My Take on Extreme Cheapskates

TLC (aka The Lamest Channel) on television has its fair of “Are you kidding me?” “reality” shows but by far one of the most ridiculous to watch has to be Extreme Cheapskates. 

If you frequent personal finance blogs, I’m sure you’ve all heard bloggers rant about these cheapskates giving frugals a bad name. I’ve never seen the show but seeing commercials and reading about these cheapskates doing extreme things like not using toilet paper just to save 17¢ a month is enough to make me want to vomit. Literally.

I don’t know what came over me this weekend. Maybe it was because J and I were about to go check out a potential wedding venue in a few hours and I felt a bit overwhelm with my goal of paying $20,000 towards debt and saving for my half of costs for a spring 2015 wedding but all of a sudden when I saw TLC was having an Extreme Cheapskate marathon I flipped to that channel thinking “hmmm maybe I can pick up a few extreme tips to save money this year!” I couldn’t watch more than 5 minutes.

The morally questionable man on the show was taking his wife out on a ice cream “date” and felt it was his right to ask for 16 different ice cream samples but in the end not purchase anything because he wasn’t hungry anymore. Here’s the “makes me want to rage” part – he was never planning on buying anything! For him, it was OK to steal from others as long as he can save a few bucks.

This is my main problem with the show. I don’t care what you do with your money since personal finance is personal. Dumpster dive for food? Utterly gross but if it floats your cheap boat, then dive away! However when you decide to serve that dumpster food to your friends and family without their knowledge, that just makes you a piece of shit.

What I really want to ask these greedy cheapskates is –  what are you saving your money for?

The show never explains why these cheapskates are willing to do anything including jeopardize their health and safety just to save a few pennies. Isn’t your life worth more? My educated guess would be that they want to live a comfortable retirement. Who doesn’t?

I’m not trying to sound all dark but you could die tomorrow. Life is full of unexpected surprises and accidents. Nothing is guaranteed except you can’t take your money with you when you die.

Of course there is a delicate balance with YOLO but life should be enjoyed every single day because you just never know. Live everyday like it’s your last. Going to such drastic “extremes” now just so you can save all your money for retirement isn’t delayed gratification, it’s just wasting precious life and that’s something no amount of money can buy back.

Who else is as appalled by the show as I am? TLC are you listening to me? Do humanity a favor and get rid of this show pronto!

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73 Comments on My Take on Extreme Cheapskates

  1. DebbyNo Gravatar
    January 12, 2014 at 5:05 pm (3 months ago)

    I’ve never watched the show but I’ve – obviously – heard about it. It’s on Netflix, though , maybe I should check it out sometime.
    I agree that living frugal doesn’t mean you should postpone your life until retirement. The very certainty of life is that it ends, better make it count.
    I did LOL when you got angry there. I think TLC knows you mean business, girl! ;)

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 12, 2014 at 5:43 pm (3 months ago)

      “The very certainty of life is that it ends, better make it count.” BRILLIANT. Now why didn’t I think of this witty but thoughtful sentence for my post? :) DON’T check out the show Debby, it’s AWFUL! I hope TLC knows I mean Business with a capital B! ;)

      Reply
  2. MichelleNo Gravatar
    January 12, 2014 at 5:10 pm (3 months ago)

    I find myself fascinated and horrified by this show. There are some people who clearly have a mental illness or compulsion to not spend money. You can see the fear in their eyes. There are other people who are cheap and basically are stealing (samples) etc. It’s not admirable, lack of ethics and disturbing that they don’t realize this. Other people seem to enjoy the process of being frugal and have a lot of fun with it. Those people such as Jeff Yeates are a lot of fun to watch because they do things that make sense and aren’t disgusting.

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 12, 2014 at 5:47 pm (3 months ago)

      I’ve only seen 5 minutes of one episode and it doesn’t sound like it was the Jeff Yeates you are talking about because it was not fun to watch and made no sense at all.

      Reply
  3. SusanaNo Gravatar
    January 12, 2014 at 5:13 pm (3 months ago)

    I just found out about this show last week as I was going though channels searching for a good TV show. I also couldn’t watch it for more than 5 minutes! The girl was so cheap that she wouldn’t allow her boyfriend to shower more than 2 minutes!! What disgusted me the most was watch her saving ALL the leftovers from everyone’s plates to eat them another time!!!
    Btw I LOVE your blog, I’ve been reading it for a few months and decided to leave my first comment today :D

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 12, 2014 at 5:49 pm (3 months ago)

      Hi Susana! Thanks so much for commenting! It totally made this Girl’s night. :)

      Reply
  4. eemusingsNo Gravatar
    January 12, 2014 at 6:02 pm (3 months ago)

    “TLC (aka The Lamest Channel)”

    ROFLMAO!

    I am not sure this show screens in NZ but I’m not sure I would watch it to be honest.

    Some people got mad at me on my blog when I admitted to ‘showrooming’ once but going to fill up on free food samples/get dolled up on free makeup samples is definitely beyond my comfort zone.

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 12, 2014 at 6:12 pm (3 months ago)

      I had to look on wikipedia to find out what showrooming means and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with examining merchandise at a retail store without purchasing it, but then shopping online to find a lower price for the same item. This is just being smart with your money!

      Reply
  5. Dear DebtNo Gravatar
    January 12, 2014 at 6:42 pm (3 months ago)

    I’ve never seen the show but obviously have read about it on other pf blogs. This post had me dying! Hahah, your comment about the dumpster diver is CLASSIC. I agree that’s a piece of shit move right there. Can you imagine if your friends served you that and you didn’t know? I’m horrified at the thought. I’ve done promos for Costco before and the ladies I worked with used to describe the customers getting tons of samples and not buying as “The Sunday Brunch” crowd. LOL. I think it’s just shady if you want to be that cheap — and awful for them, because if you are relegated to that, especially if you don’t HAVE TO live like that, how can you enjoy anything?

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 12, 2014 at 6:55 pm (3 months ago)

      Haha, I hope I don’t offend some readers with using the term piece of shit to describe the dumpster diver who serves this food to their friends and family without their knowledge. The Sunday Brunch crowd is one reason I avoid Costco at all costs. :)

      Reply
  6. JenNo Gravatar
    January 12, 2014 at 7:04 pm (3 months ago)

    I’ve seen bits and pieces of the show just out of curiosity. What I don’t get though is why go to the extreme just to save a few dollars? You’re right in that you can’t take your money to the grave so why go through all the hassle. I saw an episode where a couple shared a toothbrush and a piece of floss!! Talk about gross! These Extreme Cheapskates need to get in touch with the Extreme Couponers so that they can get that kind of stuff for free.

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 12, 2014 at 7:51 pm (3 months ago)

      I don’t understand the extremes just to save a few dollars either! “These Extreme Cheapskates need to get in touch with the Extreme Couponers so that they can get that kind of stuff for free.” LOL. Best comment. Ever. Thanks Jen. :)

      Reply
  7. E.M.No Gravatar
    January 12, 2014 at 8:01 pm (3 months ago)

    I’ve never seen the show and don’t plan on it seeing as how many people have reported being grossed out by it! Honestly, it seems like it would be more stressful to live like that, worrying about every little cent. I have a tendency to worry about the little things, but I’d never go to those extreme measures! It is really crappy to bother people for samples only to leave without buying anything.

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 12, 2014 at 8:05 pm (3 months ago)

      Money just seems to consumes these extreme cheapskate’s lives which is very sad.

      Reply
  8. LizNo Gravatar
    January 12, 2014 at 8:07 pm (3 months ago)

    I’ve seen a few episodes and I think it’s just straight up bizarre. I would feel so deprived if I lived that way..

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 12, 2014 at 8:18 pm (3 months ago)

      Straight up bizarre sounds right!

      Reply
  9. Laurie @thefrugalfarmerNo Gravatar
    January 13, 2014 at 3:33 am (3 months ago)

    I agree totally, GMD. We watched a couple episodes of this: 5 or so, and it was repulsive. One gal peed in a bottle and then dumped it in her garden so she wouldn’t have to pay for the water to flush the toilet!! Blech!

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 13, 2014 at 9:21 am (3 months ago)

      Peeing in a bottle so she doesn’t have to flush the toilet??? That just seems like soooooo much effort to save pennies! Not to mention straight up gross!!!

      Reply
  10. Craig MartinNo Gravatar
    January 13, 2014 at 6:43 am (3 months ago)

    Hi there. Like nearly every “reality” show out there, I’m sure it’s scripted and staged. However, even if some things appear one way or the other, there are definitely people who go through this type of process to save cash.

    I love the TLC part. Kinda like the History Channel.. “where our standards are also a thing of the past.”

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 13, 2014 at 9:46 am (3 months ago)

      Hi Craig! Thanks for commenting. I like the history channel comparison! :)

      Reply
  11. KK @ Student Debt SurvivorNo Gravatar
    January 13, 2014 at 6:45 am (3 months ago)

    I have to admit I do like some of the shows on TLC, but that is definitely not one of them. Extreme Cheapskates makes my skin crawl and that Honey boo boo show just about makes me want to vomit. Since when did TLC (The “Learning” Channel) change it’s focus from educating and learning to showing nasty people doing nasty things just to get good ratings?

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 13, 2014 at 9:51 am (3 months ago)

      Nasty people doing nasty things would be a ratings turn off you would think! I can’t believe TLC stands for the Learning channel. I like my version better. ;)

      Reply
  12. Done by FortyNo Gravatar
    January 13, 2014 at 6:46 am (3 months ago)

    I found the show difficult to watch, too. Maybe that’s the point. I think I have to assume the director and producers know what they’re doing: maybe they are aiming for the ‘cringe’.

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 13, 2014 at 9:52 am (3 months ago)

      More like they’re aiming for vomit! :P

      Reply
  13. Alicia @ Financial DiffractionNo Gravatar
    January 13, 2014 at 7:40 am (3 months ago)

    Do you remember when TLC was good? Okay, good might be an overstatement, but at least something interesting. Now it’s Amish Mafia, and Extreme Cheapskates, etc. I’m thankful I don’t have cable so that I don’t have to be inundated with this crap!

    (I just read up a few comments, and apparently KK and I have very similar ideas about what the heck happened to TLC!)

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 13, 2014 at 10:04 am (3 months ago)

      Alicia, to be honest, I don’t remember when TLC used to be good??? :P

      Reply
  14. Michelle @fitisthenewpoorNo Gravatar
    January 13, 2014 at 8:13 am (3 months ago)

    There is a difference between being frugal/cheap vs. being an ass or right-out intentionally “stealing.” Just reading that ice cream story makes my blood boil. Do people not understand that when they cheat like this, they take from employees and business owners? How is that fair?

    Sorry. Rant over.

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 13, 2014 at 10:05 am (3 months ago)

      Exactly. Be cheap all you want but not at the expense of others!

      Reply
  15. Stephanie @ Six Figures UnderNo Gravatar
    January 13, 2014 at 9:37 am (3 months ago)

    I have never watched the show since we don’t have a TV (but not to be extremely frugal, we just prefer it that way), but everything I have heard about it is insane! It does give frugality a bad name.

    You can definitely be frugal without being crazy :) I like to consider myself living proof of that (is that vain?)!

    I think frugality is personal. We all value things differently, so what we are willing to give up varies as well!

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 13, 2014 at 10:09 am (3 months ago)

      I don’t think you sound vain at all Stephanie. People can definitely be frugal without being crazy! Truthfully I’m not yet frugal…more like a frugal wannabe. ;)

      Reply
  16. Tonya@Budget and the BeachNo Gravatar
    January 13, 2014 at 9:38 am (3 months ago)

    I think it’s fair to say every personal finance blogger hates this show. I’ve yet to see someone write anything positive, and I too have caught some of the show on Netflix and had to turn it off quickly. It’s a completely useless show. I think they also exaggerate to give it more of an “entertainment” value with being controversial, but it’s still useless. I’d much rather see a realistic frugality type show.

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 13, 2014 at 10:10 am (3 months ago)

      TLC are you listening? How about showing a realistic frugal show? People would like to see that!

      Reply
  17. Hayley @ A Disease Called DebtNo Gravatar
    January 13, 2014 at 9:54 am (3 months ago)

    Yuk – getting food from a dumpster? I can’t imagine how they could bring themselves to do that and then serve it up to their family – that’s just wrong! I’ve never seen this program but I watched a similar one here in the UK about living frugally. There was one lady who never (ever) bought food, she just used to hang around outside restaurants and went through rubbish bags. That’s not frugal, that’s crazy!!

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 13, 2014 at 10:12 am (3 months ago)

      It’s not even the going through garbage that is crazy. It’s when you don’t have to but CHOOSE to just to save a few pennies that is insane!

      Reply
  18. Mr. GrumpNo Gravatar
    January 13, 2014 at 11:48 am (3 months ago)

    Good article. As a new person to the idea of FInancial Independce I ended up watching all 5 or 6 episodes available on netflix. I was hoping to learn a few tips but ended up just wasting 5 or 6 hours of my life. However, we do frequently test the samples at the grocery store and rarely buy the item. Oh well. I did find 35 cents walking across the parking lot and wondered how much money could really be found using his tactics on the episode he searches for change.

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 13, 2014 at 1:19 pm (3 months ago)

      I’m very sorry to hear you wasted 5/6 hours of your life watching this awful show Mr. Grump! I found 5 cents walking across the parking lot while grocery shopping and while I did pick it up I don’t go around scrounging for hours for literal pocket change!

      Reply
  19. annaNo Gravatar
    January 13, 2014 at 12:45 pm (3 months ago)

    Agreed the show is pretty gross, and they do a lot of unsanitary or inconsiderate things (especially if ‘treating’ their loved ones to dinner or something). I think it does it more for shock value than to learn anything from it.

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 13, 2014 at 1:20 pm (3 months ago)

      Shock value or not, I find it so offensive! I can’t believe I’m getting so worked up over a stupid TV show. :P

      Reply
  20. Eva @ Girl Counting PenniesNo Gravatar
    January 13, 2014 at 1:50 pm (3 months ago)

    I’ve never heard of this show, not sure if they air it here in the UK. I haven’t heard any of my friends/colleagues discuss it, so my guess is that it’s not on our screens, not that I would watch it anyway as I don’t have cable. I’m just thinking… are they for real? Are these people actually that frugal, or whatever the extreme equivalent of that word is. Perhaps it’s all for the show? Anywho, I agree with you, you never know what tomorrow may bring and it’s important to live in the NOW! That’s why I’m having a HUGE 30th birthday party and nothing’s gonna stop me, lol! ;)

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 13, 2014 at 2:45 pm (3 months ago)

      I can’t wait to read all about your 30th birthday party Eva! I had my big 3-0 long weekend celebration last summer and it was awesome! :)

      Reply
  21. SteveNo Gravatar
    January 13, 2014 at 2:18 pm (3 months ago)

    Being cheap is easy. Being frugal takes vision, dedication, and focus.

    Hell I’m super frugal but no one would know it at first glance – I have all the characteristics of your average guy.

    It’s just that I have a plan on how and when I save and spend money that makes me frugal :D

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 13, 2014 at 2:56 pm (3 months ago)

      Believe it or not, at first glance I look like an average Girl too. You would NEVER be able to tell I was a personal finance blogger. :P

      Reply
  22. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful LifeNo Gravatar
    January 13, 2014 at 8:09 pm (3 months ago)

    That show is beyond ridiculous. I saw one where I guy looked through his house for loose change for HOURS. What did he get for all that effort? A couple bucks. What a total waste and devaluation of your own time.

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 13, 2014 at 8:45 pm (3 months ago)

      Well said Stefanie. These cheapskates are just wasting and devaluing their own time.

      Reply
  23. celesteNo Gravatar
    January 14, 2014 at 4:14 am (3 months ago)

    LOL! Tim and I came across this show while housesitting. It was like a bad novel you want to stop reading but you just want to see if it gets better. All we could think is, so glad we didn’t pay to watch that garbage.

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 14, 2014 at 8:55 am (3 months ago)

      Ohhh I know all about bad novels that you can’t stop reading because you want it to get better. Sophie Kinsella who is my favorite chick lit author has a horrible new book called Wedding Night that I forced myself to finish but it took over 2 months when I usually finish her novels in 2 days!

      Reply
      • CjNo Gravatar
        January 19, 2014 at 9:35 am (3 months ago)

        Glad to know I’m not the only one who has tortured myself reading a book hoping it gets better. Ugh, the pages can turn so slowly and you just wish you would talk yourself into making it stop but at same time, you convince yourself it’s gotta get better. You hope even more when it’s someone you truly have enjoyed reading in the past.

        Reply
  24. Little HouseNo Gravatar
    January 14, 2014 at 6:49 am (3 months ago)

    I haven’t seen this show, but I’ve heard about it. It sounds completely and utterly ridiculous. Going to extremes with anything puts you in a position to be certifiably crazy, that’s my take!

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 14, 2014 at 8:55 am (3 months ago)

      I agree with your take Little House!

      Reply
  25. Kendal @HassleFreeSaverNo Gravatar
    January 14, 2014 at 8:47 am (3 months ago)

    I haven’t seen the show because cheapskates totally irritate me! I’m all about saving money but not at the sacrifice of personal hygiene and good manners. I saw a headline about a new show on TLC this year called “Sex Sent Me to the ER.” WTF?! Shows like these tarnish my beloved “What Not to Wear” series!

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 14, 2014 at 8:57 am (3 months ago)

      To be honest, cheapskates totally irritate me too. And not even the “extreme” ones. :P “Sex Sent Me to the ER”?????? Wow. What is TLC thinking??????

      Reply
  26. Shannon @ The Heavy PurseNo Gravatar
    January 14, 2014 at 10:16 am (3 months ago)

    I haven’t watched the show and have little desire to do so. Like you said, personal finance is personal but often times the things they do are dangerous and unhealthy. It’s one thing if you have zero choice but to dumpster dive to survive and another when you don’t. These people are not teaching or demonstrating good money behavior. And honestly, the man who requested 16 free samples so he could get his fill of ice cream without paying … who do you think ultimately pays for your ice cream? Me and everyone else who buys ice cream. ARGH!

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 14, 2014 at 11:11 am (3 months ago)

      You are too nice Shannon. I would say these people are demonstrating despicable money behavior. YUCK.

      Reply
  27. Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde)No Gravatar
    January 14, 2014 at 9:54 pm (3 months ago)

    This show e-mailed me to inquire about me being on it, and I was like ummmmm I don’t think I’m the best fit for you haha.

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 15, 2014 at 9:47 am (3 months ago)

      I can’t believe they emailed you asking you to be on the show Cat!!

      Reply
  28. Petrish Dyer (@debtfreemartini)No Gravatar
    January 15, 2014 at 4:52 am (3 months ago)

    I also took the time out to watch the show, hoping to get some tips on becoming debt free. My mouth dropped open and stayed open for about 10 minutes when a man was too cheap to buy his wife some soda and popcorn, and thought it was ok to dig in the trash for a used popcorn bag and soda fountain cup to get free refills. I wondered if he realized that he was stealing? If being an extreme cheapskate means stealing, I cannot participate.

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 15, 2014 at 9:49 am (3 months ago)

      That was the same episode I saw for 5 minutes Petrish! I couldn’t watch that part though because the man thought he was being sweet to his wife by stealing her popcorn from a bag found in the garbage!!!

      Reply
  29. Michelle's Finance JournalNo Gravatar
    January 15, 2014 at 7:30 am (3 months ago)

    I never saw the show, but the way others describe the show, it seems like they are just selfish people who scam others to save money.

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 15, 2014 at 9:50 am (3 months ago)

      Selfish scammers giving frugal people a bad name!

      Reply
  30. Tara @ Streets Ahead LivingNo Gravatar
    January 15, 2014 at 1:30 pm (3 months ago)

    Freeganism, the belief in eating food you get for free is actually something that I support, especially considering how much food waste exists in this country. You should see the perfectly good food that is tossed out daily by chain restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores, etc. It’s sickening. And it’s all because of paranoia about law suits (if they could sell this food at reduced costs, I’d sure as heck buy it). At Le Pain Quotidien, an all Organic feel good chain, tosses garbage BAGS full of $5 bread nightly at their restaurants. It’s gross. So I fully support people following that belief but then I completely understand why you should give full disclosure to serving that food. I’ve eaten Freegan food on multiple occasions but I believe in it. I wouldn’t subject anyone to it without informing them first!

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 15, 2014 at 4:08 pm (3 months ago)

      I’ve never heard of Freeganism before. Interesting. Thanks for sharing Tara!

      Reply
  31. The Asian PearNo Gravatar
    January 15, 2014 at 1:36 pm (3 months ago)

    I’ve watched the show a few times and what I think is that the show and the lifestyle of the people isn’t about saving money. It’s perhaps the thrill of knowing you got the best deal or chasing after the thrill. Perhaps it’s become an obsessive fanatical behaviour that they’re now used to. But it’s not about saving money anymore.

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 15, 2014 at 4:10 pm (3 months ago)

      That’s such an insightful observation AP! It sure doesn’t look like it’s about saving money anymore. These extreme cheapskates get a high from not paying for things in any way possible.

      Reply
  32. zimmyNo Gravatar
    January 17, 2014 at 5:13 am (3 months ago)

    Yeah, most of the time the extreme cheapskates seem like they are just wasting time and not really saving much money. I guess, I value my time more than some others do.

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 17, 2014 at 9:09 am (3 months ago)

      Time is money!

      Reply
  33. Erin @ Gen Y FinancesNo Gravatar
    January 18, 2014 at 3:32 am (3 months ago)

    That show is disgusting and many of the practices of the cheapskates come across as unethical. While I don’t agree with the “you could die tomorrow” philosophy, balance is key. Save like you are going to live until you are old, live like you aren’t.

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 19, 2014 at 7:45 pm (3 months ago)

      “Save like you are going to live until you are old, live like you aren’t.” – SPOT ON!

      Reply
  34. Grayson @ Debt RoundupNo Gravatar
    January 22, 2014 at 7:50 am (3 months ago)

    That crappy show and the many reality shows was one of the reason why my wife and I dropped cable. Why would you highlight people like this? Is anyone else going to go out and do this? Nope!

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      January 22, 2014 at 9:28 am (3 months ago)

      Cable is one thing I don’t think I could ever drop. I’m too big of a hockey fan! :P

      Reply
  35. Bubble21No Gravatar
    February 3, 2014 at 5:21 am (3 months ago)

    I was flipping through the channels one night and came across this show. I too was shocked and disgusted by the extreme lengths these people were going to save a few dollars! I’m all about finding ways to cut back/save right now – but I’m never going to eat cat food, share dental floss, or pee in a bottle to save a few pennies!

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      February 15, 2014 at 10:39 am (2 months ago)

      It really is disgusting the lengths they would go to save pennies.Yuck!

      Reply
  36. saverspenderNo Gravatar
    February 13, 2014 at 11:19 am (2 months ago)

    The show itself is pretty disgusting. There are a FEW good tips in there like not wasting parts of the fish that could be eaten, but otherwise.. no thank you.

    Reply
    • GMDNo Gravatar
      February 15, 2014 at 10:40 am (2 months ago)

      No thank you. Period!

      Reply

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