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The Personal Finance Podcast

The Year End Money Checklist! (Make Sure You do This!)

In this episode of the Personal Finance Podcast, we are going to talk about the ultimate year end money checklist.

In this episode of the Personal Finance Podcast, we are going to talk about the ultimate year end money checklist.

 

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Transcript:

 

On this episode of the personal finance podcast, the ultimate year in money checklist next.

What's up everybody. And welcome to the personal finance podcast. I'm your host, Andrew founder of master money. co and today on the personal finance. Podcast. We are going to be talking about the ultimate year end money checklist. If you guys have any questions, make sure to hit us up on Instagram, Tik TOK, Twitter at master money co and follow us on Spotify, Apple podcasts, or whatever podcast player you love.

Listen to this podcast on it. If you want to help with the show, consider leaving that five star rating and review on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player. Now, today we're going to be diving into the ultimate year end money checklist. And we did this a couple of years ago, but I have added a ton of different things to the year end money checklist that I want you to check out.

Now, if you want a copy of this year end money checklist, if you go to master money. co slash resources, we have the year end money checklist available for you there. So this is going to have the entire checklist there so that you can go through this at your end when it comes to making sure you have all your finances.

Now, this is the best time of year to do this a because what you're gonna be putting into place is some of the things that really matter come year end and making sure that you just take advantage of everything that you have available to you at your end. But in addition, it's also going to set you up for an amazing new year and the new year is when a lot of people like to get their money right.

They like to get their money together, their budgets together, start saving again, getting everything back in order, especially after the holidays. Maybe you've spent too much and or you just want to get that money right. Finally, for once in your life. So when it comes to the new year, it's really, really important to have some of these parameters set up.

And so that's what the year in money checklist does. It helps you finish out the year strong. And in addition, takes you into the new year so that you have those new year goals in place. So this is going to be an action packed episode. So if that's something you're into. Let's get into it. All right. So believe it or not, I have 22 things on this checklist now.

And when it comes to this checklist, not all of these are going to pertain to you individually. So if these do not pertain to you, you can skip on to the next item and you can adjust this checklist any way, shape, or form that fits your exact financial situation, because you got to know this is not a cookie cutter event.

There are some things on here that you just cannot do. Or are not willing or interested in doing. So the first one, and this is one that I think every single person, this applies to every single person is to make sure that you look at your money automations and make sure that everything is working properly.

Now, if you are brand new to money automations, I'm going to give you four key areas to actually look at where to automate your money so that you don't have to budget anymore. You don't have to lift a finger at all. Every single month, your money is just going exactly where you want it to go. So the first area is to look at your savings goals.

If you have savings in place and you want to save up for a new car or an emergency fund or a new house, all of these different areas, you got to make sure that you have these in categories and they're categorized in things like buckets. So ally savings, for example, has savings buckets where you can actually save directly into those savings buckets.

And so you don't even have to budget your money. It's just actually in those savings buckets and it can go automatically. Every single month. So I look at the dates on when I'm getting paid to actually activate these. And then they go directly into savings. You don't have to lift a finger. You don't have to rely on your willpower whatsoever.

Number two is bill pay. If you do not automate your money with bill pay, I don't know what you're doing. Cause right now your bills should be. Automated as much as you possibly can. Now, one way to do this is to call up each bill provider and say, Hey, I want to make sure that I pay my bill on this date.

What do we need to do to make this happen? And you can set this up. If you get paid biweekly on a couple of days after you get paid to make sure obviously that paycheck hits, or you could kind of set this up in a way. Where you just do it monthly, but you want to make sure that, you know, what days those bills are hitting and then automate this process.

So you're not manually going in there and paying your bills. It's crazy to have to do that. The next one is debt payments. So when it comes to debt payments, you need to make sure that you are automating this process. And if you want to. Increase the amount that you're paying down this debt. You're also automatically contributing money to that debt and paying this down.

Now, sometimes this is harder to do. So you have to call up that provider and say, Hey, I actually want to pay more than the minimum. I want to put more money into this and you can talk through that situation, but making sure that you do that is really, really important. And then lastly, we have investments.

The number one thing you want to be automating is your savings and your investments. And so automating your money into your retirement accounts, for example. So your Roth IRA, your 401k, automating your money into your taxable brokerage. If you utilize that and making sure that all of this is actually happening automatically, because this is how you're going to be able to retire.

This is the only way to retire is to. Automatically contribute money into your investments. This is why the 401k is so powerful. And Ramsey solutions did a study 80 percent of millionaires in their millionaire study actually became millionaires through their 401k. You know why? Because 401ks are automated.

This is an automatic process. And if you actually look at who becomes millionaires, it's people who automate their money. And so this is one of the things, one of the big reasons why you need to automate those investments so that you have a retirement and a comfortable retirement overall, number two is to look at cutting costs.

If you need to, if you are an overspender or you think you are spending too much money, the best way to do this is to look at the big, big areas to cut costs. Now, the first areas I would look at are a, your housing B your transportation. And then C your food. So for housing, 30 percent of your income is what you want to be spending on housing costs maximum.

And what I really prefer is for folks to be 25 percent or below is really what I like you to be at because you can build a lot of wealth when you're in that range. And if you're looking to become financially independent in 10 years or less, 20 percent or less is the goal that I typically tell people if that's what you're interested in.

So first, reducing those housing costs. Okay. Now at this point in time, if you're going out there and you're buying a new house and you have really high interest rates, sometimes this makes it difficult. Again, we've talked about this a number of times, but there is nothing wrong with renting. I'm going to say it again.

There is nothing wrong with renting if it makes more financial sense. Now, if you're going out to buy a house and you want to figure out how much is this entire house going to cost me, we have something called the total cost of ownership calculator. It's absolutely free. So if you go to mastermoney. co Slash resources.

You'll see it there and it's a spreadsheet that takes you to the steps. How much is this house actually costing me when I add in maintenance and repairs and all of these other items that I have to pay for when I buy a house, you can also look at food to cut costs. If you are the person who is door dashing or you are paying for a ton of different convenience, but you can't afford that convenience, that is one great place to start or If you are spending too much money on groceries and most people that I've talked to, they spend too much money on groceries and they don't even realize it.

So that is one thing where add up your grocery bill, see how much you're spending and maybe you can reduce some of that costs right around 15 percent works out for a lot of people, but you just got to think through what's works best for your financial situation. Next is transportation. So when it comes to transportation, it is really, really important to think through how much am I spending on cars and car payment.

So if your car payment is really, really high, that is not something I really want you to be looking into. So if you're buying the car, I like the 24 seven rule where it's 20 percent down four years or less on your loan and 7%. Or less of your income spent on your monthly car payment. That is the way I like to look at that.

Or if you're buying a car and you want to do it in the total percentage of your income, 20 percent or less of one year salary is what you need to be buying. If you're paying cash, if you want to be less aggressive, if you want to be aggressive for financial independence, 10 percent or less of one year salary is the purchase price when paying for cash.

Also, make sure that you're checking your subscriptions at your end, because when you're trying to cut costs, I just did this recently where I went through all my subscriptions saved about 200 just by cutting out the stuff I don't use anymore. And you can ask yourself a number of questions, but look through your streaming subscriptions, look through your website subscriptions, or if you have magazines or software, any of this kind of stuff need to make sure you're auditing at the end of the year and going through this at least at a minimum once a year, because you have all those unused subscriptions.

That could be a hundred dollars per month, which is 1, 200 per year. So make sure. Really, really trimming the fat on some of that stuff is really important at the end of the year. Also, look at some of your bills. Can you negotiate some of those bills? Reduce the either interest rate and or can you negotiate some of those bills so that you can get a lower rate?

Look at your cable bill or your phone bill and see if you can negotiate some of those bills so that you can reduce some of your costs that you're paying month over month. And then lastly, look at the rest of your spending. When you're going through your spending habits, look at the rest of your spending and you can ask yourself a number of things, but first of all, the number one way to figure out if you need to reduce spending is does this thing bring me value?

If it brings you value and you utilize it all the time, then that is a good reason to spend money on something. But if it. Does not bring you value. If it does not bring you value month in and month out, then that is a good reason to consider cutting it. Now, how do you figure it out? If something brings you value, is it something that helps you become free?

Is it something that makes you better? Is it something that makes you happy or is it something that helps you earn or save money? Those are the, some of the things that would bring you value. And so you got to think through, Hey, if anything is bringing me this value, then it may be worth spending the money on.

If it does not. Cut it out, ruthlessly cut this stuff out because it is really, really important so that you can take those extra dollars and put them towards the things that actually bring you value. That is the key to this whole equation. It's not so you can cut back and just live on rice and beans.

It's so that you can cut back and take those extra dollars and put them towards the things that you actually want to do. If you have endless target trips where you just go to target or Walmart and you just walk in there and you just buy random stuff because you're bored. That's probably something that you don't really, really enjoy.

And instead you can cut those trips out, take those dollars and put them towards things like vacations or experiences with your family or things that are actually going to make you happy. So this is where I really want you to kind of think through this towards the end of the year. And as we go into the beginning of the year, because it was really, really important to prioritize your money because that is the most freeing thing.

That you can do with your money. Number three is look at your net worth statement. Did it go up this year? That is the number one question that I want you to see is make sure that your net worth is improving. Now I use a tool called empower. Empower is my favorite tool to do this. It used to be called personal capital and you want to make sure that this is an automated way to do this.

So you don't have to pull out a spreadsheet and go through your entire thing. Now you can use spreadsheets if you want to, but personal capital is just my favorite way because you can plug in all your bank accounts, your brokerage accounts, and you can tell it what other assets you own. And then you also want to make sure that your liabilities are going down.

So you want to make sure your net worth is improving. You want to make sure if you have any liabilities, those liabilities are going down and you want to make sure your assets are going up over time. Now, obviously we can't control if our assets are going up year in and year out. If you're in a recessionary, you're listening to this, then maybe your assets went down and that's.

A okay, but at the same time, we just want to try to make sure that every single year on net worth is growing at a minimum. Just check your net worth once a year is one of the best options for you. If you're obsessively checking your net worth, I would not do that. So at a maximum, I would check it quarterly at a minimum.

I would check it once a year. Number four. Is look at your charitable contributions, and this is a big one for a lot of people, because if you want to get additional tax deductions come your end, then you can maybe add some charitable contributions. Now in this year in checklist, you're going to see a lot of little things that maybe will reduce your tax bill come tax time.

And that's really important to understand because. We only have these 12 months to reduce our tax bill. And if it's December and you're going through this process, then doing some of these things that are really quick and easy can help reduce your tax bill significantly. So if you think your tax bill is going to be pretty high, you can do things like charitable contributions and look at those charitable contributions and make sure that they are on pace for what you wanted and what your goals are when you're giving to charity.

That is one big goal of mine is to give the charity and causes that I believe in. And so we've talked about this a few times in the past. And so that's one thing I will look at on my urine checklist. And this is the checklist I use, by the way, guys. This is the one that I use at the end of the year, every single year.

So that is why it is in this order, because it is important to me to look through this in this order. Let's jump to a break and we'll be right back. All right, so number five is going to be for these really high earners. This is one that is not for But I want you to consider the annual gift tax exclusion.

So this is one Christmas is coming around. Maybe you want to give cash away instead of giving gifts away because you want to reduce your tax liability. Or if you're trying to give money back to your family and you're trying to give it that back that generational wealth. This is one way to do that where you can utilize.

The annual gift tax exclusion and give up to 16, 000 per person without federal gift tax consequences. So you can consider making gifts to friends or family to reduce your taxable estate. If you had a really, really high earning income year, again, this is not for everybody, but for some folks, I want you to be aware of that.

Number six is fund a 529 education savings account. So you can contribute to a 529 plan. If you have not started doing that thus far, then you can check for your state tax breaks when it comes to the 529 plan. But this is one where you can also reduce your taxable liability is looking at contributing to a 529 plan.

So for your kids or even for yourself, if you plan on going back to school, but this can help reduce your tax bill for that year. Number seven is to fund a health savings account. So a health savings account or an HSA, I want you to look at those contributions as of right now for 2023 at the time recording this, and it goes up next year at the time recording this, you can contribute 3, 700 for an individual and 7, 450 for family coverage.

And you can put an additional 1, 000 catch up contribution if you are age 55 and older. So really, really important to understand that an HSA is amazing because it has triple tax benefits, meaning that you put money in tax. It grows tax free because you can invest those dollars if you have the right HSA account.

I like Fidelity. That's my favorite place to put an HSA. But you can also pull the money out tax free as long as you have a qualified medical expense. Beautiful thing about this though is that the IRS has no guidelines as to how old that qualified medical expense can be. So you can be 22 years old, break your leg and reimburse yourself at the age of 62.

And it's no big deal towards the IRS. So just save those receipts, put them in Dropbox and keep a spreadsheet of You're running total is the way that I like to do this. Number eight is a big one. You guys probably know I'm going to be talking about this, but making sure that you check your retirement account contributions.

So your 401k and your IRAs are going to be really, really important for you to go through and look in check your 401k or your Roth 401k or your 403b or your TSP. All of these different accounts. Make sure you contributed the amount that you thought you did throughout the year. If not, you may be able to make an adjustment in time before year end, where you can get some more dollars into those accounts and the same thing, go for the Roth IRA, take a look at that.

But the Roth IRA, the tax year goes a little longer. You have until tax day of next year in order to max those out. But I would just like to look at them in the calendar year because next year you can start contributing to the following year Roth IRA. It's better to just keep it in those 12 month calendar years.

But like I said, you do have an additional. Catch up time. They're available to you if you need that catch up time. Number nine is a big one, especially if you own a business or you have a side hustle or you started making money on the side or you started to become your own boss and you're earning an income somewhere.

Number nine is check your tax withholding. Now this is very, very important. I want you all to hear this, especially if you have a brand new business this year, because you need to make sure that you are adjusting and looking at how much money you owe in taxes and you have that money. For this tax year, when you make money in a business, especially if you're brand new or you have a side hustle, all of that money doesn't just come into your bank account and you get to keep that money.

Uncle Sam wants his dollars too. So you have to make sure that you set that money aside. One easy way to do this is just to open up a separate savings account and put your tax dollars into that savings account. If you have a CPA, I would talk to them and say, Hey, what percentage based on my business earnings, do I need to set?

order to make sure I have enough money come tax time. And then obviously you need to make sure that you set that money aside because you do not want to have any underpayment penalties. And that's really, really, really important to consider. Number 10 is tax loss harvesting. If you are someone who is really interested in Tax loss harvesting, and you want to offset some capital gains.

This is the time to look into that as well. Making sure that if you're going to do something like this, you want to offset some of those capital gains with capital losses in your taxable accounts. You can do that and you can deduct up to 3, 000 of losses against your personal income and carry over additional losses to future year.

So tax loss harvesting, if that's something you're into great time to be looking into that as well. Number 11 is to consider Roth. IRA conversions. So we've talked about the backdoor for Roth IRA and Roth IRA conversions ad nauseum on this podcast. But at the same time, you want to make sure that you are evaluating the benefits of doing partial Roth IRA conversions to manage that tax liability.

If you want to do that and you can start converting money over to your Roth IRA. Or if you're going to do something like a Roth conversion ladder, this is a great time to make that conversion is year end or beginning of the year so that you can get that money rolling and you can take advantage of that once you need that money as well.

And one of the reasons to do this is because you convert your traditional IRA funds into your Roth IRA, and you can enjoy that tax free growth going forward. And you have no required minimum distributions at the age of 72, which we'll talk about here in a second. Number 12 is check your flexible spending account or your FSA if you have one, because you got to check your remaining balance of your health care for your FSA for the remaining year.

And you need to check. Is there any carryover or if you don't use that money, are you going to lose that money? So you got to make sure that you are using your. FSA money, if it has to be used or it is required to be used. Some people don't know that, that you have to make sure that you're using it. So making sure that you go through that and check that FSA is really, really important estate planning.

This is the time of the year. When else are you going to do it? This is the time to update your estate plan. If you have an estate plan, maybe you made a big transaction. This is something I need to do. We bought a business. And so you got to make sure that you are updating your estate plan and having that ready to go for this year.

So that is updated and is updated exactly how you want it to be updated. So review that estate plan really, really important to go through. Trust and will is a really easy place. If you don't have a will or you don't have a trust in place, trust and will is the easiest and cheapest way I have found to put that in place.

Uh, it is trust and will. com. We can link it up down in the show notes below. Number 14 is make sure your financial documents are organized or making sure your tax stuff is organized. If you're just throwing stuff all over the place on your computer, or if you have papers all over the place that have come in throughout the year, this is the time to organize it.

This is the time to get it together because tax time is coming. You want to be super organized when tax time comes. So you can hand that over to TurboTax or your CPA or any other tax advisor that you have in your life. So making sure that you get all these documents in order now, why not now? Cause when else are you gonna do it?

You're gonna do it later. Just do it. Now, when you have this year in checklist, you're thinking about all these financial documents, just take a day or two and do all of these things and make sure you have everything ready to go in the right folders, easy access so that it just becomes seamless come tax time.

Number 15 is your financial goals. Now we are going to be talking a lot more about financial goals come the new year, but putting together some of your specific financial goals. This is the time to do it. Early in December and thinking through some of this stuff, what do I really want to do in the next year?

So you can think through what do I want to do throughout the year? And how am I going to accomplish those goals? Am I going to break this up throughout the year? Am I going to do this in chunks? Am I going to do one specific thing for three months at a time? How are you going to think through those goals?

We will unlock that for you in these future episodes. So make sure you are subscribed to this podcast because we have a lot of goal planning episodes coming up, because I want to talk through this in detail. Also, if you are interested in me creating a financial goals workshop for you, where we kind of do this in tandem, where I'll put some of our financial goals that we are working through.

And if you want to do this in tandem on the exact way that I do it, please send me an email. Let me know at Andrew at mastermoney. co. And we can help you through that as well. And we'll make that workshop for you. Let's jump to another break and we'll be right back. All right. So the next thing is to review your insurance coverage.

So this is going to be really, really important for a lot of people. We have a couple of episodes coming up on, we haven't done any episodes actually on insurance coverage, and I've gotten a lot of requests for that as of late, so we will do one on some of the insurance coverage for that you need, some that you might need, and then some that you do not need whatsoever.

Uh, but review that insurance coverage, make sure you have those policies in place and update your health policy. Obviously your auto home and life insurance. This is the time to look through all of that. Your term life insurance to be. Exact and make sure you have that adequate coverage and it's comfortable for you.

If you had something this year where you had insurance coverage and you just were not comfortable with that insurance coverage that you had, that is a great indicator that maybe you need to increase that coverage in some specific area. So just making sure you review all of those different areas.

Really, really important. Number 17 is your emergency fund. I want you to do a couple of things with this. First of all, I want you to look at your emergency fund and say, what are the reasons that I actually use my emergency fund this year, if you did, and did I have enough money in that emergency fund to cover some of the things that may have come up over the last year or even over the last two years, and this is important to do because it gives you that full review of that last year and also make sure that you have that goal in place where I'm going to either replenish that emergency fund if I had to use it.

Or if I was uncomfortable with the amount of cash that I had this year, like me, for example, I was actually uncomfortable with the amount of cash that I had this year and I had six months, but I was uncomfortable. So I'm actually going to increase that cash position for this year and make sure that I have more cash in place inside of my emergency fund.

So that is one of my personal goals this year is to increase that emergency fund to a much larger amount. And so if that's you, even if it's the amount that everybody says that you need to have, doesn't matter. I want you to have enough cash until you're slightly uncomfortable with the amount of cash that you have.

So this is one thing where it doesn't matter what people say. It doesn't matter what the rule of thumb is. What are you comfortable with in cash? And so for me, I want more cash. And so I'm going to put more cash in my emergency funds. That's one of the big things that I'm doing this year. Number 18 is this is a good time to talk to your CPA and just kind of go through tax planning strategies because your CPA is going to get very, very busy come January, February, March, April, May, all of those months are their busiest time of year.

You're not going to. See them for the next five months or when you have a meeting with them, it's going to be a very important meeting that is going through all your taxes. So making sure you have that meeting now is going to be much better than waiting until tax time where they're really, really stressed and they have clients all over trying to get their attention.

So talk to your CPA now, see if you can get that tax plan in place and go through that. Now, number 19. If you are a portfolio rebalancer, I am not, but if you are a portfolio rebalancer, if that's your thing, this is a great time of year to do. This is during a year in checklist, making sure that you are rebalancing that portfolio is going to be a powerful, powerful tool.

If that's something you want to do. Number 20 is make sure that you take those required minimum distributions. If you are over the age of 72 or at 72, and you are required to take them. So these are coming out of some of your different retirement accounts or various accounts out there. If you need to take those required minimum distributions from something like a 401k, for example, then this is the time to do that.

Make sure you actually take the full amount that you need to take out number 21. This is a big one for a lot of folks that they do not do this. And I want you to make sure that you do this is to plan for windfalls. This is a time of year. Where a lot of people get bonuses or a lot of people may be assessing some other financial windfalls that may be coming their way.

Maybe you get commissions. Maybe, you know, and it can assess what your commissions were throughout the year plan for those windfalls. Now plan on what are you going to do with that money? And how are you going to forward your financial situation or use that money for things that you love that you enjoy?

Maybe you want to put some of it towards travel because you hit all your financial goals this year. That is an amazing way to use your dollars. Maybe you want to put it towards more freedom and you want to put more cash in your emergency fund or you want to put it towards your investment. That is an amazing way to use your dollars, but only you can dictate what you truly value with this money.

So I want you to think through it. If I hit my investment goals, if I hit my savings goals, then pretty much you can ball out and do whatever else you want with this stuff, or you can get even further ahead with some of those goals for next year, so. There's some great ideas out there from a lot of people, but plan for those financial windfalls and exactly what you want to do.

And then number 22 is one of the bigger ones that we talk about a lot here. And I think we're the only personal finance podcast that ever talks about this, but it's so incredibly important to me because I had my identity stolen, but make sure you have a online security plan and you plug. Any of those holes.

So first of all, I want you to make sure when you're checking those that insurance coverage that you're considering identity theft coverage. If you have not been a victim yet, or you had some close calls, maybe worth your time, but only you can assess that. But also look into making sure you plug any holes that were people could actually get a hold of some of your information.

So one of these big things is to make sure that you freeze your credit if you have not before. And what that means is that you call the major credit bureaus. You freeze your credit so that nobody can open an account in your name or a loan in your name Or they can't open any other thing or a credit card or anything like that in your name, if you freeze your credit, then you freeze it.

It takes you 15 minutes. Then you go back and you unfreeze your credit when it's time for you to open a credit card or a loan. Even people who open a ton of different credit cards or a big travel hackers that I know are now doing this because it's really important to protect yourself. Also, removing your personal information is another big key.

And this is one where we've talked about a number of times, but I use a service called delete me where at first I was trying to remove my personal information online, meaning that if you type in your name, phone number, all those different things, then all your personal information is going to come up on all these websites.

If there are websites you do not want your personal information on. Delete me as a service that will actually help you remove that personal information from all these data brokers. Because if you have never done this before, you're gonna see and realize very quickly that your name is all over the place.

And when I did this the first time, I think I was on 5, 000 different websites that I did not want my name on. So went in there, utilize, delete me. It is a. Fantastic service. And so if you go to join delete me. com and you can use the promo code PFP, it'll actually give you a discount on delete me. One of the best services out there, in my opinion, when it comes to removing your personal information.

But this is another really important thing because you could think about scammers and people who are trying to get ahold of your data. It makes it much easier for them to complete their job. If they can find your information very easily online, delete me. We'll remove that for you. So that is exactly why I love delete me.

Also, make sure you have that password system in place. Uh, you can use something like one password or last pass. Those are two great tools that you can have, uh, when it comes to your password system and make sure you actually know where your passwords are. Most people don't. Uh, so make sure you know where those unique passwords are and then.

You can check out our cybersecurity checklist. We have a checklist that goes through all the important major things that you need to do. We hit on some of the most important ones here, but you can check out our cybersecurity checklist as well. We will link that up down below in the show notes. Listen, I hope you guys enjoyed this episode.

I hope you guys go pick up that ultimate year end money checklist. So that you can go through this exercise yourself, cross out the ones that you aren't going to use this year, but go through that checklist and make sure you follow all these steps. And you can also do this at the beginning of the year as well.

But if you want to get some of those tax deductions, the year end time is the time to absolutely do this. So, making sure that you hit on some of those major things every single year at the end of the year. We will always have this available for you, and we will always be updating it every single year based on what is going on.

So, listen, I truly appreciate Each and every single one of you for listening to this podcast, you are investing in yourself by listening to this podcast, you are becoming a wealth builder and you are building wealth over time for yourself and your future family. And that financial freedom is going to be amazing.

Once you hit that point in time. So continue to follow along, make sure you're subscribed. Can I thank you guys enough for listening? I truly appreciate each and every single one of you, and we will see you on the next episode.

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