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online scams

The internet is wonderful, it’s a great place where you can make money such as completing surveys or getting cashback.  Unfortunately, it’s also a place where people try to trick us out of parting with our cash.  There are people out there that are determined to defraud us and will use the internet to do it.  There are a lot of scams but below I’m sharing some tips on Email scams and fake websites.


Below I’ve pulled together some tips to help you spot a scam.  Remember, if you spot it you can stop it!


Email scams


Some fake emails can be difficult to spot, a lot of them are so realistic.  Email scams are also known as phishing where they try and get personal information from you and sometimes the email also contains a virus.


  • Always check the ‘from’ section of the email. This way you can check who it is really from.  Be wary of names which have spelling mistakes or variations of a reputable company.  If you are still in doubt, check the company website to see how their general email address.  You can also email them just to double check.
  • A lot of scam emails contain a lot of spelling mistakes and the ones from further afield use grammar that doesn’t make sense. Read the email carefully.
  • Links – if you are unsure about the email and the links contained within them – open another tab and go to the website directly – i.e. your bank or PayPal.
  • Report – if you suspect a phishing email report it to your email provider.



Fake Websites


Unfortunately, this happened to me recently.  I purchased some items from a website and in the end had to go to my credit card company to get a refund for goods that never arrived and never existed!  Below are some tips I am now using to ensure this doesn’t happen again:


  • Look at the contact us section of the website, try phoning them or emailing and wait for a reply.
  • Check for online reviews and see what has been reported.
  • Check with companies’ house, you can do a search for free if you have the company name.



Useful information


If you believe you have been the victim of a scam you can do the following:


  • Contact your local police.
  • Contact your bank / credit card company to let them know what has happened, they will talk you through the procedure to get your money back.
  • Report it through ActionFraud which is a great website providing hints and tips to prevent identity fraud.



Have you any tips you’d like to share?  I’d love to hear from you.



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There’s a good chance that anyone reading this would say they have a desire to explore the world. That’s the benefit of a holiday for many of us – the chance to walk among different cultures, see different things, observe how life is lived in far-flung climes.


It’s a wonderful way to go about life but it’s also… there’s no getting around it: it’s expensive. It’s more expensive to pack for, it’s more expensive while there, and as for the cost of flights? Ouch.


So you find yourself wondering if maybe the UK could be the place to spend your summer holiday – and then you immediately think how terrible that would be.


It’s strange that most Brits have the idea that holidaying in our own country is so awful. It’s seen as being intrinsically cheap, nothing more than a way of saving money – despite the fact it’d be cheaper to stay in the Costa Del Sol for a week than it would spend a week in Edinburgh. Why would anyone even want to holiday in the UK, it’s tempting to wonder.  What has it got to offer? Surely it’s the last resort, the thing people do when they can’t go abroad – it’d never be anyone’s first choice, right?


Actually: maybe it should be. So while a holiday at home can save you money, that doesn’t mean it’s going to deprive you of sights, sounds, and experiences that you would otherwise travel thousands of miles to see.


One of the best ways to experience the UK is to look to one of its most unique geological features: it’s an island. The coast of these four nations can be absolutely stunning, and here’s the convincer you have been waiting for…


Wales: The Gower Peninsula

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Located on the southern coast of Wales, the Gower Peninsula is officially designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Not a bad way to begin, is it?


The coastline itself is beautiful, with numerous beaches to explore.. It’s easy enough to find places to stay in Gower that you can then use as a base to explore the rest of the region. The Brecon Beacons – one of the UK’s most stunning National Parks – are within day-trip distance, for example.


England: The Jurassic Coast


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The Dorset Jurassic Coast is a National Park, and take a walking tour along the famed route and it’s easy to see why. So named because of the ancient rock formations, there’s also plenty of beaches to discover along the way.


This area will also be familiar to viewers of the ITV drama Broadchurch, which took advantage of the scenery to base its storyline in the area.


Scotland: Oban & Surrounding Islands

Scotland Iona



Not only is Oban itself beautiful – a quaint little town with an old-world charm – but there’s also plenty of options for exploration. Take a sea tour through the islands in the Firth of Lorn, such as Mull and Iona. Not only can you enjoy the scenery, but there’s plenty of chances to spot seals in their natural habitat.


Northern Ireland: Giant’s Causeway

Giants Causeway


Last but not least, the amazing rock formation of the Giant’s Causeway makes for a unique and exciting daytrip. You can stay in metropolitan Belfast if you just want to visit for the day, or base yourself in nearby Bushmills if you want to take your time exploring in depth.

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Ask any modern family, and they will tell you that money is one of the most frequently revisiting problems they experience. For many of us, money can prove to be a real nuisance, and this is going to remain the case as long as you are not aware of how to improve it. As it happens, there are countless ways that pretty much any family can hope to bring in more money or to save what they already have. Knowing this, and doing everything you can to make the most of the situation, can mean that you live a much happier and healthier life with your family.



Plan Meals


One of the most basic ways to save a surprising amount of money is to plan your meals well in advance. When you do this, you will find that it is much easier to save money on your weekly grocery shopping. And for most families, this does tend to be one of the major expenses, so reducing this is likely to make a considerable difference to your life overall. Planning meals is a lot simpler than you might think. Make sure that you vary your meals accordingly, and that you remember to actually plan for all meals (in other words, don’t forget breakfast and lunch!) Do this right, and your finances will thank you.


Live Greener


We have all heard plenty about living as green as possible. No matter who you are, you should agree that living a green life will help you to save a considerable amount of money. Not only that, but you will be helping the environment as well, so everybody really does win here. If you want to be a bit more green, there are plenty of things you can do, from the minor to the major. On a larger scale, you might want to visit the Nicholls website and see if ground source heat pumps are suitable for your home. This is a kind of heating which can save you a lot of money, and is more environmentally friendly as well. On a smaller, everyday scale, you could simply endeavor to use less water or to ensure your home is insulated properly. All the little changes you can make will add up to make a huge difference.



Online Earning


If you actually feel in need of bringing in more money to your home, then you might be pleased to know that you can do that pretty easily these days. Thanks in large part to the Internet, you can now make extra money online incredibly quickly and easily. No matter what kind of time you might have to spare, no matter how little, you will be able to make some extra money if you know where to look. You have a lot of options here, but just make sure that you go for something that actually interests you above all. You don’t want to spend your time doing something soulless, but you can easily make a lot of money if you are happy, say, carrying out online surveys or installing a google add-on which pays you for clicks.




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travel mistakes to avoid

If you are scrimping and saving, and watching the pennies, all so you can afford a week or to join the glorious sunshine come August, you will already know that holidays can be expensive. But what you might not know it that you can make some pretty costly mistakes that can not only ruin your time away but also break the bank. Read on to find out what they are, and how you can do your best to avoid them.


holiday costs


Booking with a disreputable provider


This is a big no-no. Any break away that you book, whether in this country or abroad should be done through a reputable ABTA protected provider. This is because if the provider goes out of business before you get to go away, you will be covered for reimbursement.


In a similar vein, it’s also a good idea to get the best holiday insurance that you can afford. Then if your flights are delayed, your accommodation isn’t as you expect it, or you have an accident,  you will be covered and not end up out of pocket as well as being put out.


Visiting a country in political turmoil


Some folks are all about the adventure when they book a trip, and there is nothing wrong with that. After all getting away from it all can be exciting and fun with so many different places to visit. But something that can often backfire is booking a trip to an area that is currently experiencing political upheaval such as Tibet, Egypt, and Iraq.


Not only do these areas provide a greater risk to personal safety in some cases, but are often much more difficult to get to and gain access to. This means delays and hassle are almost inevitable. Which can mean increased costs as you have to pay for accommodation, while all of these things get sorted out. If, in fact, they do get sorted out.


Not checking your documents before you travel.




A massive mistake that far too many people make that can cost a lot of money is not checking their documents before they travel. If you don’t have the right documentation, you can be refused entry into a country.


Remember too that it’s not often a case of a simple no, but a delay after a long flight and an immigration by border official to discern whether you will be granted access or not.


There are many countries that require a visa or is waivers such as Europe, Australia, and Canada, which you can read more about at That means without them you are not getting in, no matter how much you have spent on flights and accommodation. Which can result in a massive waste of money and a huge disappointment.


Buying excursion from your tour operator


Lastly, another way that you can end up paying out much more than you need to when on holiday is by booking all of your excursions with your travel operator. Yes, it can be convenient to do so. Although you do have to watch that 2-hour presentation and waste your first morning.


travel mistakes


But you will probably find that similar excursions are on offer elsewhere for a lower price and that you can even probably book them online before you go, saving you money and time.


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explore the world


There are so many reasons as to why you should really get out there and venture out of the country that you have lived the majority of your life in. The world has so much to offer, but in more ways that you may think. There are different cultures, cuisines, views and scents for you to take in; animals you may never have seen before, people that hold the same views and beliefs but can only tell you in another language. The ability for us to travel so easily nowadays is one that we should take advantage of and utilise to our heart’s desire – it may see you actually more in pocket in the long run…




It’ll Help You Improve Life Skills


There’s a lot that you have to prepare before you go travelling. Looking up visa or ESTA information and organising what you have to do in order to travel to certain countries is one life skill that quite a lot of experienced people still don’t have. If you get immersed in the different cultures, you can pick up on care tips, cooking know-how and generally how to get yourself from A to B without much fuss. It’s also worth noting that a good handful of people have developed their personality skills whilst travelling; not only do different countries have a whole host of different etiquettes and rules that their people have developed over time, but you may find that they’re not as personable as you would like. Learning how to talk (and more importantly when to talk) in these situations could see you in good stead for future jobs where you are involved with those from other cultures.


You’ll Make Connections


Make a good impression and it’ll be one that’ll last a lifetime. Make a bad impression and it’ll last even further. Always try and stick with the former – be kind, be open-minded and be polite. You don’t know where it will eventually get you. There may be a chance for you to stay out travelling and be able to stay with those you have made friends with for free, or a lot cheaper than you had initially anticipated. Jobs can be found for you, or even recommended to you as they know that you will fit the bill and are happy to pass on your details.



explore the world

Bring Back What You’ve Learned


Know that something is big business in a country that you’ve visited and may think that it will work back at home? You’ve got an idea you can expand on. Seen a certain way of cooking a dish that you know that your friends and family will love? You’ve got a recipe you can sell. Got stories to tell, pictures to paint a thousand words and folklore to spread? You’ve got a book in your head, waiting to burst out. There are so many money-making opportunities with travelling that it’s often easy to overlook them and just put them to one side as a “nice experience”. Make the most of them and milk your experiences for all that they’ve got – you could be sitting on a small fortune!



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Heading off to university is both exciting and terrifying at the same time. On the one hand, the world is at your feet, giving you a sense of freedom and your first taste of the adult world. On the other hand, you are losing the comforts of your family home and entering an unfamiliar world with people you have never met before, in a place you may never have been to before.




Chances are, you will enjoy your time at university. You will take courses that will lead you to an exciting career. You will make lifelong friends, and possibly even a lasting romantic relationship.

Whether your nerves are in shreds or you are a firecracker of adrenaline excited to make the move, here is a handy guide to surviving the first few weeks of uni life.

Before you get there

As soon as those dreaded exam results are in, your chosen university will be in touch with you to confirm your place. The information you are likely to receive will include a map of the campus, accommodation details and a guide to registration. Read the information you receive carefully, and make sure you understand what is being asked for you. They may include forms for you to send back to them, so do it promptly to cancel out any administration issues.

Check out the university website and find out any other useful information you need from there. Also, there is likely to be a dedicated Facebook page set up, so join in and meet other students before you even set foot in the halls.

Consider your finances

Whether you have signed up for student finance, borrowing from the bank of mum and dad, or you have saved up your hard-earned cash, you are going to need to spend wisely.

Firstly, consider the course fees as they need to be covered first. Then there are the other essential items such as textbooks and computer equipment. If your accommodation is part of your university fees, Cashfloat has useful information for new students. When buying equipment, remember you do not have to buy everything brand new.


Check online for any discounted items on Amazon, or head to the university website where other students may have items for sale.

Unless you an accountancy student, the idea of budgeting could be a nightmare. However, there are money management apps you can download onto your smartphone which will help you manage your money.

You don’t want to get halfway through the term and discover you have run out of cash, so useful budgeting will help you plan for essentials, and let you know what you have left over for the fun stuff!

You will be entitled to discounts as a student, so using your ID, you can expect to find bargains on items such as clothing and computers, as well as getting cheaper rides on public transport.

Some students prefer to get a job on a weekend. It may cut down on your partying time, but it is safer than taking out a credit card or another loan. Check the notice boards at uni for available jobs.




On arrival, try and meet as many people as you can. These friendships may not last, but they will see you through the early days.

There will be many people floating around who are all in the same boat as you, so they will be eager to buddy up with you as well. There is nothing worse than making no contact and finding yourself alone.

It is likely you will encounter those feelings of fight or flight when you arrive, and your instinct may very well be the latter. Again, you aren’t alone, so if you encounter any issue, your family may only be a phone call or Skype conversation away to give you same parental advice and comfort.

There will also be a student support team in place, so when you have a problem speak to somebody who will be able to identify with the feelings you are going through.


Freshers Week

This is your first week at university. You will be overwhelmed, and you will probably get lost a lot as you explore your new surroundings. This is perfectly normal, as this week is all about your orientation in a new place.

Enjoy the experience, and find out all the answers to those important questions, such as ‘where is the cheapest bar’ and ‘how do I find my way home afterward.’

Head to the fresher fair where you will be able to see what clubs and societies are available. Find something that suits you, be it chess club or outdoor pursuits.

Expect quirkier choices too, and join as many as you realistically can to enhance your prospects of meeting new people.  You will also be able to pick up plenty of freebies. You can never have enough pens, right?


Good living

Don’t lock yourself away in your accommodation and become a wallflower. Get to know your new flatmates and introduce yourself. You may be introverted by nature, but push yourself at the beginning, and hopefully, you will make a new friend.

Ensure you take part in all the important things such as getting involved in household chores. It is a good idea to make a rota, so everybody does their share of cleaning and cooking.

Be respectful of other’s people’s living space by not playing your music too loud, or coming home late at night. Be respectful of them and hopefully they will be respectful of you.

You may now have the freedom to eat what you want, but you should still consider your health, as you are going to need a lot of brainpower for the studying ahead. Eat a balanced diet, especially plenty of fruit and those vegetables you always fed to the dog.

Above all, have a good time and be responsible. These are some of the most exciting years of your life, so make the most of the opportunity.





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These days, you can pretty much take out an insurance policy on anything you like – chances are, there will be a company somewhere willing to sell you such a policy. Of course, this is not to say that it is always necessary. But when you do want to take out insurance on something, either because it is a legal duty or because you just want to, then you want to know that you are going for a policy which you can trust, and a company which you feel you can rely on. It can be hard to know that is is the case, but as long as you keep your eye out for a few key signs, you should be able to spot good insurance policies when you see them. Let’s take a look at a few of those signs, so that you can be in a better position to find policies that suit you and which you can trust.



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Trustworthy Broker


These days, the majority of insurance companies work through brokers. If you are unsure what that is, it is actually quite simple. Essentially, the broker is the person or organisation who deals with the customer-facing aspects of the business. While the insurance company themselves actually deals with the policy and so on, the broker communicates with you directly, and is often the one who decide on whether a claim is successful or not. As your main point of contact, you probably want to be able to feel that you can trust them – and this is a good sign of an insurance company you might want to go for. If you can’t trust them, then it might eventually result in you taking out professional broker claims against them or worse – and you can believe that they don’t want that!


Fair Premium


It goes without saying that you will expect to pay some kind of a premium. After all, they have to make their money somehow. But you should be savvy when shopping around, and treat it like any other purchase which you might make. Be sure to go for a premium which you feel is fair for the policy you are getting. This can be hard to determine, especially if you are not experienced, so make sure to ask a financial advisor if you feel you need to. As long as the premium is fair, you will probably feel that you are happy with your choice, so this is a major sign to look out for.


Clear Terms


There are few things more frustrating than when an insurance company fails to be clear in their communications with you. When this happens, it can result in you losing out on a lot of money in the worst case scenario, and that is why you want to go for a company which is absolutely clear in its terms at all times. Be sure to read through the terms of the policy when you take it out – and if there is anything dodgy, then don’t go for it, but go elsewhere instead.




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Do people call you a control freak? Are you more comfortable when you are in control of everything? Well, I’m here to tell you that rather than being a derogatory comment, you should see it as a compliment. What’s wrong with being in control and being in charge, especially when it come to your finances? I say; nothing! In fact, folks that haven’t got a good handle on their financial situations can learn a lot from you and the following advice.



Being in control of your budget is surely a good thing right? Whether it’s a personal budget or one for the whole family? It means that you only buy what is needed, don’t go into debt, and have a much more stable financial situation. Allowing you to put money away for other things like buying property or going on holiday.


But what is the best way of being in control of your budget? Well, using mobile on the online app can really help. As they can show you what you have spent in a visual way. Which makes it a lot easier to see if you have overspent in any particular area, and manage this better the next month.




Being in control of your saving is a great thing. Why? Well, why would you not be in control of your own money that you have worked hard to scrimp and save for? In fact, for some folks just having some savings is an achievement, so they are not just living paycheck to paycheck.


However, for the true financial control freak, they will; not only want to see what savings they are making every month. But they will also want a hand in choosing the best account with the most benefits and the highest interest. So they can ensure that their money is working hard for them and their future.





Now, a lot of folks don’t worry too much about their pensions because they like their retirement is so far off in the future it seem irrelevant. But you won’t find the financial control freak making this mistake. Oh no! For them having their pension sorted is one of the most important things, because it ensures that they are in control of not just their current situation but also their future as well.


Of course, the pension can be complicated things. They can end up scattered if you have worked for a few different employers. Or they can be unusable if you are using a fund where you have no control over how your money is invested. Which many folks in the ‘90s pension scandal learned the hard way.


That is why it can be especially useful for the financial control freak to use a SIPP or a Self-Invested Personal Pension. As this allow them to have ultimate control over where their money is invested.




Lastly, a true control freak of the financial variety will not only have the budgeting, saving and pension sorted but they will also be making medium to long term investment to increase their overall wealth.


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This Investment may take the form of a business venture, buying property or even investing in the stock market. But of course whatever they choose to put their money into they will definitely want to be as in control of it as possible.



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Keeping on top of our finances in a world of beautiful advertisements and shopping malls is a tricky business. It seems that there’s always something close by desiring to part us with our cash.  That’s not a bad thing, it’s just something we need to take into account when we’re planning our monthly balance.



Having a weekly pay cheque might be more convenient from a budgeting perspective than a monthly pay cheque, but keeping a pro-active eye on your pennies and pounds can really help enable you to save for the long-term big purchases you just can’t do without.


However, smart spending habits don’t necessarily mean saving all of your money. If you don’t spend it, you defeat the point of earning it. Allowing yourself to have a little time for indulgent spending is a healthy exercise that keeps the economy moving forward.


Check out these following tips for the best ways to safely handle your money with peace of mind.




Researching a product that you’re looking to buy can be a fruitful endeavor. How long is the product likely to last? How long are you likely to use it for? What are you going to use it for? Is there a chance that you’ll get bored with it in the first few weeks of ownership?


For large purchases, a good rule of thumb is to note down what it is you’d really like to buy, wait a month or two, and then re-assess if your desire for the item is the same. If it is, go ahead and buy it. Now you’re more likely to find better deals online or in other stores. You’ll need to research to find this information though, as some things depreciate in value much faster than others. Clothes reduce in value much quicker than electronic goods do, for instance.


Avoid Spending Triggers


If you know that you’re prone to ordering take out food at 3 am, and it’s something you can’t really justify spending towards anymore, try deleting the apps from your phone, or removing the bookmarks from your web browser. Instead divert that investment to healthy food products, getting yourself set up with great cooking equipment and recipe books. This redirecting of your spending habits will actually help you create tangible, better real life habits, and that’s always healthy.


Be Patient


The virtue of patience is the greatest ally in the attempt to save yourself money. Items depreciate in value relatively fast these days, and you’re always going to get a better deal elsewhere. If you can’t justify purchasing the item straight away, why not see if it turns up second hand online in a few weeks?


Allow Your Indulgences


As long as it’s not contributing to a bad habit, spending on indulges like days or nights out are always a healthy pursuit. If you feel you can make money through a certain means with an investment, feel free to do that too. This might mean buying shares in a company, or simply playing bingo online. Make sure you double check your investment source is reliable though. You can do this through viewing online opinion such as this FoxyBingo review.


You see how simple it can be? Saving isn’t always a case of going without. It’s just a case of temperance, research, planning and wisely acting upon what you’ve found. Like anything in life, that’s a positive attitude to have.



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children's savings

I still have the £1 premium bond that my Grandfather gave to me when I was born. I still haven’t won anything, but on the upside it is still worth £1! It was quite a traditional thing back then for a premium bond to be bought for someone as a gift,  either for a baby or for the parents of a new child and, statistically, a few must have won prizes and the gift turned out to be much better than expected. That said, I suspect there are a lot of lower denomination Premium Bonds lying in drawers throughout the country that are still worth their face value.



Premium  Bonds can still be bought, and the chances of winning a prize of up to a million still exists, albeit at odds of 30,000 to 1! If you would like to know more, have a look at the NS&I website. The big difference now compared to when I was born is the initial cost, or if you prefer – investment. If you want to try your luck with Premium Bonds now, then the starting price is £100 and if you are a parent or grandparent then they can still be held for a child, but what if you want to give a lower amount, or a varying amount now and again or even a fixed regular amount?


Well, here are a few ideas:



While you’re on the NS&I website, take a look at their Children’s Bond. Currently they are offering a tax free return of 2% fixed for 5 years and the minimum investment is £25. Maximum age at commencement is 16 so investments can be staggered so that the last one matures at age 21. As with Premium Bonds, the Children’s Bond carries no risk to the original deposit.



There are many easy access deposit accounts aimed at children, a quick search on a comparison site will soon reveal who is offering the best interest. Some even offer better rates if a commitment to regular saving is made. Putting money in these accounts couldn’t be easier, but getting it out is also just as easy, so if you would prefer your gift to be more of a definite long term plan, it may not be the route for you. They are however, ideal accounts for youngsters to learn how to manage their money, save up for something, understand how interest works and, for the older ones, the use of cashcards.



Junior ISAs offer both cash as well as stocks and shares saving for children. This tax year, 2017-18, savings of up to £4128 can be made in either or divided between both types of plan. Regular monthly savings are also allowed with typically £25 per month being the minimum for a stocks and shares Junior ISA. Remember though that just because they are for children, there is no concession with regard to the risks involved. Unlike the Junior Cash ISA, which is straightforward and simple to manage and understand. The Junior Stocks and Shares ISA, while offering the temptation of greater investment returns over a long term, still has the risk of losing money in times of poor investment and will attract fund management charges which, as with all investments, will erode returns. If you are going down this route, then make sure you fully understand the charging structure before you start.



With all of these options the money will be in the name of the child and some can only be accessed at a certain age. Junior ISAS for instance can only be accessed at age 18. There is an option to transfer the funds into an adult ISA, but there is also the option of full withdrawal. When we start these plans, 18 years seems an awfully long time away, but it definitely passes quicker than you may think and you need to consider whether you want your child to have full control over what has been saved for them.


Contrary to popular belief, children are liable for paying tax and have the same tax free allowance as an adult. This year it is £11500 and while it would take a fair lump sum to generate that amount in interest it is always worthwhile looking at the potential tax consequences of any savings or investments you may undertake.


A guest post by George from the Retired Broker.



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