More than half of Filipino adults do not have a working budget — and that’s according to one of the recent BSP Financial Inclusion Surveys.
It’s not surprising at all, and we can easily and always put the blame on poverty and low financial literacy.
In a disputed 2021 Family Income and Expenditure Survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) for instance, 18.1 percent of the population or roughly 20 million Filipino individuals are living below the poverty threshold.
An independent survey made by the Social Weather Station (SWS) however showed a significantly higher number — 48 percent of Filipinos rated themselves as poor and ‘borderline poor.’
Poverty sits on top of the reasons why many are discouraged to run a serious and systematic budgeting. As the common mindset goes — it just doesn’t and won’t work at all.
Income is far from enough amidst the high cost of living. Oftentimes, it’s not even enough to feed the family three meals a day.
In addition, financial literacy remains low among Filipinos. Based on a Standard & Poor’s (S&P Global Ratings) global study, Philippines ranked in the bottom 30 out of 144 countries surveyed, scoring only 25 percent.
Budgeting or creating a spending plan is one of the core components of financial literacy, and yet, many simply shrug it off, ignoring the fact that it is the first step to achieving various financial goals.
What really is budgeting? Budgeting is a systematic and proactive approach to creating a spending plan based on income and expenses. It is an important component of financial literacy and financial stability.
What comprises a budget? A basic budget is comprised of your projected income and a list of your expenses and financial goals for a given period, e.g., the current month.
In most cases, detailed budget plans include these items and spending categories:
- income (regular day job salary, side hustles, passive income, etc.)
- savings (short-term and long-term savings goals)
- housing (mortgage, rent, house repairs etc.)
- food (weekly groceries, restaurants, pet food, etc.)
- transportation (car payment, gas, public transportation fares, parking fees, etc.)
- utilities (electricity, water, internet connection, etc.)
- clothing (uniforms, shoes, children’s clothing, etc.)
- medical and healthcare (medications, primary care, dental care, etc.)
- insurance (life insurance, health insurance, car insurance, etc.)
- household items and supplies (toiletries, laundry detergent, cleaning liquids, etc.)
- personal expenses (hygiene supplies, haircuts, cosmetics, etc.)
- debts (credit cards, personal loans, etc.)
- retirement fund and investments (provident funds, stocks, mutual funds, etc.)
- education (continuing education, kids’ schooling, short courses, seminars, etc.)
- gifts and donations (holiday gifts, birthday, anniversary, church tithes, etc.)
- entertainment and recreation (vacations, subscriptions, movies, alcohol, etc.)
What is the importance of budgeting? Basically, budgeting ensures that you are not spending more than what you’re earning and that you are making rooms in your budget for both short-term and long-term savings and other financial goals.
It thus comes with these common purposes:
- It helps you understand whether you’re earning more or just enough for your expenses and whether your expenses are within the limits of your income.
- It allows you to track your living expenses, make reasonable adjustments if necessary, and find rooms for your savings goals.
- It ensures that you don’t spend money you don’t have and reduces the risks of overspending.
- It helps you achieve your short-term and long-term financial goals.
- It makes you manage your financial decisions well, gives you a sense of relief, and even prepares you for challenges.
Budgeting is not a one-size-fits-all approach, hence the development and existence of various budgeting methods for different financial management styles, conditions, and goals.
Now, here are 16 of the best budgeting methods available for you to choose from and try yourself. Trial and error is inevitable in terms of budgeting.
- The 50-30-20 Balanced Money Method
- The 70-20-10 Expenses-Focused Method
- The 50-40-10 Savings-Maximized Method
- The 80-20 Simplistic Budgeting Method
- The 30-30-30-10 Detailed Proportions Method
- The 60 Percent Solution or 60-40 Budget Method
- Cash-Only Envelope Method
- Zero-Based Budgeting Method
- Traditional Budgeting Method
- Reverse Budgeting Method
- Pay-Yourself-First Method
- Values-Based Budgeting Method
- No-Budget Budgeting Method
- Half Payment Budgeting Method
- Goals-Based Budgeting Method
- Sub-Savings Accounts Method
16 Best Budgeting Methods You Should Try Yourself
The 50-30-20 Balanced Money Method
What It Is. This budgeting method originates from the 2005 book ‘All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan‘ written by US senator Elizabeth Warren and her daughter Amelia Warren Tiagy.
How You Do It. According to the proponents, there is no need for a complicated budget to get your finances in check and in good shape. Rather, you just need to balance your after-tax income across three categories — needs, wants, and savings goals — hence the 50/30/20 rule.
- The biggest percentage of the budget (50%) goes to the needs or the bills that must be paid and other things necessary for your survival — rent or mortgage payments, monthly utility bills, groceries, food, insurance, healthcare, and transportation, among others.
- The second percentage (30%) goes to your wants or the other things that you spend your income on but are not absolutely essential — dinner and movies out, Netflix and other home entertainment subscriptions, vacations, and latest gadgets, among others.
- The third and smallest percentage (20%) is allocated for your regular savings, and possibly investments — emergency fund equal to six months of living expenses, stock market investments, mutual funds, and retirement savings, among others.
Try It Yourself. This 50-30-20 budget rule works well for beginners who have regular and stable income. However, it may not be ideal for those whose basic living expenses are already more than half of the income, those who still live with and supporting parents and siblings, and those who are just in complicated financial situations.
Advantages. Here are three of the biggest advantages of this 50-30-20 Balanced Money Method:
- It’s simple and more realistic than other seemingly aggressive and frugal budgeting methods.
- It offers a bigger and clearer perspective of your budgeting, and it doesn’t even require itemized tracking of expenses.
- It forces you to have a balance between your basic needs and wants, while still making good savings.
Disadvantages. Here are three of the biggest disadvantages of this 50-30-20 Balanced Money Method:
- If you’re earning low, your basic living expenses might be more than 50 percent already of your income, and this won’t just work for you.
- If you’re earning high, you might not be maximizing your savings and rather spending more on your basic needs and wants more than necessary.
- It doesn’t just fit those with complex and complicated financial situations.
The 70-20-10 Expenses-Focused Method
What It Is. It appears more realistic and more practicable than the Balanced Money Method because it allocates more on the living expenses, while making reasonable reserves for savings and even investments.
How You Do It. Majority of the budget or 70% is allocated for both needs and wants, of course taking wants as just secondary. The 20% is then set aside for savings and investments, while the remaining 10% maybe for debt repayments, donations, or church tithes.
Try It Yourself. It’s an excellent budgeting method for those who have never tried real budgeting, those with living expenses that normally eat up most or more than half of the income, and those who may be living paycheck to paycheck.
Advantages. Here are three of the biggest advantages of this 70-20-10 Expenses-Focused Budgeting Method:
- Considering only three budget categories — spending, saving, and giving — feels even more realistic and more doable.
- It is less restrictive as you may still breakdown these big categories into smaller ones should you need and want a more detailed and personalized version.
- It emphasizes the value of giving.
Disadvantages. Here are three of the biggest disadvantages of this 70-20-10 Expenses-Focused Budgeting Method:
- It does not separate work and play, or needs and wants.
- Setting 20% for savings and 10% for others of the income may still be very aggressive for some.
- The 70% for both wants and needs still may not be enough for you, or you may go overbudgeting for these.
The 50-40-10 Savings-Maximized Method
What It Is. It is an aggressive budgeting method that maximizes savings, reduces spending on wants, and forces to live frugally within means.
How You Do It. Half of the budget or 50% is for your basic needs such as rent, utility bills, food and groceries, and transportation allowance. Still almost half or 40% is for your maximized savings and may also include investments and debt payoffs. The remaining 10% can be allocated for wants or the nonessential expenses such as entertainment, vacation, and others.
Try It Yourself. It may not really work for people who are living paycheck to paycheck or those with low income against tons of bills to pay. It may however be feasible for budget-experienced and goal-oriented people who can aggressively stretch the budget in order to maximize savings and make good investments.
Advantages. Here are three of the biggest advantages of this 50-40-10 Savings-Focused Budgeting Method:
- It is an excellent budget method if you want to save easily for bigger financial goals such as purchasing a car, a house, or just wanting to retire early.
- It reduces your spending on wants and other nonessential expenses.
- You can also take advantage of compound interest for good investments made from regular savings.
Disadvantages. Here are three of the biggest disadvantages of this 50-40-10 Savings-Focused Budgeting Method:
- If you are living paycheck to paycheck, this method won’t work for you at all.
- Your 50% budget for basic living expenses maybe insufficient or more than enough depending on how much you make; hence, it does not fit all financial conditions.
- You may end up making big sacrifices on your basic needs while maximizing savings.
The 80-20 Simplistic Budgeting Method
What It Is. It is one of the simplest approaches to budgeting and making decent savings. It is normally considered a spinoff of the 50-30-20 Balanced Money budget plan and primarily based on the Pareto Principle.
How You Do It. Simple as it is, you allocate 20% of your take home-pay for savings. For example, you’re earning PHP30,000, then you stash right away PHP6,000 for savings. That leaves you PHP24,000 or 80% of your income for all living expenses, both needs and wants.
Try It Yourself. It’s good for you if you’re new to budgeting, and you just don’t want to adopt something more complicated. While this budget methods offers such a great deal of flexibility, it can be your best alternative to all other structured budget methods that in the first place, you find somewhat stressful to stick to.
Advantages. Here are three of the biggest advantages of this 80-20 Simplistic Budgeting Method:
- It ensures that you always pay yourself first with the 20% instant stash from your income.
- You can easily stick to and maintain it amidst financial ups and downs.
- It offers a lot of flexibility as you may easily add suballocations for the remaining 80% of the budget.
Disadvantages. Here are three of the biggest disadvantages of this 80-20 Simplistic Budgeting Method:
- It’s too general and simple that you may find it difficult to set priorities between your needs and wants, i.e, for the 80% of your budget.
- While you prioritize the 20% for savings, the remaining percentage for living expenses may just be overlooked.
- You may miss out some opportunities for you to maximize your savings.
The 30-30-30-10 Detailed Proportions Method
What It Is. It appears to be an expanded and detailed version of many budget methods as it requires specific percentage allocations for big categories of expenses.
How You Do It. There are four big categories of expenses where your take-home pay may be dedicated to — 30% for housing such as rent, mortgage, and maintenance costs; 30% for needs such as bills, groceries, food, and transportation; 30% for savings, debt payments, and even investments; and, 10% for wants or nonessential expenses.
Try It Yourself. It works well for those who are new to budgeting, those who want to prioritize savings, and those who are more disciplined, more detail-oriented, and more organized.
Advantages. Here are three of the biggest advantages of this 30-30-30-10 Detailed Percentages-Based Budgeting Method.
- You become more conscious about your spending priorities and where your money really goes.
- You prioritize making savings and deprioritize your wants and other nonessential expenses.
- It tests and develops your budgeting skills as adjustments are inevitable.
Disadvantages. Here are three of the biggest disadvantages of this 30-30-30-10 Detailed Percentages-Based Budgeting Method:
- It requires more work to do as it is somewhat restrictive and less flexible.
- You may find that some of your expenses such as rent and bills do not quite fit into the category percentages.
- It may give you some adjustment headaches especially during serious financial struggles.
The 60 Percent Solution or 60-40 Budget Method
What It Is. It’s also known as the 60-40 budget rule as first proposed by financial journalist Richard Jenkins to avoid what he considered overcomplicated budgeting methods. In his view, these common methods usually result in ‘too much detail and not enough bottom line.’
How You Do It. With the proposed budget, the first 60% of your income, i.e., before taxes and all deductions, goes to fixed and committed expenses such as taxes, social security, insurance, housing, utilities, and groceries, among others.
The remaining 40% goes to savings goals and other expenses that fall outside the fixed expenses. Jenkins further recommends these categories for that 40%:
- 10% for retirement savings
- 10% for long-term savings
- 10% for short-term savings
- 10% ‘fun money’ for activities, trips, and other infrequent splurges
Try It Yourself. It is ideal for those who want to keep their budgeting simple and less detailed and especially those who have multiple savings goals.
Advantages. Here are three of the biggest advantages of this 60 Percent Solution Budgeting Method:
- It is simplistic, less on details, and thus, easier to follow.
- It may help you balance and commit to multiple savings goals.
- You can stretch the 40% for both short-term and long-term savings goals.
Disadvantages. Here are three of the biggest disadvantages of this 60 Percent Solution Budgeting Method:
- It does not leave much room for wants and nonessential expenses.
- Allocating 60% for all fixed expenses maybe not enough in some living conditions, while 40% for savings may be too aggressive.
- The 10-10-10-10 breakdown recommendation for the remaining 40% of the budget may even be trickier.
Cash-Only Envelope Method
What It Is. As the name suggests, it requires dividing income into different categories of expenses and keeping the cash allocations tucked away in physical envelopes.
How You Do It. You need to start identifying budget categories such as — rent, monthly utility bills, groceries, gas or transportation allowances, kids’ school allowances, and even savings — creating and filling envelopes with allocated cash, and spending only what’s inside for identified purposes.
Try It Yourself. It works well for those who run on a tight budget, those who prefer a more traditional and tangible budgeting approach, and those who don’t do much online financial transactions.
Advantages. Here are three of the biggest advantages of this Cash-Only Envelope Budgeting Method:
- You put hard limit on each spending category.
- It forces you to keep track of your spending based on categories and prevent overspending. It’s all tangible.
- You can easily identify where you can make savings and make further adjustments as necessary.
Disadvantages. Here are three of the biggest disadvantages of this Cash-Only Envelope Budgeting Method:
- You may find it impractical these days as you normally make bills payments and purchases through digital channels.
- You deal with cash, and you may be left at the disadvantage of making unwise and impulsive spending decision about it.
- You may end up paying for service fees, running more errands, and just missing out special online deals and even credit card rewards.
Zero-Based Budgeting Method
What It Is. It is sometimes called zero-sum budget, and it comes with the basic principle — your income minus all your expenditures equals zero.
It requires you to allocate your income to all expenses, both needs and wants, both short-term and long-term savings goals, and even debt payments.
How You Do It. You start by listing all your income, maybe from a regular day job and other freelance works. Then, list as well all your monthly expenses, from rent and utility bills to food and groceries to savings and debt payments.
Subtract the total of your expenses from your total income, and aim for a zero result. If it’s not zero yet, do some adjustments, maybe to your basic living expenses or your savings. Track all your expenses and payments and renew the budget right before each month begins.
Try It Yourself. It works fine for those who enjoy itemizing things such as income and expenses, working on with flexible spending and saving targets, and just telling every centavo where to go.
Advantages. Here are three of the biggest advantages of this Zero-Based Budgeting Method:
- You are fully aware of how much money flows in and out of your budget, and you are prevented from spending what you don’t have.
- It is flexible and customizable as you can make adjustments along the way.
- You get to decide how much you allocate for various expenses and even savings.
Disadvantages. Here are three of the biggest disadvantages of this Zero-Based Budgeting Method.
- It is time consuming as you need to list all your income and expenses, and planning may be done from scratch each time.
- It requires you serious and closed tracking of all your expenses.
- If your income is not that stable or say irregular, you cannot have such steady allocations for your spending categories, and you end up making complicated adjustments.
Traditional Budgeting Method
What It Is. As it says, it’s a traditional approach to budgeting — you decide where your income or cash on hand will go.
How You Do It. It is normally done by simply recording your income and expenses, making decisions where you can and you want to cut back your spending, and setting savings goals and spending for wants based on your disposable income.
Try It Yourself. It may sound still good for those who live paycheck to paycheck, those who need to prioritize basic living expenses over wants and other discretionary expenses, and those who may be surviving from financial problems or disasters.
Advantages. Here are three of the biggest advantages of this Traditional Budgeting Method:
- You understand your current financial condition and the need to prioritize your living expenses over your wants and other discretionary expenses.
- You get to know whether your income is enough for expenses or whether you need additional sources of income.
- You take control of your spending and make necessary adjustments.
Disadvantages. Here are three of the biggest disadvantages of this Traditional Budgeting Method:
- You take savings less of a priority or just allocate for it if there’s left from your budget for basic living expenses.
- You may overfocus on your basic needs and deprive yourself of your wants and other nonessential needs.
- You may neglect other bigger financial goals in your budget.
Reverse Budgeting Method
What It Is. It is usually explained as paying yourself first, almost the same as the 80-20 Simplistic Budgeting Method, and figuring out the rest of the budget with the leftover.
But let’s take it here as focusing on completing one financial goal with your income once a month before all the expenses.
How You Do It. You start by setting a goal for the month. It may be a short-term goal such as purchasing a new appliance, making a bigger payment on your credit card debt, or paying for a short course, or part of something long-term like adding a specific amount for savings or retirement funds. After completing this goal, you do the budgeting for your living needs and other expenses from what’s left.
Try It Yourself. It works well especially for those who are just starting to live independently and want to invest in some material and nonmaterial things, and possibly those who just find it hard to achieve financial goals, hence doing it one at a time.
Advantages. Here are three of the biggest advantages of this Reverse Budgeting Method:
- You make progress with your financial and life goals, one at a time.
- You’re forced to make necessary and positive adjustments on your expenses for the sake the goals.
- You will feel that you’re not just working and earning for your bills and expenses, rather having the sense of accomplishment as well.
Disadvantages. Here are three of the biggest disadvantages of this Reverse Budgeting Method:
- You may be overfocused on achieving the goals than budgeting efficiently for your other expenses.
- You may go overboard and spend more than expected for the goals and end up making sacrifices and falling short on the budget.
- You may end up making debts, possibly credit card debts.
What It Is. It’s a very popular type of reverse budgeting method where you fund first your savings, investments, and retirement — essentially treating yourself like a common bill — and spending the rest for expenses and other needs.
How You Do It. It sounds and works almost the same way with the 80-20 Simplistic Budgeting Method but does not necessarily come with the 20% allocation for savings.
You may make it more or less depending on your income capacity and all other expenses after the cut. Also, an automatic savings account transfer is usually made for this.
Try It Yourself. While it sounds really ideal, it may work well for those who are already financially healthy and saving-oriented, but may not be for all especially those living paycheck to paycheck and those with debts being paid down.
Advantages. Here are three of the biggest advantages of this Pay-Yourself-First Budgeting Method:
- You prioritize making savings on your monthly income over your living expenses.
- You may be forced to live within your means or what’s left after paying yourself.
- You may take advantage of compound interest with your savings and good long-term investments.
Disadvantages. Here are three of the biggest disadvantages of this Pay-Yourself-First Budgeting Method:
- You may settle with the happy thoughts of making savings while having undisciplined spending.
- You may still have bad debts that need to be paid off first and be at a disadvantage for prioritizing your savings.
- Your may not make the most of your savings if not decided wisely given the low-interest rates and the inflation.
Values-Based Budgeting Method
What It Is. As the name suggests, it is taking control of your finances by aligning your spending and saving — or your budget — with what you care about the most, hence the ones that you really value.
How You Do It. You start by listing the things that you most value, for example personal development and learning new skills, health, and travel. Then, you also list the things that you least value like home entertainment and shopping for clothes. Now, as you allocate budget for these, you prioritize and add more to those that you value the most and reduce for the least valued ones. For example, you might dedicate a percentage of your regular savings for your travel goals.
Try It Yourself. It works really great for those who have disposable income for discretionary expenses, while may not work for those who are living paycheck to paycheck, those surviving with a limited income, and those sharing financial responsibilities with other people.
Advantages. Here are three of the biggest advantages of this Values-Based Budgeting Method:
- It is hyper-personalized, and you create a budget based on what makes sense to you and your needs.
- You can redirect your discretionary expenses to things that you really want and value.
- It may prevent you from making impulse purchases.
Disadvantages. Here are three of the biggest disadvantages of this Values-Based Budgeting Method:
- You may be disillusioned by the happiness brought by things you spend more money on that you overlook the basic needs.
- You may end up overallocating on things that you really don’t need but just make you happy.
- You may need making a compromise and difficult choices if you are sharing financial responsibilities with other people.
No-Budget Budgeting Method
What It Is. Sounds nonsense, but it is possible to have a budget that does not require an actual budget, and many people just do it. With this method though, you still make choices about what to do with your income.
How You Do It. With No-Budget Budgeting Method, you should only know two things — how much money you really make and what bills and payments await your income. What’s left after paying these is yours to spend and save. However, you still make informed decisions based on whether you think you can still afford something or not.
Try It Yourself. First, it’s for those who make enough or more than enough money to cover all the expenses and those who just hate the budgeting thing or can’t stick to any budget.
Advantages. Here are three of the biggest advantages of this No-Budget Budgeting Method:
- It totally feels flexible, and you don’t have to budget every single peso in your monthly income.
- It cuts down on your stress, time, and late fees as you pay your bills before anything else.
- It also teaches discipline and controlled spending while possibly making savings on the side.
Disadvantages. Here are three of the biggest disadvantages of this No-Budget Budgeting Method:
- It will only work for you if you’re earning more than enough to cover your living expenses and other nonessential needs.
- Unless you do the tracking of your expenses, you may end up puzzled thinking about where your money goes.
- You may fall to a trap of spending more on things than are not really important while sacrificing the important ones.
Half Payment Budgeting Method
What It Is. Its primary goal is to spread out your bills and expenses so you don’t end up overspending in any of the two salary periods.
How You Do It. You get the total of your monthly recurring bills and expenses which are normally paid at the end of each month, and you divide then in half. Each time you get paid, say every after two weeks, you set aside half of the payments so you’ll be all prepared when the full payment is due.
Try It Yourself. It works really well for those who are paid twice a month, those who struggle especially during the second salary period when all the bills payments are normally due, and those who just live paycheck to paycheck.
Advantages. Here are three of the biggest advantages of this Half Payment Budgeting Method:
- It’s a simple way of lessening the burden of paying for all the bills and other expenses on the second salary period or end of the month.
- You will just know where your income really goes.
- You won’t overspend on one salary period and turn broke on the second half of the month.
Disadvantages. Here are three of the biggest disadvantages of this Half Payment Budgeting Method:
- It may be hard for you not to get tempted spending the reserved half payments.
- It may take some time to set up, or you must be ahead of your budget at least half a month.
- Your unexpected and emergency expenses may ruin the total month’s budget if not carefully planned.
Goals-Based Budgeting Method
What It Is. You may consider comparing this with Reverse Budgeting Method and Values-Based Budgeting Method as discussed. See, it’s designed to keep focused on setting your financial goals and on the prizes that await you.
You have to keep yourself away from the distractions, maybe other financial priorities.
How You Do It. You start with specific, actionable, and measurable financial goals that you want to achieve — like saving PHP10,000 at the end of the current month for initial vacation fund.
After that, review your current spending and saving habits, then implement changes on your existing budget to make rooms for the goals.
Try It Yourself. Many try it for like a couple of months and get back to normal financial lives because it is designed for those who are eager and aggressive to set and realize goals while taking all the disciplined and consistent efforts.
Advantages. Here are three of the biggest advantages of this Goals-Based Budgeting Method.
- You become more conscious about your short-term and long-term financial goals.
- You learn to prioritize your goals over your expenses, and try creative ideas to make things work.
- You may develop a disciplined approach to your personal finances.
Disadvantages. Here are three of the biggest disadvantages of this Goals-Based Budgeting Method.
- Your income may be low to accommodate bigger financial goals, and you may end up making big sacrifices.
- You may neglect important budgeting aspects by focusing more on the achievement of the goals.
- You may find it difficult to get into dedicated savings goals.
Sub-Savings Accounts Method
What It Is. You may take this as the digital spinoff of the 80-20 Simplistic Budgeting Method or the Pay-Yourself-First Method. You use multiple savings accounts for multiple savings goals.
How You Do It. You simply open multiple savings accounts, maybe three or four, and give each one a nickname based on your savings goals — house and lot savings, Asian tri-city trips, dream car, and others.
You can also just make use of digital wallets for this purpose. You set auto-transfer from your payroll account, and do the budgeting of the remaining for the living and other expenses.
Try It Yourself. It’s ideal for those who have multiple savings goals and at the same time, enjoy the convenience of mobile banking and use of digital wallets.
Advantages. Here are three of the biggest advantages of this Sub-Savings Accounts Method:
- You can take advantage of mobile technology and its convenience to do the budgeting and maximize savings.
- You can easily transfer portions of your income to dedicated savings accounts and keep them just away from all spending temptations.
- You may even get motivated to do more for the savings as you see them growing each salary period.
Disadvantages. Here are three of the biggest disadvantages of this Sub-Savings Accounts Method:
- You may overfocus on achieving your savings goals and less on your budgeting for living and other expenses.
- You may need maintaining balances for your multiple savings accounts.
- You may end up paying high bank transfer fees.
Tell us in the comments below which ones you’ve tried and worked for you and which ones you think are worth a try. You might want to share as well your adjustments and tweaks so to fit your budgeting styles and your financial conditions.
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