In The News
We’re a regular contributor to MoneySense magazine. We were invited to the 2018 Federal budget lock-up and were published in Macleans Magazine. In 2016 we entered a National financial planning competition and placed 2nd over-all.
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Retirement strategies to keep more money in your pocket
From income withdrawal strategies to the right software for DIY retirement plans, Peter wants to know the best ways to maximize his retirement nest egg.
Q. I retired seven years ago, when I was 55. I’d like to run projections and analyze the best way to draw down my RRSPs with the least amount of taxes payable. Is there a software package you’d recommend that can do this?
How to get a bigger benefit from your RRSP contribution
Invest with before-tax dollars if you can, and don’t let the resulting tax refund get swallowed by by day-to-day expenses.
Q. I am a hairdresser and my retired clients are telling me not to contribute to RRSPs because of all the tax they have to pay on withdrawals. Instead, they say I should contribute to a TFSA because the withdrawals are tax-free. What should I be doing?
Is Carol better off withdrawing all the money from her RRIF now?
At age 73, she believes this strategy will allow her to claim additional Guaranteed Income Supplement and and rent subsidy benefits.
Q. I am considering deregistering my Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) of $89,000 and taking the tax hit for the 2019 tax year. Doing this would leave me eligible to maximize the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) as well as the Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) in the future.
What’s the best way to help a relative, financially?
At 30, David’s nephew is living on close to minimum wage, with no retirement savings. An RRSP isn’t the best choice, because withdrawals will count as taxable income that may reduce government benefits. But there are other options.
Q. My nephew is 30 years old and works full-time in a close-to-minimum-wage job. He carries a mortgage on his condo and is able to save about $40 per paycheque. Periodically, he contributes to his TFSA but still struggles financially. I fear that he will not have saved sufficiently to fund a comfortable retirement.
How much should you give to charity?
You’ll want to consider how much you want to give, as well as how much you can afford, and when to apply the federal and provincial tax credits your donations qualify for.
Q. Can you share any thoughts on what is an appropriate amount to give to charities annually? I have often heard it expressed in terms of a percentage of household income. Also, are there any tax credits for charitable giving that, as a middle-income Canadian family with household income of $150,000 annually (evenly split between me and my spouse), we should be aware of for the 2019 tax year? And how could I make full use of those credits?
Is Dane, 50, on the right track with his early retirement strategy?
To bridge the gap between his last day of work, and the start of his defined-benefit pension payments at age 60, he plans to draw funds from laddered GICs.
Q. I’m 50 years old and I’d like to work for three more years, then “retire” at age 53. I’m single and have two defined benefit pensions that I could begin collecting at age 55 but want leave them untouched until I turn 60 as that allows me to qualify for full pensions.
At 49, Simon has about $600,000 in registered and non-registered investments, and wonders if it’s enough to live on through his golden years.
Q. I need some help figuring out what to do with my nest egg. I have always done my own investing and returns have been pretty good. However, this year at age 49, I am unexpectedly retired and would like to stay that way. I had liquidated most of my assets to start fresh with a “cash-flow” income-generating, retirement-type portfolio but I am kind of stuck on how to go about it building one.
Should James take a lump-sum pension buyout and invest the money himself?
Upon closer consideration, many people find that keeping their guaranteed pension payments leaves them better off.
Q. I work for the provincial government of one of the Atlantic provinces. I will be 55 next year and will have 29 years of service; I’m ready to retire.
When your investment partners don’t play by the CRA’s rules
Marcus and some friends turned a profit on their investment property. Trouble is, two of them plan to keep the income a secret from the Canada Revenue Agency. How can Marcus protect himself?
Q. Three friends and I pooled our money ($100,000 total) two years ago as a down payment to buy a rental condo in Toronto. All four of our names are on title. We flipped the condo this past May for a total profit of $120,000 after expenses. That’s a $30,000 capital gain for each of us, which is pretty good.
How to leave money to an adult child with no investing know-how
Dee wants to ensure that her son receives a regular monthly income, while protecting the lump sum of his inheritance. What are the options?
Q. When my husband and I pass away, our only son will be in line for a significant inheritance. Being realistic about his capabilities, we need to pass along this legacy in a responsible way; our son will not be capable of handling a lump sum. Our wish is to have the money reach him in monthly increments throughout his entire life, and also to protect it from a future spouse should that marriage fail. We have no other close relatives and are considering putting the money into a trust, but my understanding is that the funds would be taxed at up to 53%. Are there any alternatives?
How safe is it to keep more than $100,000 in one savings account?
Marcus and Rina have socked away $120,000 for a down payment in a single savings account at a small credit union. Should they be worried?
Q. My wife, Rina, and I are in our late 20s and are saving up for a downpayment for a home. We have $120,000 in our account and are trying to reach $200,000 so we can make at minimum a 20% downpayment on a $1 million detached home in Toronto. My question is, how safe is our money in one account? Are small institutions like my credit union a risky place to keep over $100,000 in savings? And should we consider different account options for the savings?
Tax-reduction strategies don’t need to be complicated to work
Lou, 39, is curious about flow-through shares and other tax-enhanced investment options.
Q. I’ve done some research into tax-enhanced investment options, including corporate-class or swap-based funds, investments that pay a return of tax-free capital, flow-through shares, and life insurance strategies to help reduce taxes. When should someone consider these investment options and how do they determine which one is best for them?
What’s your investing “why?”
Instead of focusing on target returns, start with what you want the money to do for you and your family.
Q. My wife and I are in our 40s and about to receive a sizeable (for us) inheritance. We want to generate a minimum 8% annual return on the money and keep it safe, while at the same time minimizing taxes. We’re looking at putting the maximum allowed into the TFSAs of six family members, totalling roughly $350,000 since we think it’s a good way to minimize taxes. Is there anything else that we should be considering in this fortunate situation?
Beyond financial planning: How to achieve the lifestyle you want
Newly mortgage-free, Mara is looking to invest $26,000 annually. But does that mean putting off life goals she could be enjoying today?
Q. I have just turned 40, am single, and earn $86,000 a year. I also have zero debt. I just finished paying off my house, worth $315,000, and I would like to continue to put away my mortgage payment of $1,000 every two weeks as savings.
Using a HELOC as an investment strategy: not as taboo as you might think
Should Martha leverage the equity in her home to invest in dividend-paying investments—and what are the tax repercussions?
Q. I wish to leverage my home equity line of credit (HELOC) to invest in dividend-paying investments. How would you advise I approach this? Is this an effective tax savings tool? Is there any financial institution or products you would advise?
When does investing in flow-through shares make sense?
And is the possibility of capital losses down the road worth the added risk?
Q. My wife and I are nearing the end of our working careers. We are big planners and have a financial plan that we have been successfully working with for over 15 years. My wife will be retiring from teaching in two to three years with a full pension. As a part of our plan I left my job this May prior to my 50th birthday to pull my Pension (I know this is a controversial move, but did I mention our 15-year plan?), I am planning on returning to work for the next few years.
She’s 34 and wants to retire at 65 with $70,000 a year. Can she?
Jenna’s quick calculations show she’ll need $2 million in savings. Is that really true?
Q. I need some advice on saving for retirement. I’m 34 years old and hope to retire at age 65 with a gross annual income of $70,000. I currently earn $110,000 a year from my job at a law firm.
What’s better, a LIRA or an enhanced pension?
And which is best if Craig wants to leave money to his kids?
Q. I plan on retiring in the next year. I will have BC Municipal Pension Plan income as well as about $400,000 dollars in my Special Agreements (SA) account. Just to clarify, an SA is a unique feature of BC pensions. The contributions can be transferred to a locked-in retirement vehicle or used to increase your lifetime monthly pension—you choose. I have been employed with the same company for 32 years. So when I retire, I have to make one of these two choices with my SA—leave the money in the pension and receive it added on to my monthly pension OR put the entire amount into a locked-in registered retirement fund (LIRA). I am not sure what the benefits of each would be, and which I should do. I do like the idea of putting it into a locked-in fund, separate from my monthly pension income so that whatever is remaining when I die, will go to my children. Any advice you could give would be much appreciated.
Should I invest my money or buy a life insurance policy instead?
Which makes more sense if Alessandro wants to leave money to his kids.
Q: My wife and I are both 40 and have two kids—ages 5 and 7. We are considering buying a joint last-to-die life insurance policy that would cost a fixed $7,105 per year for ten years. That’s a total of $71,050 and the policy would pay $500,000 when the last of us dies. This is a proposition from our advisor after we have made our retirement plan. We have concluded that we have enough savings to retire at 55 with a very comfortable nest egg made up of TFSAs, RRSPs, and defined benefit pension plans, as well as money in non-registered investments.
At 66, borrowing to invest in a TFSA isn’t a good idea
Dawn has never had a financial plan. She should pay off her debt and focus on maximizing government tax credits and benefits.
Q. I am 66 years old and have not had a good financial plan, but hope to work for another 5-10 years. I own my condo and will have it paid off in full in 5 to 6 years. I also have no savings to speak of—except for $12,000.
Are annuities, bonds or GICs best for an 80-year-old’s money?
Terry has done well with higher yield shares and ETFs, but is worried about rising interest rates.
Q: My wife and I receive about $2,500 a month each in pensions. Plus, we each have about $75,000 in our TFSA accounts and about $180,000 in our RIF accounts. I have never been a fan of bonds, so for the last few years, I have invested in higher yield shares and ETFs. This has proved very successful and has supplemented our pensions generously so that we can travel four or more times a year.
How should a new Canadian invest his extra cash?
Should Adam add it to his TFSA? Or pay down the mortgage on his properties?
Q. I am a new Canadian (27 years old) and started working in Canada about 1.5 years ago. It took me a while to figure out how things work in this country and a few months ago, after ditching a financial advisor who was also a family friend, I started investing on my own.
How to invest for an unexpected early retirement
Should Danny downsize, invest differently, or clear his debts?
Q: I need some advice. I have a LIRA worth $21,000, an RRSP worth $92,000 and a TFSA worth $38,000. I’ve also been divorced for three years now and I live alone most of the time.
Can Anne, 63, afford to retire right now?
Or will she run out of money?
Anne, a 63-year-old divorced human resource manager earning $100,000 annually, retired a year ago and has been living off a small $45,000 inheritance. But she is worried. “I don’t have a company pension so I will have to start drawing down my investment portfolio later this year,” says Anne. “I am concerned that I won’t have enough money. I know I can return to work if I have to but I don’t really want to. And even though I have an advisor, it would be great to get a second opinion on whether my money will last for my lifetime.”
How should a 24-year-old invest a $500,000 inheritance?
Is investing it all in the stock market a good idea? Or should Eric consider a rental property?
Q: My parents recently passed away and I inherited close to $500,000. I am 24 years old working as an engineer-in-training in Toronto with an annual salary of $65,000. My student loans are paid off and I carry no credit card debt. I currently live off my own salary with about 40% of my after-tax income going towards rent and car payments. I put 8% of my salary towards a company matched RRSP and they match an additional 4%. My TFSA is capped in a mix of ETFs.
How to give your kids TFSA investment advice
Rosie is considering helping her kids choose an ETF for their TFSAs but isn’t sure which one is best.
Q: I would just like to get some tips on how to advise my young adults on where to invest their money. They are ages 22 and 23. It’s for their TFSA.
How to invest a $240,000 inheritance
Shirley is 65 years old, retired, and considers herself a conservative investor. What should she do?
Q:I am 63 years old, and stayed home to raise my family for a number of years, so do not have a lot of employment years or high income. I am currently working, but my health is slowly diminishing due to rheumatoid arthritis and not sure how much longer I can work full time.
TFSA penalties for holding foreign investments
What are “permitted” as well as “non-qualified” investments?
Q: I have a TFSA and have read a lot about investing within a TFSA, but one area is still a question mark in my mind— investing in equities or funds that are on an exchange from outside of Canada or equities that are listed on the TSX or Venture exchanges but have out-of-country holdings. So my question is:
Easy way to calculate capital gains tax on DRIP shares
When you have no records, it can be difficult. Here’s advice.
Q: I purchased 100 Bank of Nova Scotia dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP) common shares @ $30.60 in 1994 and have since added 300 shares through their Optional Cash Purchases at different intervals. My account today has a balance of almost 950 shares in total @ $77.00 (certificate shares and drip shares).
What’s the safest, most tax-efficient way for Jim to invest $500,000?
Try paying down debt.
Q: I have $500,000 coming to me soon from a property sale and am looking for the best fixed-income product to invest in. I have no immediate use for these funds but I’m hoping it can be tax efficient too. Any suggestions?
Best investment strategies for newcomers to Canada
This family has an extra $10,000 they’d like to grow.
Q: I will be immigrating to Canada in November with my spouse and three children, and I need advice on the investment opportunities a new immigrant can take advantage of. We have done a budget of our landing costs and have realized that we have an excess of $10,000 CAD outside the cost of living expenses for six months.
How much to save and invest to cover inflation for 40 years
This woman’s $50,000 annual DB pension won’t be indexed.
Q: I’m pretty lucky to have a defined benefit pension from my employer. I will receive $60,000 annually from it in five years. Unfortunately, it will not be indexed. How can I calculate the amount of saving that I need before retirement to cover the inflation for 40 years? I want to keep the same power of buying.
What to do with a $2.4 million retirement portfolio
Paul also has $130K a year in pension income for life.
Q: My wife and I have a portfolio of about $1,600,000 in dividend-paying stocks that include banks and financials, REITs, pipelines, utilities, some ETFs tracking Canadian and U.S. high dividends stocks and the US S&P 500, and ETF tracking all the world except Canada. We also have $800,000 in GICs and high-interest savings accounts. We are also fortunate to have Defined Benefit pensions and annuities producing about $130,000 in income per year. My question is, what should I be doing with our investments at this point? We have more than enough to live on and won’t likely ever spend all this money. We are both 77 years old.
Should you sell mutual funds with DSC charges?
Katrina could lose thousands and wonders if there’s a better way.
Q: I had a Life Income Fund (LIF) with one of the Big Five banks and a few years ago I met a person who said he could make my money grow faster with his company’s mutual funds. I decided to invest with him. Two years on and I’m losing money on it, and not due to the stock market’s performance. So I’ve decided it’s best to move my money back to the Big Five Bank. I have been told now that I will have to pay a Deferred Sales Charge (DSC fee) in order to do so. I was never advised of this fee or told that there would be implications if I moved my money down the road, at the time that I signed my money over to them, and now I could lose thousands just to move my money. Is there a way to fight this? I’m not a savvy investor, and I think I’ve been had!
Best way to allocate cash in a $1.4 million retirement portfolio
This 66-year-old retired couple’s portfolio is more than 25% in cash. Where should they put it?
Q: My wife and I are both 66 years old, retired in British Columbia, and have no kids (that I know of!) We both receive CPP (about $550/monthly each) and full OAS ($470/monthly each). About 10 years ago, we both agreed to get rid of our financial advisor and manage our portfolio ourselves. Out of interest and because I enjoy investing as a hobby, I decided to manage everything myself, sharing information on our investments with my wife a few times a year (she has no interest in investing herself.)
Spousal RRSP or TFSA: The best option for a retired couple
If you want to prolong your retirement money, try the RRSP. But for estate planning, a TFSA may be the better choice.
Q: When my husband turned 60 we set up a spousal RRSP account for me and put his $800 monthly Canada pension cheque into it. We did this because I was a stay at home parent and there will be no pension for me. Now, five years later the balance is at $55,000. My husband is now retired, we live on his employer pension and continue to put his Canada pension in this spousal RRSP that was set up for me. I’m not sure this is the best way to invest that money. Should we be looking at other options? If so should we leave what’s already in the RRSP where it is and start doing something else with new contributions? Again, we contribute about $800 each month.
Can a TFSA be invested in a life annuity?
Brian has been told that he can’t. What are his options?
Q: I read on an insurance broker’s blog it’s possible to have an annuity within a TFSA so the payout would happen within the TFSA, and I’ve been trying to have that set up for months. I contacted eight insurance companies, and they all said it’s not possible. Instead, they suggest their lifetime income products such as Guaranteed Investment Funds (GIFs) so I’m confused. Can you have an annuity within a TFSA or not? And if so, how and where can it be done?
Is taking CPP at age 60 the best option for a lower income earner?
Lisa needs a good strategy.
Q: Is taking CPP at age 60 the best option for a lower-income working person? Is it really leaving money on the table to wait until age 65 to start taking it? I have a yearly income of about $47,000 now and a company defined contribution pension plan worth about $200,000 with my employer. What’s the bests strategy to maximize my income in retirement?
My advisor sold me high-fee funds. Should I dump her?
Remember, fees are only one part of your advisor relationship. And you can get them lowered.
Q. My RRSP and TFSA are invested in mutual funds with MERs of 2% to 2.4%. Should I be looking at investing in ETFs, which are cheaper? I do have a financial planner who must work with the funds she can access and those include Sentry, Dynamic, CI and BMO. Should I stay with the advisor and use the mutual funds offered or go the ETF route which would likely be cheaper for me? How do I decide? Would sure appreciate your advice.
Do I pay tax on dividends after I withdraw my fund from a TFSA?
Why dividend paying investments are a good fit for TFSAs.
Q. My TFSA is maxed out and I hold EIT Income Fund (EIT.UN-T) which is a high-paying dividend stock. My pension income is minimal and I’ll be using the dividend as investment income soon. Presently, I am on the DRIP with my dividends. I don’t think I’ll have to pay tax when I use this dividend as income. Am I correct in this assumption?
Can I win by shifting funds from my RRSP to my TFSA?
An RRSP drawdown to fund your TFSA can mean more retirement income.
Q. I have 95% of my investments in RRSPs, and do not have new money to contribute to TFSAs. Does it make sense to withdraw $5,500 each year and move it over to a TFSA? I am 52 years old and have $200,000 in RRSPs and $5,000 in TFSAs. My wish would be to move as much as I can per year to catch up to the maximum I’m able to hold in TFSAs (since 2009). I realize the tax implications so perhaps the best thing to do is always withdraw under $5,000 to pay only 10% tax? Is this the best way? I appreciate any response.
How to stop paying high fees on bank stocks
Our bank advisor is bleeding us on bank stock fees. How do I make it stop?
Q. We have a portfolio of investments at an investment branch of a major financial institution. Our annual fees, based on the size of our portfolio, were $18,000 last year. This seems outrageous given that approximately one-third of our portfolio is sitting in bank stocks which we have no intention of ever selling.
Should we cash in our whole life policies and invest?
Whole life is like a GIC with free life insurance if held long enough.
Q. My wife and I have had a 20-year pay life insurance plan with London Life for several years. The plan has been paid for by dividends after 20 years of premiums. We are both 60 years old now, with two adult children ages 24 and 27, and both have their own careers. The plans are both worth $60,000 each as life insurance and they both have a cash value of $30,000 each.
Can I contribute to a TFSA after giving up my U.S. status?
U.S. citizens pay tax on any income they receive from their TFSAs.
Q. I have just renounced my U.S. status. Can I contribute the full cumulative amount to a TFSA? And is there a waiting period before I can make a contribution?
Can Shaun and Kara retire in four years?
This couple’s biggest challenge is learning how to spend in retirement.
Shaun, 54, and Kara, 52, who live in Calgary, have $815,000 of their savings in U.S. stock and retirement funds. They also have TFSA and RRSPs in Canadian investments. How do they draw down their portfolio to minimize taxes so that they can achieve $60,000 annually in income starting in four years?
You can now pay income tax with a credit card
But should you? We crunch the numbers to see if it makes financial sense.
Canada Revenue Agency has spent years getting taxpayers to file their tax returns digitally (more than 80% now do so) and to sign up for digital options to receive their tax refunds. It was easier for the tax department and you had an incentive to join in if you were getting money back—it was a lot faster than waiting for a tax refund cheque in the mail.
The problem with investing $150,000 in seg funds
Often the math doesn’t add up.
Q. My wife will be 56 years old this year and has about $150,000 invested with a financial planner who wants to move it all into segregated funds. She expects to work for another six to 10 years. I looked at the performance and the costs (in terms of fees and penalties) of the seg funds she wants to recommend and unless the market has a major crash I don’t see the value in making the move. I have read some rumblings about a major downturn that could happen sometime in the next few years. But more than 25% of the market? Any thoughts? My fear is that she’s just looking for the commissions or is really trying to work in her best interests.
Two benefits of ‘corporate class’ mutual funds
And what exactly does tax efficiency in a fund even mean, anyway?
Q. How do corporate class mutual funds work and how can I benefit?
The trouble with moving stocks to a TFSA
Private placements can pay off, but you’re going to have to take a hit on capital gains.
Q. I bought stocks through a private placement last year and was given a stock certificate which I have to hold for five months. At the end of April, I will be able to credit my TFSA with these shares. However, these shares have gone up in value. If I provide enough proof of purchase, would the broker credit these shares to my TFSA at book value or does it have to be at market value?
Can I diversify with a few stocks or do I need a mutual fund?
Low-fee investing is smart, but be sure to spread your risk around
Q.I would like to know if it’s better to own diverse stocks (for instance, one bank stock, one energy stock, one railway stock, one telecom, etc.) or mutual funds which are no-load and low MER such as the Mawer group of funds? Which method would be better for someone like myself who has a 15-to-20-year time horizon? How would I determine the best time to start cashing out? Is there a formula or book I can refer to?
How Carol can calculate her advisor’s value
Compare the costs between an advisor, a robo advisor and DIY.
Q. How do I know if my advisor is charging me too much in fees? How do I know if he is giving me the best advice? Should I leave what I have invested with him at Sun Life (about $75,000) and start putting the rest of my future savings with someone else? I am 61 years old and will retire at 65 with a full pension from a provincial police service. Any advice would be appreciated.
How to retire at 60 with $45,000 in income
Here are six ways a couple can meet their retirement goal.
Q. If my spouse and I retire at age 60 in about three years—and want to have $45,000 net annually to spend—how much money will we need to have saved? We have no company pensions—only full CPP and OAS. We expect to live to age 85.
Morneau reveals tax treatment on small business income
$50,000 per year of passive income still qualifies for the small business tax rate.
Should Eleanor invest her $20,000 in a TFSA or RRSP?
How to calculate where you should put your money to grow.
Q. I would like to invest $10,000 in an RBC mutual fund with a 4% dividend and another $10,000 in a fixed income Bond fund yielding 4%. Which account should I hold these in—my TFSA or RRSP—and does it really make a difference?
How to retire in your 40s with $60,000 a year for life
A 44-year-old doctor and her husband want to retire and generate $60,000 a year.
Joanna and Charlie A. are both 44 years old and live in London, Ont. Joanna, a physician, has spent the last 20 years managing the family’s investments and next year, she wants to hang up her white coat and dedicate herself to freelance writing—a side hustle she’s had for several years now. In fact, Joanna’s written several articles for magazines and websites and looks forward to dabbling in fiction writing. To do so, she’s ready to give up her well-paying full-time day job at a southwestern Ontario hospital.
Withdraw from a TFSA to contribute to an RRSP?
Think about your future retirement income level before you raid your TFSA to feed your RRSP.
Q: When does it make sense to withdraw money from a TFSA and move it to an RRSP? I am in my late 50s and considering doing this as I have a fairly high income and not much cash on hand to make RRSP contributions. Is that a good move for me?
Over-contributing to RRSP vs TFSA. Which is worse?
You pay a penalty either way, but RRSPs can work out better for seniors.
Q. Is it worse to overcontribute to a TFSA or an RRSP? Why? And what are the penalties?
How to bridge from early retirement to taking a pension
Retiring at 55 will work but careful with the asset mix in your nest egg
Q. I’d like some advice about what is the best way to keep your portfolio at your target allocation when you start to withdraw money when you retire.
Transfer assets to your TFSA with minimal tax impact
You can’t escape a capital gains hit, but you can minimize it. Here’s how
Q: I foolishly bought 20 stocks on the TSX a couple of years ago in a non-registered account. They will be subject to capital gains when sold. One of them lost almost all its value. The others have held their own or made gains. I want to transfer the stocks to my TFSA, but obviously, don’t want to incur the full tax penalty. What would be the best way to mitigate this mistake?
Get richer, faster with early TFSA & RRSP contributions
Here’s how much procrastinating on your contributions is costing you.
When it comes to saving through registered savings plans, most of us make two very costly mistakes: we tend to contribute too little and too late in the year to get the full benefit of tax-free compounding. It is costing you money —and we’ll prove it.
Should I pay off a loan using my RRIF?
The math says no, but don’t overlook your own mindset.
Q: I’m retired and used a line of credit to do repairs on my house. Should I draw from my RRIF to pay it off or just keep paying down the line of credit gradually?
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