Money Matters: Kara Britt on how to make the most of those SLP paychecks!

Episode 96 May 13, 2022 00:33:09
Money Matters: Kara Britt on how to make the most of those SLP paychecks!
The Missing Link for SLPs
Money Matters: Kara Britt on how to make the most of those SLP paychecks!

May 13 2022 | 00:33:09


Show Notes

As much as we may love what we do, at the end of the day money does matter! In this episode, the very financially smart and savvy Kara Britt talks about some of the financial choices she has made since grad school. Learn how she makes her hard-earned money work for her, and her family’s future, and how you too can find ways to make your money work for you.

Visit for this episode's show notes, a full audio transcript and more great resources at the intersection of grad school and a successful SLP career. Not a substitute for a formal SLP education or medical advice for patients/caregivers. Fresh SLP is in no way affiliated with or representing any university.

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Episode Transcript

The Missing Link for SLPs Podcast Full Transcript Mattie Murrey 00:03 Have you ever wondered why SLPs are so nervous when it comes to having conversations about money? Well, with tonight's guest, we are going to be talking with someone who – she's a speech pathologist, and loves to talk openly about money. So, let's welcome our next guest. Welcome to The Missing Link for SLPs Podcast. Have you ever wished you could go back and tell your younger self a way to do something better, or something that you’ve learned, or, gosh, just those words of wisdom that you would have loved to have known when you first started? That's what this series is all about. I am interviewing guests, and we reflect back on their words of wisdom, and what they didn't learn in grad school. And you'll be surprised by each one of these episodes. So, sit back, listen, and enjoy. Hi Kara, and welcome to the Missing Link for SLPs Podcast. Glad you are here to talk about finances for SLPS! Kara Britt 01:11 Thank you. I am so excited. Mattie Murrey 01:14 So. I noticed right away you had an accent. Tell us where you are from, and why are you an SLP? Kara Britt 01:22 I am from a small town in Arkansas. And I first wanted to be an SLP when I was in ninth grade. We had a journal in my English class that we had to write down, and I remember writing down that I wanted to be a Speech Language Pathologist. And, well, I originally wanted to be a kindergarten teacher, but I decided that that was too many kids for me to handle! And so, I like it to a smaller number of kids. I felt like I could deal with that better. Mattie Murrey 01:53 So ninth grade. Wow. That's early on. Excellent. Did you know any SLPs? Kara Britt 02:00 Not really! Mattie Murrey 02:02 How did you learn about being an SLP? Kara Britt 02:04 I honestly don't remember. Well, I'll take that back. I think my mom suggested it. Mattie Murrey 02:09 Cool. Kara Britt 02:09 I told her want to work with kids, and she said, “What about speech pathology?” And I said, “Okay”. And that was kind of it! Mattie Murrey 02:17 Cool. Where did you go to grad school? Kara Britt 02:20 I went to grad school at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock. Mattie Murrey 02:25 All right. And have you always practiced in Arkansas? Kara Britt 02:29 Yes, ma'am. Mattie Murrey 02:31 And there’s the – I love the cultural differences! Just the area, the different areas of the country. And you've worked with kids? Kara Britt 02:40 Yes. For the first seven years of my working career, I was in a private – it was kind of birth to five years, but it was kind of six months was the youngest we got. And then for the past almost five years, I have been working with – it's an educational cooperative. I don't know if they have those everywhere, but in Arkansas, they do. And so, I travel between different preschools around my area. Mattie Murrey 03:09 We have them up in Minnesota too. Kara Britt 03:11 Okay. Mattie Murrey 03:11 So, they're a great thing. So, you're on the podcast What I Didn't Learn in Grad School. And we met through Instagram, and you were like I can talk about finances because there's so many things that – I went through grad school, and I love to talk things finances. So, tell us a little bit about how you got into the financial aspect, or just the financial realm and why that piqued your interest. Kara Britt 03:39 Well, coming out of grad school, I felt like I made a fair amount of money, I guess, compared to not having a job at all. Mattie Murrey 03:48 Mhm. Kara Britt 03:48 So, I pretty much bought whatever I wanted. I wasn't extravagant by any means, but I traveled, I ate out all the time. I did save, but I pretty much did whatever I wanted. And then once I met my husband, and we got married, he had a truck note and student loans. Mattie Murrey 04:13 Mhm. Kara Britt 04:13 And I did not like owing money to anybody else. So, we quickly paid those off. And from then on, I just had this mentality that I would rather save for something that I can do in the future, than be making a payment on something I bought in the past. Mattie Murrey 04:33 That's a good healthy mindset with money, with making money work for you. We know as SLPs we don't always – we're definitely not at the top of the pay scale. How did you shift from eating out, and traveling, and things like that, to then realizing you needed to save more to pay things off? Kara Britt 04:56 Well, I mean, to be fair, we still travel a little bit, and we still eat out a fair amount. Mattie Murrey 05:03 [crosstalk] Kara Britt 05:03 But that I choose to spend money on. I don't care about a fancy car. I guess we decide what we want to spend money on. And for me, those were at the top of my list. So, we still do that. But I was just kind of able to calm down my spending, and my husband's spending, and focus on saving towards retirement and future vehicles, and a house, and all of those big money purchases. Mattie Murrey 05:35 How did you learn about budgeting? And do you use any budget apps? Kara Britt 05:41 I have Mint. It’s M-I-N-T, the app. Mattie Murrey 05:46 Oh, Mint. Got it. Kara Britt 05:46 Yeah, I felt like my accent might be difficult! And that kind of just puts all of my financial accounts in one spot. For budgeting I am not as nitpicky as I probably should be. But we pretty much say our credit card should not be above this, and have our other expenses lined out. And so, I try not to go above those marks. But I have certain debits from my banking account for our savings. So, everything is automated, which makes it so much easier for me, and that makes me save and invest automatically. Mattie Murrey 06:29 So, what I hear you saying is that you're on top of your finances. Kara Britt 06:33 Yes. Mattie Murrey 06:34 So, you have ways, whether it's through an app or something, that you keep track of what goes in and what goes out. How often do you pay attention to that? Is it daily, or weekly, monthly? Kara Britt 06:49 I do daily, and I think that's probably overkill for most people. But I update – I also have a sheet of paper that lists all of our bank accounts, our investments, different things, so that if something happens to me, or my husband, that somebody will know what all accounts we have. And so, I update that kind of yearly. I might update it periodically if we get a new account or something changes, but I do that probably yearly. And then I look at my finances daily, for sure. Mattie Murrey 07:28 Okay, cool. So, in your bio, you have some words in there that you say you want to be “work optional by the age of 50”. What does “work optional” mean? Kara Britt 07:41 That means that I can work if I want to, and I'm not dependent on that paycheck. So, ultimately, by becoming work optional, I will have other avenues of earning money that exceed what I would earn in a “nine to five” position. So, I can still be an SLP, but maybe I could go down to part time, or do pro bono work, or something where I'm not so set on having a paycheck that I could be more flexible with what I do. Mattie Murrey 08:21 So, a lot of SLPs rolling into the field now are a little disheartened by the pay. Do you – I mean, you seem to be very successful with your pay, and taking care of the bills that you need to, still traveling, still eating out. You've got three little ones at home. You do all right. Kara Britt 08:41 I do, and we do. I feel like my pay as an SLP is pretty good. Mattie Murrey 08:48 Good. Kara Britt 08:48 But I am kind of contract. I have a definite job, And so,I'm not trying to go out and get my own clients or anything like that, but I don't have any benefits. Mattie Murrey 09:05 Mm. Kara Britt 09:05 And that was something that I was – okay. I was willing to take more money to offset not having benefits, and that was something that I looked at whenever I first was offered this job. She told me what my hourly rate would be. And I said, “Okay. But what would it be if I was salary?” And she said, “Oh, most people don't ask me that. They just go for the contract pay”. And so, I compared what I would get paid per hour versus what I would get paid salary, and what benefits might come with that, and what that would equate. And for me, it was more beneficial for me to be the contract pay, because I'm on top of my finances and I will invest on my own. For people who might need a pension, then that might work for them. But for me, I opted to go with the contract pay. Mattie Murrey 10:04 How did you learn about the different options for contract pay versus some of the things that you're talking about? Not everybody, especially fresh or new SLPs know about these options. Where did you learn? Kara Britt 10:17 Well, I guess that my boss is the one who told me about it. Those were really my only options for getting paid. Either do the contract, or do the hourly. So, I didn't really have to research it. I was hourly at my previous job, although I did have benefits. I think it kind of varies from job position to job position. Mattie Murrey 10:40 So, learning and asking? Kara Britt 10:43 Yes. Mattie Murrey 10:44 So, my husband, he's retired now, but he was in the business field and I was kind of in the same situation where you were. I'm like I had a contract, and I was switching over to salary. The contract position had no benefits or anything else like that. So, it was significantly higher, right? So, when I was switching over to salaried, I'm like, “Well, I'm just – I'm not sure what ballpark I need to be in.” And he said, “If you take …”, now this is Minnesota, “... if you take your contract position, take away approximately 25 to 30% of that, and that puts you around your hourly wage with benefits”. So, that can be a benchmark for people. But really asking and learning, and in the understanding of options, Kara Britt 11:29 And it would be great for people to talk to other speech pathologists in that area. I think we have a stigma of not being willing to talk about what we make… Mattie Murrey 11:42 Right. Kara Britt 11:42 … or what we're spending money on. And I don't know if that's because people are embarrassed, or because they just don't really care. But I've seen people can negotiate their salary or their wage, and how are they going to know what to negotiate if somebody doesn't say, “Well, hey, I'm making this much” or something. So, I really wish people – Speech Pathologists, in general, would talk about what they're doing in the finance world so that we can all help each other. Mattie Murrey 12:12 Mhm. I know ASHA puts out salary ranges and income information, but they're ranges and they're not always specific. How would you open up some of those conversations about – those initial conversations? Kara Britt 12:29 Well, it seems like every time I talk about retirement with my coworkers, they tend to roll their eyes! And so,I kind of know who is willing to talk about it versus who is not. Mattie Murrey 12:41 Mm. Kara Britt 12:41 And I have a friend, who is not a Speech Pathologist, but she was talking to me, and we talk about finances, and I asked what her savings rate was? Mattie Murrey 12:53 Mhm. Kara Britt 12:53 Meaning out of what their gross income is, how much does she and her husband save? And she told me, and it kind of lit a fire under me, because I was thinking, ‘Well, if they can save that much, then maybe I can save that much’. So, it's meant to be an encouragement. Not a, ’I'm better than you. or I make more than you’. But I feel like we should be able to work together, and help each other do the best that they can financially. Mattie Murrey 13:22 I like that. Yeah, I Iike that. And I’ve heard – gosh, I lived in a town before where there were – and I go to one now, a Women's Business Club, and there's a side shoot off of it where there's a Women's Finance Club, and their primary thing is empowering women in the financial world to make decisions, which is really important. I find your story interesting about you keeping track of all your investments in case something happens to you. And something did happen to me, when my first husband died. And I was so – I get that here's everything. It was so important at a time when I couldn't think clearly. So, excellent. An excellent suggestion on organizing your finances, being on top of your finances, having those honest, transparent conversations with those who are willing to have those conversations, taking the ball, or taking the lead and educating yourself. Good suggestions. Kara Britt 14:26 My husband is not good at finances, and he knows that. He will be the first to tell you. And so, I also have – I call it an idiot proof list! Mattie Murrey 14:36 [laughter] Kara Britt 14:37 So, our passwords, and pretty much everything he would need to know. Again, specifically, if something happens to me, because you're right. Mattie Murrey 14:47 Mhm. Kara Britt 14:47 I mean, if your head isn’t thinking clearly, you might not know everything that's out there. Mattie Murrey 14:50 Mhm. Kara Britt 14:50 And I would hate for one account, or multiple accounts to be lost, and him not be able to cash those out when it would benefit him. Mattie Murrey 15:00 Mhm. And usually, once the money’s gone, the money’s gone. To make more money, you have to give of your time, your talent, or money to make more money. So, be wise. I think Benjamin Franklin once said, “A fool and his money are soon parted”. Kara Britt 15:15 Good quote. Mattie Murrey 15:15 Good quote. What was the biggest financial shock to you, post grad school? Kara Britt 15:22 When I got out, after I worked a year, I was allowed to join the 401(k) program at my first job. But when it came time for me to decide how much to contribute percentage wise versus what should I invest in, nobody could help me. I asked the Speech Pathologist that I worked with. I also worked with OTs and PTs, and I asked them what they did. And they pretty much said, “Oh, I did whatever they told me to”. Mattie Murrey 15:51 Mhm. Kara Britt 15:51 Or “I did what my husband said''. And nobody could explain to me why, or what, or any specifics. So, I remember looking on Pinterest, and I tried to find a checkpoint of ‘You should have this much saved by this age’. Or ‘You should have this much’. Some type of guideline that would tell me whether or not I was on the right path. And what it was, by the time you are 67, they suggested you have eight times your yearly salary. And this is – this was put out by Fidelity. Granted, it was 12 years ago. So, I'm sure it's changed. And I thought, I don't want to work till I'm 67. I don't want to be dependent on having to work if I am unable or burned out. And so, I've always tried to kind of speed up and to be ahead of what those checkpoints were. Mattie Murrey 16:53 Smart. Smart moves. A minute ago, we were talking about how much to save, and you were talking with an OT. What is your benchmark for saving to get you to the point where you don't have to work till you're 67? Kara Britt 17:10 Right now, for this year, my goal is 35% savings. And when I say savings, I mean investing … Mattie Murrey 17:18 Mhm. Kara Britt 17:18 … towards our retirement accounts, other accounts, but all of that is in the stock market and that is what I feel comfortable doing. I know enough about the stock market, I believe, and I feel comfortable in that. Last year, I think I did 30%. But, again, each time, each year I'm thinking, ‘Hey, maybe I can up it a little bit’. Just little by little so that I'm not making a huge jump, so that maybe it is not as noticeable on the day to day. Mattie Murrey 17:51 I like the proactive approach you take. You're very forward thinking. This year, I'm going to do this, and maybe next year, I can tweak it here, or take it there, but you're really on top of things. Kara Britt 18:01 Well, thank you. And it's odd as somebody who first comes out of grad school for them to even have the mindset of… Mattie Murrey 18:10 Right. Kara Britt 18:10 … “Hey, I just graduated, but let's think about your retirement”. It's kind of messed up, in a way, because you want for them to enjoy their career, but those beginning years are critical to building wealth. And the longer you have your money invested, the more money you'll have because it has longer, more years, and compound interest will acquire. And if you look at a compound interest chart – I mean, it's amazing to see what your money could be versus what it is over a 30 year timespan, based on what you put in versus what it grows. Because then, like you said, your money is making its own money, essentially. Mattie Murrey 19:00 Right. So, explain to those who don't know what a compound interest chart is. Kara Britt 19:04 Well, you can Google “compound interest chart”, and type in – if I put in $500 each month, and I think my interest rate will be, say 7%, you can see how it will grow, and I think it will also show you what amount is what you have put in. So, let's say you do that. I don't have the numbers in front of me, and I don't want to lie to you, but essentially you could put in $30,000 over a timespan, and then it would make its own $30,000 in about 10 years at 7%. Mattie Murrey 19:46 Right. Kara Britt 19:44 I think that’s right. Mattie Murrey 19:46 Right. So, many of the listeners in this podcast are in graduate school or they're just transitioning out, and they've not had – this is their first professional job. So, I kind of smiled at the beginning when you were like, “Yeah, I had this job, and I had this money, and we did this”. And you get this, a bit of this head rush, I think, when you get this job with this money, because you're not in grad school, and you're just like – you're not living on ramen and things like that. And how wise it is to say, “Yes, I have this money, and here's what I'm going to do for my future because I'm now adulting, and this is just a really wise financial choice”. Kara Britt 20:29 Right? Mattie Murrey 20:30 So, start from the beginning. Know your compound interest charts. Budget when you – well, I think, we all need to. Everybody I know, budgets! Well, not everybody, but yeah. And budget, and just be smart with where your money's going. So, we mentioned before about a stigma regarding talking about finances, and you were like I don't know if it's because people don't care, or you know. Tell us a little bit more of your thoughts about the stigma. Kara Britt 21:01 I mentioned that I talk to people about finances, and these are my friends, my speech pathology friends that I talk to about other things. Mattie Murrey 21:09 Mhm. Kara Britt 21:09 And one time I mentioned retiring, in regards to “I hope I retire by this stage”. And somebody said, “Oh, I don't think I'll ever retire because I can't”. Mattie Murrey 21:23 Mm. Kara Britt 21:23 And that just made me so sad, because I think you can. Mattie Murrey 21:27 Mhm. Kara Britt 21:28 Not everybody is dealt the same cards. Some people come out with a whole lot of student loans. Some people come out with no student loans. And that may slow them down, but I still think that everybody can invest if they work hard, and teach themselves what is important about investing. You spend 40 plus hours a week, most people, with a full time job earning your money. But then how much time do you spend figuring out or knowing where your money goes, or is going? I don't know that there's a set number of hours, but I do think that you should spend a fair amount of time researching and reading, and trying to figure out what is the best avenue for you to invest your money for your future? Mattie Murrey 22:21 How did you develop the discipline to save and be on top of your finances? Kara Britt 22:28 I think ultimately I learned it from my mom. She – I would see her on a Sunday night doing her budget and trying to figure out her finances. I remember she paid off her house, and my dad too, but my mom's the main one who does finances. I think that's where I get it from. They paid off their house in seven years so that they could cashflow my sister's college and my college. And my mom told me that she would pay for five years of my college. Mattie Murrey 23:00 Mhm. Kara Britt 23:00 Well, you know that undergrad is typically four years, with grad school being two years, and I knew I wanted to be a speech pathologist. And so, I sat down and I said how am I going to make this in five years? And so,I was able to graduate from my undergrad in three years. I took summer classes. I had some hours coming in. I was very goal oriented. And I think part of that is my personality, but I didn't want to have to pay for school if I didn't have to. So, I tried to set myself up for success in that regard. Mattie Murrey 23:33 I love being able to have these open and honest conversations about something that some people do consider taboo. And I agree that we should have more of these conversations and help one another out, learn from one another, and draw inspiration from one another, like what you just said. I was smart with my money. I had my roadmap planned out from undergrad all the way through grad school, and really planning those things out. Kara Britt 24:02 Just like in therapy. If I find a technique that works, or a great resource that my kids love, I'm going to share it. Mattie Murrey 24:10 Mhm. Kara Britt 24:11 I would want for people to have the same experience. It's not a competition. Mattie Murrey 24:17 Hmm. Kara Britt 24:17 And just because I have money, it doesn't mean that you can't have money, and vice versa. I mean, I can cheer you on because how much you make does not affect me. And I wish we could cheer each other for financial monuments, just like we do for products, or therapy ideas, or something, because on Instagram… Mattie Murrey 24:40 Oh, I love that! Kara Britt 24:41 I work with pre-school, so young kids. If there's an idea on Instagram, and somebody shares it, it goes like wildfire. Mattie Murrey 24:49 Mhm. Kara Britt 24:50 Everybody says, “Oh, that's a great idea. Let me try it”. And I know it's not all the same with finances, because not everything is going to work for everybody, but just if – I wish people would be aware of where their money is going and what they can do with their money. Because the time that you spend in the stock market, you need that time. And the longer the time that you wait on the sidelines, I mean, you're missing out on the compound interest – like what I talked about earlier. Mattie Murrey 25:27 I mentioned before that I know people who budget, and people who don't budget. And I recently had spent some time with some people who don't budget and it made me so grateful for my position as an SLP because I am so rewarded by what I do and who I work with, and the reason why we do what we do. Yet, so many SLPs feel the pinch, and the squeeze, and they lose some of their drive, and they get over burdened and stressed out and burned out. Do you have any words of financial wisdom for them? Kara Britt 26:12 I personally am a better mom, speech pathologist, person in general, when I am not stressed about money. Mattie Murrey 26:21 Mhm. Kara Britt 26:23 To me, I feel like money is something that I can control to a certain extent. My husband, and I have an emergency fund. And so, if something happens, an emergency, or whatever that may be, we can dip into that and not be so concerned about money that I am stressed about everything else. I don't want for my stress with finances to overflow into other aspects of my life. So, if at all possible, get an emergency fund, and save just enough so that you are not living paycheck to paycheck. I tell myself that I kind of live paycheck to paycheck… Mattie Murrey 27:08 Mhm. Kara Britt 27:08 … because I take my entire paycheck and will invest it, and once it hits my checking account I'm instantly shoveling it off into other accounts. Mattie Murrey 27:17 Mhm. Kara Britt 28:18 So, I want my paycheck as soon as I can get it, but I also have that emergency fund to fall back on. So, when a car breaks down, it’s “Oh, I saved for this”. I didn't know what I was saving for, but I'm prepared. Mattie Murrey 27:33 And you’re not as stressed out. Kara Britt 27:34 Yes. Mattie Murrey 27:35 And I can make better decisions because financially I'm healthier. Kara Britt 27:388 Yes. Mattie Murrey 27:40 So, budget. Save money for an emergency fund. Kara Britt 27:44 Yeah. Mattie Murrey 27:44 Have a healthy chunk of your savings, of your budget – not your budget, have a healthy chunk of your paycheck going towards savings… Kara Britt 27:53 Mhm. Mattie Murrey 27:53 … and learn and educate where and how to invest in that savings, taking into account the compound interest chart. Kara Britt 28:01 Yes. And I was not taught specifically, finances and investing. A lot of what I have learned, I've learned from books. Mattie Murrey 28:11 Mhm. Kara Britt 28:12 I've learned from Instagram. Actually, I'm essentially self taught, but it interests me. And there are so many resources – on Instagram, in books. Because of the internet, I mean, there's so many people out there who have an opinion, who will share their opinion. And you might go through somebody and not agree with what they say or think, ‘Oh, that's not right for me’. But there are free resources out there. So, just because you have not been taught, it's not an excuse as to why you can't make good choices in the future. Mattie Murrey 28:48 I totally agree. Go teach yourself. Go learn. Kara Britt 28:53 Yes. Mattie Murrey 28:54 So, you have an Instagram page geared towards SLPs and finance. Can you tell us about that? Kara Britt 28:59 Well, it hasn't been going for too long. It kind of just got to the point where people would roll their eyes when I tried to talk about finances. So, I thought, ‘Well, maybe somebody out there cares about finances to follow a page of mine’. And so, I started it, and essentially I track my monthly expenses. And say what I'm investing in – well, what categories I'm investing in. I don't share my specific investments. But I go through and each month I save – my husband and I save for our retirement accounts. We save in, or invest in 529s for kids’ college. Mattie Murrey 29:46 Mhm. Kara Britt 29:47 We also have what I call a gap fund. Some people call it an FU fund. Mattie Murrey 29:53 Mhm. Kara Britt 29:53 But that is for if I want to retire prior to 59 and a half, when I can pull out my IRA money, that will kind of bridge the gap there. And then, I have a house and a car investment account. Mattie Murrey 30:13 So, very clear in where your money's going. Kara Britt 30:17 Yes. Mattie Murrey 30:18 Very on top of things. All right, so last question. Since this is the What I Didn't Learn in Graduate School Series, what is one thing that you did not learn in graduate school that you want our listeners to know? Kara Britt 30:33 To start early. The earlier you can start, the better you'll be. If you're not used to making – or if you set aside $500 a month, if you can do that when you start out, you'll never miss it. Mattie Murrey 30:48 Mhm. Kara Britt 30:48 If you – from your first paycheck, if you say this is what I'm going to save or invest, and that money could be even more money to pay off student loans. Whatever you decide to do, just pick a number and then slowly try to increase it little by little. And once you see your money start to grow, it's addicting! I get so excited. If I get Christmas money, I buy investments. If I get birthday money, I buy investments. I mean that is what brings me joy because I feel like I am investing in my future. Like, future Kara will be very appreciative of past Kara who put her money in this. And so, I think you'll be impressed at what your money does on its own if you talk – or if you learn about compound interest, and index funds, I think those two things will be very beneficial for you to research. Mattie Murrey 31:50 There you go. financial advice from a real practicing SLP. Thank you so much, Kara, for your time. Kara Britt 31:59 Thank you, Mattie. Mattie Murrey 32:08 I hope today's conversation has created some aha moments for you, and motivated you to become a better SLP, continuing to connect some of those missing links between what you know and how to use that knowledge. Thank you for downloading The Missing Link for SLP’s Podcast, and if you enjoyed the show, I'd love you to subscribe, rate it, and leave a short review. Also, please share an episode with a friend. Together, we can raise awareness and help more SLPs find and connect those missing links, and get the information needed to help them feel confident in their patient care every step of the way. Follow me on Instagram and join the Fresh SLP community on Facebook. Show Notes are always available. So, come learn more at Let's make those connections. You got this!

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