Jul 5, 2018

kayak, water, paddle, sun

Everything is bigger in Texas and that can definitely be said about our state’s aquatic resources. Our large state contains 3,700 named streams and 15 major rivers, which eventually flow into seven estuaries. These waterways support more than 200 reservoirs and provide nutrients and habitat for countless fish and wildlife. They also provide a great opportunity for recreational activities for millions of Texans each year. One of the best ways to explore the Texas waterways is by kayak or canoe. There are currently 74 official Texas Paddling Trails, which provide maintained access to rivers, creeks, lakes, ponds, bayous, and bays, with more in the works.

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Jun 28, 2018

picture of a clipboard with credit score on it

One of the struggles of adulthood is getting a handle on your credit score – and once you do, maintaining a healthy credit score is equally necessary. Having a good credit score is imperative for getting good rates when applying for a loan or mortgage, so your credit score isn’t something you can ignore! 

Overall, a credit score is a combination of the following:

  • Credit history/length
  • Capacity used
  • Payment timeliness
  • Types of credit used
  • Previous credit applications

What is My Credit Score?

You should check your credit score at least once a year to be sure of your status (you can get one free report a year here), and to see if you’ve increased or decreased your score since you last checked. If your score has gone down, you should definitely do some sleuthing to find out what happened. It is possible to dispute penalties towards your credit score – click here to find out how.

Check your Credit Balance

In order to maintain healthy credit, it’s important that you utilize your credit cards in the smartest possible way. This means you shouldn’t have maxed-out credit cards, cards with a high balance on it for long periods of time, etc. A good strategy, if you have multiple cards with a balance, is to pay off the lower balances as quickly as possible (but don’t close out that card!) and work towards paying off the larger balances as you can. Having a few credit cards that are in good standing can also help maintain a healthy credit score, but don’t overdo it.

Continue to Make Payments On Time

If you are already making your credit card and bill payments on time – keep it up! That is one really easy way to maintain a healthy credit score as well as avoiding costly late fees. Not only is this easy to do, it is one of the biggest factors that can affect your credit score. A great way to ensure you are making on-time payments is to enroll in auto-pay if the company offers it. 

Avoid Frequent Credit Inquiries

You may have noticed that when you make large purchases, businesses will check your credit score/credit history. While this is usually okay, it’s important not to have too many “hits” or checks in the same time period. While there is a difference between the effect of a hard credit inquiry and soft credit inquiry you should always be aware of who is requesting your credit history so you can avoid overdoing it. 

Eastex Credit Union wants all of our members to be well-informed about their financial health. Contact us today about how we can help you maintain a healthy credit score!

Jun 21, 2018

As hurricane season is upon us, many people are wondering “How can I prepare for a hurricane?”. As the intensity of each hurricane can widely vary, it’s important to have a few levels of protection between your home and the elements.

As always, be sure to listen for official announcements regarding the hurricane as it approaches – if officials tell you to evacuate, do so. Do not stay in your home when it is deemed too hazardous!

Have a Family Plan

As you should do to prepare for every disaster (fire, flood, etc) you and your family should have a plan of what to do if a hurricane approaches. You should have a designated room that your family goes to (bathrooms are typically very safe) to ride out the storm and should have a preparedness plan for if a family member is stuck outside the home during an event (where should they go, who should they call).

An important part of this family plan is determining how you will communicate with each other. Have a backup plan in case phone lines are down/overloaded, such as contacting via text or social media.

Gather Helpful Supplies

During a hurricane event, a number of things can happen, including power outages (possibly for a few days), downed trees, blocked roads, etc. It’s important to have enough supplies in your home to be able to hunker down and stay safe until it is okay to venture outside again. It’s a good idea to create a basic disaster supplies kit that will hold a number of essential items:


It’s always a good idea to have a few gallons of water on-hand in case you aren’t able to access clean water during a hurricane event. Water can also come in handy if you need to use it for sanitation purposes as well.


Crucial for those dark nights without power, having a few flashlights available can be a game changer. Having some head-mounted flashlights (such as these) can also be helpful for hands-free usage

First Aid Kit

It is extremely important that you have a first aid kit available, especially in the event you or a family member has an accident and you’re unable to leave your home. Be sure your kit has the basics: antiseptic wipes, band-aids, ibuprofen, gauze, etc.


You should keep a three or four-day supply of non-perishable foods within your cabinets in case you lose power and are unable to get to a grocery store. Don’t forget to include pet food if you have animals in the home as well!


Fill up your car’s gas tank at least 36 hours prior to a hurricane event, just in case you need to evacuate or have a local gas shortage as a result of the storm.

Protect Your Home

There are some things you can do to prepare your home for a hurricane event that could help prevent exterior damage and flooding.

First, review your insurance policies to be sure you fully understand its terms and what kind of coverage you have. Call an insurance agent or your local credit union for questions about hurricane preparedness or your policy.

Do a walk-around of your home to determine any weak spots that may need to be addressed before the storm, such as windows that could be blocked off with hurricane shutters/plywood, trees around the property that may need to be trimmed down, etc. Consider utilizing sandbags in areas that are prone to flooding.

Similarly, check for loose objects around your yard that could become dangerous projectiles in high-velocity winds – these objects could include trash cans, children’s outdoor toys, patio furniture.

Eastex wants you to be fully prepared for any storms during this hurricane season. We are always here to help with any questions you may have – contact us today to discuss any concerns you may have!

Jun 14, 2018

Man checking credit score on computer and cell phone

Buying a home requires having some cash on hand, steady income, and a good payment history for at least the past year. However, you don’t have to have a perfect credit score. Having a blemish or two on your credit report will not automatically disqualify you from a mortgage loan.

Know Your Number

If you are thinking about buying a house, you should be working to reduce your current debt and know where you stand financially. Examine your credit report and check your credit score. Look for errors and inaccuracies on the report that could be hurting your score. If you do have blemishes on your credit report, you will need to explain what happened, why it happened, and why it won’t happen again. If your credit issues all stem to a specific time and incident, you should not have a hard time proving to a mortgage underwriter that it was due to a situation out of your control, such as job loss, pay cut, illness, etc.

Find a Solution

We’ve all made mistakes in life, but financial mistakes can have a negative impact for long into the future. Work on ways to improve your credit score, such as staying well below your limit on credit cards and making it a priority to pay all bills on time. If you do have a low credit score, you may still be able to finance your dream property by bringing more cash to the table or demonstrating that you have a sizeable amount in your rainy-day savings.

Speak to Your Advisor

The best thing you could do is speak to a financial service representative regarding ways to finance your mortgage when you have less than perfect credit. The more individualized your service, the more helpful they can be to recommend the best path. Multiple factors influence the mortgage options available to you and having someone dedicated to helping find the best mortgage loan for you and your financial situation could save you money in the long run and potentially get you in your dream home sooner.

Applying for a mortgage loan is a big milestone, but an exciting one as well! While traditional mortgages are still a great choice for a lot of families, (Eastex offers up to 95% financing with approved credit), you do have other options available to you. For the best rates and mortgage plan, trust Eastex Credit Union. If you’re ready, click here to apply for a mortgage loan with Eastex today!

Jun 7, 2018

Yard Sales, Sign on Tree, Sidewalk, yards, arrow

Has spring cleaning left you with lots of items that you no longer need or want? Are you unable to find places to put your new purchases? Are you parking in the driveway because your garage is used for storage? If you are currently experiencing any of these, it might be time for a yard sale.


Decide on a Date. The first part of planning will be to pick a date and time for your yard sale. You can do a single day, or several days depending on how much stuff you wish to get rid of and your schedule. Yard sales are most commonly held on weekends and during the spring and summer months.

Collect Your Goods. Gather up everything that you would like to sell. Go to each room in your house and look for things that no longer serve a purpose or don’t fit your current design aesthetic. Open each closet and purge it of clothes that haven’t been worn in more than a year or no longer fit correctly. Take the same approach to every part of your house, including the attic, garage, basement, and cupboards.

Get the Word Out. Tell your friends and family that you’re having a yard sale and have them help get the word out. Advertise on social media, including Facebook resell and neighborhood pages, Craigslist, and local yard sale sites. You might want to do a printed or online ad with your local newspaper if you have lots of stuff to sell or several high value items you want top dollar for. Make signs that tell when and where the yard sale is. If your location is hard to find, be sure to have some arrow signs to point everyone in the direction of your sale.

Payment Options. Have plenty of change on hand. Be sure to grab some rolls of quarters and plenty of small bills prior to the sale. You might even consider taking electronic payments via a card reader connected to your smartphone or tablet.

Set Your Prices. Price your larger and more expensive items individually. Think about what you would consider paying for the same item at a yard sale and price accordingly. The purpose of the yard sale is to make some cash while getting rid of things you no longer need or want. If you price things too high, you might not sell anything. Smaller, cheaper items can be placed in boxes marked with the price per item.

Let’s Make a Deal.

Time to Setup. On the day of the yard sale, get up a couple hours before your start time to begin setting up. Tables and clothes racks make it easier for people to shop and spend time looking at your items than when they are all on the ground or still in boxes. Have dedicated areas for each category, such as clothing, kitchen items, electronics, toys, etc.

Be Flexible on Prices. Once the sale has started, get ready for the bargaining to begin. If someone is indecisive, make them an offer lower than your listed price. Give discounts to those purchasing multiple items and be more willing to accept lower prices as time goes on and your sale is drawing to a close. If you are nearing the end of the sale and have lots still to sell, consider doing a set price for as many items as people can place into a plastic shopping bag.

Packing Up the Leftovers. Once your yard sale has ended, you will likely still have items left that did not sell. Consider donating these to a charity or thrift store, rather than bringing them back into your house. Some places will come to your house and pick up large items, but most smaller items will need to be dropped off.

Having a successful yard sale requires time, which will be spent planning and conducting the sale, but it is a great way to get some cash for items that are no longer serving a purpose in your house. Hopefully these tips will help you clear some clutter and give you some extra spending money this summer.

May 24, 2018


Whether you’ve been married for 5 years or 5 months, finances have a nasty habit of causing friction between couples. In fact, money is the leading cause of relationship issues and can often lead to more serious consequences such as separation or divorce. Much like couples that take great care in improving and maintaining a healthy level of communication, those that work together on their finances – no matter if they keep them separate or not – find themselves more content in their relationship as well as more excited for the future. No matter your current financial situation with your significant other, here are some helpful tips on how to manage your finances with your spouse that can apply to anyone:

Be Honest With Your Significant Other About Your Financial Situation

As you would hope they’d do for you, it’s important that you disclose your financial status to your significant other – especially if you’re engaged to be married. Yes, this also includes any embarrassing information such as a low credit score, credit card debt, or anything else that would be important for them to know! You can make overcoming these obstacles a joint venture that can ultimately bring you both closer together. Hiding or not disclosing financial information from your significant other breeds distrust and can make it difficult to move forward in your relationship.

Manage Finances With Your Spouse in a Mutually-Accessible Way

There are countless ways to accomplish this to suit your particular needs – from utilizing a budgeting spreadsheet template, or signing up for a budget tracker app like Mint, having your finances out in the open will help keep everyone on the same page in terms of transactions, upcoming bills, and overall financial status. This also allows the responsibility of handling finances to be equally distributed instead of solely held to one person alone. If only one person has a handle on the finances, they may feel resentment towards the other for the additional responsibility, while the other may feel like they aren’t trusted.

Establish Savings Goals, and Work Together to Accomplish Them

Every couple has dreams – a new home, a tropical vacation, repairing the fence, a new pet – all things that need to be adequately budgeted and planned for. A great way to grow together as a couple is to jointly work towards these goals – and you can do this in a number of ways. Some couples pool any leftover cash or change from the day into a communal pot to passively safe income towards a goal, while others dedicate a certain percentage of their income (such as 5% per paycheck) to be directly deposited to a joint savings account. If you choose to invest your savings, Eastex Credit Union has a great savings calculator that can help you forecast your wealth growth as well.

Eastex wants to see financial success not only for you but for you and your spouse jointly! Having open and honest communication in your relationship extends to your finances, so creating a financial strategy that works for both of you can drastically improve the quality of your relationship. For assistance in opening up a checking or savings account, adding a new credit card, or for personalized assistance to manage finances with your spouse, contact Eastex today

May 17, 2018
new homeowners wonder is 20% down required to buy a home?

What is one of the scariest parts of buying the home? Undoubtedly, the prospect of putting 20% cash down. This antiquated practice still remains a staple in real estate transactions nowadays, despite the fact that only 39% of house-hunting millennials are able to afford the recommended down payment. With this inability to pay a down payment comes an inevitable downturn in the purchasing market, with many deciding to rent instead. But the title of this blog post hints at something not many first-time buyers know

Mortgage Myth #1: Is 20% down required to buy a home? FALSE!

According to the National Association of Realtors, a lower, more affordable down payment of 11% (or less) is becoming the new norm – but be aware that there are other loan program options that could help you manage this expense further.

Aside from saving a bunch of cash, there are some important reasons you might want to consider NOT paying 20% down on a new house:

  • Freeing Up Money for Renovations: It’s very rare that people purchase homes without having at least something they’d like to redo or renovate. Whether a relatively small job (repainting a bedroom) or a large endeavor (completely renovating the kitchen), having that extra spending cushion can help make those renovations happen faster and without as much financial stress!
  • Purchasing a Home Sooner: The earlier you are able to purchase a home, the more likely you are able to avoid the continuously-rising home prices. Making the switch from renting to home ownership is a great financial accomplishment!

First: Buy A House In Your Budget

This is an important factor that many first-time homeowners will need to keep a close eye on. Separating emotions from reality can become difficult when visiting open houses and searching for listings online; it’s essential that you know for sure that you will be able to afford the home down the line. A great tool is utilizing a mortgage calculator which can help you determine whether a particular home is doable for you and your family. 

Now, what are some ways you can avoid paying 20% down on a new home?

new homeowners wonder is 20% down required to buy a home?

Speak To Your Advisor

The best thing you could do is speak to a financial service representative regarding alternative ways to finance your mortgage either with or without a down payment involved. The more individualized your service, the more helpful they can be to recommend the best path. It’s important to take into consideration a lot of different factors (location of new home, your family’s income, etc), and having someone dedicated to you will help find customized opportunities that could potentially save you money in the long run.

VA Mortgage

If you are, or were, a member of the military, there are loan programs specifically meant to assist you. Occasionally it can be difficult for a military family to purchase a home due to relocation possibilities or for financial reasons – in some cases, VA Mortgage Loans can offer 0% down payment. Eastex loves working with our valued military and can help figure out a plan that works for you.

Physician Mortgage Loan

If you are in the medical field, it’s important to check out industry-specific loan options that are available to you. For example, a specific type of loan for medical professionals (physicians, dentists, etc) called a Physician Mortgage Loan requires zero down payment as well as some other provisions that would make purchasing a house easier. This type of loan was created to assist students who are heavily burdened with student loans but have the prospect to pay back their loans in full in a shorter amount of time.

Applying for a mortgage loan is a big milestone, but an exciting one as well! While traditional mortgages are still a great choice for a lot of families, (Eastex offers up to 95% financing with approved credit), you do have other options available to you. For the best rates and mortgage plan, trust Eastex Credit Union. If you’re ready, click here to apply for a mortgage loan with Eastex today!

May 10, 2018

red lawn mower, green grass

Having the best yard on the street doesn’t have to drain your savings account. Here are some budget-friendly lawn care tips to have and maintain a great lawn.

DIY Budget-Friendly Lawn Care

Hiring a landscaping company can be pricey; it’s much more affordable to do as much as you can on your own. The basic equipment you will require depends on your yard, but typically you will need a mower, weed-eater, and some basic gardening tools.

Pick the Right Mower

The type of lawn mower you need is determined by the size of your yard and how much time you are willing to spend cutting the grass every week or two. There are five basic types of mowers and each uses a rotating blade to cut grass at an even height.

  • Push Reel Mower– These are the mowers that have been around since the 1830s and feature prominently in the “back in my day” stories that elders tell. These mowers do not have an engine and are powered solely by human force. These are an economical option if you have a small, flat yard.
  • Walk-behind Mower– Also called push mowers, these are the most popular type of lawn mower. They can be gas or electric and come with a variety of features, such as self-propelling or wide-area options, which can help you find the best one for your lawn.
  • Riding Lawn Mower– This type of mower is best suited for a large yard and is more expensive than the push reel or walk-behind. This mower features a large engine with a transmission and has a seat and gears which can be switched to fit the terrain of the yard and desired length of cut grass.
  • Hover Mower– Hover mowers are used mainly by commercial landscapers on steep slopes, waterfronts, and areas with lots of tall weeds. The mowers work by pushing air downwards, which lifts the mower off the ground, so it can float over the grass while cutting.
  • Robotic Mower– The most recently invented type of mower is the robotic mower. Much like there are robotic vacuums that will clean your house at the push of a button, the robotic mower will cut your lawn. This mower uses a wire buried a few inches underground, which defines a boundary of areas to be cut. Robotic mowers are powered by electricity and need to be docked prior to use, and the most recent models can be controlled remotely by a smartphone.

Make Your Own Lawn Treatments

Avoid handing over your hard-earned money for things you can make yourself for a fraction of the price. Fertilizing your lawn in the spring and fall can help it look healthy all year and helps to control weeds, but fertilizer is expensive. You can make your own budget-friendly lawn care fertilizer by composting your yard debris, such as leaves and grass clippings, and kitchen scraps, like fruit and vegetable peels and coffee grounds. Herbicides and insect sprays can also be made at home with common ingredients such as vinegar, dish soap, and garlic.

Be Sprinkler-Savvy

Watering your lawn frequently is a quick way to run up your water bill. Grass needs only about an inch of water per week and a single watering that soaks the roots can be more beneficial than frequent light watering. Also, check the weather forecast before you turn on the sprinkler. If rain is imminent, you might be able to skip watering that week. The time of day that you water your lawn is also important. Watering at mid-day means that most of the water sprayed on your lawn will be evaporated by the sun. Watering in the morning before it is too hot is the most effective time to turn on the sprinklers. To save even more money on watering, connect rain barrels to your house’s gutters and use the collected rainwater on your yard and plants.

At Eastex Credit Union, we want your yard to be the envy of the neighborhood. If you need help financing a new lawn mower, speak with one of our friendly loan officers today. Call us at 866-445-9622 or stop by any of our convenient locations and we’ll help find the best option for you and your lawn.

Sources: LawnEQ.com and U.S.News.com

May 3, 2018

pool, blue sky, home, trees, backyard

Texas is known for having long, hot summers and the best way to cool down on a hot day is swimming. As the temperature soars in the 90s and you are scouting out the nearest swimming hole, you might start dreaming about having your own backyard pool. Let’s dive into the financial costs that come with owning a swimming pool, which primarily fall into three categories: initial investment, ongoing maintenance, and insurance.

Initial Investment of Owning a Swimming Pool

The amount of money you will be spending initially depends on the type of pool you want. The typical above ground pool costs less than $5,000, whereas inground pools that require heavy machinery to excavate the pool’s spot cost between $15,000-40,000 and higher, depending on the pool’s size and if the basic material used is vinyl, fiberglass, or concrete. The pool’s pump and decorative features, such as the shape of the pool, light fixtures, decorative tiles, diving boards, and slides will also add to the initial cost of installing a pool, as can fences and locks that are required for compliance with local safety codes.

Ongoing Maintenance

Pool maintenance must be performed regularly to avoid having a backyard frog pond and mosquito habitat. Pools require frequent skimming to remove leaves and other debris that can clog the filter and vacuuming the things that have settled to the bottom of the pool. The sides of the pool need to be brushed prior to vacuuming to prevent build-up on the walls, and the pool filters need to be cleaned regularly. The water level needs to be maintained at the proper depth and will require refilling as necessary due to evaporation by the sun and water displacement from epic cannonballs. The pool water will require chemicals to maintain a balanced pH, and shock treatments will be necessary to reduce the ammonia and nitrogen that builds up over time. There are additional costs and maintenance that must be done when winterizing your pool after the swimming season, and prior to opening the pool. When problems, such as leaks, broken filters, and damaged pump motors occur, they can be pricey to repair. You should expect to spend between $100-300 each month for regular maintenance and budgeting for possible repairs is a good idea.

Insurance and Other Costs

When you have a backyard pool, you should expect to pay more for your home owner’s insurance. You will likely be required to have a certain level of liability coverage by your home insurance provider, due to the increased risk associated with owning a pool. Checking with your insurance provider should be the first step you take when looking into installing a pool in your yard. They will be able to give you an idea of how much you can expect to spend in your area and can put you in touch with reliable pool companies. Additional costs associated with pool ownership are higher electricity and water bills each month. The pool requires electricity to run its pump, filter, heater, and vacuum and water is needed to initially fill the pool and then to maintain the appropriate water level.

If your yard is not suitable for a pool, you might consider looking for properties that already have a pool. If you are interested in a property with a pool, be sure to have it inspected by a professional prior to signing the contract. Also, keep in mind that you do not always recoup the amount spent on a pool when you sell the house. While some people see a backyard pool as a selling point, others don’t see it as value-enhancing. If the costs associated with owning a pool are prohibitive, considering joining a community pool for a place to cool off while spending a fraction of what having your own pool would cost.

If you have carefully considered the costs and are ready to suit up and jump into your own pool, let Eastex Credit Union help with the financing. Speak with one of our friendly loan specialists by calling 866-445-9622 or come see us at any of our branch locations.

Sources: U.S. News and HomeAdvisor.com

Apr 19, 2018

meal prepping, containers, food prep, healthy food

Meal prepping is a trend that has recently taken America by storm – and for good reason. A great way to ensure healthy eating without spending time going to the grocery store or preparing it every day, it’s clear to see why many families are incorporating meal prepping into their weekly routines.

What is Meal Prepping?

Meal prepping is the act of taking one or two recipes, cooking them in bulk, and dividing them up into daily portion sizes to freeze and heat up every day. By creating all of your meals for the week, you no longer have to spend time cooking every day – which also helps you save money by eliminating that ever-present urge to just get takeout instead!

Many meal preppers find that establishing a meal plan ahead of time and then choosing a day off from work to pick up the ingredients at the grocery store and prepare all of the meals that day – depending on your work schedule, Sunday and Wednesday seem to be the best days.

Once you have cooked all of your food for the week, divide it up into Tupperware containers (make sure they are high-quality enough to withstand a few days in the freezer without freezer burn!) and store in the fridge or freezer, depending on what you cook.

Can You Meal Prep on a Budget?

Of course! Eating cheaply doesn’t mean breaking out the Ramen Noodles and Easy Mac anymore. In fact, by planning your meals ahead of time, you are able to avoid common money wasters like impulse buying, over-purchasing products, and leftover food waste.

Here are a few easy ways to eat healthier on a budget:

Take Stock of What Food Items You Already Have in Your Pantry

Nothing is more frustrating than being in the grocery store wondering if you already have cumin in the pantry at home, or if you need to buy more. Inevitably, it seems, you always make the wrong decision! Apps such as Out of Milk and websites like SuperCook help keep track of what food you already have, and what ingredients you’ll need to pick up from the store. By knowing this information ahead of time, you can also check out local grocery store deals and coupons to further save money.

Make Sure You Have the Necessary Tools

There are certain methods of cooking that can save a lot of time, but you need to be sure you have the right tools to do it! Foods such as stews, casseroles, and soups can produce a lot of food at a relatively low cost, but you need to have either a slow cooker, or a big pot to make large quantities at one time. You’ll most likely need larger pots and pans for the majority of your meal prep cooking, as you’ll be baking in much larger quantities than normal dinners. In addition, it’s always smart to have a meat thermometer in the kitchen to ensure everything is cooked correctly!

While it may seem like your kitchen will be destroyed after a day of meal prepping (true, it does get a little messy!) you can always look up ways to minimize the number of dishes you use. Check out this list of 27 healthy recipes you can cook on one sheet pan – delicious and practical! For those who prefer to primarily use crock pots, be sure to use slow cooker liners to make clean-up a breeze.

Cook Recipes That Yield A LOT of Food – But Will Stay Fresh!

Meal prepping doesn’t necessarily mean you’re also on a diet, so it’s important to be sure that you make enough food so that each portion fills you up adequately every day. However, you should be sure that whatever you are preparing will stay fresh throughout the week, or you might decide a tasty burger sounds a lot better! Here are a few foods that keep very well in the refrigerator or freezer:

  • Soups
  • Chicken Breast
  • Lentils
  • Rice (especially brown rice)
  • Ground meats (like beef & turkey)
  • Pasta
  • Cauliflower
  • Zucchini

To start putting together a collection of meal prep recipes, start here to find some quick and healthy meal prep recipes to get started!

Eastex wants to help you save money any way we can, and meal prepping is just one of the many ways to do so. Another great way to save money is to open up a savings account with us – our three savings plans offer the best options for kids, young adults, and seniors.

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