We all speak different languages. Learn how to speak your SO’s. Read More...

Before Gary Chapman published The 5 Love Languages in 1995 partners have been struggling to try and decipher each other.

“Why does she touch me like that?”

“Why won’t he touch me like that?”

“Why does she say those things?”

“Why doesn’t he stop talking?”

The arrival of a manual helped couples learn how to better communicate. After all, the way we communicate love differs from person to person. You might need a translator to ensure that you and your partner aren’t constantly unhappy due to misunderstandings.

On one hand, it may seem ideal to have a partner who has the same love language as you. On the other, it could lead to a boring, one-dimensional relationship.

To be fair, though, having a partner with a different love language is a challenge. You both want certain things that the other may not be able to give — or they just may not understand what you’re asking for.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Better understanding your partner’s love language can lead to better communication. When you start to speak your partner’s love language, they’ll start to speak yours. Then, you have better communication, which leads to more happiness — and more and better sex.

That’s when it gets fun. Speaking your partner’s love language doesn’t have to suck. It can prove very rewarding for both of you. So, let’s better understand each of the languages of love.

Language of affirmations.

The best three words in the world to hear are, “I have wine.” The second best three words are “I love you.” This is especially true for people who speak the love language of affirmations.

Speaking this language may be the easiest of all, and words aren’t necessarily required to speak this language. Sure, a quiet “I love you” whispered in the ear in morning is nice. Those can never be discounted – not even if you don’t speak the love language of affirmations.

However, a simple text mid-day that says, “How’s your day?” does wonders. “I’ve been thinking about you” will send them through the roof. Go to Hallmark.com and send your word-affirming partner an e-card telling them how you feel, and you’ll be the week’s biggest winner.

Satisfying a person who desires words of affirmations only requires remembering to say, send, write or text a thoughtful sentence once in a while.

Language of quality time.

Lovers who speak the love language of quality time love spending time with their partner – whatever they’re doing, regardless of what they’re doing. This can be anything from lying in bed to watching a movie to spending the day at a theme park.

The time spent together can be easy or complex. It doesn’t matter. Personally, this is my second strongest love language. Whether we’re binging Netflix, each working our own jobs in the same room, or drinking wine on our balcony, I love simply spending time with the person I love.

The best combination of partners may just be those who prefer quality time and those who prefer touch because hours spent touching each other makes both partners happy. Maybe as important as matching yourself with a partner who fits with your astrological sign is matching with a partner who fits your language of love.

Language of touch.

We’re all familiar with the love language of touch. If you were an alien who did nothing but watch television and movies on your first visit to earth, you’d think touch was the only love language of your new human friends.

The love language of touch isn’t only about lovemaking. This kind of language includes holding hands, snuggling on the couch, spooning in bed, running your fingers through your partner’s hair, massages, and more.

These people love holding hands. They appreciate a kiss on the forehead. Of course, don’t discount the sexual touching. Never. Discount. Sex.

Touching this person the right way at the right time will never suck, but . . .

Language of gifts.

You may think that lovers who speak the language of gifts keep the economy going, but that’s not entirely true. It’s also not true that those speaking this love language are materialistic. Gifts for these lovers don’t need to be expensive or even bought. They simply need to be thoughtful.

The person who speaks the love language of gifts want to know someone – you – care for them. This can be done with small gestures, such as a homemade card, a flower picked on your way home, a kiss wrapped with a bow on it.

Give a thoughtful gift to this person and they’ll shower you with all the love they can give.

Language of service.

The person who speaks the language of love isn’t looking for a Lady in Waiting or a Gentleman of the Bedchamber (here). This person appreciates when their love does for them something they can do for themselves.

This one hits home. I love cleanliness. I love when my condo is spotless. I love when there are no dishes in the sink. I love, love, love clean sheet night.

Not long ago, our Mini Cooper was filthy. Denver had a bunch of snow, and with the snow, sludge, and de-icers our Mini was a mess. When the roads and weather permitted, my husband had our car thoroughly cleaned inside and out. I was the happiest driver on the road, and this half hour and $30 investment showed me a special kind of love.

The language of service, however, is not all about cleaning. It’s holding the door open. It’s picking up the laundry. It’s making dinner. It’s taking the kids out of the house, so your partner can soak in the tub and read a good book in quiet.

Show the love of service with your partner and your lover is sure to stick with you through thick and thin.

As you can see, your S.O.’s love language doesn’t suck when you understand the kind of love they need. In fact, giving your lover the love they need will give you the love you need.

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Don’t expect everything to be perfect once you move into a condo. The HOA can make life hell if you aren’t prepared. Read More...

If you’re buying your first home or you’re not a handy person (or you simply don’t want to be handy), buying a condo in a homeowners association (HOA) might seem ideal.

Maybe the house you want to buy is in an HOA, and it’ll take care of the garbage and snow removal for you.

Who doesn’t want to take those items off their to-do lists?

Before you get too excited, it’s important to know that as nice as HOAs are, they can be quite controlling — and costly to you as a homeowner. They can be especially costly for condominiums or multiple dwelling units in HOAs.

Here’s what you should know before buying into a homeowners association:

The HOA should have a reserve study and a reserve balance.

Just as you should have an emergency savings account, so should an HOA. This is typically called the reserve balance, and it should be cash held in an account to be used ongoing maintenance of your HOA. It also acts as a buffer should surprise accidents, like a blown boiler or a roof leak, happen.

How much money should an HOA have in reserve? There are many variables to consider, such as operating costs, maintenance expenses, the number of homes or units in the homeowners association, and the square footage (and types) of common elements.

Therefore, it’s advised that HOAs pay for reserve studies. Reserve studies are performed by professionals to assess how much it costs to maintain the HOA. The results can help the HOA figure out how much it should have in its reserve account.

Before you buy into an HOA, ask to see the financial documents, ask for the reserve balance, and ask to see a copy of the reserve study. Your review of these documents should tell you how well the HOA is being managed and how financially solvent the HOA is.

If the HOA isn’t managed well or isn’t solvent, surprise accidents could mean a large expense to directly to you.

Read the HOA’s governing documents, including its rules and regulation.

Every HOA should have its own declarations and bylaws, as well as rules and regulations. These documents spell out how the homeowners association should manage itself, who’s responsible for what, and what’s permitted (and not permitted).

The declarations and bylaws were drafted by attorneys and HOA members at the inception of the homeowners association. Making changes to the declarations and bylaws typically requires majority approval by the HOA members or homeowners. Changes to some elements may require more than 51% approval. It’s the responsibility of the HOA board to manage the HOA to the declarations and bylaws.

The rules and regulations are typically drafted and can be changed by the HOA board members. Most HOAs, however, solicit input to draft rules and regulations from a committee of HOA board members and homeowners to eliminate the appearance of being unfair.

That said, many of the day-to-day problems with homeowners or within an HOA come from a lack of understanding regarding the HOA’s rules and regulations. From knowing how to replace a lost key to whether the HOA permits animals, different processes and requirements are typically spelled out in the rules and regulations. Violators of rules and regulations are usually subject to fines by the board.

Before buying into an HOA, ask for copies of the declarations, bylaws, and rules and regulations to make sure you can live within the pre-established rules of the HOA. Some rules could have expensive financial consequences for you.

Condo insurance is special.

If you live in a condo building or multi-dwelling unit, know that everything you understand about insurance and liability insurance does not apply to your condo.

For example, you might assume that if the neighbor above has a leak in their sink that goes through their floor, your ceiling, and into your condo, they would be liable to cover your expenses. If I hit your car with my car, I’d be responsible for replacing or fixing your car. Right?

That logic doesn’t apply here. The neighbor above you who “caused the leak” is responsible for repairing the damage done to their unit. You, however, are responsible for damage done to your unit. More accurately, your homeowners insurance is responsible for making you whole again, not your neighbor’s insurance.

It may not make sense, but that’s the way condominium insurance works. Before you buy into an HOA, especially a condominium, fully understand your liability, the HOA’s liability, and your neighbors’ liability. Talk with an attorney who specializes in HOA and condominium law, and talk with your insurance agent to understand what and how you’re covered.

You have limited rights and recourse in an HOA.

HOA laws give a lot of leeway to HOAs and their boards. You have limited recourse if you feel you’ve been wronged or if you don’t like what your homeowners association is doing.

There’s no value in suing your HOA, either. HOA board members are covered by the HOA’s insurance and the HOA insurance is paid for by your HOA dues. So, in a circuitous way, suing your HOA is suing yourself. It could cost you money directly, and it could cost you the support of your fellow homeowners.

The only way to really effect change in an HOA is to join the board (usually by being elected). If you don’t have the time or the interest in being on your HOA’s board, then you’re subject to the decisions of those who do and are. Such decisions can be as minor as permitting welcome mats at front doors to implementing multimillion-dollar “improvement” projects paid for by you.

If you’re not comfortable living with the decisions of a small group of people and don’t have the time or interest in being on the HOA’s board, perhaps buying into an HOA is not the right call for you.

You still have homeowner responsibilities.

Too often, those who don’t want to spend money or donate the time to maintain HOAs move into one. Walls need to be painted and carpets need to be replaced in common areas. The grounds need to be kept. Someone must skim the pool. When a homeowner leaves trash in the elevator, someone has to clean it up.

The only way these things happen is if someone donates their time or you pay for it. If someone, including you, isn’t interested in donating your time, then be prepared to pay someone to do it.

Many people who move into HOAs assume everything will be done for them. That’s true when they pay for that service. If you don’t pay for it, don’t expect it. You’d be responsible for these expenses if you owned a single-family home. You’re still responsible for them in a condo or HOA.

These are some aspects of living with a homeowners association in a condo that many don’t know. Not knowing them makes it harder for you and your neighbors. The more aware you are, the more prepared you can be if you buy into an HOA.

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Show your boss how valuable you are. Ace that performance review. Read More...

It’s time for annual performance reviews. You can hear the business world release its collective angst-filled sigh.

Employees with barely enough time need to fight for their jobs and hopefully eek out a nominal raise. Managers with too much work to do must toe the bottom line while still encouraging their employees to return to work.

As George Carlin says, “Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit.”

Suddenly, it’s your time to fight for yourself. And don’t forget that you want your pay to keep up with inflation in Hunger Games for the workplace. But, if you haven’t prepared all year long for your annual performance review, what can you do at the last minute to get that raise or promotion?

1. Prepare to sell your best of self.

Get your game face on. Overcome that limiting belief that you’re not good at sales or that selling is slimy. If you want any hope of convincing your boss that you need a cost-of-living increase, a raise, or a promotion, you need to sell yourself and the value you bring.

Yes, you bring value to your company. The better you can convince your boss that you’re an asset, the better the chance you’ll walk out of your annual performance review meeting happy. Everyone, including your boss, seeks love or satisfaction and avoiding pain. Use this to your benefit, even if you must bite your tongue.

2. Review saved emails and files.

A lot can happen in a year. It’s easy to forget accomplishments from 11 months ago. While that compliment you got from your boss’s boss in February made your day, you might have forgotten it by now. That one project that kicked your butt for an entire week early second quarter might be a distant memory today.

Review your email history, saved emails, and the files saved on your computer. Take notes and be prepared to use this information to sell the value you add to your boss and the firm. These examples of your competence are vital as you sell yourself as deserving of a pay increase or promotion.

3. Use last year’s annual review and this year’s goals.

Annual performance reviews are measurements. Measurements need at least two data points. For projects and responsibilities that lasted more than one year, use last year’s annual performance review as the basis to show how far you’ve come.

Be prepared to address every previously established goal for this year. If your goals changed mid-year, share how far you got with both your original and new goals.

4. Be specific and brief.

If you report to a senior manager or an even higher-up, be prepared to be specific and brief. Your boss will see through your façade if you go on forever. They’ll think your bloviating at best and lying at worst, both of which are a waste of their time. No one likes to have their time wasted.

Keep it simple and stick to the facts.

5. Support all your success with benefits.

Busy bosses sometimes need reminding of how valuable you are to them. You’re an expense to your boss and firm. That’s fine if you’re providing enough value, so be clear with the value you’re providing. Use the Actions/Benefits Formula.

With each statement of value, complete this formula: “I did A, which resulted in B,” where A equals your action(s) and B equals the quantifiable benefit(s).

When you’ve completed that formula for all the benefits you include in your annual performance review, rephrase your statements for the same results to not sound monotonous. You don’t want your boss to fall asleep on you.

Practice ahead of time for best results.

6. Be real.

I’ve already addressed not being too bullshitty. You can bullshit a little if you’ve got the data to back it up. Include too much, though, and your boss will dismiss your review. That could mean no bonus or promotion, and that’s no bueno.

Being real means including challenges in your annual performance review. You’re human, and to make it appear otherwise is inauthentic. Your boss wants an authentic performance review so they can work with you.

Be open to their feedback. Write their feedback down. Follow up with clarifying statements to prove that you hear what they’re saying.

Be realistic, but don’t show all your cards. Don’t admit mistakes. Instead, frame them as “challenges” and “opportunities” the way a politician would.

7. Going forward, prepare all year long.

Can you wait until the last minute, like your midterm presentation in college, to score yourself a good performance review? Sure, and it’s possible. However, you want to make more money, right? Do you want to climb that corporate ladder? Then, don’t shoot for a C or even a B.

Go for the A+!

As soon as you turn on your office computer in the new year, create a folder in your email and a file folder on your computer both titled for the current year.

Whenever you receive a positive comment or review, file it and save it. Anytime you’ve completed or been a part of a successful project, save the supporting documentation. Start immediately. It’ll make preparing for next year’s annual review much easier.

Don’t include every positive quote or successful project in your next annual performance review, just the biggest, the best, and the most important. These give support for the amazing sales pitch you’ll give next year for more money and more responsibility.

When you rock your annual performance review and get yourself that raise or promotion, use your increased income to build a more financially secure future by increasing your retirement plan contributions, paying off debt, and investing.

Taking on more responsibility and increasing your income does you no good — if doesn’t reduce your financial stress or truly improve your quality of life.

With the right preparation, you’ll feel more comfortable in your next performance review, and your confidence will show, potentially landing you higher pay and a better position.

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Your life is like a fine wine or a good bourbon. Older is often better. Read More...

I have a theory.

I believe that pop culture and the media’s obsession with youth isn’t because we’re a youth-obsessed culture.

It’s because getting older is awesome — older people don’t need constant positive reinforcement.

You see patterns as you get older. Things that seemed so new to the young you now feel natural. You feel more confident in your own skin. You realize that every year that passes is another year of successful living.

So, when television, movies, and music don’t look or sound like you, you’re okay with it because you’re awesome.

You know it, and here’s how.

You stop repeating the same mistakes.

Those who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it, right?

As you get older, eventually you learn not to repeat mistakes. With your critical thinking skills and history of experiences, red flags are more apparent — even if you haven’t seen the exact red flag now waving in your face.

Remember when you were in a dating rut, dating different people with similar bad qualities? Gone are the days of dating different versions of the same person who isn’t right for you. You know what works and who works, and if nothing’s working you’re okay with going solo.

You’re more cautious about what you share with mom and dad, your siblings, and the rest of your family. Once you needed their help and guidance with everything, but now you’ve learned to avoid unnecessary concern and judgment.

You’ve also learned that family will give you their opinion whether you want it or not. So, you don’t invite more of it than you need.

You start to realize that while it’s fun to throw a few back late at night, it’s not so much fun early the next morning. This is also about the time you stop feeling the need to accept every RSVP for fear of eventually being left out.

Your self-confidence is higher.

The same person who longed for approval in high school no longer needs anyone’s approval today. That’s one of the best reasons getting older is awesome.

With each decade comes more confidence than the last. The thought of going on vacation or out for dinner alone no longer strikes fear inside you. In fact, it sounds quite desirable.

This brings with it an air of certainty and poise that only comes with age. The person who’s confident enough to enter a party alone and work a room is often the person everyone wants to know.

You have less drama.

Your teen years likely held the most drama in your life.

As you get older and older, fewer and fewer things cause you so much concern — you’ve learned to not care. You’ve learned that getting worked up every time someone else is worked up or every time the news or the radio says so is of no value to you.

You can’t control other people’s actions and beliefs. You focus more on your circle of influence and make your circle of concern smaller. Self-induced drama and other people’s drama melt away.

You have more wisdom.

With experience, mistakes, and success comes wisdom. Age is associated with wisdom, which is why the sages in books and movies are older than their young students.

Wisdom is the result of having been there and having done that — without having to announce it to the world. It’s having a better understanding of human behavior. It’s retaining and applying your personal history to the rest of the history surrounding you.

Wisdom is also knowing what you don’t know. It’s knowing when to ask more questions, when to listen, and when to not get involved.

You get paid for your experiences.

The reason you reach your peak earning years in your 40s and 50s is that you have the experience and history worth paying you more. And that is one of the biggest reasons getting older is awesome.

By your 40s, you’ve made your share of mistakes. You’ve learned from those mistakes — and learned to stop making them. Plus, you have enough right decisions to pad out your resume.

While youth is fun, adventurous, and new, age brings stability, clarity, and sophistication.

You can laugh at your younger self through younger generations.

It’s fun to watch younger generations and reminisce about your younger self. You see yourself in them and appreciate what they’re going through. But you appreciate even more that you’ve already been through it.

You know how they feel. You know what questions they have and what their concerns are. You can identify with their hopes and dreams. You had the good and bad relationships. You made the right and wrong choices. The life decisions they face today, you’ve already made.

Your empathy and understanding make you a great teacher. If they’re wise, they’ll seek your wisdom.

Your confidence and wisdom allow you to look back and laugh. But don’t forget to look back and forgive yourself.

Your priorities become your priority.

The best part of getting older is assuming the ability to say, “No.”

When you’re young and longing for approval, you’re apt to follow the crowd and not rock the boat. When you’re older, your experience affords you the opportunity to do what you want, when you want, and how you want.

“No, thank you,” is a refreshing place to be in life. Life is as much about the things we say no to as much as it’s about the things to which we say yes.

“No, I don’t want that promotion despite the higher income because I don’t want the extra stress.”

“No, thank you. I’d like the extra features on the car, but I don’t want the extra expenses.”

“No, I’m not interested.”

“I’m quitting this job because I don’t want to work for you anymore.”

It’s with confidence, experience, and wisdom that you’ve learned what you want and don’t want and build the courage to advocate for both.

You reap the rewards of all your good decisions.

By your 40s and 50s, you’ve accumulated the rewards of all your life-decisions. And getting older is awesome because now you can enjoy those rewards.

All you need are a few good decisions, to see the benefits. Even if you didn’t originally make the right choices, you’ve had time to tack accordingly and fix your mistakes.

Ours is a youth-obsessed culture, but it’s not because we all want to be younger.

It’s because those of us who are older are smart enough to appreciate the wisdom of our years — and we’re happy to let the next generation have the limelight.

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Reclaim your time! Get all the things done – just not all by you. Read More...

Consider how much you’re paid per hour. Then, consider how many hours a week you spend on tasks that you’d rather not do or that distract you from higher-paying opportunities. Are you saving money or losing money by doing jobs for yourself that someone else might do more efficiently?

It’s somewhat counterintuitive to think that hiring someone to do things you can do for yourself may be better for your money and your family. However, if you’re paid $30/hour, does it make sense to perform a task that someone else can do for $15/hour? No. It makes more sense to continue working for $30/hour, pay someone else $15/hour. You still net $15.

Of course, most of us can’t contract our every routine task, but even freeing ourselves of one such task can produce great results. Here are nine tasks you may want to outsource to have more money.

Grocery shopping.

Once upon a time, having your groceries delivered to your house was only for the richest of the rich. Today, it’s way more popular for even us commoners to have groceries delivered to our houses or ready for pick-up at the grocery store.

When I go to our local grocery store lately, there are as many Amazon shoppers as there are actual patrons. I think this is a good thing.

Grocery shopping is mundane and can take up way more time than it’s worth. Companies such as Amazon, InstaCart, and Peapod save hundreds of thousands of people from this chore and letting them focus on higher returning activities.

Cooking.

My husband and I love cooking, but with building a business and him still working a W-2, we just don’t have the time. We don’t want to resort to fast food because we like to eat healthily. Therefore, we hired a personal chef. Before you start claiming that we’re the richest of the rich, just know that personal chefs can be reasonably priced.

We hired a personal chef who recently graduated from culinary school and she’s building her resume. We’re happy to have her experiment on us. It saves us money and time and is helping her start her career. Once a week, she comes to our house and cooks several lunches and dinners for us that require minimal preparation on our part. Our diet is healthy and diverse.

You don’t have to hire a personal chef, though. Hello Fresh and Blue Apron deliver meals direct to your door. Bigger cities are even getting their own meal delivery services. In Denver, we have The Spicy Radish. A simple Google search may help you find a local delivery service in your area.

These services provide a healthy, diverse menu that requires minimal involvement on your part. It’s one less thing to think about that day, which reserves your time for more important thinking, and the meals save a great deal of time preparing.

House cleaning.

How much time each week do you spending cleaning your home? Or, when was the last time your home was clean? What would you rather be doing, or how could you better spend your time?

I love my cleaning ladies! I love a clean house, but I don’t love cleaning. The toilet bowl needs to be clean, but I’d rather spend my time building my business and with my husband. The last thing I want to do with the few spare hours a week I have is clean my toilets.

This helps the economy and others, in addition to helping me. I spend my time making money doing what I do best and pay someone else to do what they do best. Plus, they do in two hours what would take my husband and me six hours.

Home repairs & maintenance.

This is exactly what I did recently. My husband and I decided it’s time to sell our condo. Before we put our place on the market, we decided we needed to do some touch-ups and repairs to our place.

None of it is major work, but it would take a major amount of our time if we did them ourselves. We’re capable of doing them, but we’re not proficient. Plus, we’re growing a business, and our time is better spent growing our business than painting, scraping, and sanding.

Therefore, we’ve contracted out most of the work. My husband and I each make more money per hour than what we’re paying any of these professionals per hour. Plus, they do a better job.

Everyday errands.

Do you have a bunch of errands you’d love to take off your plate? Need pictures hung on your wall? Need that new Ikea furniture to be put together? Urgently need something delivered across town but can’t get away from your desk?

Your time and money are better spent closing your next deal and hiring someone from Task Complete or TaskRabbit to complete your task. Thousands of people are freelancing to do simple to complex tasks for others as a side hustle.

Travel arrangements.

Have a big trip planned but haven’t planned it? Let someone better skilled, better educated on travel and better connected to plan it for you. Sure, you can book your flight from St. Paul to Austin, but what about the bigger trips to Playa del Carmen or Lisbon or Sydney?

For bigger travel, we always use our travel agent. We’ve had her for years. We don’t pay more than we would if we booked all the travel ourselves, but she uses her systems and connections to make better accommodations for us. She finds those hidden deals and gets us the special perks that we wouldn’t know about or think to ask.

This saves us money or gets us more for our money while we’re still working for our money.

Email and calendar management.

For some people, it makes sense to hire an assistant to manage personal emails and calendars, book reservations or plan an event. Get Friday offers personal assistants that can handle all matters from personal to professional.

Managing personal emails has nearly become a full-time job. Managing all that you do along with yours and your family’s personal calendars is like herding cats. Hire someone to help you become more efficient and organized, then you’ll waste less of your precious time on little tasks.

Lawn maintenance & gardening.

After putting in 40 to 60 hours a week, some people like being outside and working in their garden. Others, like me, hate it.

Free up your personal time by hiring someone from CraigsList or Angie’s List to take better care of your lawn and garden with better equipment and skill than you. They’ll do a better and faster job, and you’ll be freed to relax and rejuvenate alone or with your family or spend more time making more money.

Laundry.

Laundry is another task that many of us would do well to pay someone else to do. The cost to have someone pick up, launder, and then return your laundry can range between $1 to $3 a pound. For many people, this often equates to $20 to $25 per week. If you’re like me, you spend more than that on a bottle of wine on a Wednesday night.

Plus, with their equipment, they can clean your clothing better and more properly. Likewise, they can save you countless hours of folding, so you can spend more hours growing your business and bank account.

We may love the idea of saving a few dollars here and there by doing certain tasks ourselves, but when you look at both sides of your personal balance sheet, it may make more economic sense to pay someone to do some of these tasks for you. You might save $20 doing a job yourself, but you could earn $30 by hiring someone to do it for you, and that’s money.

Do you outsource personal tasks we haven’t listed here? What are the pros or cons you’ve found? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community.

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Skip the gift. Show your love with meaningful gestures. Read More...

“This would be a much better world if more married couples were as deeply in love as they are in debt.”
– Earl Wilson

Fortunately, you don’t have to choose between crippling debt and true love.

You can have more love and you can have more money. The best way to have more love is to love more. The best way to have more money is to save more. Below are my favorite ways to show love without buying a gift.

Spend quality time with your love.

When couples get together, they often can’t spend enough time with each other. Eventually, the daily routine of life takes over and they spend less time together. Soon, spending time together is no longer special. It’s not bad or boring, it’s just not as special.

Make it special.

Spend quality time with your S.O. Turn off the television and laptops. Put down the phone. Talk to each other. Go for a walk around your neighborhood or a picturesque park. Ride bikes to your favorite part of town. Play chess or a card game.

Find a quiet space and be completely immersed in the experience. Don’t share the time with Facebook.

Read to them.

For many, the memory of a parent reading to them at night is a reminder of a special kind of love. Enhance that memory with your S.O. and read to them. Read to them in bed. Read to them in your living room. Read to them in the park.

Share with them a great story and let their mind’s eye be the movie screen. This is a great way to show love without buying a gift.

My husband once read Winnie the Pooh to me while I fell asleep in bed. I pictured the story clearly in my head until I dozed. The story and the good night’s sleep were wonderful gifts that cost nothing.

Cook for bae.

Cooking feeds the soul.

What better way to say, “I love you” than to fuel the soul?

With the craziness of modern life, cooking has become more of a chore than an experience. Eliminate the chore and make for a memorable experience with your S.O. by cooking their favorite meal for them. Cooking for someone else, putting in the thought, time, and effort is a more personal way to show your love than to take them out to dinner.

This isn’t completely free, but you need to eat anyway. You might as well make it a great experience and show love without buying a gift.

Watch their favorite show or movie with them.

Everyone has a favorite show or movie that their partner doesn’t enjoy. I love It’s a Wonderful Life and can watch it every holiday season. Every. Holiday. Season.

My husband doesn’t like it, and I don’t enjoy it as much when I’m stuck watching it alone. When he’s watching it with me, it means more.

What television show or movie does your partner like that you don’t? Get it, and watch it with them. Show them that spending time with them doing something they enjoy is more important than spending time apart because you don’t have the same exact tastes.

Do for them what they usually do for themselves.

Can your partner wash their car? Pack their lunch? Clean their home? Pick up the dry cleaning? Yes, of course, they can.

Doing for someone what they can do for themselves shows a special kind of love. It makes their day just a little easier. It saves them from a daily chore. It shows that you’re there to make their life better in big and small ways.

Make a carousel of old photos from a trip or experience.

Photos are so ubiquitous today that they’ve lost value. We take a picture. Post it on Instagram. Get a bunch of likes. Forget about it when we take the next picture.

Rinse and repeat.

Dig into the archive of pictures on your phone, an older phone, your computer, or those older CDs you still have. Find special moments or an exciting trip, and put them into a single file or add them to your Flickr account.

Create a carousel of these photos to return your S.O. to a time and place you both cherish. The love you had for each other in that moment will come back. It’s a beautiful way to show love without buying a gift. And it can cement your relationship.

Give them your favorite book with a personal inscription.

Reading a hardcover or paperback book is an organic experience lost in the digital age.

A meaningful book with a personalized inscription is an organic and meaningful way to say to your S.O., “I love you.”

Whether it’s a good story, an educational or inspirational read, giving someone a book says that you want to treat them to something out of the ordinary. The more appropriate the book and heartfelt the inscription, the more the gift says you care.

Say “I love you” at an unexpected time.

It’s special to hear “I love you” from your S.O.

It’s even more special when it’s said at unexpected times.

We become conditioned to hearing it when leaving or returning from work. It’s expected before bed.

It’s not expected when you’re standing in the aisle at the grocery store or in the middle of a phone call. It’s a surprise and means more when it’s said first thing in the morning and in a text during the middle of the day.

As you can see, you don’t have to go deeply into debt to show your S.O. how much you love them.

There are countless free ways to say those three little words — and they mean more than any mere bought gift could.

 

 

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Life and love-handles happen. But it doesn’t have to end there or cost a lot to get back into shape. Read More...

Popular exercise and diet trends are all over the board. Their results are often inconsistent or short in duration.

One thing about them that is consistent, is that they’re expensive.

This doesn’t have to be so. Here are economical ways to get back into and stay in shape.

Move it.

The biggest misconception about exercise programs is that complex and expensive choices are better. You must join a fancy gym with shiny equipment and super-fit reps wearing high-end lycra clothes. The more hip sounding the program’s name, the better the results.

These things simply aren’t true. Just move!

Walking consistently comes up in studies to be one of the best exercises people can do. If walking isn’t enough insanity for you, jog or run. If you want to work your quads and hamstrings more, walk, jog or run up and down steps. Malls, office buildings, maybe your apartment building, tracks, and fields are great places for these exercises.

If you have a bike, ride it. If you have access to a low-cost pool, swim in it. If these are too boring for you or you don’t have time for these, house chores and gardening are great exercises. Just get off the couch, turn off the Netflix and move.

Cook it.

It’s a tough truth, but what and how we eat affects our physical shape more than how and how much we exercise. Every single calorie counts. If we’re eating more calories than we’re burning, being out of shape is the result.

Despite all our modern conveniences, we’re busier than ever. This often means we can’t find time to cook at home and opt for dining out or getting take out. Even the healthiest options in most restaurants have more calories than anything we’d cook at home.

A cheap way to get back into and to stay in shape is to simply cook at home, and keep what you cook at home simple. Don’t use more than five ingredients per dish, and avoid processed foods and anything wrapped in cardboard or plastic.

Schedule it.

Humans are creatures of habit. Schedule your exercise for the same time of day every day and make exercise a habit. The key to getting back into shape and staying in shape, whether you focus on diet, exercise, or both, is being consistent.

It will feel difficult at first, but when your mind and body get into the habit of working out regularly and consistently, you’ll find getting to your workouts easier. When exercising becomes routine and your exercises become easier, increase the intensity of your exercises. That’s when you’ll start to see real results.

YouTube it.

If you don’t feel knowledgeable enough to exercise without the guidance of a pro but can’t afford a pro, use YouTube. Search for “exercising” in YouTube. You’ll get 712,000 results. Surely not all 712,000 results are worth your time but you can find good ones and they cost a lot less than any pro.

From yoga to cardio, to Pilates to tai chi, find the exercise programs and the exercise pros that work for you, and watch yourself lose the weight without losing your money.

Don’t pitch it.

Aside from the expensive gym membership to that gym you never go to, one of the biggest costs of becoming a fitness fanatic is the fitness clothing. Truth be told, most of us don’t need a high-performance moisture wicking, organic microfiber.

Do some people need these? Yes, professional athletes. Are you a professional athlete? If you answer no, then don’t waste your money on pro-quality exercise clothes.

Older t-shirts, including undershirts, are perfect for your new exercise program. Unless your gym shorts or pants will get you put in jail and can’t stand on their own, they’re probably good enough. Heck, even brand new, expensive yoga pants could land you in jail. Save yourself the money and the risk.

Don’t pay for it.

What’s the best price? Free. Local community centers, YMCAs, and colleges often offer free exercise classes or training. This can be to market the facility or to help a new exercise facilitator gain more experience before they start charging a fee. Sometimes it’s an exclusive, one-time offer or part of a package. Likewise, exercise studios and gyms offer free classes or a few free days to experience their facilities.

This strategy may not last forever, but it can kickstart your new exercise regimen. This can, also, provide you with enough information to ensure that you get the most from your YouTube exercising from higher above in this list.

App it.

If you want to just do it, there’s an app for it. There are tons of apps that can help you with anything from running to lifting weights. So, if you do pay to workout at a gym, you don’t have to pay for a gym trainer. Even if you don’t want to work out at a gym, you can find an app that supports your home-based exercising.

See my list of nine apps to help you live healthier, many of which will also help you live wealthier.

Borrow it.

How many friends or family members do you know with exercise equipment collecting dust or doubling as a clothing tree? Help them make space in their home by offering to take their equipment off their hands. You could probably negotiate a serious discount off the original price or even get it for free. My parents had weights, a weight bench, and a treadmill in their basement that they never used, and they just wanted to get rid of it. Some lucky person got a new home gym for free.

If you don’t have friends or family with this problem, you can find “gently used” equipment online or at consignment and resale shops. Just be careful to not fall into the trap of thinking that because everything is cheaper than the original price that you need to buy everything.

As you can see, getting back into and staying in shape doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. In fact, I’d argue that if you can get back into shape with the low-cost and less shiny methods above, you’re more likely to stay in shape.

Do you have any other low-cost tips for getting fit? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community

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Don’t let your fate rest in one person’s hands. Read More...

A recent study in the U.K. showed that kids no longer aspire to be singers, actors or athletes. They’d rather be business leaders and entrepreneurs.

Well, that’s just dandy. No, it really is.

Sure, I wanted to grow up to be Madonna or even Stevie Nicks. But, for many reasons (obvious and not so obvious) that was never going to work out. I got into business — much to the relief of my parents. That worked out pretty well. I made it to middle-management and life was easy.

Then, I got the bug!

I couldn’t work for someone else any longer, wanted to do my own thing, and I knew what I wanted to do. Then, life wasn’t so easy. The life of an entrepreneur is a roller coaster. However, I wouldn’t change it for the world because now that I’ve survived the good, the bad and the ugly, it’s excellent.

One of the reasons my business is good to me is that I’m no longer reliant on one stream of income. The second and better reason is I’m no longer reliant on one person for my income. Finally, there’s diversity in what I do. Today, alone, I’m working on three of the incomes streams I mention below. If I wanted to, I could choose to do none of them.

To me, that speaks to the power when you diversify your income streams if you want to be an entrepreneur today. Here are my recommendations for you to consider and how I’m using (most of) them.

1. Monetize your blog.

You already know that I want you to become a blogger. I want everyone to become a blogger. I think blogs are as important as resumes. Plus, they can create the opportunity for you to go solo. There are many benefits to having your blog, some of which I’ll include in the following.

One of the easiest ways to make money from blogging is to monetize your blog. Google Ad Sense and Amazon Affiliate Links are probably the two most popular and accessible ways to monetize your blog. There are other companies you can you, but these are the only two I’ve used, so I don’t want to mention them.

When I first started blogging, we used Google Ad Sense that included a banner ad at the top and bottom of our blog and a square ad on the right rail of our blog. Choosing specific parameters, I permitted Google to rotate ads carousel-style on my blog.

Because you make money when people who visit your blog click on these ads, the more traffic you have, the better your return on your investment (ROI). Over time Google Ad Sense and their competition have decreased in their ROI, but they’re still an easy way to make money when you start blogging.

I use Amazon Affiliates for two reasons. The first is I have more control of what I promote on my blog. I don’t run the risk of advertising the vacuum cleaner of the week to my audience who has no interest in vacuum cleaners.

On top of that, I don’t have unrelated banner and square ads taking up real estate on my blog. Amazon Affiliate links are a better way than Google Ad Sense to make money in our experience. We have a blogger friend whose whole business is based on Amazon Affiliate Links.

2. Add affiliate marketing to your blog.

The most lucrative marketing strategy, at least for me, is affiliate marketing. Affiliating marketing is when you establish a relationship with a company to promote or sell their product on your blog.

The reason affiliate marketing is lucrative is two-fold. First, the affiliate payouts are better — at least for the companies I partner. My blog is about personal finance for the LGBTQ community, and all my affiliates are finance related.

The second reason affiliate marketing is lucrative is because I only affiliate with partners that can serve my niche. For example, when I talk about the benefits of refinancing a loan, I can link directly to an affiliate of mine that does that. My readers don’t see an ad for the vacuum cleaner of the week when I’m helping them lower their interest rates.

Another friend of mine has a course about making money with affiliate marketing. If this is something you want to learn, check it out.

3. Start freelance writing.

Freelance writing has been good to me, but it took me a while to earn credentials to become a freelance writer. I’m glad about that. Of course, I wanted to get paid for my writing the first day I started blogging. When I look back on my first blog articles, though, I recognize that they’re horrible.

Blogging for myself for years helped me find my voice and style — learn more about being a better writer. That time was valuable.

When you’re ready to write for others, it’s worth it. It’s helpful, though not necessary, to find clients in the niche you’ve established for yourself on your blog. I’ve seen it’s easier to sell yourself because your portfolio aligns with your potential client’s needs.

That said, I write for Adulting, which isn’t exclusively about personal finance. It’s been fun and worthwhile for me.

Another friend of mine has a course that teaches you how to become a freelance writer, even making it your primary income stream. If this interests you, I highly recommend her course.

4. Connect with brands for brand partnerships.

Brand partnerships are fun! I’ve done everything from simply attending an event to being part of a game show.

As your following grows on your blog, and as your email list gets bigger, and as your social media presence grows, you’ll become an “influencer.”

Fancy, huh?

Simply advertising on television and radio aren’t marketing strategies anymore. Brands partner with people or other businesses that have a following to generate interest and excitement in their products and services.

For this income stream, Twitter has been invaluable. Twitter’s struggling, and many think Twitter’s dead, but for me, it’s been great because it’s the primary way that I’ve been able to connect with top brands in my niche.

Again, I’ve only partnered with brands I believe in, and that align with my business’s mission. I don’t want to bring my readers to an event where they’ll be sold something that will sabotage their goals and our relationship.

As my social media following has grown, I’m having discussions with brands that aren’t in my niche but with whom there could be a symbiotic relationship.

5. Become a public speaker.

Public speaking is also fun after the nauseous pit in your stomach goes away, at least for me. Now that I’ve overcome that feeling, public speaking has been good to me.

Having a voice on your blog makes getting into public speaking because people and businesses want to know what you have to say before they hire you to say it. Again, having a social media following helps, too. Companies like it when you can attract an audience to an event.

Public speaking can be very lucrative once you’re even slightly established. If you get into public speaking, you’ll do some gigs for free. Just like with your first articles, you’ll eventually feel that not getting paid for your first public speaking gigs is a good thing.

Once you’ve gotten better at the craft, the trajectory to earn good money is slightly less than vertical. An added perk with public speaking in cities where you don’t live is that the people and businesses that hire you expect to pay for your travel, hotel, and some food.

Another friend of mine has a public speaking course, that’s all about how to get into the public speaking space. It’s the course I use and some of his templates I still use today.

6. Become a podcaster.

Honestly, I fell into podcasting totally by accident. Thank heavens I did fall into it.

I love podcasting because it’s a wealth of information. I’m gay. My husband’s gay. Our platform is personal finance for the LGBTQ community. One might think that I know my community inside and out. But I don’t. There is so much that I don’t know — and my podcast helped me see that.

When I learn something new on my podcast, I research it and learn how my business can help. This new knowledge gives me content for future podcasts, freelancing writing, and articles for my blog that link to affiliates with solutions. See the cycle?

Podcasting has also been a good income stream for me. Some of my brand partnerships have happened in part because I’ve included my podcast as a selling feature with the partnership. Also, because brands want to connect with my niche, the LGBTQ community, brands have asked to sponsor my show.

7. Sell courses.

I’m creating my first course now. As you can see from all my recommendations above, many online entrepreneurs create courses on topics they’re capable of teaching. Even before you start doing any of the above, you may already be an expert in something you can teach.

That’s great! Don’t wait. Create your course. Make your course your main platform.

Is it easier to sell your course after you’ve generated a steady stream of traffic to your site and after you have a substantial social media following? Yes.

Is that the only path? No.

I have another friend/colleague, who established her course as her platform and her blog traffic and social media following followed.

Being creative with marketing your course may make my above recommendations easier or unnecessary.

8. Be a social media manager.

My next two recommendations aren’t income streams for me, but I know many people for whom they are.

Social media is essential for bloggers. It can be a full-time job itself. In fact, for many bloggers, it is. That’s why they hire out their social media to social media managers. As your business, brand and social media following grow, it’s harder to stay engaged with your social media followers personally. Your blog traffic and your social media following are your bread and butter. Don’t dismiss it.

The good thing about becoming a social media manager is that if you like (or are already good with) one or more social media platforms, research on YouTube and with podcasts how to become a social media manager for someone else, and you can make yourself a nice income.

As with anything, you may need to start at the bottom of the income ladder, but it won’t be long before you can make this a part of your income stream.

9. Help others by becoming a virtual assistant.

Though I haven’t been a virtual assistant, I desperately need one. The job description for a virtual assistant is broad, and you can define it on your terms. Virtual assistants:

  • Manage emails
  • Manage calendars
  • Manage social media
  • Help with editing
  • Website/blog design
  • Research
  • Act as personal assistants
  • Other random items

What and how much service you provide will help determine how much you charge, commensurate with experience. If you need, start out simple and small. As time goes on, add more skills to your resume and increase your prices.

The most significant selling point of being a virtual assistant, in addition to the income stream, is that you virtually assist from literally anywhere in the world. It’s in the job title. Want to work from Idaho Falls? Do it. Want to work from a beach in the Caribbean? The option is yours.

These are just nine ways you can diversify income streams. They’re not the only ways. Hopefully, these nine will get your entrepreneur brain churning on all the ways you can make money in addition to working for your boss or working for yourself.

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Is there really hope in the friend zone? Read More...

You feel something. They don’t. You want something. They don’t. You try, you show up, you’re available, and they say, “Let’s just be friends.” Ugh!

The “friend zone” has thwarted many a would-be lover.

The friend zone can become the danger-zone if it’s not treated with caution. For the would-be lover, every glance, slightest nicety, and hint of attraction (valid or otherwise) are always seen as prospects for a hopeful future.

All too often, unfortunately, such hopes are dashed and hearts crushed when the would-be lover’s prospect finds prospects elsewhere.

Five areas within the friend zone can make it the danger-zone.

Proceed with caution.

Friends in the friend zone aren’t friends with benefits.

One of the benefits of being single for many is the opportunity to mingle sexually. In today’s more sexually open culture, people choose to be single for longer and enjoy the benefits of having friends with benefits.

Two adults who don’t want a relationship but are sexually active can be a match made in heaven. That is, as long as both sexual partners stay on the same relationships/sexual plain. For someone stuck against their will in the friend zone, a night of benefits can be too confusing to let the friendship last.

Don’t merge the friend zone with benefits.

Friends in the friend zone don’t expect a free dinner.

We’re still ironing out gender norms. For that reason, deciding who pays for what is a little more confusing today than it used to be.

To each their own, of course, but it’s not fair to expect a would-be lover stuck in the friend zone to pay for nights. The occasional treat may be okay, but when it starts to feel like a relationship, act like a relationship, and look like a relationship, then the friend zone is disrupted. It becomes a one-sided relationship.

Friends in the friend zone should be sure to keep the friendship equitable to not confuse the would-be lover. You need to pay as much as you let the other person pay.

Friends in the friend zone aren’t rebounds.

Having a would-be lover in the friend zone is nice. It boosts confidence and can fuel the ego. It’s a safe space. It can also feel like a place of refuge when your relationship with your significant other goes south. When one relationship repels you, you’re often attracted to the relationship of least resistance.

Unfortunately, a one-night stand for you can confuse for a friend stuck in the friend zone. Therefore, find your rebounds and one-night stands in other zones. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself with more than one strained relationship and make repairing either too hard.

Friends in the friend zone don’t replace partners.

Having the advantage of a friendship doesn’t mean you can take advantage of your friends, especially those in the friend zone.

If you start to feel like your friend in the friend zone is becoming your go-to friend, a BFF of sorts, they may start to interpret your friendship as more — or begin to resent whatever relationship there is.

When one person wants more than another, lines can become easily blurred. It’s up to the one who established the lines not to cross them.

Friends in the friend zone aren’t like other friends.

Friends in the friend zone are special friends who can quickly be taken advantage of and feel taken advantage of by the would-be love. We all have who would bury a body for us if we needed and who wouldn’t expect anything in return – well, except maybe a good bottle of whiskey.

Friends in the friend zone aren’t that kind of friend because they may feel deserving of more than a bottle of whiskey.

Should they expect anything in return for small favors? No, but people in the friend zone can easily see what’s not there because they want to see what they want to see.

Every relationship and every kind of relationship has its own boundaries. Staying within those boundaries, especially when you’re put contrary to your desires, can be hard. When you’re the one who sets those boundaries, it’s important to not cross them.

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Bad news. Your relationship is probably already over. You just don’t realize it yet. Read More...

You get home from an emergency TP run. That’s when you realize the cashier tied the handles in a double knot. You need to go — and it’s practically impossible to get that knot untied.

The scary thing is that sometimes it’s easier to untie a tight knot in a plastic bag than it is to notice when your relationship is over.

If you’re experiencing any of the potentially unnoticeable experiences below, don’t just let the knot sit there because you don’t want to tackle it. Make the effort to untie the knot, and run far, far away.

1. If you prefer to spend time with anyone or anything other than your partner.

It’s time to end your relationship if you’d rather spend more time in unnecessary work meetings or driving behind a person going five miles an hour under the speed limit than with your partner, spouse, or significant other.

If watching paint dry or waiting for water to boil feels more productive than spending another minute with than your other half, your relationship is over.

2. If residents in a nursing home have a bigger future than your relationship.

If, in your heart of hearts, deep down inside your soul, you know your relationship isn’t going anywhere fast, medium, or slow, end it before it goes any further. Rose’s heart in Titanic will forever go on and on for Jack, but your love is dead in the water. That’s a sign you need to pull the plug on your relationship faster than you hit the “skip” button when that Celine Dion song sneaks onto your playlist.

3. If you’re on again and off again and then on again.

It’s off. It really, truly is off, and one or both of you just can’t seem to stay off. The only thing worse than a returning ex is recurring herpes — especially if the returning ex is the person who gave you those recurring herpes.

It may have been fun in high school to have the drama of the on-again-off-again relationship, but adulting isn’t high school, and high school relationships aren’t an example of mature adulthood.

4. Visions of breaking up have replaced your meditation ritual.

Stress is only useful in pressure cookers, and “stressed” is only good if you’re reading it in a mirror. (Hint: stressed backward = desserts.) If you’re significant other causes you more stress than a work deadline or that recurring dream in which you forgot to study for the big exam, it’s time to end the stress and stop being stressed.

A healthy relationship is a partnership of equal helping each other to become better people, not a partnership that requires daily doses of Celexa.

5. You’re already sleeping with other people.

If you’re in a relationship that doesn’t allow you to sleep with other people and you’re sleeping with other people, you’re no longer in a relationship. The sooner you tell your ex that they’re now your ex, the sooner you’ll eliminate the risk that Clark Gable III (of Cheaters fame) will show up at your doorstep. Besides, it’s better if you and your ex both can move onto healthier relationships.

6. You fight more often and longer than Mayweather and McGregor.

If you’re relationship consist of more fights than dinners, it’s a sign you should end the fighting by ending the relationship. Healthy relationships don’t consist of fight after fight (or fights that last all night).

End this relationship and find one with a better chance at including a diamond ring instead of a boxing ring.

7. If You’re not Paula Abdul and M.C. Kat.

They say that opposites attract, but you’re not a magnet nor a pop star. Relationships are interesting and exciting when you each have unique characteristics and interests. But, if you have less in common than James Carville and Mary Matalin, you might not have a future.

If you disagree with every word your partner makes and cringe at every breath your partner takes, you have no synchronicity and the relationship is over.

8. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a duck.

If you feel like friends, talk like friends, and live like friends, you’re friends. We never want to hurt our friends, so we often don’t want the “relationship” to end. Even though it sounds cliché to say, “Let’s stay friends,” sometimes that works.

I mean, look at Will & Grace.

9. You have more fun with yourself than with your partner.

If you’d rather be alone than spend more time when your partner than don’t waste another minute with your partner. There’s nothing wrong with wanting the occasional alone time, but if you want alone time more than you want together time, don’t try to stay together forever.

9.5 You have more fun with yourself than with your partner.

If you’d rather polish the pearl or clean the pipe more than lie with your other, it may be time to go solo in life and bed. This isn’t to say that going solo when you’re having relations is bad, it’s just that healthy relations include a healthy amount of copulation.

It’s probably true that if your relationship is over you already know it. It’s just a matter of saying “it’s over.” Stein’s Law states that things that can’t go on forever won’t. If the end of your relationship is inevitable, then don’t avoid it.

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