Pennies

Earn Bonuses On Swagbucks With July Swago


Swagbucks is holding their Swago promotion starting Monday, July 24th at 9am PDT! It’s just like bingo, but in this case you’re filling out squares as you earn points on their site for doing things you already do online. If you’re thinking of trying Swagbucks, this is a great chance to learn all about how the site works and earn bonus points while doing it.

The best part is that the points you get can be used to get free gift cards to places like Amazon, or PayPal cash! I generally choose the PayPal cash, which I transfer to my bank account to use for just about anything that I want, including investing.

Fill up your board and then submit your pattern to get even more points – if you can fill in the whole board, you get a 500 SB bonus! That’s enough for a $5 gift card in our Rewards Store.

Click here to sign up and get started! If you sign up through my link and earn 300 SB before the first of next month, you’ll get a bonus 300 SB!

I’ve earned more than $1,700 via this great site for doing things that I’d generally do anyway. It’s a great way to supplement your income in your spare time, and I highly recommend it!

The preceding was a sponsored post.

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July Swagbucks Team Challenge


On your marks, get set, EARN! Swagbucks is holding a fun team challenge called the “Swagathlon” to help you earn free gift cards! For those of you who don’t know what Swagbucks is, it’s a website where you can earn cash back on everyday tasks you do online like shopping, answering surveys, discovering deals, and watching videos. You can even earn for searching the web!

If you’ve never tried Swagbucks before because you didn’t know where to begin, their Team Challenges are a great way to learn the ropes! The challenge, begins Monday, July 17th at 8am PT, but you can pre-register starting on Friday, July 14th!
Here’s how you can join the challenge and the site:

1. Click here to join the challenge and be assigned to a team.

2. Starting July 17th at 8am PDT, in addition to earning SB you’ll contribute points to your teams total as you complete different activities on Swagbucks.

3. Check back on the page often to see the scores and what you’ve contribute so far.

All members who participate and contribute at least 600 points to their team’s total will receive a SB bonus in the form of a SB Swag Up Rebate on their next gift card!

Not only that, but if you sign up under me this month and earn 300 SB before August 1st, you’ll get a 300 SB bonus!

Members of the 1st place team will receive a 100 SB Swag Up Rebate, members of the 2nd place team will receive a 50 SB Swag Up Rebate, and members of the 3rd place team will receive a 30 SB Swag Up Rebate. Your SB Swag Up Rebate will be made available on Friday, July 21st at 2pm PT and will expire on Friday, August 4th at 11:59pm PT.

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Discounted estories And Up To 2,000 Swagbucks


If you’re looking for a deal on audiobooks, there’s an estories offer through Swagbucks where you get up to 2000 SB  for paying $5.99/month for your first three months, which is 50% their normal rate. You get 800 SB when you sign up, and once your third monthly payment of $5.99, you get an additional 1200 SB. You can use estories to easily stream or download stories to your iPhone, iPad, Android, PC or Mac.

So even if you only try it for the first month, you still make money on the offer, since you’re spending $5.99 and your get 800 SB (equivalent to $8). Plus, if you’re also signing up for Swagbucks through this offer, you’ll earn an additional 300 SB bonus paid out at the beginning of next month. Just click here to take advantage of this offer!

Haven’t tried Swagbucks yet? They’re a site where you earn points (called SB) for doing things like online shopping, watching videos, taking surveys, and discovering deals and services you might like to try (like Hulu!). You then take those points and turn them into free gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart, Target, or PayPal cash.

The preceding was a sponsored post.

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Sign Up For Swagbucks In July And Earn A Bonus


It’s summertime, and Swagbucks has brought a $5 bonus! Swagbucks is a rewards site where you earn points (called SB) for things you’re probably doing online already, like searching, watching videos, discovering deals, and taking surveys. Then you take those points and exchange them for gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart, Target, or PayPal cash.

When you sign up through me this month, you can earn a $5 bonus! Here’s how:

1. Sign up using this link

2. Earn 300 SB total before 8/1/17. You’ll get a $3 (300 SB) bonus for it!

3. If you spend at least $25 through Swagbucks Shop* you’ll get another $2 (200 SB) bonus on top of the cash back you’ll get from shopping. If you have some shopping to do online, just go to Swagbucks first and visit the store through them. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but you’ll get SB points for every dollar you spend (on top of the bonus)!

That’s it. It’s super easy, and Swagbucks is for real. I use it myself, and I’ve earned more than $1,700 just from doing things that I’d be doing anyway. I can take a survey while watching a ball game. I can also earn just from searching the web. Earning a few bucks in your spare time can really help you improve your finances. I usually cash out from Swagbucks through PayPal cash that I can then use for just about anything I want.

*You must receive your shopping SB before September 1st

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4th of July Shopping Sale on Swagbucks


Swagbucks is currently offering double cash back or more at a number of stores for Independence Day. From JC Penney to Lowes, you’ll get cash back (in the form of SB points) for buying your gifts online through Swagbucks. They also have offers where you can earn SB points towards free gift cards for things like trying Hulu.

You can find all of the details here. If you haven’t signed up for Swagbucks yet, you can also do that at this page and start earning points towards your first free gift card. As a bonus, if you sign up through me a spend at least $25 shopping online through Swagbucks before the first of the month and you’ll get a 200 SB bonus – that’s $2 in addition to the points you get for each dollar you spend.

These deals will run all the way through Fourth of July! If you’re looking to make a purchase in the near future, you might as well get some cash back.

The preceding was a sponsored post.

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Get Up to $175 From Swagbucks for Donating to Kids

Children’s Fund International has a special offer until the end of June through Swagbucks where you can earn up to 17,500 SB (that’s $175 in gift cards) for making recurring monthly donations and helping support an in-need child, improving their quality of life.

You’ll earn SB for each month you keep your sponsorship active – the longer you make valid donations, the more help your sponsor child receives & the more SB you can earn!

Earn 5,000 SB after your first month’s donation. That’s enough for a $50 gift card!
Earn 1,500 SB after your second month’s donation.
Earn 1,500 SB after your third month’s donation.
Earn 1,500 SB after your fourth month’s donation.
Earn 1,500 SB after your fifth month’s donation.
Earn 1,500 SB after your sixth month’s donation.
Earn 5,000 after your seventh month’s donation.

Click here to make your first donation and earn your first 5000 SB. As my referral, you’ll also get a bonus 300 SB paid out in early July.

Haven’t tried Swagbucks yet? They’re a site where you earn points (called SB) for doing things like online shopping, watching videos, taking surveys, and discovering deals and services you might like to try (like Hulu!). You then take those points and turn them into free gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart, Target, or PayPal cash! I’ve used Swagbucks to earn more than $1,700, and you could start earning today!

The preceding was a sponsored post.

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Travel Hacking: My Introduction to a Great Opportunity

One of the coolest opportunities that is out there for most people is travel hacking. This “hobby” gives ordinary people who are far from trust fund babies like Donald Trump’s or Bill Clinton’s kids the chance to get out and see the world without spending a fortune. I had no idea that it even existed until I was well into adulthood, but I soon learned that it could really benefit me.

My Idea of a Great Vacation as a Kid

When I was a youngster, I really enjoyed going to amusement parks. My family went to Kings Island in Ohio just about every year in my youth. I really liked it and pushed to go back. My youth group at church would go. My family would go. Some years, we’d go to Kings Island and Carowinds in North Carolina if we were lucky. My parents got bored with the whole “let’s go back to Kings Island” spiel, but it’s what I was comfortable with. I went on a few trips to church camp and three trips in high school, one of which took me to Arizona, that I really enjoyed, too. Flying across the world never really crossed my mind at this point.

The Eiffel Tower at Kings Island
Replica of the Eiffel Tower at Kings Island in Mason, OH

My Introduction to the World of Travel Hacking

After I proposed to my now wife, I set toward planning a honeymoon. I’d never been outside the US at this point, and we decided upon a week in Cancun. This would be my very first time ever on a plane. It would also be pretty much the last vacation that I’d pay full price for. About this time, a new accountant started working at my office. This guy told me he’d been to Hawaii. FOR FREE. I pretty much thought this was an impossibility, but I asked all about how he got to a tropical paradise that I figured I’d never visit because of the cost.

Enter Marriott Rewards

He then proceeded to tell me about the Marriott Rewards program. Needless to say, I wanted to learn more. He told me about the vacation package that you could get through Marriott’s loyalty program. Enough points would give you a free week at a Marriott hotel and frequent flyer miles to get you there. Wow. How can one get these here Marriott Rewards points? I wondered.

He then told me about the Marriott Rewards credit card that gave you points every time you stayed in a hotel owned by Marriott and a point for every other dollar you spent. Beside that, if you got approved for the card and made a single purchase, you’d get a bonus of 10,000 free points. This bonus is laughably small compared to what Marriott offers today, but back in 2003, it sounded like a good idea.

My First Travel Card

I talked to the new wife about this idea. She was cool with it, so I ditched my old AT & T Universal card that acted as a calling card and a credit card (I’d gotten it before the days of anyone and everyone having a cell phone. People actually used pay phones and hotel phones in those olden days). I applied for the Marriott Rewards card. I excitedly used it as soon as it came in to get the bonus points.

Not long after, we decided that perhaps my wife could qualify too. We saw an ad for 20,000 bonus points after the first purchase, plus a FREE NIGHT. We thought this was a great deal. Again, this bonus is pretty laughable compared to what’s available today. The newer Marriott Rewards Premier card now offers 80,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in three months. It also offers a free night to offset each renewal of the annual fee.

Off to Hawaii Via Marriott Rewards

It took more than two years of spending on the card, the two bonuses, and staying at Marriott hotels when out of town to build up nearly enough to pay for a week at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa in Honolulu. Back in those days, seven nights at what was then a category 5 hotel took 110,000 points. I was just short and bought a few thousand points to make it happen.

My account didn’t have enough to get the package deal with the airline miles, but I did get tickets for $448 from my small-town airport in the Eastern US. I also had a $50 coupon for a United flight from an Entertainment book that I bought to get buy-one-get-one deals at restaurants. This brought the final cost for $398 for each ticket to Honolulu. Needless to say, I thought this was a big score. I got to Hawaii for about $1,200 total and got to stay in a nice resort.

Travel Hacking Since

In those early days, I rarely got new credit cards, thinking it was a good idea to avoid having too many. I’d heard that too many would hurt your credit score. If you’re responsible with them, they really don’t. It took me several years to get enough miles and points to get my next trip, which landed me at the Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino, another Marriott property in a tropical paradise.

CasaMagna Marriott Resort Puerto Vallarta, part of a travel hacking trip
Entrance to CasaMagna Marriott Resort, Puerto Vallarta (photo, again by your’s truly) I actually paid for this hotel, but got my flights for taxes only.

Since the trip to Aruba, I’ve been more aggressive with the travel rewards cards. I’ve earned bonuses from the new Chase Sapphire Reserve, as well as the older, but still good, Chase Sapphire Preferred, and the Chase Freedom. An upgrade with a new Marriott Rewards Premier card also earned me a hefty bonus. I’ve been able to take highly discounted trips to Los Angeles/Disneyland, Paris, and Mexico over the past few years. Additionally, I’ve got another trip to Europe planned with points and miles taking care of most of the cost.

Bottom Line on Travel Hacking

If you’re responsible with your finances, and you can pay off all of your credit card bills every month to avoid interest costs, you too can travel the world. Signing up for one of the cards listed above can be a good start that can help you achieve some dreams you might have thought outside your ability to achieve. Travel hacking has changed over the past couple of years, and it’s more difficult to score as many bonus points. However, the opportunities that remain are definitely worth taking advantage of.

Have you been able to take advantage of travel hacking? If so, let me know in the comments. Also, be sure to sign up for updates by filling out the email form at the top of the page or follow me on Twitter.

Disclaimer: Some of my links on this site are affiliate links. I may receive compensation should you choose to sign up using them. I appreciate any support.

Pennies

How To Get To Israel Cheaply

There are few places on earth that hold the special place that Israel does for Christians (and Jews). When it comes to taking a pilgrimage to a religious site, none will rank higher than the geographic location that Jesus actually inhabited during his time on earth. Here are some tips that can help you get to Israel without totally breaking the bank.

Most Christians will likely think that getting to Israel is beyond their means. This is not necessarily the case, and singles and couples can find it fairly easy to check Israel off of their travel bucket lists with fairly small out-of-pocket expenses. Even families have options that can help them alleviate many of the costs. The following post will look at 1. How to get to Israel with frequent flyer miles, 2. Cutting down on lodging costs, and 3. Saving money on day trips from Tel Aviv to some of the leading sites within Israel.

How To Actually Get To Israel

The first step to take when looking at how to get to Israel cheaply is to find out what airlines will actually get you there from the US. Fortunately, there are three major alliances that allow travelers from the US to get to the Holy Land without actually flying on United, Delta, or American all the way over. With partner airlines, it is possible to fly to Israel without breaking the bank. Unless you’re looking to stop over in a European city that allows for cheap flights to Israel from the continent, you’ll probably be better off using Star Alliance, which is United’s partnership, or SkyTeam, which is Delta’s. You’ll want to search for flights to Tel Aviv (TLV), as it is the main airport in the country.

It should be possible to get enough frequent flyer miles to travel to Israel with one or two credit card signup bonuses. United will get you to Tel Aviv for 42,500 miles and $5.60 in economy class, depending upon the airport you leave from. Periodically, the United Mileage Plus credit card will offer a signup bonus of 50,000 miles, and this cache of points would pay for a one-way ticket on its own. It’s also possible to get to TLV for 35,000 Delta SkyMiles and $167 or to get back for the same number of miles a $208.49.

Have Plan, Will Travel

Once you have a plan in place, you can start to look for actual flights to get to Israel. Note the image below that shows a flight from the US to Tel Aviv on United in April 2017 for 42,500 Mileage Plus miles and $5.60. I chose to search from Fargo, ND, to show that it’s possible to get to Tel Aviv on points without departing from a major hub.

United Airlines flight to Tel Aviv
Fargo to Tel Aviv, on United Airlines award ticket

American Express frequently offers bonuses that are higher than the 35,000 needed for a one-way flight to or from the Middle East on a Delta credit card. Additionally, both American Express and Chase offer flexible points programs that allow for transfers airlines that could help. Both of these programs allow for trasnfers to the Flying Blue program that’s run by KLM and Air France. Flying Blue treats the Middle East as part of Europe so it might be possible to save points this way. The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on the card in the first three months after approval. The annual fee of $95 is waived for the first year.

Staying In Israel

There are some pretty reasonable lodging options in Tel Aviv. Expedia lists several apartment options. The cheapest rate for one of these apartments is lower than $100 a night for Spring Break. There appear to be similar options available for Jerusalem although they are fewer in number. Those who want to stay on points at the same time could have nearly enough for three free nights at the Sheraton Tel Aviv just by meeting the minimum spending for the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card from American Express.

Get To Israel, Then Use Free Nights

It would also be possible to get two nights from the signup bonuses from the Marriott Rewards Premier card or the IHG Rewards card. The Marriott card has an $85 annual fee, but you could use its 80,000 point bonus in coordination with the Starwood bonus to get five nights at the same hotel in Tel Aviv. Marriott recently bought out Starwood, and it offers the fifth night of a stay on points for free. The Hilton properties that are available would be cost prohibitive when paying with points, but the Hilton HHonors Reserve card offers two free weekend nights for a $95 annual fee. All of these cards could be mixed and matched to extend the length of your free stay.

Get To Israel, See Temple Mount in Jerusalem
The Temple Mount in Jerusalem CC BY-SA 4.0 via Andrew Shiva, Wikimedia Commons

When considering how to get to Israel cheaply, lodging is definitely a portion of the expense that you need to take into account. On that note, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card offers users at least $530 of free travel that could go toward lodging or the taxes that arise from flying to Israel, but this might also be useful for another purpose as noted below. When thinking about where to stay in Israel, remember that Jerusalem is going to have more of the holy sites, while Tel Aviv is going to be better for those who want to spend some time on a Mediterranean beach. Of course, staying in Tel Aviv and taking day trips from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem or other famous sites could give you the best of both worlds.

Day Trips In Israel

Now that you’ve figured out how to get to Israel, regardless of where you’re looking to stay during your time in the Holy Land, it’s probably going to be necessary to take a couple of day trips to places like Jerusalem, Masada, the Sea of Galilee or the Dead Sea. There are Christian and Jewish (and even Muslim) sites all around Israel, and if you’re looking to walk in the steps of Jesus, these trips can help you check some important items off of your bucket list. Again, credit card signup bonuses can take care of some of the costs. A card like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus could reimburse you for your day trips in Israel if your tour operators code their transactions in the travel category. Here are some of the best day tours from Tel Aviv as noted on Trip Advisor.

When Looking At How To Get To Israel Cheaply, Credit Cards Can Make It Happen

With even one or two credit card signup bonuses, it is possible to substantially cut the cost that you might think necessary to visit Israel. With three or four, it could be possible to spend just a few hundred for ground transportation , food and souvenirs. You can handle lodging, flights and tours with points and miles. Families might have to be a bit more creative, but it is still possible to save hundreds, if not thousands, on a trip to Israel. You just need to pool the bonuses and thinking about one-way tickets and other nontraditional options.

Have any other ideas about saving money on a trip to Israel? Any questions? Be sure to let us know in the comments.

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Don’t Be A Nattering Nabob of Negativism

Do you see the glass as half full, or do you see it as half empty? It’s usually understood that the former are optimists, while the latter are pessimists. When it comes to earning money online or through financial markets, there are many negative people who think that it can’t be done. I’ll just be able to make pennies, they argue. These people are probably *nattering nabobs of negativism who don’t really accomplish much in life.

Pessimism can bring you down. Optimism, unlike the arguments made by people like Norman Vincent Peale and Joel Osteen, is not a near guarantee of success.  However, it’s important to remember that those who feel that they cannot accomplish a task successfully are very likely to experience what would be considered a self-fulfilling prophecy. Most of the time, they don’t even get started because they figure it’s no use. Those who are optimists will at least try.

These nattering nabobs of negativism are like Eeyore, expecting rain on every sunny day. They are like Rocky the Flying Squirrel who gives Bullwinkle a hard time with every attempt to pull a rabbit out of his hat. Rocky doesn’t encourage the Moose, he just argues that it’ll never work. Perhaps it won’t but Bullwinkle keeps trying. Those who fail to try never accomplish much of anything.

Those who fear the stock market look back to the Great Recession. They might have lost more than one-half of their entire nest egg. There are those who sold out at the bottom because of a lost job. This is understandable, as money is necessary to eat if you don’t have several months of expenses saved up.  Then there are those who sold out at the bottom because of negativism. They lost a bunch of money when others who stayed in the market because of the optimism that the market generally recovers were able to see their accounts reach previous highs and then move on to even greater highs. We’re now near all-time highs.

Warren Buffett Is NOT A Pessimist

Pessimists are always down on the future of the United States.  “It’s never been this bad before.” I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this argument over the past few years. One of the most successful investors in history, however, is really, really optimistic about the future of the United States. Warren Buffett has done pretty well for himself over the course of his life. He’s seen opportunities that others have missed. His investing strategy has earned him average gains of about 19 percent a year. This means he doubles his money in about 3.5 years on average. Now, as some politicians are arguing that the US is in a horrific economic condition, Buffett would argue otherwise.

Those who are Eeyores in life are probably not nearly as successful as Warren Buffett. This is not to say that there should never be cause for concern about the economy or that people should just throw money at the market at any price. Buffett buys solid companies at good prices. There are some great companies out there that are pretty expensive and should be avoided until there are better prices. There could be a recession in the near future, but this could actually provide  a buying opportunity for those who are willing to take a bit of a risk. The recommendation is always to buy low and sell high. Because of pessimism, however, people generally follow the herd and buy high and sell low. When thinking of avoiding an overly pessimistic outlook, here are three big reasons why optimism can help you achieve your goals.

You’ll See Opportunities Others Easily Miss

Where others see only a snowstorm dumping two feet of snow and ruining their days, the optimist sees an opportunity to make some money shoveling the snow. When it seems that the paycheck barely pays the bills each month, the optimist will start to look for options to make more money. Here are 10 easy ways to make money that people can use without spending any money outside of Internet access. I’ve personally used Swagbucks and  Cashcrate to make more than $1,000 each while sitting in my recliner.

Where the nattering nabob of negativism sees no need to save for the future, because it’s going to be worse than it is today, the optimist sees the opportunity that some extra money saved up over time can provide. After all, a dollar a day can really add up over time when capital gains and dividends are added to the mix.

You’ll Try Again If Things Don’t Immediately Work Out

Things will not always work out. Pessimists will tend to think that they never will work out when they don’t work out the first time.  This outcome is not always a given. Optimists will try to learn from the experience. There is a reason why people fail. Those who pick themselves back up are more likely to achieve their goals over the long term. A quote attributed to Thomas Edison regarding the invention of the light bulb shows this ability to learn from mistakes and try again. It was argued that he’d failed to invent the incandescent light bulb. He retorted that he’d not failed. He’d successfully found 10,000 ways that did not work.  He eventually succeeded. Had he been a pessimist, Edison probably would have quit well before his 9,999th “failure.”

Other People Will Notice

Recessions happen. Downsizing and offshoring are common phenomena. People lose jobs. These situations can lead to quite the competition for the jobs that are left. Who will get the job? A person with a reputation for negativism who comes across with a “woe is me” attitude? NO! Those who have a positive attitude and a reputation for hard work in spite of setbacks are much more likely to get the nod. I’m not likely to hire a plumber or a carpenter who acts like a job is impossible. If I owned a car dealership, I’d want salesmen who actually believed that they could sell cars. Those who are optimists are likely to look for great solutions even if things don’t go quite as well as they might in the short run, and other people will notice this ability in them.

Getting ahead with a positive attitude is pretty difficult. After all, there are only a handful of Warren Buffetts, Sam Waltons, and Steve Jobses.  However, its pretty near impossible to get ahead with a perpetually negative attitude. That’s why it’s important to avoid being an Eeyore who others view as a nattering nabob of negativism.

*The term nattering nabobs of negativism originated in a speech by Vice President Spiro Agnew as he described members of the media.

Disclaimer: I may earn bonuses should you choose to sign up for programs with my referral links. You’ll still get the great benefits by going directly to the site without clicking my link, but I appreciate any support that you might give. 

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July 2016 Passive Dividend Income

It’s now come to that time of the month to review my passive dividend income of the past month. I like to look at the income that I get from doing nothing outside of investing in high-quality companies that do business with people around the world. Every dividend payment is a positive reinforcement that increases my nest egg.

I received only two dividend payments for July, as there are fewer companies who pay in the first month of the quarter. Regardless, my payments from these two companies was higher than it was in April. My dividend earnings for July were as follows:

Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS):                     $4.98

Coca-Cola (KO):                                             $3.52

TOTAL for July:                                             $8.50

My dividend from BNS was reinvested to purchase 0.084 additional shares of this company. This will add a few cents to my dividend income each quarter. How much is a bit debatable because of foreign exchange rates.

The total amount of the dividends that I earned in July came to $8.50. This is $0.40 less than my amount from the same month in the last quarter. The reason for the decline is related to the unusual payout schedule that Wal-Mart adheres to. They pay out in April and again in June, so I’ve already received my payment from Wally World.

My annual dividend income now stands at $70.11. This is just a bit more than $10 a month. August should be a better month for passive income, as should September.  My hope is that this is the final month that I have an income in the single digits. Another hope that I have is that three figures for a month will come in due time. I will add this to my dividend income page. How was your month of dividend income?

Disclaimer: I am not a financial advisor. This article is not a recommendation to buy any security. It is intended only for educational/entertainment purposes.

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