Perceptions in thriftiness?

adellabedella_usaMarch 22, 2007

I'm curious about how open everyone is about thriftiness and saving money. Here on this site we have anonymity and openly discuss ways to save money. I was raised in a household where we used coupons, rebates, shopped sales, etc. It doesn't bother me to openly walk into a store and buy only sale items or carry my sale papers for price matching around. I know my dh isn't as comfortable about it as I am because his family only shopped at the 'good' stores. Responses I've gotten from others has let me know that they aren't as comfortable either and would probably rather pay full price than caught saving money.

I sometime run into other shoppers who want to borrow my sale papers because they forgot theirs. And then there are the other shoppers like the ones I overheard talking about me who thought I was being too obvious with my couponing because I was standing with my two youngest kids in front of a display with a hand full of coupons and an ad I was price matching.

I also recently had the exerience of shopping Dillard's 75% clearance sales. I had two clerks make the comment "You're only shopping sales?" because I was walking around to the various clearance racks. They left me alone after that. It didn't bother me as my $300+ in purchases is exactly what my family needed and I don't really care who gets the commission for checking me out.

On the flip side, I've had a few clerks comment on how well I've done when I come into a store to only buy the major items on sale, used coupons and come out with a total far less than the other cutomers.

Saving money is a game for me. I'm not bothered by a stranger's comments or reactions. In fact I think it's hilarious. I can only imagine people look at me as some 'poor' person with a lot of hungry mouths to feed. They probably think that I 'have' to live as cheaply as possible in order to be able to live.

I'm curious. Are these the type of reactions you get? Do you hide the coupons or whatever your method of saving so others don't see? We all have different methods we use to save that aren't as obvious as price matching. What reactions do you get?

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We only have two basic grocery stores, so the savers and non-savers alike are there. I rarely use a coupon, but think nothing of seeing people checking the newspaper flyer.

My town is probably a bit unusual. I would estimate that at least 1/3 of the population has incomes of over $100,000 a year, yet we don't have a country club or junior league. It's pretty much live and let live.

Nordstrom's is our highest level of store and I hate shopping there, no matter what the sale %, so I'm not sure how people act. I'd rather pay a bit and have the postman hand me my shopping packages.


    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 2:13PM
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I can't imagine anyone looking askance at a coupon user or sale shopper - maybe some of those salespeople at Dillards were more than willing to make their own purchases using their employee discount in addition to the sales prices! While I don't have to be particularly careful when shopping, I do enjoy a good bargain - will use cents off coupons for items I normally use, will take advantage of unadvertised surprise buys or stock ups at the supermarket -again if it's something I would normally purchase. Nothing better than needing clothes and finding them on sale at the department store.

The buying power of the dollar seems to shrink every time you turn around so I don't think anyone should be embarassed with trying to make what's left of it go further.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 2:33PM
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Using coupons and other discounts is nothing that I am ashamed of... I would never think of hiding the fact that I am saving money.

I have never been looked down upon either... or dissed by salespeople.

Maybe your experience is a regional thing... but definitely NOT the norm in my area!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 4:44PM
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It may very well be regional. I think people often like to the impression of affluence even if they are drowning in debt. I'm not out to impress anyone. Maybe that is why I don't care.

I suspect the Dillard's people thought that my purchases would not add up and therefore, not worth their time. Like I said I thought it was hilarious. The stuff I was buying was nice clothes for dh's job, school clothes for the kids in the fall, and nice sheets to replace the worn out ones for the kids. If I had paid full price, I would have paid over $1000. This was stuff we needed and at a much better quality and cheaper than Wal-Mart.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 10:46PM
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Well I've had both reactions...especially from clerks, on the floor and at the check out. As example: Both DH and I will say something is mispriced and then question "Aren't we supposed to get it free now?" when the clerk goes to correct it on the til. We have been told a few times that yes it is store policy to give mispriced items free but if you don't ask you don't get and will be charged the sale price instead. I have argued and received free loaves of french bread because HOT bread was supposed to be available by 5 p.m. It was 5:10 and still not out of the yes, we've taken our fliers about, compared prices and used coupons...we don't let others reactions bother us...sometimes like you say it is a laugh. But money kept in my pocket is the best reward.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 11:15PM
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Houses in my neighborhood sell for over $400,000 and you see so many BMW's and SUVs in driveways and parking lots. Yet there are so many people who don't appear to have jobs. Women in stores all day, men cut their grass several times a week. My teens say all their friends mothers are home all day and keep a clean house . How does everyone do it? My friend at work recently got married and she and her DH bought a small house. Their monthly mortgage payment is close to $3000. And she's planning on getting pregnant and staying home with the kids. I repeat, how do people manage?

    Bookmark   March 23, 2007 at 8:38AM
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I think people like that have a lot of debt.

My husband and I are really careful with our money and because of that we are able to buy things with cash and buy things at stores that we think provide us with better quality goods. Now, this doesn't mean we don't take advantages of coupons and all those sale items!! I ALWAYS bring my coupons to the grocery store and I dont' think anyone ever makes comments. If something is not on sale and we don't really need it, we don't get it. We can wait till
it is cheaper.

Now, I think alot of our friends only see what we have and try to keep up with us (so stupid!) We are older though and both have jobs. We found out that a lot of our friends were in some serious debt, which is so sad and doesn't make sense to us.

We made alot of sacrifices to be able to get what we need or maybe just want! We both grew up in Thrifty households and I still wash out ziplock bags and pick stuff off the curb! You should see the beautiful vintage and antique lamps I have gotten! After I paint them and my husband re-wires them they are wonderful! Some coworkers do joke that I "garbage pick" however I just go "so! you know what you can use this for, what a waste someone threw this out!!!" and they usually agree with me! I bet they wish they picked it up first ! ;)

    Bookmark   March 23, 2007 at 9:02AM
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I will use a coupon if it's for something I will use. I have no problem showing up for just the sales items. And I really don't care if people know it or if they care.

I do other thrifty things hardly anyone knows about, however. I cruise thrift stores regularly for records & CDs, but I've also managed to find some excellent furniture pieces, kitchen gear, garden tools, stereo equipment, and (the big secret) most of the clothes I wear. Frankly, I'm amazed at the clothing that ends up at the thrift store looking absolutely unworn (some still have the tags on!). I'd rather pay Goodwill their price than Macy's theirs; it's the same item. But somehow I suspect if I mentioned at work that my haberdasher was the Salvation Army, I'd be looked upon as unredeemably "cheap". Better they compliment the shirt or jacket and I just say "thank you".

While other folks are wondering if their jeans make them out of style, I'm wearing my $10 Target jeans and thinking about how they keep me out of debt. :-)

    Bookmark   March 23, 2007 at 9:41AM
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Jannie asks "How do people manage?"

I know how we manage -- by maxing out our 401(k) plans for more than 20 years, never taking on any debt beyond our mortgage, and saving as much as we can beyond that.

30 years of living that way, and we saved up enough to retire in our early 50's.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2007 at 5:29PM
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I pretty much consider coupons a nuisance -- if there's a sale, just give the lower price! -- but do use them if they're for something I'd buy anyway. Never have had a negative reaction from a clerk.

My favorite clothing stores are Chico's and Macy's and I try to get bargains. I've often had clerks comment in a very favorable way at how much I've saved.

Life is good. :)

    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 12:08AM
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I don't think that there are many coupons in this area, but I don't use them - don't see any.

I shop the sale flyers for mainly food.

And buy little other stuff.

Haven't heard negative comments from either other shoppers or staff.

Not concerned should I hear such. Money in my pocket is a nice reward.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 3:53AM
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Has it occurred to anyone that the salespeople are TOLD to make you feel cheap if you buy sale stuff? And the lady who'd rather get her stuff by mail than shop, in a town where 1/3 of the people are rolling in it? For heaven's sakes, if you all have so much money, give it to charity or something, don't sit around being afraid to be seen as cheap! Just because you all have way more than you need (apparently), doesn't mean you should think it's normal, not in the rest of the world anyhow, where they pride themselves on being cheap, and wish they had more occasions to do so, but when their choice of food is rice, rice and no rice, they don't have a lot of choice. Get a life people!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 3:37PM
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We've been brainwashed by TV, corporations ... and credit card issuers ...

... into thinking that the measure of our worth is in our possessions.

Plus - we live more or less a couple of oceans away from the millions who live in a house built of scraps, worried each day about earning enough to eat (and, just possibly, enough extra to pay the "key money" to get one of their kids admitted to elementary school ... and to keep him there [who can think of searching for enough money to educate females], month by month).

Where people were well aware of the disaffected causing insurrections, trouble and bombing ...

... long before 9-11.

The events of 9-11 gained substantial empathy for us in a portion of the world.

Tragically - we've squandered it.

The shadows are growing longer as the sun sets on North American pre-eminence.

But we're having a party.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 4:50PM
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Just because you all have way more than you need (apparently), doesn't mean you should think it's normal, not in the rest of the world anyhow, where they pride themselves on being cheap, and wish they had more occasions to do so, but when their choice of food is rice, rice and no rice, they don't have a lot of choice. Get a life people!

Adellabedella asked a worthwhile question about appearing frugal in a society/economy driven by consumption. Like it or not, this is where we live. Like it or not, most of our peers have been "brainwashed" into believing that one's station in life or even one's worth as a human is reflected by our purchases. Like it or not, these people are our relatives and bosses and others of some influence in our lives. It's a natural question when we chose not to live like everyone else around us.

Lucy, I'm not so sure the "rest of the world [prides] themselves on being cheap". That implies that there is more money coming in than going out, and that is not the case for most of the less-developed world. It also assumes that these folks would never care to have a nicer house, additional farmland, etc.

All of us here do have lives. While our standard of living as Americans and Canadians may be much higher than that of people living elsewhere, we are living our lives according to a higher dictate than who can spend on the most "stuff". It is not necessary to rub that in anyone's face.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 4:57PM
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I guess I only meant they pride themselves on scrounging every last bit of value from whatever they can, and I know I didn't word everything else very well either. It just bugged me that people think they have to not only have stuff, but also appear to have no worry about how much it'll cost, which is ridiculous (and smacks of insecurity big time).

    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 7:01PM
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Lucy said, "For heaven's sakes, if you all have so much money, give it to charity or something, don't sit around being afraid to be seen as cheap!" Since I'm the one who posted about our income levels in my town, I really found your post offensive, Lucy. Go back and read it again. My statement was that we all shop at the same store, no matter if one is using coupons or not.

Where you live $100,000 may be so much money that you need to give it away. Alaska isn't the most expensive place to live, but it does take a decent income if you don't want to live under a bridge. Not all of us had rich daddies and we understand the concept of charity and doing without quite well. It sure isn't the poor people who keep those charities running.

And don't forget...many of here are saving so we can pay for our own nursing homes. If you think I'm insecure, so be it.


    Bookmark   March 25, 2007 at 2:28AM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

I live quite frugally, but maybe appear 'rich' to many.

Modest home on a small farm in the country, 2 vehicles, everything I need, all paid for. I always have money for whatever I want to buy, see, or do and take vacations.

'Watching' my money made it possible to have all this, along with being securely retired.


Here is a link that might be useful: The way I see it

    Bookmark   March 25, 2007 at 7:06AM
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Thirty years ago, my mom used to brag that she considered herself a "cherrypicker" when grocery shopping, meaning she only bought big sale items. She used to get chicken for 19 cents a pound. And in the 60's she bought cigarettes for $4 a carton. Even though it's a nasty habit, she got her emphysema dirt cheap!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2007 at 7:44PM
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I find I get thriftier the older I get. I shop sales at the grocery store, stocking up when something we use is on sale. I buy almost all store brands...and my son who is an exec with a major supermarket tells me that lots of store brands come from the same plant as the major brands. I shop for Xmas all year long, I buy things off season, and I shop garage sales, thrift stores and consignment shops. I do use coupons when I shop Macy's, but they have so darn many, I always have the feeling that someone's getting a better deal than me, so Macy's is rarely my store of choice. I prefer Dillard's no-coupon approach. Rarely do I pay full price for anything, and I comparison shop and use the internet for this also. It's fun to get a good deal, and also to know that I rarely buy anything on impulse or that I don't really need. Some folks think we're rich because we live in a nice neighborhood and drive 2 BMWs, but my husband sells them, and our car payments are lower than what many lesser cars would go for.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2007 at 3:59PM
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My pet peeve - crummy lame coupons. they get you in the store, you find something. And it is excluded - or a brand name that is not part of that promotion. I went over the holidays with this one coupon and I swear the entire store was excluded except for about 2 racks of stuff. Really annoying.

They shouldn't have even had a coupon that was this lame - just gave me a bad taste about that store.

Ebay: DH has gotten some terrific deals on ebay over the years. (and sold stuff!) Ebay is a good way for the thrifty to go. Just don't get caught up in that auction fever.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2007 at 4:36PM
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Ebay is a good way for the thrifty to go. Just don't get caught up in that auction fever.

And watch those shipping fees! Since eBay charges sellers in part based on the selling price of their item, some sellers are reducing the sale cost of the item and making it up with higher "shipping" fees.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 9:17AM
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Horay - you all make me feel like so much less of a freak!

I'll be the different one here- yes, people absolutely have a bad attitude about thriftiness. I rarely walk into a non-food store that isn't The SPCA, Salvation Army or Building 19. (There's only really one food store around, besides farm stands, so that's not a divisive scene.) And people definitely give me a very hard time when and if I ever disclose that. Back in school kids would get beat up or teased if seen going into a K-Mart; I thought that sort of thing would end as adults but I was wrong.

My mother shops at Target and JC Penny's but pronounces them with a French accent ("Tar-zhay" and "Le Pen-ay") to sort of poke fun at herself. My DH is mortified when I pick things up on the side of the road. He'll dumpster-dive items, too, but only at the dumpster where he works since it's inside the loading dock and no one will see him.

So I think adellabedella is onto something. There's definitely some pervasive cultural shame about spending little and saving much. I've seen magazines toting "thrift tips" but these are usually how to save $100 annually on pedicures or something. I don't spend money on pedicures to begin with, so I generally find these to be uber useless. It's like they've hijacked the actual meaning of "thrift" to just mean "slightly less exorbiant".

I think there is alot more of this going on than this thread would let on... the views might be skewed a bit here given that we're all the type to be found on a web forum about thriftiness... :)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 5:00PM
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Those who seek to be thrifty ...

... subvert our consumer obsessed economy!

ole joyful

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 1:04AM
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The grocery stores in my area print two circulars, one they mail to customers which has all the sales listed, and the one they keep in the store, which only has about half the stuff in it. so you have to save the one they mail you, and don't rely on picking up a copy at the store entrance if you want the best prices.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 10:04AM
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I donate clothes and other items to our local thrift store, but you couldn't pay me to buy someone else's used clothing. If folks don't have a problem with it fine, but I won't do it. My mother always bought the best clothes she could afford, took excellent care of them, and, since she never gained an ounce over her 20's weight, wore them for years, looking classy and great. Best policy I think, if you can get away with it. I can't. :-)

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 5:33AM
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I'm still kind of young, so my friends are mostly thrifty out of necessity. I'm the only one who isn't, but I take great strides to avoid talking about how much money my husband makes. I'm still just as thrifty as them, and proud of it. The only difference in our financial situations is that my DH and I are able to employ savings accounts while our friends, who aren't quite out of college yet, are more in debt. We're in debt up to our ears with student loans, but due to my thriftiness (the DH doesn't really shop), we're on track to get everything paid off way ahead of schedule. I buy items on sale with coupons, and pay cents on the dollar for my groceries. We buy our clothes at thrift stores. I grow vegetables in the summer so we don't have to buy them for half the year. We do all this so we can pay off our debts (as mentioned earlier), and so we can afford nicer big-ticket items, like a washer and dryer (recently bought with cash). I consider thriftiness as a sort of game. I like to try to figure out how much I've saved. I sometimes get dirty looks in stores for going through my coupons or the state of my clothes. I'm not going to get all dressed up just to go to the grocery store! And there's no point to me having nice clothes right now anyway- I have a baby and a toddler, so my clothes will get dirty right away anyway. My friends and I brag to each other about how much money we saved on things or how good a deal we got on second-hand furniture (again, why buy new with two small children?).

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 7:44PM
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I have no problem being very open about thriftiness. For a few years now I have bought most of my clothes at the Goodwill or resale shops. Unlike steveO, I tell friends and coworkers where I get things when they compliment or ask. That can shock people as I am a professional, fairly wealthy, and I think pretty well dressed with a decent sense of style. Nothing like stunning a bunch of lawyers during a courtroom break when I answered that my (very nice BTW) suit was from Goodwill. Heck, last week I even told a stranger in line at the grocer that the blouse she admired came from Goodwill.

Why? I work with folks with disabilities and I believe in Goodwill's mission, and second, like Joyful, I like the subtle subversive componant.

And I've even escorted some intrigued friends on Goodwill outings. One particularly tall friend was thrilled to realize we could stroll the endless racks of pants and quickly cull the extra long ones hanging so much lower than the others. She's hooked now. Another friend loves that there are endless preshrunk, broken in denim shirts to choose from. (and you know life is good with at least one perfect soft denim shirt). Both will be back to Goodwill.

An influence may be that I grew up in a very large family where much of the clothing was shared. Not as in handed down, but simultaneously shared. Pre owned, jointly owned, makes little difference to me.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 11:57PM
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I am amazed at the compliments I get on some of the clothes I wear. Lots came from goodwill. It's my favorite store. Clothes are pre shrunk, and already faded. :)

No worries about color bleeding in the wash.

I have 3 grocery stores around me. Up to 1 1/2 miles away. I go where the sales offer me what I want, and will then go to the next one for cheaper prices on other items I need.

I refuse to pay more at store X, if I can buy it for less at store Z.

I also use coupons, but only for things I buy anyway. Peeps that look weird at me have their own problems. Usually a lot of dept.


    Bookmark   April 8, 2007 at 12:23PM
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Growing up in a third world country and then coming here and working round the clock and putting my self through college has given me a perspective on thriftiness.

Even after marriage supporting my husbands large family (most of his siblings were younger and all had immigrated here)and making our ends meet was a challenge.

I have done practically everything - Worn used clothes, shopped at Goodwill, Salvation Army and the like. Never eat out for years even years before and after marriage. Only bought stuff on sale and cut coupons whenever I shopped.

I still felt blessed because back home (in India) things were even harder growing up. Here I had more control of my life while there before the IT boom there was nothing.

Now after 18+ years in this country and slogging almost all the way through we are really doing fine. I don't cut coupons, I don't look for sales, I don't even shop much (because I am not fond of it) but atleast if I wanted to splurge once in a while I can.

I live in a neighborhood of million dollar homes, have friends who are affluent but I still am level headed. I still do my grocery at farmer markets that are much cheaper than the outrageous grocery chains. I never shop at malls and love TJ Maxx and Marshalls.

I would rather travel and spend money on bettering my kids future than wear useless designer clothes or carry Coach handbags (My entire wardrobe costs as much as some of these high end bags - LOL)

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 11:12AM
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Good for you, Yakuta. You have a much different perspective on thriftiness than the rest of us, I think. I feel the same way about bettering my childrens' lives than having designer clothes or handbags (What a waste!). My wardrobe probably cost as much, or less than, one of those bags, too! :)

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 12:44PM
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It used to be that one of the major goals of the ambitious people in India, pre-Communist China, Korea and some other coutries was to come to the U.S., what in China was called "Gold Mountain".

In recent years, as India's and China's economy has grown, with more prospects for the future, many are saying that they'd rather not undergo the rigours of getting established in a foreign land and culture, when it'll be much easier to build a good life for their family and future for their children by staying at home.

And their children have known that they must study hard and run fast in order to succeed, while our kids feel a sense of entitlement, and work much less hard. As becomes evident when there are international student competitions and the foreign students produce better results.

The East and South Asians did not enjoy the inflow of a flood of money that some countries in the Middle East have received for their oil, but they emphasized the need to educate their chidren and now they are well placed to build a strong economy in future.

Many of the immigrants to Europe, having lower levels of educational achievement, and finding it extremely difficult to get relevant work, have become somewhat disenchanted, and some of the youth have turned to disruptive tactics.

We in Canada have had many immigrants and have told skilled people abroad that there was need here, but many found on their arrival that their credentials were not accepted (whether appropriately or not) and have turned to much lower prestige work, e.g. people with Ph.D.s driving cabs, women with advanced education doing cleaning in motels.

Part of the problem is that our local people consider themselves above that kind of work: many unemployed will do heavy farm work for only about half a day, then leave - so we import hundreds of people from Mexico and the Caribbean to do seasonal farm work, pick apples, etc. annually.

What do we propose to do to keep our economy afloat when most of the high-paying jobs have been shifted offshore?

And I can't really complain about that, for I've seen the distressing conditions under which many people abroad are forced to eke out a living (if one could call it that) - to stave off starvation.

We need to get used to living much lower on the hog than we've known for a couple of generations, for there'll be only a few rich (the entitled) and a multitude of peons in our area in another generation or so.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 2:11AM
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