13

Firstly I'm not sure is this the right place to ask so please tell me if not.

I'm a 16 year old male and I need some help with talking about money and borrowing with my parents.

The Context:

Almost a month ago my desktop PC's PSU broke. The PC in question is about four years old and was a prebuilt system, from Fujitsu if I remember correctly. Obviously that means that the PC is no longer working and I have been using my phone and tablet to do things. I would buy new parts for it but problem is that I'm too shy to ask my parents for the parts I'd need. I think my dad is the first person who comes in my mind to ask first.

Other Issues:

I'd like to build a PC and I've considered using newer parts but my dad is a bit of a 'cheapskate' in so much that he thinks "why would you need a powerful computer, you don't do anywhere near that kind of work".

That makes me freak the hell out as I need a working computer for school and I like to play games on computer, as I like to build DIY things (from OTG cable to computer case). I don't want to keep borrowing my brother's laptop as it's really not very good and doesn't do the things I need it to. The main thing is that I'm too shy to ask for anything from my parents.

The Question:

I need some advice on how I should approach my dad about getting parts to build a computer. Keeping in mind the need to defend some of my part choices with them being newer and potentially more expensive than the basic components.

** Thank you so much peoples who have answered to this!!!** I will figure my situation out. For sure i will earn the money by myself for things.

  • Just FYI "finance" makes it sound like he's going to pay for a multi-thousand dollar rig over a few months when really you're asking him for <$100 to replace your PSU – Azor Ahai Mar 1 '18 at 19:21

15 Answers 15

23

It could be helpful to diverge from the idea that your dad needs to finance your computer (parts).

If the type of parts/computer you want are not a necessity but a luxury, get offers for both. Present your dad with both options. As you need the computer for school, hopefully he will be willing to pay for the basic option. But what about the extras you want?

  • ask for (parts of them) as a gift (birthday or any other occasion of choice)
  • ask for a "deal" where some challenge for you is involved that he really would like you to achieve (Would you get me some of this if my grade in the next math test is better than...?)
  • ask for a way to do special chores and get paid for it (wash the car, mow the lawn, whatever you usually do not do and is a reasonable effort)
  • ask if you can take up a side job to pay for this kind of luxury now and in the future
  • ask him for advice to finance this, but not for the money itself (maybe I missed something you could do)

What to not do: Behave in any way that he thinks you feel entitled to get the extras. Instead, give him the idea that you are willing to work for luxuries. And in fact be willing to do so. You might not have to after all.

  • 6
    I really agree with "ask if you can take up a side job to pay for this kind of luxury now and in the future". That's how I built my first computer. Obviously it depends on your parents and job availability though. – JMac Feb 28 '18 at 12:55
  • 2
    Yes, financing items via your own work is the best thing you can do for yourself. It gives you a sense of how much work is needed to get money, instead of simply being gifted with new things. You grow a sense of appreciation for items and good gifts. When I lived at home, I had computer and music equipment close to 10k in worth. Every single thing was financed by my own work while I was still a student. – Juha Untinen Mar 1 '18 at 10:00
16

I have often been in this situation at your age and learned to make a "good presentation" of my requirements. But I've always tried hard to ensure that most of my parents' such expenditures for me were justified on solid grounds of need, utility and cost effectiveness.

Since you have stated Dad feels that you don't need a top class computer at this point, you are already in a handicap to achieve all your aims, because "need" carries much more weight with parents than "want" and they cannot be expected to spend a lot of money for what they consider your "want" rather than "need", even if they are rich, because it is their hard-earned money.

Still, the sensible interpersonal approach would involve your attempting to present your wish for (money for) a new computer as something cost-effective that realistically benefits your future studies for at least the next 3 years, and you must be able to justify your proposal without making any misleading statements. In other words you may have to compromise on choice if necessary, to select something that will be genuinely useful for your education. You should also assume the responsibility to make good use of it to achieve substantial educational gains in future.

So you need to prepare a strong case, but you must also be sure to approach Dad with a proper consideration of his financial committments that you are aware of, since it would be unfair to ask him for a costly machine if he has other important payments to make at this point of time.

Even if you think he can afford it, you should assess the cost benefit and avoid asking for very expensive high powered components that he would obviously consider unnecessary. You might feel shy to ask your parents for money but teenagers are often dependent on their parents for major expenditures and you can ask them, if you feel your requirement is reasonable and legitimate. You should also be careful to make the approach when Dad is calm and relaxed and has time to listen to your proposal, and you must then give him as much time as he needs to reach a decision. You can also decide to make your request to both parents together, if you think it will improve your chances of getting a favorable result.

Finally, there is no use being disappointed if your first demand is refused or postponed. It is especially crucial to avoid a big fight because you are unlikely to convince anyone by creating a scene. Parents will often have expenditures you are not aware of, but if you can politely and convincingly suggest a reasonably priced machine as a very useful long term investment for your education and general needs, Dad is likely to think about it and eventually decide to finance your computer in the near (indefinite) future.

  • Totally excellent answer coming from direct experience -- It says what I would have said as a person having the exact same experience with parents so I will not write my own answer now, but I only upvote! – Abhigyan Chattopadhyay Feb 28 '18 at 12:42
  • Thanks @AbhigyanC! This is like a well-reasoned negotiation performed in good faith for justifiable aims. Most of us do depend on the kindness of our parents above and beyond any financial situation. – English Student Feb 28 '18 at 13:11
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    Not only do parents favor need over desire, because they hesitate to share their own money, but also because they want to prevent their children from getting spoiled and make them learn to work for goals on their own. – Markai Mar 1 '18 at 8:03
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    Yes indeed @Markai. Moreover expenditure for a genuine need cannot usually be avoided or deferred (whereas a 'want' can be satisfied at leisure) so deciding whether it is a want or a need is crucial in allocating valuable financial resources. – English Student Mar 1 '18 at 11:08
11

School duties - "need"

As you need the computer to perform your school duties, I think you can reasonably ask for a money to fix it or to have it fixed instead - just explain in concrete terms and with examples which school duties you need the computer for and which cannot be reasonably performed on a mobile phone. (Note: This assumes you really have duties which you need the computer for, which I assume you do have - if you do not, I am afraid you are out of luck).

I doubt any parent will see such request as unjustified. Still this might be a non-trivial expense for your parent, depending on your family situation, and you should try to understand if you father responds that he would like to, but currently it is not possible to.

Hobby upgrade - "want"

If you want to upgrade some performance critical parts (like a graphical card, or a SSD disk) so that you can play games, edit videos or perform any other hobby of your own, you should not hide it under the "school duties".

Be honest in this - first to yourself, than to your parents. Most parents are not naive and when they detect attempt to deceive them, they can sometimes harden against any requests in this direction.

Note however that if you show some signs of computer / videogames addiction already, they may not like this and may not be cooperative.

Building/buying a new computer is in the same category. Do some accounting first: how much would a new PC cost? How much would cost just basic repairs? How much would repairs + upgrade cost?

Show interest by trying

Once you know what you want, you can also ask yourself what you could do to achieve this.

You can suggest some part of this as a birthday / Christmass present, but an approach which I think has much higher chance to succeed is when you find something which you can do for what you want.

Can you earn money by some part time job? Or, if getting such jobs is really impossible where you live, would it be possible to make a deal with your parents to help with some domestic chores which normally you would not be expected to help with? Or to improve your school grades or whatever you know your parents would be glad to see from you? Most parents welcome such approach and are willing to help once they see you do not expect to get what you want for granted. I have seen parents make a deal with their kids which could look like "for each USD/EUR/XXX you earn for this on your own I will add the same amount".

Computer age

If your dad is at least a bit computer savvy, you will have a hard time convincing him a four years computer is way too old and unusable now. Computer HW is not changing that fast since at least 2012 - as Moore's law has collapsed.

Note: I am a father and a professional programmer, working on a computer which is 6 years old, and it was by no means high-end when it was bought. Last year my PSU broke and I replaced it.

  • For the hobby part to be applicable, the computer must initially be upgradable. If one takes an old mobo, too small case, fills all the ram slots with 1gb sticks, the upgrading becomes too expensive or even impossible later on... – Džuris Feb 28 '18 at 14:55
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    @Džuris, the op states "Almost a month ago my desktop PC's PSU broke" So i am presuming it has a case big enough to fit a new PSU in.This fulfils his NEED. – WendyG Feb 28 '18 at 16:29
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    My computer comes from 2009 and works fine. I'm a full time professional. A 16 year old does not "need" a computer that's newer than four year sold. Frankly if I were the Dad I might consider this an opportunity to teach a valuable life lesson. – Lightness Races with Monica Feb 28 '18 at 16:50
7

Think about why you need a fast and powerful PC.

Do you need a fast PC to look at websites? No.

Do you need a fast PC to write text or do something in Excel? No.

Likely the only reason for a powerful PC is that you want to play games with it. I understand this. But I wouldn't say you need it.

So maybe explain to your dad that you need a new PC to do your work and tell him that a cheap PC would do the job. And ask him if he will buy that for you.

And if he agrees to that then maybe you can ask him if he would also consider buying you a more powerful PC because you like to play games. And maybe you can convince your father that you will do this and that if he agrees to that. But don't pretend you need a fast PC if in reality a second hand cheap PC would be good enough for what you really need.

  • 2
    We were writing answers at the same time about "need" vs "want" and posted within a minute so it looks like we are on the right track @Edgar! – English Student Feb 28 '18 at 10:35
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    Also, think about the cost. A computer (especially a powerful one) is not a small expense. Depending on profession and location this could be a entire months wage. You could think about making a deal with your dad that he provides the budget for a work pc, and you add to it the extra budget needed for games. Or, consider the cost of an average PC plus buying a playstation, instead of buying an expensive PC – Tom Feb 28 '18 at 10:42
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    @Tom Especially right now if you want to add dedicated graphics to it. Crypto is making GPUs super expensive. – JMac Feb 28 '18 at 12:47
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    @Džuris: There are still enough people in this world who work on 4GB PC. It's nice to have something more powerful but certainly not necessary. And if you use 13GB with those applications you do something wrong. – user8838 Feb 28 '18 at 14:56
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    4GB PC is still good enough for many purposes - my laptop with 4GB of RAM is still good enough for web browsing, office software, mail software, text editor, programming and even games that I play. – Mateusz Konieczny Feb 28 '18 at 16:30
4

Build your case based on their goals (your education, prep for college if that's in the cards, SAT study) rather than yours. Don't BS, but relate it to the "good" reasons for having a computer and you may find a more receptive audience.

What is your parent's perception of your computer use? If they think you lock yourself away all day just playing computer games, they may think that's contributing to your shyness. Unless you can make a good case for the computer providing a positive influence on your life, you're in for a tough sell. You may wind up with a Chromebook simply because you already spend too much time on the computer.

It's hard to know what the details of your family dynamic are, but if it's an option, tell your mom or siblings if you interact with them more on a daily basis. They may be more sympathetic, or at least increase your odds of finding a sympathetic ear. Your dad may be more inclined to offer help if he indirectly hears of your plight rather than it coming across as your asking. Let them know you have to borrow computers or work in the school lab if that's the case. Perhaps ask for a lift to use the library computer when doing an important report. Let them notice the inconvenience and stress added due to the lack of a functional computer rather than asking out of the blue.

Just to add a personal note: Computer gaming doesn't have to be an anti-social activity. It can be "quality family time". I was a gamer before I had kids, and we still play games together regularly nearly 30 years later, even though both are located hundreds or thousands of miles away. Consider playing your games with family members. My sons and I regularly played FPS and RTS game growing up. That alone incentivized me to keep our machines reasonably up-to-date. Consider playing some games with dad.

  • Totally on board with this. I still play games with my dad, some of my favourite times growing up were gaming with him :) The joy of learning about cheats in Age of Empires and basically having a copy-paste war... ahh... good times. – BunnyKnitter Feb 28 '18 at 18:15
3

The problem with being to shy/humble too ask your parents for anything..

I had the same problem forever, never asked for anything although i didn't recieve any kind of pocket money. I can't give you advice on that - you just have to ask. Just do it.(© 2018 Nike).

Advice:

What you can do tho is beginning a conversation like this:

"Dad i know i never ask for anything but this is really important to me."

This way your dad does not get caught completely off-guard and already knows

'ah somebody big is coming my way - he usually never says something like his'

After a little pause you could say:

"You know my old PC broke down a few months agoand so far it has really been a pain to complete schoolwork on the tablet - im so much slower, can't copy anything except in school which also takes much longer than at home..

and of course there is playing games which you know i really liked - and i miss not beeing able to play at all with friends online etc."

Emergency plan:

If he declines right away or seems not to be thrilled about your idea, first say:

"It would also be great as my birthday or christmas present, or both together!"

Or lastly:

"I am also ready to pay part of it as far as im able to do so. But i really need one, school only gets more callenging without a computer as time goes on!"

  • If this is here in India the high school student will say that the high-performance computer is absolutely essential for his getting good final grades, even if it isn't. And parents will usually buy it for that reason. – English Student Feb 28 '18 at 11:01
  • yeah, in Austria this would be the case for sure. But it could also be that they don't understand this right away or don't want to understand. – hopsinat Feb 28 '18 at 11:10
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    @EnglishStudent Hmmm. I'm not Indian, but I am a parent of a 29yo. I think you overestimate how gullible parents are: we've heard it before (often when we were making very similar requests of our own parents). That doesn't necessarily mean we don't buy the child what they want though. – Martin Bonner supports Monica Feb 28 '18 at 11:35
  • "That doesn't necessarily mean we don't buy the child what they want though." __ Which is what all young persons depend on @Martin Bonner! But an Indian parent would rarely risk their high-schooler's final grades suffering for want of the right computer, which could do "irreparable harm" to their professional future... Especially since computer science is now part of most high school courses. But I've always tried hard to justify most of my parents' expenditures for me on solid grounds of need, utility and cost effectiveness. – English Student Feb 28 '18 at 11:58
3

This is only really a fragment of an answer, and should be used in tandem with other answers, but you could try offering a False Choice.

If you can find a pre-build that has the specification you want that costs more than the equivalent individual parts, you could ask for the pre-build knowing that Dad is going to say 'no', then come back a week later with the list of parts, presenting it as a 'cheaper' option- "I know you said no to _____, but here's the same thing for less money".

This might cross the line from 'convincing' to 'active trickery', so bear that in mind if that's not something you're comfortable with.

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    This is called anchoring in marketing :) Be aware that if a choice like that exists in any market, the trick is already being played - on you :) – rackandboneman Feb 28 '18 at 12:11
  • Funny enough, if you try this right now on a pre-built system with a dedicated graphics card, you might get the opposite results. With the price of crypto-currency going up, graphics cards are going up a lot in price; to the extent that pre-built systems are cheaper because they buy direct from manufacturer at MSRP before market demand raises prices; and the additional cost of the other components means crypto-miners wouldn't bother to buy a full system only to take the GPU. Pre-built is actually an economic option for some builds right now. – JMac Feb 28 '18 at 12:52
3

Your dad is probably right when he says that

why would you need a powerful computer, you don't do anywhere near that kind of work

Programming or video editing tasks are "that kind of work" that "need a powerful computer". However, everything in life is not work ; you want a PC for leisure, and a powerful one. Still, a powerful PC may still not be necessary for gaming, as there multiples games that require modest hardware or can run on modest hardware ( I have played and finished Doom 2016 and Nier:Automata on a 13'' laptop with a nvidia 940mx, and while it was definitely not pretty, the game was fully playable and enjoyable).

Thus :

  • You need to prove that gaming is a worthy pastime. That is probably the easiest one, because even if your dad is a bit of a 'cheapskate' he will understand that you need to have time for leisure
  • You need to prove that better hardware means better experience, and that the cost/value is worth it. While better graphics may means a better experience, you need to ask yourself if the gap from 1080p graphics to 4K graphics is worth 300€ for instance (disclaimer :I have no idea of the real cost)
  • You need to prepare a baseline. What are the games you want to play ? What are the requirements of those games ? You can for instance watch Youtube videos of certain games running on certain hardware to have an idea.
  • Calculate the costs of buying a premade PC v building one v Fixing and upgrading your old PC. While building a PC were less expensive in the past, with the recent boom of cryptocurrency craze, prices of GPU cards have sky-rocketed. This have less of an impact on the market of premade PCs. Plus, if it's your first time building a PC, there is always the chance that something will go wrong.
  • Ask yourself what your priorities are. From your post, you have 3 goals : having a PC, having a powerful PC and building one. Your father have only one : Minimizing costs. If dropping one of your goals will reduce costs significantly you will have to argue for this particular goal with your father.
  • 3
    Programming is a job that requires less computer resources than a tab of facebook... Problem is that real programmers also need email client, messaging or a couple (skype, discord), office software, lots of browsing WHILE also keeping the facebook open, listening to music etc. Ftp, ssh clients take nothing compared to the additional soft and even IDEs aren't that greedy... – Džuris Feb 28 '18 at 15:03
  • @Džuris : It can easily take five minutes for me to do a complete rebuild, and I have a quite beefy desktop. Serious programming can be as resource intensive as anything. (Regression tests and running under valgrind can use almost limitless amounts of computing.) – Martin Bonner supports Monica Feb 28 '18 at 15:21
  • Obviously programming can go from not really intensive to super intensive, both on CPU and GPU....However, with video editing, it can be one of the most CPU and / or GPU intensive task commonly done by "regular" people – L.D. Feb 28 '18 at 15:24
2

You don't need your dad's money for this. PSUs are among the easiest components to fix. Open it up and see if there are any blown caps. Watch some videos online on how to do it. Take a part time job somewhere or buy some broken stuff and learn how to fix it. Find junk around the house that noone wants and sell it which would contribute to the cleanliness of the home and your parents would love it. Start thinking in terms of getting productive and earning some money on your own and you will see your dad's interest in helping absolutely skyrocket.

The bottom line principle: the less suckling on your parents wallets and the more responsibility and proactivity you take the more your parents will be willing, even delighted to help whatever it is that you do. 16 years of age is just about the right time to start showing them that you mean business not parasitism.

1

You have to make and spend time for it.

Make Time?

Make time to think how much you do for your family specially dad, how much quality time you spend with him? how much u care for him? How good is your bond with your dad? Does he trust you with anything?

Spend Time?

Spend time to think to resolve any flaws you found after Making Time and lastly can your dad afford your requirement.

Then you are good to go... Spend a week at least, it will work..

1

There are plenty of great answers so far about how to ask for it, what I'm going to give you here is something a little different, a backup plan.

There are solutions coming up lastly which are perfectly suited for people in your position. Right now I have in mind a company renting (at least here in France) some devices for something like 30€/month allowing you to play recent game in the highest possible quality.

I'm pretty sure about american companies selling the same concepts, instead of asking your father to spen 1000-1500$ in a great computer, you could spend yourself 30$/month and have an equivalent (maybe better) gaming performance.

I can give you more informations about it if you want but I don't know if I'm allowed to drop some company names here.

  • raspberry pi ;-P – Rui F Ribeiro Feb 28 '18 at 23:07
  • @RuiFRibeiro It's a solution but I had in mind a company renting VMs and a streaming box, for 30$/month. All you need is at least 10Mb/s of connexion, you can plug it on every screen you can find and it offers you the performances of a (average) 2-3k$ computer – Rolexel Mar 1 '18 at 8:20
1

Two tactics:

  • Ask him if he will be willing to contribute x% of the cost of a new comp if you come up with the rest of the cash yourself. This could mean picking up more chores, saving allowance or getting a job. (I went 50/50 with my dad on my first comp)

  • This [new] computer will last you well into university - so use this point. What do you plan to study? Anything with graphics requirements? Photoshop? CAD drawings? You need a decently beefy comp for that.

Also, lets be fair: you don't NEED a new computer assuming your current broken one was decent when you got it. You said it was 4 years old? My gaming computer is FIVE years old and runs things perfectly well still - I don't plan to replace it until it can no longer handle the new games coming out. It was reasonably cheap when I got it. About $800-$900 (excluding peripherals) I think.

I also wonder why you are shy about asking your dad for things. The reason may change the ideal tactic.

The thing you should ultimately remember though:

  • You can't loose by asking, the worst that happens is he says "No" and nothing changes.

  • You are old enough to get a job. A month or two of working part time would get you that computer AND look good on a resume (not to mention go a long way to showing your parents that you are willing to put effort into things that are important to you).

1

You seem to be looking at this question from a perspective that doesn't fit your age, and it might be that your father thinks the same.

The very first thing on your mind should be to pay for your things by yourself as much as possible. At 16 you should have some pocket money as well as a small amount of savings exactly for these bigger purchases. Maybe you also have or had a weekend or summer job that earns/earned a bit?

Step One: Put together the parts you need and the amount of money you can finance by yourself. Look at the gap that is left.

Step Two: Approach your father with an offer, not a request. Instead of asking for free money, offer work for money. In this order:

  1. Tell him that you want to repair your computer (hinting at saving money by repairing instead of buying new).
  2. Tell him you checked various offers and picked option X at a price of $Y (hinting that you check carefully and not just pick the first thing).
  3. Tell him that with your savings, etc. you are short $Z.
  4. Ask him which kind of work in the garden, garage or around the house you could do for him in exchange for $Z. (hinting that you don't expect free money)

Depending on your family, culture, etc. replace as appropriate. Some people in my environment were rewarded for exceptional school results, for example, instead of garden work.

You stop being a beggar and instead make an offer. One that due to it being open, is hard to refuse (he can't honestly say that no amount of garden work would be worth $Z).


Personal note: As I grow older, I understand many things my parents did much better. My first computer was paid in half by myself. It took my entire savings at that time. But it so much empowered me that I could think about it as my computer. My father even turned it so that I had paid for the computer itself, and he had paid for the monitor and accessories.

You might misinterpret your father. Is he really a "cheapskate" or could there be other motivations behind his words and actions?

  • This is exactly what I was going to write. When my kids come to me wanting something in particular they start off telling me how much money they need, what it's for and then ask what they can do to earn it. – NotMe Mar 1 '18 at 14:42
0

I like the answer of SnyperBunny and think similarly but everything depends on things outside of the topic and we don't have that information. Also I don't know how powerful the 'cheapskate' pre-built Fujitsu was and if it is really from 4 years ago hardware or older.

Most of the other answers gave great ideas about the financing and talking with your father but I think you should also consider this:

Current state of the hardware market and the stagnation in performance - video cards are scarce and extremely expensive at this exact moment because of cryptocurrency mining, also a brand new custom built PC would not be that different from the last year's since there aren't any big advancements in technology aside from 6 core CPUs which you might not need right now for anything in school or videogames. The NVIDIA Geforce 1000 series has been around since 2016, so again nothing new and innovative in there, like in the CPUs market. AMD has some new middle range Radeon cards which might be the better option for performance and price.

An example - my PC is using an Intel Sandy Bridge i5-2500k from 2011 and a GeForce 560ti which is enough for anything to handle, I just added an SSD and more RAM over time.

You could explain to your father that you don't want a brand new "this year" parts PC but do some research and find parts that will be great, probably even a little cheaper from say the end of 2016, it will still be faster than your 4 year old PC.

I don't know if you have already something in mind for the hardware that you want and if this would be a problem, if it's not exactly that part you want.

To summarize, my point is that you could check online for the performance of some parts compared to your pre-built system and then pick parts that are better by 50% or even more but don't go for the high-end ones and you could still get the faster PC without much money, I think your father might be pleased then.

You could even show him your research on the matter, if you think it would be helpful to convince him. Again don't go for the brand new this month's model that is faster than last years by 10% which is in the range of the non-detectable by humans.

Note: You could sell the old PC and get some money from it.

-1

Depends on what you mean by "finance my computer". If you mean have him loan you the money with a schedule to pay him back, I don't see where you would need anything more than to effectively show the method and means to do so. Should be an easy sell if you've set precedent in following through on other things. If you mean "buy my computer" all I can say is ask. You've got a 50/50 chance, either he will or he won't.

  • 3
    50/50 means even odds not only two outcomes. – sphennings Mar 1 '18 at 1:29

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