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Hello from Bahgdad
Old 09-11-2008, 01:22 AM   #1
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Hello from Bahgdad

I'm currently in the Navy Serving in Iraq. I Have been active duty for 21 years, I'm 43 years old. I plan on retiring next year after completing my tour over here.
I have been lurking and dreaming for about a month now and decided to sign up and let everyone know that I am grateful for all the great information that I have found here that made me see the light so to speak and decide to retire.
Thank you.

I will recieve a pension of about $2000 a month after taxes, I am married, no children, My wife and I currently spend an ave. of $1350.00 a month. This does not include the
mortgage wich I will have paid off before I retire. We have no other bills as as the car is new and no credit card debt.
We are going to downsize the house and move to a more tax freindly state, I really have no intention of getting another job, but look forward to fishing and traveling.

I would like to hear about any others that are living on around $2000 a month.
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Old 09-11-2008, 01:58 AM   #2
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Hi and welcome.

It sounds that you are on the right track especially on expenses. And you will have Tricare, which is a big plus. My question would be do you have any emergency money saved up or how do you plan on handling large expense in retirement.
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Old 09-11-2008, 02:20 AM   #3
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Well.....I only have 30k in the bank but I actually plan on saving some of the monthly pay (2or3 hundred a month) to meet replacement costs (frig,car,washer/drier). and saving around $500 a month for play funds (Italy/Jamaica etc..)
Do you think this is feasable?
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Old 09-11-2008, 02:53 AM   #4
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Welcome Shipwreck!

First, since today is 9-11, it seems especially fitting to tell you how much your service is appreciated!

As you've already discovered there are many on this Forum who'll be able to give you sound financial advice - and plenty of other advice too whether you want it or not!

BSSC already mentioned Tricare which I have and thank my lucky stars for every time I hear about the high cost of medical insurance. That's one thing you don't have to worry about right there for yourself and your wife.

A question:
Are you considering using the GI Bill for some education later on? It can help in the adjustment to civilian life both financially and psychologically. Gives you some breathing room. Whatever you decide, enjoy your ER - you've earned it!
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Old 09-11-2008, 05:08 AM   #5
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Thanks Outtarentals,
I have the GI bill but I do not really want to sit in a classroom.
(Maybe I'm getting lazy) and I have all the online course credits that I am allowed.
I guess what I really want is confirmation that my wife and I can live comfortably on what I will be making till the SS kicks in to help out.
It is very scary for me to make the transformation to civilian life, the military is all I know. My wife and I really don't need much, we both come from lower middle income families and don't put too much stock in keeping up with the Jones'. We were stationed in Puget Sound Washington back in 1993 and fell in love with the cleanliness and beauty of the place, so we plan on selling our 320k home in Virginia to purchase a small place on the sound.
I know that no one can tell me a definite "It will" or "it will not" work out, but maybe some similar stories from people who do make it work will alleviate some of the apprehension and fear that I have. All that I want in life is to ensure that my Dear Wife is taken care of and happy.
The good news is that if I have too I am young enough to get a job in the civilian workforce.
So anyone who wants to give me advice or tell me I'm NUTS please feel free I can take it.
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Old 09-11-2008, 06:37 AM   #6
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Aloha Shipwreck

First, thanks for your service, and do stay safe over there, and welcome to the forums.

FWIW, I think 30K in the bank and a $2K pension is a pretty frugal retirement existence. Certainly there are people that pull it off although, most of them seem to live in lower cost places like Costa Rico or Thailand, or real rural areas.

There are a lot of rules of thumb about what percentage of your salary do you need for retirement. The general rule of thumb is around 80% but of course there are many exceptions.

To be honest what gives me concern is the following; assuming you are a senior enlisted E6 or above your base pay is $3,200 add to that hazardous duty, base allowance and all of the other various compensation (re-enlistment bonus etc.) I am guessing your total cash compensation is probably in the neighbor of $4,000 a month.
Possibly much higher depending on a bunch factors, that I as civilian don't understand, but I am sure the numerous retired service members do.

Now I am not trying to be nasty, but here is what doesn't add up for me. You say you guys are living on $1350 month, you've been earning more than twice for several years how come you don't have more saved? Does the 30K include your TSP account?

Sometimes people (including myself) underestimate how much they really spend in a year... IMO very early retirement (and 43 is clearly qualifying) requires a dedication to living below your means. The actual amount saved ($200K, $500K, 2 Million) matter less than than the ratio of your saving to your income . So person who is making 200K a year who has only saved a $1 million is probably worse of than a person who has saved $750,000 but never made more than $30,000 a year because the ratio of $1 million to 200K is only 5 to 1 vs 25 to 1 for the lower income person.

Now your military pension is probably the most secure income on the planet, that is the good news and $24K a year is a livable income. Roughly 25% of the US household have an income that low, on the other hand isn't too far above the official poverty level for two person $14,000.

So I guess my question to you is what have you been spending your money on the last 5 to 10 years?
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Old 09-11-2008, 06:41 AM   #7
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Retired from the Navy a year ago, and echo others thanking you for your service, especially given that you're in Iraq at this point in your career.

Things I've found, free advice worth what it costs you:

Retired pay gets a lot more hits on it than Active duty. All of a sudden you're down 110 monthly for dental, 6.5 pct if you opt for SBP, 50 a month for Tricare (hear the collective groans from those paying for civ health care, but we know it used to be free), no non-taxed bennies like BAH/combat pay/etc. VA disability helps a bit, but even 30 pct only results in a net gain of about 100 bucks a month in tax break--if you're over 50 pct then it's a different story.

This might not be the best time to sell in Virginia. Just a thought but maybe the house can be rented for close to cost and you can gain equity when the market recovers. Or live there for now. Rotten market for selling today.

Look into Federal jobs. Ok, I just resigned from mine but the benefits can be amazing. You can ask for things like credit for military service that's associated with the job (most don't know this) and get up to 26 days vacation a year, more pay, and then all the benefits of Federal service. That said, having gone into a Navy job after retirement, I wouldn't necessarily do that again...too close to the old job and the reasons for retiring were just as valid as a Civilian. The TAMP program does not tell you nearly enough about the application process, you need to talk to a Fed employee to get the real scoop.

Reconsider the GI bill. The post-9/11 bill is awesome. Tuition, books, fees, plus BAH at the E5 w/dep rate cannot be beaten. Even if you hadn't planned on working, you'll get paid the BAH to go to school. Sitting in a university classroom is a whole different story than online, PACE, and other Navy friendly courses. And you'll be far ahead of your student peers with your life experiences (far ahead of most of the instructors too). This program starts next August.

Hoo Yah and good luck!
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Shipwreck - Go Navy!
Old 09-11-2008, 07:02 AM   #8
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Shipwreck - Go Navy!

Thanks for staying Navy! I am a retired reservist. Passed through (landlocked) afgn on my way out, too.

Deepc gave great practical advice. I would only like to add to it that you will probably get bored if you don't work or go to school. The main thing I hear from retired folks (usually much older than you) is that the reason they restarted working is that they got tired of golf, fishing, etc. Go to school. What the heck! The military is all you know? Learn something new, then. To say that the military is all you know is like saying, "I don't have anything except all this money, a great family, and a nice place to live." You've done a lot. Don't let it all wilt. Keep learning and stay busy or you may as well plan your own funeral (and your wife will gladly help because you'll get on her last nerve).
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Old 09-11-2008, 08:11 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Shipwreck View Post
It is very scary for me to make the transformation to civilian life, the military is all I know. My wife and I really don't need much, we both come from lower middle income families and don't put too much stock in keeping up with the Jones'. We were stationed in Puget Sound Washington back in 1993 and fell in love with the cleanliness and beauty of the place, so we plan on selling our 320k home in Virginia to purchase a small place on the sound.
I had some of the same issues (not military; I retired from 29 years of law enforcement, but there are some parallels). COLA'd pension, medical and prescription coverage, etc. so financial survival is not an issue.

DW and I, both introverts, just kind of "goofed off" for a year and enjoyed the novelty of not having to work since we both started working at around age 13. Neither of us came from backgrounds that anyone would call wealthy. We also sold the paid-for home just north of Washington, DC and moved to WV.

YMMV of course but then the novelty wore off and we wanted more to do. DW ended up taking classes at a nearby university to finish her BA degree that she started on 20 years ago and intends to get a part time job after that.

I ended up experimenting with a couple of couple of short term consulting jobs, was an aircraft mechanic's assistant for a while (interesting, but my knees can't take crawling around under airplane wings anymore) and found out I'm a failure at selling cars.

At the moment I'm working as an employee of a contracted security company to Homeland Security that pays almost as much as I was making before retirement. It's full time for now but supposedly will cut back to three or four days a week later, which is OK with me, the "original plan" at retirement being that we'd both get part time jobs. I intend to buy a Suzuki Boulevard C90T motorcycle by next spring and go riding!

So, you have the freedom to do whatever strikes your fancy!
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Old 09-11-2008, 08:23 AM   #10
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Hi Shipwreck! Glad to see you've come across the FIRE concept...wish I had an inkling before I retired from military last year - 41yo w/24 yrs in. Last week was my 1 year mark.
First - deepc has some good points, as did others (clifp's comments on the frugality of $2k a month in US is a reality check).
I hope you don't dismiss the GI Bill entirely, I was of the same mind set too. I already had an MBA and didn't care for anymore "higher leaning"...BUT ER is a time to explore new beginnings from what I gather from many who've walked the walk. And that GI bill can be used for 'practical' courses as well, perhaps there's an interest/hobby you love enough that it wouldn't feel like work to pursue...you could use the GI Bill to get certified/licensed/etc and supplement the milpension w/PT work in that venue - as deepc said, they will pay you BAH for going to school, that's an additional ~$1500 on top of your pension each month! I have a plan in place to pursue a couple things that I enjoy and will also permit me to pretty much have guaranteed PT work anywhere I go should I desire/need it.
DO NOT blow off the VA paperwork, retirement physical, etc...I added a significant bump to my monthly pay by following up on this. You've made it this far, get what is owed you.
This is my first post in a couple months or so, been traveling to IZ/AFG/SO (work) and then spent the last month in Guatemala where I have a house. I did a test drive for pension only living and was pleasantly suprised, came home with leftover cash...after polling some folks ranging from family of 6, young couples w/1kid, bachelors, and my own gringo time on the ground I found $1500.00 made for rather easy living, so with my MILpension being quite a bit more than that it will be a blast. I don't plan to live there year-around though, maybe 3-6 months a year.
I've stretched my FIRE time line out to build a good buffer (the portfolio) and will probably enjoy what I'm doing for another 4 years or so. You are in a good position to maximize your value (currency in the field) by taking a higher paying job, whether Fed or corporate and build on your ER plan and maybe test drive it a few times (and still go fishing)...if your numbers are correct (my pre-ret calcs were low - so I was happily surprised) then you're going to be hurtin' (IMO) on 2k a month...

regards,
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Old 09-11-2008, 08:28 AM   #11
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Aloha Shipwreck

So I guess my question to you is what have you been spending your money on the last 5 to 10 years?
First of all I apoligize for not stating that I have 100k in ivestments. Also
I had a good bit of savings after I came back from a tour in Japan (5yrs), so I put a good down payment on a house. 4 bdrm, 2.5 bath. bought for 216K in 2003 now est worth is 320k
Most has been going into the house, new roof, A/C,windows,doors,interior paint. and of course mortgage. Then I wanted a new car before I retire (now I admit I may have gone a little overboard with the $53k Audi (But hey It's paid for) Also all new appliances washer, dryer, stove, frig.
Like I stated I intend to sell this house and with the profit add that to my 100k investment money to by a small 2 bedrm house outright so that I will not have a mortgage.
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Old 09-11-2008, 09:54 AM   #12
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Shipwreck, I'm going to be more positive. You've put in your service and if you want to retire and not work, it pleases me as a citizen if you can do that.

If you haven't yet, spend some time with FIRECalc -- see the link at the bottom of each page. I think that will help you feel more comfortable about your plan.

I think you're good to go myself.

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Old 09-11-2008, 12:21 PM   #13
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Welcome to the forum. Appreciate your service and dedication. DW and I have been looking at homes and are considering relocating to Bremerton/Silverdale/Poulsbo , my brother retired as a senior chief off the Nimitz a few years ago and is living up there. He loves the area, we have spent a good deal of time up there; let me know if there is anything we can help you with.

Hope you enjoy the forum. FIRECALC is a great tool, and there is a lot of information available here.
All the best,
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Old 09-11-2008, 01:23 PM   #14
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I just wanted to thank you for your service to our country, and for helping keep us all safe over here.

Regardless of how the politicans spin things, your service is NOT for naught, your efforts ARE appreciated by us back here in the States, and I would thank you myself in person if that were possible.

Keep it safe..........
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Old 09-11-2008, 07:54 PM   #15
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Welcome to the board, Shipwreck. I hope your moniker isn't the reason that you're serving your "shore" duty in the desert...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shipwreck View Post
I will recieve a pension of about $2000 a month after taxes, I am married, no children, My wife and I currently spend an ave. of $1350.00 a month.
I would like to hear about any others that are living on around $2000 a month.
Off the top of my head, UncleMick has a black belt in living below $2000/month. The Kaderlis also have nearly two decades of spending at that level. I don't remember if Trombone Al has discussed his budget but I think that he could make UncleMick look like a spendthrift.

The good news is that this is not rocket science. When you start your ER you'll get over your fatigue, recharge your batteries, clear your head, and be able to decide what brings value to your life and what does not. The spending decisions follow quickly & easily from your values, and it's not a life of deprivation or poverty.

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Well.....I only have 30k in the bank but I actually plan on saving some of the monthly pay (2or3 hundred a month) to meet replacement costs (frig,car,washer/drier). and saving around $500 a month for play funds (Italy/Jamaica etc..)
Do you think this is feasable?
Yes, it can be done. It doesn't matter so much what they do as what you guys can do. You seem to already be living on two-thirds of the amount of your pension, which gives you plenty of room to avoid working. The best way to reassure yourself (despite the skepticism expressed in some of the posts) would be to build a detailed budget-- including property taxes, state/federal taxes, replacement expenses (a new roof, another car in 2020), and maybe a fantasy vacation or two. If your budget is less than $2000/month... well... that's pretty straightforward.

If your projected spending is more than $2000/month then things get more interesting. Our epiphany was realizing that our ER portfolio only had to last until spouse's Reserve pension kicked in (with Social Security waiting a few years after that). Maybe your savings would be able to take up some of that slack. You could also take Bob Clyatt's "Work Less, Live More" approach and either vary your annual spending or work part-time. Plenty of short-term jobs out there for a veteran. Even handyman work for your neighborhood or eBay/Craigslist selling quickly rises above $1000/month with minimal effort.

A few caveats-- first, if your spouse doesn't have her own income/pension and you're contemplating survivor benefits, then you'll need to recalculate your pension to account for over 25 years of SBP premiums.
Second, you may want to time your retirement to occur after a longevity pay raise (22/24 years) or an annual pay raise (after 1 Jan). I know that's not as much of a difference to a High-Three pension calculation, but every month that you stay at a higher salary also wipes out a month at a much lower salary. If you've recently been promoted then another year or two at your current rank will make a difference for the rest of your life. Plug different numbers into the retirement calculator and see how that affects your budget.
Third, don't budget your travel as if you're on two weeks' leave. Plan a long-term trip like the Kaderlis, where you can fly Space-A and live local style instead of in a hotel or resort. Their "Adventurer's Guide" is well worth the price of the download.

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Originally Posted by Shipwreck View Post
Thanks Outtarentals, I have the GI bill but I do not really want to sit in a classroom.
I've had no interest in higher education or occupational training either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shipwreck View Post
It is very scary for me to make the transformation to civilian life, the military is all I know. My wife and I really don't need much, we both come from lower middle income families and don't put too much stock in keeping up with the Jones'. We were stationed in Puget Sound Washington back in 1993 and fell in love with the cleanliness and beauty of the place, so we plan on selling our 320k home in Virginia to purchase a small place on the sound.
I know that no one can tell me a definite "It will" or "it will not" work out, but maybe some similar stories from people who do make it work will alleviate some of the apprehension and fear that I have.
The military has a tendency to ingrain the belief that you're barely capable of functioning at your current rank, let alone displaying the ability to survive a promotion. The Department of Defense would much rather slot you into a job so that you're not sleeping under a highway overpass and using your DD-214 for kindling. However the Navy's transition-planning tools can help you decide if one of your skills or interests could be turned into a profitable avocation. (Or, as in my case, they'll help you decide that you're done working.) If you're thinking of retiring next year then you & spouse need to get yourselves to the Transition Assistance Program seminar as soon as you get home. The fact is that the ER lifestyle is great when you're capable of being responsible for your own entertainment. If you decide to start a bridge career, the bar is pretty low for the salary you'll be seeking.

If you can create a realistic budget that your pension can support, then I'd suggest taking ER a year or two at a time. You may find that you want to work, or you may decide that ER is much more interesting. There's plenty of civil-service (both state & federal) jobs in your area and veterans have plenty of skills that are valuable to civilian employers. You won't have to learn how to golf, you won't lose your contacts network, and your skills won't go stale.

A shipmate has been semi-ER'd in that area for eight years on a pension smaller than yours, and he's lovin' life. Post or PM me if you have more questions.
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Old 09-12-2008, 12:19 AM   #16
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Shipwreck,
...Welcome to the forum and thanks for your service. The posts by clifp and Nords seem to be exactly opposite of each other but there is much wisdom in both of their opinions. Clifp is right in that if you were REALLY frugal you would have more saved than you do. It might be hard to replace that Audi with something as nice after it is worn out living on $2000 a month. And as Nords says it is also very feasible for a couple to live in some parts of the country on $2000 a month. This is especially so if the house is paid off. I retired from the Army in 1993 and went right back to college. I work one night a week and find that that is a what is right for me. I add more $ to the portfolio and get to interact with people at work, including some young pretty ones and have some feeling of usefullness but also have plenty of time to persue my hobbies. My best friend retired a few years after I did and take home from his pension is around $2500 a month. He is totally retired on that and he gets by okay and seems happy. I kid him and say that his pension would barely cover my bar tab.
Jeff
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Old 09-12-2008, 01:51 AM   #17
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A follow up, having accumulated in 100K in investments at 43 is respectable financial accomplishment. It is enough to shift my opinion from don't do it dude you'll be unhappy to if you don't want to work after 20 years of service, no real harm in giving it a whirl. Unlike a civilian who tries an early retirement and runs into a bear market and see 1/3 his portfolio wiped out which sets back his real retirement date by many years. If you try retirement and decide it isn't working out, the impact on your real retirement isn't that big of deal cause the pension keeps coming no matter what happens to the market.

But as jclark says enjoy that Audi while it is new cause you are not going to be able to afford one on your pension, anytime soon.

One word of caution, I have seen folks try an early retirement (include my folks) with fairly marginal finances. For the next few years keep ruthless track of your emergency fund/saving. If after 3 years you find that it has dropped from 30K to 15K, face the music that you actually are spending more than 24K per year. It is pretty easy to rationalize well I had to replace the furnace, the transmission, and we went on our 20th anniversary 2nd honeymoon, if wasn't for these expense we'd be really only be spending $1500 a month.


Good luck and it still 9/11 here in Hawaii so thanks again for your service.
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Old 09-12-2008, 07:11 AM   #18
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My Parents are 69ish and have lived on well under <24k gross/yr for over 10 years (I do their taxes) Their house is paid and they have health ins. through the Fed. Employee retiree system (and now medicare)

Not an "extravagant" life -- but a "free to do most of what they want to do and can do" life

The major plus in all this is that you are YOUNG --- Try it for a year and re-evaluate --- If things look bad then find a job to compensate.

I would also bet that if you keep your eyes and ears open that you will find ways of making $$ here and there if you want/need to that would solidify your FI.

If you can find yourself enjoying that first year and having a couple hundred left at the end of each month then that will be telling.

Oh BTW ---- I'M Jealous!!! My Guard retirement kicks in at 60 and I won't get my Federal $$ until 56. 16 yrs left!
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Old 09-12-2008, 07:51 AM   #19
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Thanks everyone,
Yea I know the Audi is a one time splurge, But I bought it for myself as a reward for sticking around for 20yrs.
My wife and I are the same when it comes to living within our means, like I said we both grew up with nothing so we buy only what we need and take care of what we have.
I'm pretty set on getting a place up around the puget sound area of Washington. The cutthroat trout fishing up at Jim creek is to die for and the salmon fishing isn't too shabby either, not to mention the golf courses like gold mountain.
Sorry, being over here in Bahgdad with just dirt and rocks to look at is making my brain addled.
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Old 09-12-2008, 10:47 AM   #20
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Sorry, being over here in Bahgdad with just dirt and rocks to look at is making my brain addled.
Considering the alternatives, "boring" is mighty good...
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