Five Frugal Things

by Katy on June 24, 2015 · 45 comments

targeted savings bank

  1. Yesterday was my father’s 80th birthday, and although I begged to throw him a big bash, he was quite clear about wanting a low key evening at home. My younger son and I photocopied old photos and made him a poster size collage ranging from 1935 to 2015. He seemed to enjoy it, and all the guests enjoyed looking over the pictures. My father already has everything he could ever need, and since I recently gave him a stack of beautiful vintage Fiestaware, I was comfortable with this simple gift.
  2. I corralled my older son to run errands with me yesterday, which included a trip to the Nike store, the kids’ consignment shop and The Grocery Outlet. He’s a busy guy these days, so this one-on-one time was special. Quality time doesn’t have to be over coffee or a restaurant meal.
  3. I brought a large pasta salad to my father’s birthday party. It included an 89¢ bag of shells, 1/3 of a bag of 99¢ frozen peas, a glug or two of my tea towel salad dressing, maybe 1/4 of a 49¢ can of chopped olives and a handful of goat cheese. It was a hit. I also brought a $1.99 tub of Alouette spreadable cheese and a $1.49 box of crackers. Of course, everything was from The Grocery Outlet!
  4. My husband drove across town to hit up our semi-local Costco. He’s switching from his precious delivered by bicycle locally roasted beans to the Costco stuff as his Portlandia-style coffee doesn’t mesh with the two-kids-in-college financial whammy that’s almost upon us. He also filled the mini-van with cheap gas while there. The usual 20¢-less per gallon price is too good to pass up, even when it’s just a couple of gallons.
  5. I earned enough swag bucks to order a $25 PayPal credit, I’m hand washing a kilim pillow cover to ready it for sale, (it normally sits on the front porch, but I replaced it with the pillow I recently pulled from a free pile.) I added another targeted savings bank to my virtual collection, (thanks to reader Jenny, who snapped a photo and e-mailed it me!) I re-listed a couple of Craigslist posts, I sold a bag of free children’s clothing to the consignment shop, I accepted a free cup of after-dinner tea at my father’s house and then enjoyed being awake until 3 A.M, (Oy to the vey, will I be crashing later today!) and of course . . . I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Amanda June 24, 2015 at 10:10 am

1. Went to a baseball game last night on tickets my husband got free from a print rep. We brought water bottles, which we refilled many times in the heat, instead of buying drinks. We bought more food than we should have, but we’ll do better next time.
2. Tossed my plastic shower curtain in the wash instead of buying new.
3. We’ll need neck pillows for our upcoming flight to Bali (24 hrs in the air). We have old inflatable ones, but we’ve never liked them because they don’t come together in the front. Instead of buying new (something tells me I’d have to buy several before I actually find the perfect one), I sewed buttons on the front of one. We’ll do a test this weekend using a piece of elastic to cinch it together. Fingers crossed that it works.
4. We continue to cloth diaper our youngest.
5. About to head to the free city pool for a dip.


Jennifer Roberts June 24, 2015 at 10:12 am

We just upgraded to a bigger freezer (used, of course). Today, I sold our old one. Not only did I get more than I paid for it, but the same price as we paid for our larger, better and more newer new freezer. I’m rather pleased with that.


Betty Winslow June 24, 2015 at 10:14 am

1. managed to fit an hour and a half of work into the day, which means a little fatter paycheck at the end of the month.
2. Dropped off a bag of stuff to my SIL from the $2 a bag sale I attended the other day; she gave me her partly filled bag and $2.00, so she didn’t have to stand in line and could leave, and I put some of my extra stuff in it to fill it up. And drop-off was at prayer meeting, where I was going anyway, so no extra trip. I also gave her an unneeded flat sheet for the migrant worker benefit her group is doing soon. Next week, I’ll give her some more and some towels.
3. Went to Hobby Lobby, remembered to clip the coupon, and got one item, marked down. I was in store less than 10 min. If you knew me, you’d know – this was EPIC!
4. Changed a medicine I’ve been on, to a new ultra expensive one, but with the help of the pharmacist, I was able to find a coupon that got me the first month free and the next 10 prescriptions of it for super-cheap. Whew!
5. I’ll be going over to a friend’s tomorrow to pick up some kids’ clothes she doesn’t want. Whatever my GF’s granddaughter or mine can’t use, I’ll either add to my Once Upon a Child stack or take to thrift shop.


A. Marie June 24, 2015 at 10:41 am

(1) Back from a week in VA/NC, where we managed not to break the bank (stayed with friends instead of in the motel next to the conference I was attending in NC, kept purchases at the conference to a wisely considered minimum, etc.). We did splurge on a few meals out, but I’m an expatriate Southerner and this is my one chance a year to get stuff like real fried chicken (vs. KFC).

(2) Here at home in Upstate NY, the early summer crops (snow peas, lettuce/other greens, early herbs, and carefully encouraged wild black raspberries) are starting to roll in. Yum!

(3) The early summer crops also include some weeds I harvest for salads and cooked greens: lamb’s quarters, purslane, and redroot pigweed. Cost of these and the raspberries: $0!

(4) Back to hanging laundry on our indoor racks. There’s quite a bit of trip laundry to catch up on.

(5) Our Humane Association cat is thoroughly enjoying her two new scratching posts–one bought at a rummage sale for $4, and the other one trashpicked (another set of neighbors is moving out).


Lesley June 24, 2015 at 11:07 am

Katy, please wish your dad a happy belated 80th from me! It sounds like a fun time and it’s so great to see something easy like pasta salad be appreciated.

You’re so right about gifts for senior parents–my own are fortunate enough to have everything they need, so we usually stick with consumables and donations these days (Dad got a donation to Doctors Without Borders for Father’s Day this year!)


Katy June 24, 2015 at 12:53 pm

I will do that! I had wanted to have a get together at my house and I would have invited your parents, but he wanted only immediate family. Party pooper.


Amy June 24, 2015 at 11:39 am

1. Spent 15 minutes, most of that on hold, with LeapFrog to let them know that our LeapTV that is 6 weeks old had a broken camera. They are sending me a replacement camera at no cost. My little ones are 4 & 6 they love the LeapTV. Heck my oldest is almost 15 and plays some of the games too.

2. Used leftover Chili from last night to make a pan of chili cheese dip for dinner later this week.

3. Walked to the grocery store, it’s around the corner and a block down. It makes no sense to me to drive because it’d take longer with having to park. Walking means I buy less. If I see something I want I have the walk home to think about if I really want to grab the wagon and make a trip back or not. So far it’s not been worth it yet, but we’ve only lived in this house for 3 weeks.


Bettypants June 24, 2015 at 12:13 pm

1. Sold a bottle of perfume on ebay for a $15 profit.
2. Meeting someone tomorrow to sell an item on Craigslist for a $45 profit.
3. Free pizza for our monthly office lunch. BLT pizza sounds so horrendous, but is fantastic.
4. Checked out, read, and returned the newest Stephen King book.
5. Buying another Coach purse tonight locally, to list on ebay. So glad some people can’t be bothered with listing on ebay.


Rebecca June 24, 2015 at 12:26 pm

We requested an energy audit of our rental home from our local electric company and found out we qualify for and were approved for:
-a new fridge
-new fire door between house and garage
-weather stripping of doors
-new handheld shower sprayers
-led lights for the house
-insulation in the attic
-they also inspected our furnace,air and water heater and made sure they are working correctly

All free to us and the owner.I guess slipping out of the middle class in the last decade has it rewards…I’m most excited about the fridge,our current one dates from 1976-the year I graduated from high school.


Isabelle June 24, 2015 at 4:33 pm

Wow, that’s one tough fridge! It’s older than me!


Monica June 24, 2015 at 1:02 pm

We switched from Dunkin Donuts bagged ground coffee to Kirkland from Costco and have never looked back! Its a very good regular roast brand.


Rose June 24, 2015 at 2:44 pm

1) sorted basement for yard/sidewalk sale

2) mended my very comfy jeans that were unwearable with undeniable patches from my son’s oh so worn out pants. Now I have ‘new’ comfy jeans again!

3) walked my son to school rather than drove. It’s a very long walk so we only can do it in good weather but saved on gas

4) taught my son the joy of pounding two 2-liter plastic bottles together. He likes them better than his bought toys!

5) passed on some clothes to my daughter. She and I are Both delighted!


Chris June 24, 2015 at 3:51 pm

– put the final coat of paint on the trash picked wicker chairs
– took all the frozen bread crusts and made croutons
– hung sheets to dry
– walked the dog while I listened to Dave Ramsey and Gretchen Rubin podcasts
– started watching “Nashville” on yidio – a new to me streaming site


Katy June 24, 2015 at 5:50 pm

Funny, those are the two podcasts I listened to today as well!


Ruby June 24, 2015 at 3:58 pm

1. Bought some fabric out of the remnant bin at the fabric store for three little sewing projects. It and a zipper came to $9 and some change, and was way less than my first impulse, which had been to buy a $12.99 yard of fabric off the bolt.
2. Worked a deal today by combining a coupon and a Food Lion sale on JC Penney gift cards to get a $50 JCP gift card for $34.67. JCP is having a 15 percent off online sale if you use a gift card, so the 15% off covered the cost of shipping on the order I placed.
3. Used up the last of a box of oat bran and a can of pineapple tidbits making muffins for our breakfasts. The juice drained off the pineapple was added to some orange and apple juice concentrate to make a custom juice mix for breakfast.
4. Washed a throw rug and some cleaning cloths and hung them on the back porch clothesline to dry.
5. Cleaned out and reused a vacuum cleaner bag. The bag was mostly filled with pet fluff – our dogs are shedding like crazy – so I pulled the fuzzies out and shook the bag until it was clean inside. It’s working just fine and saved me $3.


Theresa June 25, 2015 at 2:00 am

Hooray for a fellow dog hair miner! I do the same as 90% of what is in the vacuum bag during my dog’s shedding months is my dog. Easy money saver.


marleen June 24, 2015 at 4:09 pm

1. bought birthday gifts for my youngest grandson (board books, wooden puzzles, toys and clothes) at yard sales this past month, for a total of $7.00
2. packed lunches and snacks for my work
3. started using vinegar to rinse my hair after shampooing, instead of buying more conditioner. It makes it really soft!
4. put my overtime pay towards the principal of one of our two remaining debts
5. ordered photos my dad wanted of the great-grandkids using a promotional code making it half the cost I was expecting to pay


Kim from Philadelphia June 24, 2015 at 4:21 pm just wrote about their transition to Costco coffee beans. One of my other favorite blogs besides yours!

The facial expression on the “sexual favors” pig is…I’m not sure what it is!!!


Isabelle June 24, 2015 at 4:28 pm

While on vacation…
* we ate out only once. The rest of the time we bought food at the grocery store and I took some bagels from the breakfast buffet to eat at lunch
* One of the activity we planned on spending 40$ on entrance fees ended up being free! Nice surprise
* We did not buy any (cheap, plastic, made in China…) souvenirs for the kids
* We found parking in the street and walked 5 minutes instead of paying 16$ to park right beside one of the activity
* I found a pair of shorts the size of my daughter on a bench, and no one around, so I took them home with us

Have a great frugal day!


Lilypad June 24, 2015 at 4:30 pm

Happy Birthday to your father! My dad just turned 80 last month and also wouldn’t let us make a fuss. We all got together at a restaurant (my parents paid, their choice, although we did use a gift certificate my husband had won in a Twitter contest so that helped) and it was just so fun. My nieces are in their early 20’s now, very busy, and time with them is cherished. My son is 14 so at least I still have a bit of time there!

I have to laugh about the coffee switch—my husband loves a locally-roasted/ organic/fair trade/shade grown coffee that costs a ton and he drinks so much of it. He consented to trying Trader Joe’s French roast the other day, because we just bought a house and money is tight. I’ll have to see if he’ll try something from Costco. At least both Trader Joe’s and Costco will take it back if he doesn’t like it, so no risk there.


Ruth June 24, 2015 at 4:37 pm

Hi can I ask what do you mean by targeted savings bank to your virtual collection??
I’m personally not feeling very frugal, have some virus , throat like razors , cough and sinus issues , luckily my doctor doesn’t charge me , we have Medicare here in Australia And because I’ve been going to him for years he doesn’t charge me a gap. I only went for a sick certificate for work …no antibiotics for a virus.
Hopefully I will be back on track soon


Tina June 25, 2015 at 2:29 am

Hi Ruth

I think Katy means that she collects it in her head, rather than physically collecting it. Like collecting memories rather than souvenirs. I will have to do this more!


Ruth June 25, 2015 at 6:14 pm

Ok I get it now…I currently have the flu so my heads a little foggy sadly


Marcia June 24, 2015 at 4:38 pm

Not sure I hit 5 today, but let’s think:
1. Sent DH to the store with a coupon –buy $50,, get $5 gift card. Bought 15 bags of mulch. Will use gift card when we need bird seed again.

2. Made 3/4 lb ground beef into meatballs last night. Had spaghetti and meatballs last night. Used leftover meatballs tonight to make hot meatball sandwiches with melted mozzarella. Two meals and still two meatballs left. Frugal!!

3. DH and I spent most of our afternoon on gardening. We did some yesterday too–weather co-operated for a change. He helped with heavy weeding–stuff I need help to do–and also had to carry the mulch to the garden for me, as it was very wet. I dumped most of the bags and spread them. We spread 9 of 18 bags today and hope to do the rest tomorrow if the weather is dry again. This is frugal compared to hiring it done, and provides exercise for free too.

4. Guess that was it–although we didn’t spend any other money today except for the mulch.


Lisa June 24, 2015 at 5:56 pm

I get free drinks at work, and recently I’ve been choosing Minute Maid juice. Minute Maid has a movie ticket promo, which gives a free movie ticket for six codes. You get one code under each bottle cap. I’m enjoying a morning OJ, and my kids are loving the free movies, which didn’t cost me a dime. I’ll be sad when this promo is over.

A generous reader on the NCA FB page, gave me a voucher for a free movie at Regal which can be redeemed on the user’s birthday. My son’s birthday is in June, and he’s thrilled to include a movie in his celebration. Between this & the Minute Maid promo, each of my kids will see 2 movies free.

My son is headed to college in the Fall, and on our local FB page I scored three XL Twin sheet sets + a matress cover for the bargain price of $25. One set of sheets was still in the packaging. I wasn’t specifically looking for these sheet sets — but when you aren’t lured by things you don’t need, browsing Craigslist or FB pages doesn’t result in impulse purchases.


One of God's June 24, 2015 at 7:11 pm

Not numerous today.

1) Saved what would have been a trip into town because car is in shop.

2) Made two desserts to serve family of a friend at her memorial service. Used only on hand ingredients.

3) Read about other money-saving ideas.

4) Purchased nothing.

5) Dressed for memorial service in all thrifted except undies clothing. Was complimented by DH.


One of God's June 24, 2015 at 7:13 pm

Oh, and DH and I both ate our dinner at the memorial service.


l bryant June 25, 2015 at 2:44 am

Katy what do you mean by ” I added another targeted savings bank to my virtual collection, (thanks to reader Jenny, who snapped a photo and e-mailed it me!) ??



Stacie M June 25, 2015 at 2:50 am

1.) My husbands car broke down, which is obviously NOT FRUGAL, but thankfully we “know a guy” that will charge us a low fee for towing. Also, my father in law is pretty sure he can fix it (thinks its the timing belt) and will just charge us parts. It seems every time I fill our “emergency fund” back up, something like this happens!
2.) Found a great deal on butter this week, so I’ll stock up the freezer.
3.) Made a cat toy for my friend’s cat with leftover yarn and some jingle bells my mom gave me. Free and her kitty loves it 🙂
4.) Made enchiladas with my casserole crock pot last night, to save energy (no oven) and to not heat my house. This thing is awesome, haha. Basically just a crockpot in the shape of a casserole dish.
5.) Unplugging things, closing/opening windows and blinds to keep house cool, using egg money to buy animal feed, etc…pretty much doing any and all frugal things since I just gave my 2 weeks at a job that made me miserable! I am taking the summer off to concentrate on the garden/canning/saving $$ and to spend time on my health. A bit stressful, but I see frugality as a fun challenge so I’ll be okay.


Kristen June 25, 2015 at 3:14 am

I’m a little confused about what exactly you’d be socking money away for with that piggy bank. A trip to the adult store? Something illegal? =P


K D June 25, 2015 at 4:08 am

1. I found out my daughter’s friend was staying for dinner (and I had no plan). I had cooked ground beef in the freezer so I used that with taco seasoning. I put out
tortillas, tortilla chips, shredded cheese, salsa, and refried beans. Everyone made their own meal. I served fresh berries and called it good.

2. I walked to a yoga class. Then did stuff around the house all day. It was cool enough to have the windows open. And I hung laundry outside.

3. I gleaned a 10% off your next grocery purchase coupon at the local grocery. I compared the ad that will end today with the ad that will start tomorrow to determine which shopping trip to use it on. I’ll use it tomorrow.

4. Discovered that half a Klondike bar is as satisfying as a whole bar. Half the calories and half the cost. There is a good sale starting tomorrow, so I’ll stock up again.

5. We’re making a donation to a local organization. Rather than making the donation on-line I wrote a check, which will be delivered in person today (at an already planned get-together). The organization will not incur any fees and we’ll save on postage.


Mand01 June 25, 2015 at 4:41 am

1. My BIL came over tonight and brought a pile of bread rolls and bakery items that he gets for free from my brother who gets them for free from someone else. Don’t ask me how it works because I’m not even sure! But, free bread!
2. I’m training staff at work, so lunch was catered. Free lunch!
3. My mum fed us all last night because she is wonderful. Free dinner!
4. We just generally have not spent this week. We’ve been so busy with work this week I’ve had no time to shop or go anywhere, so we’ve only bought petrol, and I did my grocery shopping online. I had a $30 credit because they stuffed up something in my last order, so my produce box is free this time. Free fruit!
That’s it. Not too bad.
Re the virtual gallery, whenever Katy finds one of those funny savings jars at Goodwill, she takes a photo rather than buys it. But who could resist the Sexual Favours jar? That’d be someone’s Kris Kringle gift, for sure!


Michelle June 25, 2015 at 4:47 am

Love you and love your blog but sometimes wonder about the taking of free baby items from curb and selling them…wouldn’t a mommy in need be better off with these things for free?


Katy June 25, 2015 at 9:25 am

There’s no simple answer to this. I pick up free stuff, as I am desperately trying to scrounge up money for my kids to go to college, and I do it any way that I can. I’m not going through low income neighborhoods. These are mostly my parents’ neighborhoods which are decidedly upper income, (especially my father’s which is ridiculously wealthy. (My parents bought that house in 1968 for $20,000, but it’s straight-up rich people now!) ) These are people to whom making the effort to sort through old stuff to decided which consignment shop would be best or to research, photograph and list on Craigslist would not be worth the effort.

It is worth my effort.

The baby toys and walker/activity table I brought home from free piles last week got sold to a grandmother whose daughter and granddaughter were about to come for a visit. I charged her $30. She did not have the time nor inclination to keep an eye out for free stuff. She was just happy that I made this available with good pictures and descriptions on Craigslist. I could have charged more, but I like to create a bargain for the buyer.

I held out an adorable wooden inchworm for a friend who just had a baby, as I am not currently budgeting any money for gifts. This friend is a fan of the blog, and was tickled to hear that her gift was from a free pile.

In Portland, it’s become part of the culture to put out unwanted stuff, and once that stuff goes to the new owner what that person does with it is their business.

Yesterday I took a rolled up Ikea rug from a garbage can in my father’s neighborhood. There was construction debris out with the cans, which was also still usable. I’ll vacuum and shampoo the rug and then sell it. This was definitely a situation where I will be saving something from the landfill.

I hope this explains my mindset on this issue.

Thanks for asking.



Elise @ Simply Scaled Down June 25, 2015 at 5:19 am

Whew…this isn’t the first time you’ve avoided that Lear Jet. Good job!

1) We are heading to the library today. Free entertainment for the kids and we won’t be using electricity at home since we will be gone 🙂
2) Making chicken tortilla soup in the crock pot right now with left over food. Totally frugal and totally yummy.
3) I will be listing the crystal we got for our wedding on ebay. We haven’t used it in 7 years…someone else might as well use it.
4) My plan today is to go through my girls clothes to see what I can sell and what they still need before our year long abstinence from buying clothes.
5) I am drinking a yummy tea this morning because it is cheaper than the therapy I need after dealing with my kids today 🙂


Nectarios Petropoulos June 25, 2015 at 5:43 am

1. Intend to buy a new TV but instead use the one that my friend has stopped using [still functions well enough].
2. Find some food coupons and hot deals online.
Can’t remember more. Thanks for posting!


Angelle June 25, 2015 at 6:58 am

I love reading everyone’s five frugal things! I’ve been reading this site for about 6 months and I *love* it. Here are mine from this week:

1. Sold a lot of books to the local used bookstore and got cash back (rather than store credit)! Now my bookshelves are sagging less. I also sent books to Powell’s online (thanks for the link).
2. Worked out in my living room to a “Latin cardio” DVD from the library. I sweat up a storm! I also checked out a book to read for the week.
3. Have been eating only home-cooked food since Monday, including bringing my lunches to work. No eating out due to food boredom! I’ve also started measuring out my portions to make sure the food lasts longer and I don’t overeat. I’m trying to lose weight, and one good way is by being frugal with the calories.
4. Did not buy fabric, even though I wanted to. I put myself on a no new fabric diet for now, since I have a lot of it, but I sew very slowly.
5. Bought a bundle of four vintage patterns for $1 at the thrift store. Two of them are for things that are in style again: culottes and loose, boxy crop tops. Yay!!!


Katy June 25, 2015 at 9:08 am

Crop tops are back? No!!!!


Isabelle June 25, 2015 at 12:11 pm

Does this mean that belly button rings will also make a comeback?!??


Kim June 25, 2015 at 7:58 am

1. DS#2 had Ukrainian dance practice last night so we stopped by the used book store that’s on the way. He found the book he wanted (yeah!) plus 2 others and I picked up a beautiful collection of CS Lewis that I will list on Amazon. No cost involved since I have lots of store credit for selling them used books.
2. DS#2 has been part of this dance troupe for 4 years and it has never cost us a cent. They are a professional group that get’s paid for performing so those fees are used to support the costs of the troupe. My contribution is I help with costumes and costume repairs. For the 2 older men that are in charge of the troupe it is truly a labor of love.
3. Brought home leftover pizza and Chic-Fil-A ice tea from after dance practice. The troupe eats after practice at no cost to us.
4. While DS practiced I sewed a button back on to a pair of his shorts and cut out some items to sew as gifts.
5.. Shipping a Japanese text book that I sold on Amazon for $60. Yippee!


Katy June 25, 2015 at 9:07 am

Was it a box set? I looooooove box sets!


Kim June 25, 2015 at 2:52 pm

Sorry Katy it wasn’t a box set. This is a collection of several of his writings and the book is beautifully bound and appears to have never been read. The edges of the pages are gold and I will admit I am a sucker for gold edged pages!


Vickie June 25, 2015 at 8:24 am

Happy 80th to your Dad! That “sexual favor fund” had me laughing.

1) I headed to the Goodwill yesterday, since Wednesdays are discount days for the over 55 crowd. Since I have a Goodwill card, I got an extra discount. I ended up spending $6 for a DVD, a nice cotton blouse and an old kitchen match holder.
Plus – I saw and old friend and chatted for awhile with her. It turned out to be a good trip!
2) We ate chili dogs for supper last night. I’ll reuse the chili tonight for leftovers. The extra onions will be used in meals this weekend.
3) I’m going on a wild crafting walk with a friend on Saturday. Those always include a nice potluck. I’m recycling 3 bottles by taking them to her for bottling the wine she makes from fruit and herbs she gathers.
4) I just saw a picture of the cutest quilt made from baby clothes. I have some of my daughters baby clothes, I think I will have my friend make two quilts out of them for my granddaughters.
5) Time to use my pet food coupons today.
It’s been a pretty good week here!


LaNell June 25, 2015 at 11:42 am

OK….is it weird that I hold off on checking your blog till the middle of the afternoon? I look forward to it all day, and when I check early in the day, and it hasn’t changed….I am sad. Such a loser. Oh well, love your blog. I am so inspired by your lifestyle, and am making changes in mine. Keep up the good work.


tonya June 25, 2015 at 4:06 pm

Made dinner at home and taught my son how to cook BLT sandwiches.

Paid my bills on time.

Got the leaky fuel pump on our. 2002/Volvo wagon replaced for free (a recall). Mechanic said it was normally a $700 repair.

Carpooled with a friend to take our daughters to driver’s ed.


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