Money Matters » How to start investing when you don’t know anything about investing

How to start investing when you don’t know anything about investing

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Overcoming Initial Investment Hesitations

Addressing the Fear of Investing as a Beginner

It’s normal to feel apprehensive when you’re new to investing. The world of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and ETFs can seem daunting, and the fear of making a wrong move and losing money is real.

But remember, even the most successful investors were once beginners too. They also had to navigate the unfamiliar terrain of financial markets and learn how to make wise investment decisions.

The key to overcoming this fear is education. By learning about different investment options, understanding how markets work, and gaining knowledge about risk management, you can reduce your anxiety and become more confident in your investing abilities.

fear of investing

The Importance of Embarking on Your Investment Journey

Despite the initial apprehensions, starting your investment journey is crucial. Investing is one of the most effective ways to grow your wealth over time.

It allows you to put your money to work and earn returns that can outpace inflation, helping you achieve your financial goals, be it buying a house, funding your child’s education, or securing a comfortable retirement.

Moreover, the earlier you start investing, the better. Thanks to the power of compounding, even small amounts invested regularly can grow significantly over time. Hence, don’t let a lack of knowledge deter you from taking the first step towards financial growth.

investing growth

Setting the Tone: Demystifying the World of Investing for Beginners

This blog post aims to be a beginner-friendly guide to the world of investing. We understand that investment jargon and complex financial concepts can be intimidating for novices. That’s why we’ve made it our mission to break down these complexities and demystify investing.

In the following sections, we’ll cover everything from understanding the basics of investing and choosing the right investment options to creating a diversified portfolio and managing risks. Our goal is to equip you with the knowledge and confidence needed to start your investment journey.

We’ll also address common concerns and questions that beginners typically have, such as “How much money do I need to start investing?” or “How to choose the right investment platform?”. By the end of this guide, you should feel ready to take the plunge into the world of investing.

Remember, knowledge is power, especially when it comes to investing. So, let’s embark on this educational journey together and unlock the potential of investments.

Understanding the Basics: Decoding Investment Concepts

Fundamental Investment Concepts: Stocks, Bonds, and Mutual Funds

Before you embark on your investment journey, it’s important to understand the fundamental concepts. At the heart of investing are three key types of financial assets: stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.

Stocks represent ownership in a company. When you buy a stock, you become a shareholder and gain a claim on the company’s assets and earnings. Stocks have the potential for high returns but also come with high risk because their value can fluctuate significantly based on market conditions.

Bonds, on the other hand, are essentially loans that you give to companies or governments. In return, these entities promise to pay you back the loan amount, along with interest, over a specified period. Bonds are generally considered less risky than stocks, but they also offer lower returns.

Mutual Funds are investment vehicles that pool money from many investors to invest in a diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds, or other assets. Mutual funds offer diversification and professional management but come with management fees.


The Risk and Return Relationship in Investing

In the world of investing, risk and return go hand in hand. The potential for higher returns usually comes with higher risk.

Stocks, for example, can offer high returns if the company performs well, but they also carry the risk of significant losses if the company underperforms. Bonds, while offering more stable returns, may not keep pace with inflation, posing a different kind of risk.

Understanding this risk-return tradeoff is crucial when choosing investment options. Your goal should be to strike a balance that aligns with your risk tolerance, investment goals, and time horizon.


Key Investment Terms: Diversification, Dividends, and Market Capitalization

As you delve deeper into investing, you’ll come across numerous terminologies. Here are a few key terms:

Diversification is a strategy that involves spreading your investments across various assets to reduce risk. The idea is that losses in one investment may be offset by gains in another.

Dividends are a portion of a company’s earnings that are distributed to shareholders, usually as cash or additional shares. Not all companies pay dividends, but those that do can provide a steady income stream to investors.

Market Capitalization (Market Cap) refers to the total market value of a company’s outstanding shares of stock. It’s calculated by multiplying the share price by the number of shares outstanding. Market cap can give you an idea of the company’s size and its potential risk and return.

By understanding these basic investment concepts and terms, you’ll be better equipped to make informed investment decisions. Remember, a solid foundation in the basics is the first step towards successful investing.

Identifying Your Financial Goals

Before diving into the investment pool, it’s crucial to identify your financial goals. These goals will serve as your compass, guiding your investment decisions and strategies.

The Significance of Setting Clear Financial Goals Before Investing

Setting clear financial goals before investing is fundamental to achieving financial security. With a clear goal in mind, investors can create a realistic plan for achieving their objectives within a specific time frame. Having clear financial goals makes it easier to focus on investing strategies that help you achieve those goals.

For example, if your goal is to save for retirement, knowing this can influence the type of investments you choose, how much you need to invest, and for how long. Without clear financial goals, you might find yourself aimlessly investing without a clear direction or understanding of what you’re trying to achieve.

set clear financial goals

Short-Term and Long-Term Financial Objectives

Short-term financial objectives might include saving for a vacation, building an emergency fund, or accumulating a down payment for a house. These are typically goals you aim to achieve within the next few years.

Long-term financial objectives, on the other hand, could be saving for retirement, funding your child’s education, or growing wealth for future generations. These are goals that will take several years or even decades to achieve.

set clear financial goals short term vs long term

How Goals Influence Investment Strategies and Timelines

Your financial goals directly shape your investment strategies and timelines. For instance, if you have a short-term goal like saving for a vacation, you might lean towards safer, more liquid investments that can provide returns over a shorter period.

On the contrary, if you’re saving for a long-term goal like retirement, you might opt for riskier investments like stocks that have the potential for higher long-term returns3. The timeline for your goal also influences how much you need to save and invest. The sooner you need the money, the more you’ll need to save each month.

In conclusion, identifying your financial goals is a crucial step in the investing process. It not only provides direction but also helps shape your investment strategies and timelines. So, take time to reflect on what you want to achieve financially before you start investing.

Assessing Risk Tolerance

Understanding your risk tolerance is a crucial part of the investment process. It helps you make informed decisions about what types of investments to include in your portfolio.

Understanding Risk Tolerance and Its Role in Investment Decisions

Risk tolerance refers to an investor’s ability to endure losses within their investment portfolio. It’s an essential factor in investment decisions because it determines the level of risk you’re comfortable with when investing your money.

This comfort level often depends on your financial situation, investment goals, and personality.

High-risk tolerance often corresponds with higher potential returns. Investors with high-risk tolerance are generally willing to accept the possibility of losing a significant amount of their investment for the chance of receiving higher returns.

Conversely, those with low-risk tolerance prefer investments that preserve their initial investment, even if this means accepting lower returns.

investment strategies

Tools to Assess Your Risk Tolerance

Several online tools and quizzes can help you assess your risk tolerance:

  1. Vanguard’s Investor Questionnaire: This questionnaire gauges your risk tolerance based on your financial situation, goals, and comfort level with risk.
  2. FINRA’s Risk Meter: This tool uses a set of questions to determine whether you share characteristics and behavior traits that have been shown to relate to higher levels of risk.
  3. Zacks Investment Research’s Risk Tolerance Quiz: This quiz measures your risk tolerance based on your responses to various investment scenarios.

Remember, these tools are just guides. It’s important to consider your complete financial picture and consult with a financial advisor if needed.

risk tolerance

The Importance of Aligning Investments with Risk Preferences

Ensuring your investments align with your risk tolerance is essential for successful investing. If you invest in assets that exceed your risk tolerance, you may be tempted to sell off when the market fluctuates, which could lead to financial losses.

On the other hand, if your investments are too conservative, you may not achieve your financial goals within your desired time frame.

In conclusion, understanding your risk tolerance is a crucial step in creating a balanced investment portfolio. By aligning your investments with your risk preferences, you can ensure that you’re comfortable with the level of risk in your portfolio, which can contribute to a more positive investment experience.

aligning investment with risk tolerance

Choosing the Right Investment Platform

Navigating the investment world can be daunting, especially for beginners. One of the first steps to starting your investment journey is choosing the right platform. This decision can significantly affect your experience and success as an investor.

Various Investment Platforms Suitable for Beginners

There are numerous investment platforms available, each with its unique features, advantages, and drawbacks. Here are a few that are highly recommended for beginners:

  1. TD Ameritrade: Known for its excellent educational resources, TD Ameritrade is a great place for new investors to start. They offer a wide range of investment options, including stocks, bonds, ETFs, and mutual funds.
  2. Charles Schwab: Charles Schwab provides a robust platform for beginners with a broad selection of investment products, top-tier research, and excellent customer service.
  3. Fidelity Investments: Fidelity offers a comprehensive platform with a variety of investment options. They also have strong educational resources, making it suitable for beginners.
  4. E-Trade by Morgan Stanley: E-Trade offers user-friendly tools, comprehensive educational content, and a wide range of investment options.
  5. Ally Invest: Ally Invest is known for its intuitive platform and competitive pricing. They offer a wide array of investment options, including managed portfolios.

choosing an investment platform

Comparing Brokerage Accounts, Robo-Advisors, and Investment Apps

Brokerage accounts are platforms where you can buy and sell securities like stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. They often provide access to research materials and investment tools, making them ideal for hands-on investors who want to manage their own investments.

Robo-advisors, on the other hand, use algorithms to manage your investments based on your financial goals and risk tolerance. They’re typically low-cost and require less effort on your part, making them suitable for hands-off investors.

Investment apps offer the convenience of managing your investments right from your smartphone. Many of these apps also feature easy-to-use interfaces and educational content, making them a good option for beginner investors.

comparing brokerage accounts

Considering Factors like Fees, User Interface, and Educational Resources

When choosing an investment platform, consider factors like fees, user interface, and educational resources.

Fees: Understand the cost structure of the platform. This could include trading fees, account management fees, and any other costs associated with using the platform.

User Interface: The platform should be intuitive and easy to navigate. A complex interface can make the investment process frustrating and confusing.

Educational Resources: As a beginner, you’ll benefit from platforms that provide educational resources. These can help you understand investing basics and make informed decisions.

In conclusion, selecting the right investment platform is a critical first step in your investing journey. Consider your needs, do your research, and choose a platform that aligns with your investment goals and risk tolerance.

Starting Small: The Power of Micro-Investing

Micro-investing is a great way to start your investment journey, particularly if you’re new to the world of investing or have limited funds to invest. It makes investing accessible to everyone, regardless of income level or financial knowledge.

Understanding Micro-Investing and Its Accessibility for Beginners

Micro-investing is the practice of investing small amounts of money regularly. Instead of needing large sums to start investing, you can begin with just a few dollars or even spare change. This approach breaks down the financial barrier typically associated with investing, making it more accessible for beginners and those with limited income.

The idea behind micro-investing is simple: small amounts invested regularly can add up over time, especially when compounded. It’s an excellent way to dip your toes into the investment world without taking on significant risk.

micro investing

Micro-Investing Apps and Platforms

Several apps and platforms facilitate micro-investing. Here are a few popular ones:

  1. Acorns: Acorns rounds up your everyday purchases to the nearest dollar and invests the spare change. It’s user-friendly and requires minimal effort, making it a great choice for beginner investors.
  2. Stash: Stash allows you to start investing with as little as $5. It offers educational content to help you learn about investing as you go.
  3. Robinhood: Robinhood offers commission-free trades and allows you to invest in stocks, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies. It’s known for its easy-to-use interface and is suitable for those who want to be more hands-on with their investments.

investment apps

Benefits of Starting Small and Gradually Increasing Investments Over Time

Starting small with micro-investing has several benefits:

  1. Reduced Financial Stress: Micro-investing allows you to start investing without making substantial financial commitments. This can reduce the stress often associated with investing, especially for beginners.
  2. Learning Opportunity: By starting small, you can learn the ropes of investing without exposing yourself to significant risk. As you gain confidence and knowledge, you can gradually increase your investments.
  3. Building a Saving Habit: Regularly investing small amounts can help you develop a consistent saving habit. Over time, this can contribute to substantial growth in your investment portfolio.

In conclusion, micro-investing is an accessible and low-risk way to start your investment journey. It allows you to learn about investing, build a saving habit, and grow your wealth over time. Remember, the key to successful investing is consistency and patience, not necessarily the amount you start with.

Educational Resources for Beginners

Investing can be complex, but with the right resources, you can build a strong foundation of knowledge. Here’s a curated list of educational resources that novice investors can utilize to enhance their investment literacy.

financial education

Books for Novice Investors

  1. A Random Walk Down Wall Street” by Burton G. Malkiel: This book provides a comprehensive overview of various investment opportunities and strategies. It’s written in a way that’s easy for beginners to understand.
  2. The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham: Often referred to as the “bible of investing,” this book offers timeless advice on value investing.
  3. Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits” by Philip Fisher: This book provides insights into what makes a great investment and how to spot one. Fisher’s 15-point checklist for investing in stocks is a valuable tool for any investor.

Podcasts for Novice Investors

  1. The Motley Fool Money Show: This weekly podcast covers the most recent news in the stock market and provides investment advice.
  2. InvestED: Hosted by Phil Town, this podcast teaches the principles of value investing in an understandable way.
  3. The Dave Ramsey Show: While not exclusively about investing, this popular podcast covers a wide range of personal finance topics, including investing.

Online Courses for Novice Investors

  1. Investing 101: Stock Market Course for Beginners (Skillshare): This course covers the basics of investing in the stock market and helps you develop your own investing strategy.
  2. Finance for Everyone: Smart Tools for Decision-Making (edX): This course teaches the fundamentals of finance, including the time value of money, risk-return tradeoff, and asset valuation.
  3. Introduction to Financial Markets (Coursera): Offered by Yale University, this course provides a broad introduction to several key financial concepts, markets, and instruments.

The Importance of Continuous Learning

Investment literacy is not a one-time achievement but a lifelong pursuit. The financial market is dynamic and constantly evolving, and continuous learning is the key to staying informed and making wise investment decisions. Therefore, always keep your curiosity alive and take every opportunity to enhance your knowledge and understanding of investing.

In conclusion, there are numerous resources available to help beginners understand investing. By leveraging these resources and committing to continuous learning, you can build a solid foundation in investment literacy.

financial coaching

Building a Diversified Portfolio

Building a diversified portfolio is one of the fundamental principles of investing. It’s a strategy that can help manage risk and potentially enhance returns over time.

Importance of Diversification for Risk Management

Diversification involves spreading your investments across different types of assets or asset classes to reduce risk. The rationale behind diversification is that different assets often perform differently under various market conditions. By owning a variety of assets, you’re less likely to suffer significant losses if one or more of your investments perform poorly.

In essence, diversification is about not putting all your eggs in one basket. It’s a risk management strategy designed to mitigate the potential negative impact of any single investment on your overall portfolio.

diversified portfolio

Creating a Diversified Portfolio with a Mix of Assets

To create a diversified portfolio, you should invest in a mix of assets such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Here’s a basic guide on how to do it:

  1. Understand Your Risk Tolerance: Your risk tolerance is determined by your financial situation, investment goals, and comfort level with volatility. It will guide your investment decisions and the composition of your portfolio.
  2. Choose a Variety of Asset Classes: Include a mix of asset classes like equities (stocks), fixed income (bonds), and cash equivalents. Each asset class has different levels of risk and return, and they often perform differently at various times.
  3. Diversify Within Asset Classes: Don’t just stop at diversifying among different asset classes; also diversify within each asset class. For example, don’t just invest in stocks—invest in stocks from different sectors, regions, and sizes.
  4. Rebalance Regularly: Over time, some investments may perform better than others, causing your portfolio to drift from its original asset allocation. Regular rebalancing can help maintain your desired level of risk.

diversified portfolio for risk management

Examples of Diversified Portfolios Based on Different Risk Profiles

Here are examples of how a diversified portfolio might look based on different risk profiles:

  1. Conservative Portfolio: This type of portfolio is suitable for investors with low risk tolerance. It might consist of 70% bonds, 20% stocks, and 10% cash equivalents.
  2. Moderate Portfolio: Suitable for investors with moderate risk tolerance. A possible allocation could be 60% stocks, 30% bonds, and 10% cash equivalents.
  3. Aggressive Portfolio: For investors with high risk tolerance. An aggressive portfolio might consist of 80% stocks, 15% bonds, and 5% cash equivalents.

Remember, these are just examples. Your actual portfolio should reflect your individual goals, risk tolerance, and investment timeline.

In conclusion, diversification is a crucial strategy for managing investment risk. By creating a diversified portfolio that aligns with your risk profile, you can navigate market volatility and work towards your investment goals more effectively.

Seeking Professional Guidance

Investing can be a complex endeavor, and while self-learning is essential, seeking professional guidance can also be beneficial. This is where financial advisors come into play.

consulting a financial advisor

Consulting a Financial Advisor

A financial advisor is a professional who provides financial services to clients based on their financial situation and goals. They can offer a range of services, from investment management to retirement planning, estate planning, and more.

Financial advisors possess the knowledge and experience to help you understand different investment options, assess their risks, and make informed decisions. They can help you develop a comprehensive financial plan that aligns with your goals and risk tolerance.

Benefits of Professional Guidance

Professional guidance can be especially beneficial for complex investment strategies or if you’re dealing with significant assets. Here are some benefits of working with a financial advisor:

  1. Expertise: Financial advisors have the necessary training and experience to guide you through the complexities of investing.
  2. Personalized Strategy: They can help you create an investment strategy tailored to your individual goals, risk tolerance, and financial situation.
  3. Time-saving: Managing investments can be time-consuming. A financial advisor can handle this task for you, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your life.
  4. Emotional Discipline: Investors often let emotions influence their investment decisions, which can lead to poor outcomes. A financial advisor can provide an objective perspective and help you maintain discipline during market volatility.

finding a reputable advisor

Finding a Reputable Financial Advisor

Here are some tips to help you find a reputable financial advisor:

  1. Check Credentials: Look for advisors with recognized credentials such as Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).
  2. Understand Their Fee Structure: Advisors can be fee-only (charging a flat rate, hourly fee, or percentage of assets managed), commission-based, or a combination of both. Understanding their fee structure can help you avoid conflicts of interest.
  3. Ask for References: A reputable advisor should be able to provide references from other clients.
  4. Use Online Resources: Websites like the Financial Planning Association or the CFP Board’s site can help you find certified financial planners in your area.

In conclusion, while it’s possible to manage your investments independently, professional guidance can be beneficial, especially when dealing with complex strategies or significant assets. A reputable financial advisor can provide expert advice, personalized strategies, and emotional discipline to help you navigate your investment journey.

Tracking and Adjusting Investments

Investing isn’t just about buying assets and waiting for returns. It’s a continuous process that requires regular monitoring and adjustments based on changes in your financial goals or market conditions.
tracking and adjusting investments

Monitoring Investment Performance

Monitoring your investments is crucial to understand how they’re performing over time. Regularly checking your investment performance can help you spot potential issues, identify opportunities, and make informed decisions about buying, selling, or holding certain assets.

It also allows you to see if your investments are on track to meet your financial goals. If your investments aren’t performing as expected, you may need to reassess your strategy and make necessary adjustments.

monitoring investment performance

Investment Tracking Tools and Apps

With the advancement of technology, there are numerous tools and apps available that can help you track your investments efficiently:

  1. Brokerage Apps: Most brokerage firms have their own mobile apps that allow you to track the performance of your investments real-time.
  2. Budgeting Apps: Some budgeting apps, like Mint and Personal Capital, offer investment tracking features. These apps can help you see all your financial information, including investments, in one place.
  3. Portfolio Tracking Apps: Apps like Sharesight and Morningstar can track your portfolio performance, dividends, and more.

These tools can automate the tracking process, provide insightful analytics, and help you stay informed about your investment performance.

adjusting investments

Adjusting Investments

Your investment strategy should not be static—it should evolve based on changes in your financial goals, risk tolerance, or market conditions. Here’s how you can adjust your investments:

  1. Rebalancing: This involves adjusting your portfolio back to its original asset allocation to maintain your desired level of risk. For example, if your stocks have performed well and now make up a larger portion of your portfolio than intended, you might sell some stocks and buy more bonds to rebalance.
  2. Changing Financial Goals: If your financial goals change—say you decide to buy a house or start a business—you might need to adjust your investments to accumulate the necessary funds more quickly.
  3. Market Conditions: In response to significant market changes, you might need to adjust your investments. For example, during a market downturn, you might want to invest more in defensive stocks, which tend to be less affected by overall market trends.

In conclusion, tracking and adjusting your investments are key components of successful investing. By regularly monitoring your investment performance and making adjustments as needed, you can ensure that your investment strategy remains aligned with your financial goals and risk tolerance.

Overcoming Common Pitfalls for Beginners

Investing can seem daunting, especially for beginners. However, being aware of common mistakes and knowing how to navigate them can significantly enhance your investing journey.

Common Mistakes Made by Novice Investors

Several common mistakes are often made by novice investors:

  1. Procrastinating: Many beginners delay investing. The longer you wait to start investing, the more potential returns you miss out on due to the power of compound interest (Investopedia).
  2. Speculating Instead of Investing: Novice investors often confuse investing with speculating. Investing involves buying assets that you believe have long-term value, whereas speculating is akin to gambling, betting on an asset’s short-term price movements (Investopedia).
  3. Using Too Much Leverage: Leverage can amplify gains, but it can also magnify losses. Beginners should be cautious about using borrowed money to invest (Investopedia).
  4. Not Diversifying: Failing to diversify can expose investors to unnecessary risk. If you put all your eggs in one basket, you could lose a significant portion of your investment if that asset performs poorly (LinkedIn).
  5. Short-Term Focus: Many beginners get caught up in the daily fluctuations of the market and lose sight of their long-term investment goals (India Infoline).

common investing pitfalls

Strategies to Avoid Pitfalls

Here are some strategies to help novice investors avoid these pitfalls:

  1. Start Early: The earlier you start investing, the more time you have to grow your investments through compounding.
  2. Invest, Don’t Speculate: Focus on buying assets that you believe have long-term value. Avoid making investment decisions based solely on short-term trends or speculation.
  3. Use Leverage Wisely: If you choose to use leverage, make sure you understand the risks involved. Never invest more money than you can afford to lose.
  4. Diversify Your Portfolio: Spread your investments across different types of assets to reduce risk.
  5. Maintain a Long-Term Perspective: Stay focused on your long-term investment goals and don’t let short-term market fluctuations derail your strategy.

Maintaining a Long-Term Perspective

Investing can be a roller coaster ride with ups and downs. It’s important to remember that short-term market fluctuations are normal and to be expected.

Don’t let these temporary setbacks discourage you. Instead, maintain a long-term perspective. Keep in mind that historically, despite short-term volatility, the stock market has tended to rise over the long term.

Investing is a marathon, not a sprint. Stay patient, stick to your investment plan, and remember that time in the market is generally more important than timing the market.

In conclusion, while investing can seem intimidating at first, being aware of common mistakes and knowing how to navigate them can go a long way in aiding your investing journey. Stay patient, stay informed, and keep your eyes on your long-term financial goals.

maintaining a long term perspective


Investing can seem like a daunting task, especially for beginners. However, with the right approach and understanding, it’s a journey that anyone can embark on successfully. Here’s a quick recap of the key steps to help you start investing with confidence:

  1. Educate Yourself: Understanding the basics of investing is the first step. Familiarize yourself with key investing concepts, types of investments, and how the stock market works.
  2. Set Clear Financial Goals: Identify what you’re investing for. Whether it’s retirement, a down payment on a house, or a college fund, having clear goals will guide your investment decisions.
  3. Create a Budget and Save: Determine how much money you can set aside for investing. A budget can help you manage your finances effectively and save consistently.
  4. Choose the Right Investment Account: Select an investment account that aligns with your financial goals. This could be a brokerage account, an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), or a 401(k).
  5. Diversify Your Portfolio: Spread your investments across various asset classes to mitigate risk. Remember, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
  6. Seek Professional Guidance If Needed: If you’re unsure or dealing with complex strategies, consider seeking the advice of a financial advisor.
  7. Track and Adjust Your Investments: Regularly monitor your investment performance and make necessary adjustments based on changes in your financial goals or market conditions.
  8. Avoid Common Pitfalls: Be aware of common mistakes like procrastination, speculation, and lack of diversification, and learn how to navigate them.

Remember, the most important step in investing is getting started. Even if you start small, the power of compounding can help your investments grow over time.

Investing is not just about making money—it’s about securing your financial future. So take that first step today. With patience, persistence, and the right approach, you can navigate your investment journey successfully and confidently. After all, every successful investor was once a beginner. You’ve got this!

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