the dream of more money. But to what end? Figure out how much is enough – and be happier for it.

Have you ever thought about what it would feel like to acquire too much money? I haven’t had that problem, but do plan on discovering what this problem feels like in the future.

But, in all seriousness, how on earth do you decide how much money is enough for you? I have some ideas and thought I would share so that you can have an easier time figuring this out when you have this issue.

Consider your current life circumstances.

I thought I would approach this problem with some Michelle logic. First, it feels obvious the amount of money that you need will change given your current life circumstances. If you’re single and debt-free, the amount of money that you may need and want may be significantly different from a person who is in a relationship, has kids, and a few bills.

Likewise, your past and current life experiences may have a direct effect on how you arrive at the actual number that is your financial sweet spot.  For some of you, early childhood experiences of not having enough money may make it difficult for you to  imagine ever having enough. In fact, your childhood financial experiences may resonate through future decisions such as: the type of work you may choose to pursue, the way you would like to live your life, and even who you plan on marrying.

Figure out your financial sweet spot.

Here’s some general guidelines on figuring out how much money is enough for you.

Ask yourself, are you sick of your job and have lost interest in earning money in the way that you currently are? Yes, this seems a bit counterintuitive, but stick with me. Before I began working for myself, I worked at a university making decent money (especially when you factored in the benefits).

But, there came a point when I just wasn’t interested in earning more money. In fact, while I want to experience earning ridiculous amounts of money in the future, at that specific moment in time I just wanted to change my life. So, I focused on figuring out my lowest earning threshold. What was the bare minimum I need to make in order to live without eating ramen noodles?

I started crunching numbers and figured out what I could live on and still manage paying on my obligations. It was glorious….until, it wasn’t.

Don’t be afraid to shift your goals as your needs change.

My needs had changed. I now find myself looking at future financial goals and have realized that I want to make a lot more money than I currently am. And, I definitely don’t have a maximum earnings threshold. In fact, I felt like I wanted to earn as much money as I could possibly earn without burning myself out. I don’t want to place limits on my ability to earn.

I can honestly say that I look forward to pushing myself as much as possible to see how much money I can earn. In fact, for the next 12 months in my mind there is no “enough” it’s how much is possible? I spent time frantically crunching numbers, I looked at my goals and figured out daily earnings goals. Then I focused on how to achieve those goals.

Finally, spend some time focusing on what makes you happy? There are various studies that have linked happiness to money and studies that have found the exact opposite. There’s also a widely reported study that noted that people weren’t significantly happier when they earned beyond $75,000 a year.

Recently, I’ve gotten very clued into what makes me happy. And, knowing this has helped me zero in on how much money is enough. Some examples of what makes me happy include:

I’ve discovered that my needs aren’t that complicated or expensive.

I took a numbers and heart-based approach to deciding how much money is enough for me. Ultimately, I just want enough money that gives me stability and freedom. And, yes, more money is always better than less.

What are some considerations you use in determining how much money you need? Let us know in the #Adulting community on Facebook.

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Some struggles make us lose hope. Make us feel lost. If you are dealing with anxiety or depression, there is hope. There is a path to wellness.

There’s no denying it – depression and anxiety are on the rise in the United States. Whether you attribute the uptick to societal factors or heightened awareness of mental health issues, it’s clear that many Americans are suffering without a clear path to wellness.

Thankfully, treating these issues is exceedingly more simple than people realize – which isn’t to say it’s easy. There are tried and true methods that, if used appropriately and consistently, have a high chance of improving the symptoms of anxiety and depression. It may be an uphill battle, but it’s a hill worth climbing.

Successful treatment looks different for everyone, so keep an open mind. Here are some basic steps to take if you don’t know where to start.

Catalog your feelings.

Writing down your feelings is one of the most basic strategies to cope with feeling anxious or depressed. The University of Rochester Medical Center recommends journaling to combat “stress, depression or anxiety.”

I write in a journal every day, chronicling how I’m feeling and what’s bothering me. When I’m in a funk I can’t explain, I automatically reach for my notebook. On a basic level, documenting your mental condition allows you to separate yourself from negative emotions by playing the part of an objective observer.

I also use thought records to document my anxiety and change my reaction to it. A thought record is a simple worksheet where you catalog what the situation is, what you’re thinking and how you feel. Then you write down how rational your thoughts are, what the more rational response would be and how likely it is that the rational response is correct. Cognitive behavioral therapy practitioners believe when they change their thoughts, they can change their feelings and behavior.

For example, if you think your friend will be mad you forgot her birthday, you could write down a thought record saying why you feel bad, what you’re thinking about yourself and what your friend’s likely response is. Thought records can help you see when you’re blowing things out of proportion and how to manage your problems more effectively.

Stay connected.

Depression often robs victims of the energy and desire to do the hobbies and activities they once enjoyed. It can take away the motivation to work out, eat healthy and stay connected to your social circle. The problem is, staying involved with your friends and pastimes is one of the few ways you can feel better.

Start small. Invite a friend or two over for a movie night where you don’t have to do anything except provide a DVD or turn on Netflix. Meet a former coworker for coffee or a drink. If a pal is having a party, try to go for at least an hour.

“I can usually count on a few things to help or at least distract me from how I’m feeling for a bit,” said Kelly Whalen of Centsible Life. “Those include reading, walking outside, petting my fluffy dog, taking a nap or a little window shopping.”

You should also consider finding a group of peers who are dealing with depression as well. Talking about your problems with people who understand can make you feel less alone in your struggles. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has an online support group you can join, as well as a private forum where you can write out your feelings.

Find a therapist.

A licensed therapist or counselor can be an incredible tool in fighting depression or anxiety. Unfortunately, many people assume that the only therapists available are ones who charge $200 an hour.

Not so. Almost everyone can find a low-cost therapist if they look hard enough. Your doctor might have some recommendations on where to look, so start there. A local university with a psychology department will also have an in-house clinic where you can meet with current students or graduates. Low-cost or free clinics often have a therapist on staff.

On average, these clinics charge anywhere from $5 to $40, and many have a sliding scale system based on income. I’ve had good experiences with inexpensive therapists and consider them a necessary tool in fighting anxiety and depression.

Talk to a doctor.

You should talk to a doctor about medication if therapy, journaling and working out don’t alleviate your anxiety or depression. Only a medical doctor can prescribe pills, so make an appointment with your primary care physician and not your counselor or therapist.

Don’t worry if it takes some time for the medication to kick in or if you don’t like how it feels at first. Many patients need a few weeks to adjust, so be aware of that. Your doctor can alter the prescription as need be if you’re not feeling better after a month or so. If you decide you don’t like it, ask your doctor how to taper off. Withdrawal symptoms are common and can be debilitating if you don’t scale back appropriately.

If you’re feeling anxious or depressed, it can take time to work through it. Try to find what works best for you.

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Small-town life may seem boring, but the reality is that you might be able to live larger. Lower living costs = more money to spend on life.

Like Dorothy and that rainbow, younger people often chase their dreams in the big cities. There’s much to see, do, and gain in major cities, but there can be downsides. Can a smaller city lead to a larger life?

Can a smaller city lead to a larger life?

Ditching small-town life.

That was the case for me. Having spent the first half of my childhood near a big city and the latter half in a small town in a land far, far away, I couldn’t wait to get far, far away myself!

As a young gay man, I thought I’d wind up in San Francisco –  with the Rice-A-Roni and all. But a friend of mine and I moved to Denver, Colorado in the late 90s instead. It wasn’t Philadelphia, PA, but it wasn’t Lebanon, PA, either. I was supposed to live here for two years, soak up the snowboarding, and then move onto “bigger and better” things.

But, I met a boy, and that’s a whole other story.

With about 549,000 people in Denver proper in 1999, Denver was big enough, but not too big. There was lots to do. Nightlife and dining scenes and all the great outdoors. It wasn’t yet expensive. Our first apartment cost less than $800 a month for about 1,000 square feet.

Denver has seen a population boom in the last decade, with a relatively consistent growth rate over 2%. That same 1,0000 square foot apartment now goes for about $1,800 a month. We’re no New York City, but the consequences of growth are evident.

A big city can mean empty pockets.

It is desirable to live in a city with half-a-dozen things to do all seven nights of the week with millions of people looking for the same; you may be surprised at how expensive it can be living in such cities. Here are the costs of living in premier locations, based on PayScale data:

  • New York – cost of living is 118% above average; housing is 341% above average
  • Los Angeles – cost of living is 32% above average; housing is 102% above average
  • San Francisco – cost of living is 63% above average; housing is 198% above average
  • Chicago – cost of living is 17% above average; housing is 38% above average
  • Seattle – cost of living is 24% above average; housing is 57% above average

All of those cities have a lot to offer, but at what cost?

More jobs are going to smaller cities.

With the combination with the dotcom bust, the 2008 housing crisis, and ever-increasing taxes in the above cities, more businesses are transferring some or all of their operations out of the bigger cities. This migration is called ex-urbanization.

Housing tends to be more affordable in second- and third-tier cities, like Denver, Salt Lake City, and Charlotte. Such cities offer a diverse pool of talent that isn’t isolated to bigger cities.

In many cases, the quality of life outside of work is appealing to many industries’ best and brightest. Denver and Salt Lake City offer skiing and snowboarding to give you your weekend adrenaline rush. Portland has amazing microbreweries to wind down your work week. Charlotte has a unique and vibrant foodie scene for those of us that love to love food. Richmond is a perfect place for runners and kayakers.

Businesses know that happy employees make for happy businesses. If employees have a high quality of life outside of work (and not just the Colorado kind), they’ll give their all at work.

Smaller cities allow for geographic arbitrage.

With the growing gig economy and online entrepreneurs, more people can now live and work from anywhere. One can charge big city prices and live on a little city budget. A virtual assistant who resides in Kansas City can charge a client who lives in Chicago Chicago-based fees. Or, they can offer competitive fees that a virtual assistant who resides in Chicago can’t.

Geographic arbitrage isn’t just a benefit for virtual assistants, virtually any online freelancing or IT job, and many contractors and consultants, can thrive off of charging big city prices with little city expenses.

If climbing the corporate ladder is more your style, get a job in a big city and then transfer within that company to a smaller city. Most companies will keep you at the same salary even though your cost of living will likely drop. I’ve seen many Denver friends leave for a few years and return, taking advantage of just this strategy.

Smaller cities can mean bigger pockets.

By and large, smaller cities come with lower living expenses. This is a big deal for things like saving money for retirement, owning your own home, and putting children through college. These financial goals are all easier to achieve with a lifetime of lower costs.

A personal, favorite perk of living in a smaller city, especially one centrally located in the country, is that we can quickly hop on a plane and get to any coast within less than five hours and many within three hours. So while I never moved to San Francisco, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been there because it’s cheap and easy to head that way.

Before you hop a jet plane over the rainbow to some major city far, far away, open your mind to second or third-tier cities elsewhere in the country. The costs may be more agreeable and open you up to a lifetime of bigger living. With transportation getting better and the internet making the world smaller, your opportunities may be greater.

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A 5-year plan doesn’t have to be a boring cliche. Instead, create a kick-ass plan that adds meaning and purpose to your life.

It’s one of the most common questions in a job interview: what is your 5-year plan?

While you might have the right answer to give to the HR rep interviewing you, you might not know what you actually want to accomplish in your life.

Do you want to stay on the trajectory your career is on? Or do you dream about switching fields?

Fortunately, there are a few strategies you can use to make significant changes in your life and to fulfill your dreams. Read below to find out how to create a 5-year plan that gives you purpose.

Make a list of your dreams.

The key to creating a plan that will add value, purpose, and meaning to your life is to determine what the end goal is.

Do you dream about starting your own business or switching to a new industry? Or do you want to leave home and travel the world?

Before you can hammer out the details of a plan, you need to start with the end goal.

“Once you have an idea of what you truly want, it gets easier to work backward on the milestones you need to hit to get there,” said Elle Martinez of Couple Money.

So think of what your end goal is. Is it to stay home with your kids and not have to worry about money? Is it being able to take care of your parents full-time? Or do you want to devote yourself to the nonprofit you care so passionately about?

The idea here isn’t to reach your goals next week. You create a 5-year plan so that you can make reasonable, achievable steps. It’s about progress.

Once you know what your ultimate passion is, you can start to work backward to determine what your next steps are.

Talk to an expert.

Sometimes you need help if you’re trying to figure out what to do with the next five years of your life. After you’ve exhausted your significant other, your best friends, and your family, it’s time to find someone who knows what’s up.

Try to find an expert in the field that you’re interested in. This can be someone who graduated from the same college as you, someone active in the community, or even a person you admire that you found on Twitter.

Don’t limit yourself to local people, if you can’t find anyone who fits your description. You can contact people via Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other social media platform they might have. If you know where they work, you can reach out there.

Before you meet up, bring a list of questions with you. Nothing annoys a busy person more than someone who’s asked for a favor and who’s not prepared for it. You can create a 5-year plan that is reasonable after talking with someone who’s been there. You can create meaning and be realistic about where you’re headed with a little outside perspective.

Always send a thank-you note afterward, either by email or the traditional snail mail route. Keep in touch with that person and don’t always be asking them for a favor. You want the relationship to be reciprocal.

Follow what interests you.

For most of my high school and entire college career, I dreamed of becoming a newspaper reporter. I read the best writers, wrote as much as I could and shadowed reporters I admired. But then I got my first real reporting job at a small newspaper in Northwest Indiana and hated it.

I worked evenings and covered fires, robberies, and car accidents. In a town of 30,000, the topics we covered sometimes felt trivial.

It was then that I started blogging about living frugally. I had decided I wanted to pay off my student loans early and was trying to learn all I could about personal finance. I started reading books and blogs and finally asked my boss if I could start a blog at work about living frugally.

That’s how I discovered I loved writing about money, especially from my own point of view. I found myself focusing more on the blog than on my other assignments, and people noticed. When I left that gig to work at a nonprofit, I started my own blog. That led to the freelance writing career I have now.

If you’re not happy with where your life is going, you need to figure out where your passion truly lies. Sometimes you can only do that by giving something a trial run. There’s nothing wrong with including stepping-stone jobs and trial runs as you create a 5-year plan.

Make it real.

Sometimes it’s not enough to keep a dream in your head. You have to visualize and make it real. Try creating a vision board with images that reflect your dream and the path you’ve chosen to follow. Include quotes and inspirational figures of people you admire. You can also use a life map to set your course.

Don’t be afraid to share your dream with other people. You never know who will have the right connection or give you the best piece of advice. Plus, when people hear your dreams, they might be inspired to give their own a test drive.

The more comfortable you are with expressing your true desires, the less afraid you’ll be to really take on a new challenge.

As you create a 5-year plan meant to give the next few years of your life purpose, keep in mind that you will need to figure out the next years after that. Keep revising and updating as your purpose changes. As long as you are moving forward, and you are able to take steps to reach your goals, your life will have purpose.

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Carpe diem. Or whatever. It sounds cheesy, but you really might be able to change things up when you decide to get up a little earlier.

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Could you change your life by becoming an early riser?

While getting up early isn’t for everyone, there’s certainly a lot written about why it’s a good idea. And if you think you could benefit from changing things up, it’s not a bad idea to try and shift your habits so you get up earlier.

This we talk about how being an early riser can benefit you — and how you can change your habits to make the most of your day.

 

Concepts

  • What are some of the advantages of being an early riser?
  • How to take charge of your day by getting up earlier.
  • You don’t have to be an early riser to be successful.
  • A look at night owls and how they can make the best of it.
  • Tips for shifting to an earlier schedule.
  • The importance of good sleep hygiene and what you can do to get better sleep.
  • How to take advantage of your own traits to be more productive and successful.

In our DO NOWs include helping you decide if you want to become an early riser. Start by figuring out your chronotype. We also look at setting a target wake-up time and working backward so your bed time matches.

This week’s listener question is all about trying to avoid hitting the snooze button. We offer a few tried and true strategies for getting out of bed in the morning — even if you don’t want to.

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Resources

Things entrepreneurs do before 7 a.m.
Successful late risers

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Yeah, it’s crazy to get up at 4:35 am. But it can work. You might be surprised at how much you can get down with just a couple extra hours in the morning.

Dear ‘The Early Bird Catches the Worm,’
The early worm gets eaten.
Sincerely, Sleeping In

My husband posted on Facebook the other day about some successes we’ve had recently. In posting his gratitude, he acknowledged that our rewards justified waking up at 4:35 a.m. most days of the week.

The point on which most people fixated was not the successes but his admission that we wake up so damn early.

You don’t need to wake up early to be successful. Legendary night owls include Leonardo Da Vinci and Bob Dylan.

For us, though, it works to wake up early. Someone asked why, on earth, we do this. So, here you go.

We’re in control of how our days start.

We began this hairy scary schedule when we were both employed by a W-2 and decided we wanted to start a business. Between the commute and the workday, we were always preoccupied from what we really wanted to do. The only way to squeeze more time into the day was to wake up early.

To be sure, we could’ve stayed up later, but by the time we were done with the bullshit of a day’s worth of work for someone else, we simply wanted a bottle of wine, dark chocolate, and Netflix. We don’t crave mimosas until 10 am, so even on weekends waking up at 4:35 gave us five and a half hours’ worth of work.

We’re in sync with New York City.

Both of our careers have been in financial service. We were both traders once and our personal business is personal finance. It’s not a big deal, but for us, we feel like we miss the day if we wake up two or three hours after the stock market does.

Plus, more than half the country is in the eastern time zone and it feels easier to sync up with them.

Idle hands and all.

Waking early means we have more work hours available to us because we have fewer play hours. Knowing that the alarm will go off early tomorrow ensures better decisions early tonight.

We typically eat less junk food and dessert at night. That way, we fall asleep more quickly and we won’t have a glass or two of wine.

On the flip side, we’re not above partying until the wee hours of the morning. When we did, though, we were less productive. Sticking with an early wake-up call helps us avoid the late-night bender.

We have time to take care of ourselves.

Now that our side gig became my main gig and my main man still works for The Man, we don’t wake up at 4:35 am anymore to work. We wake up at 4:30 am to workout.

Working out and staying in shape is important to us. Even just working one full-time job makes working out hard. Add to that more work and our brains can easily talk us out of hitting the gym.

Plus, see above our evening craving for wine, chocolate, and Netflix. Working out towards the end of the day would require a violation of physical law.

We have time to take care of our spirits.

We didn’t fully integrate this practice, too, until I quit my W-2 and we had more bandwidth. Until then, this was a weekend luxury. Now, this is a daily practice before the sun rises in most parts of the United States.

While we’re the most refreshed and rejuvenated, we do our morning ritual of meditation, journaling, and affirmations. Busting these out first thing in the morning ensures that we do them and we feel all the better for it. If we waited until later in the day, we’d skip them.

Now, when we wake up, they’re the very first things we do. So, even while we’re waking, we’re getting ready for our daily practice that keeps us centered and grounded throughout the day.

We avoid the crowds.

Especially when we were both working a W-2, being efficient with our time was a necessity. Only a few crazies are at the gym before 5:30 am. We happily admit we’re two of them.

We’re at the gym when fewer people are, and we bust out a duo superset of weights and cardio all within an hour. We leave before most people arrive. And, my husband still has time to get to work, which is the other benefit.

Rush hour traffic where we live anyway starts about 7 am. If the husband can get on the road by 6:45, he misses most or all the traffic to start his workday early and end his work day earlier.

Our best sleep is the sleep we get before midnight.

Studies show the sleep we get before midnight is more valuable than the sleep we get after midnight.

As we get older, this seems truer. Therefore, we strive to have “heads on pillows” by 9 pm. It doesn’t always happen and whether it does or it doesn’t we can tell the next day.

Everyone else is doing it.

Well, that’s not entirely true.

However, many successful people do it. An amazing boss of mine said to me once, “Find out what successful people do and do that.”

There are many people, such as the Da Vincis and Dylans of the world who rock it late at night. They seem to follow in the sleep cycle of the more creative types.

There’s certainly a strain of creativity in what we do for our side business, but there’s a lot of business, as well as critical and strategic thinking required. For this reason, we’ll follow in the footsteps of Mrs. Obama and Richard Branson.

For us for now, the early schedule works. Very soon the S.O. will quit his J.O.B. (just over broke). After that, we may wake up later, like 5:30 am.

Or, maybe not.

If it’s ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.

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