7 basics of Personal Finance you should know

POSTED BY Jagoinvestor ON July 26, 2011 COMMENTS (73)

Today I am going to write on a simple topic which will highlight some basics of personal finance, which you can see as axioms or the core rules of personal finance. If you understand these simple rules then you can probably build lot of understanding and strong knowledge about money. Some days ago I heard Subra saying a one liner – “I strongly believe it requires a brilliant mind to understand simple things” and it is so much true to personal finance.

Investing basics

If you want to learn personal finance in a better way, you don’t need to look at all the policies , all the products and 100’s of topics . All you need is in the start is to build a strong foundation of understanding some of the core rules of money . If you know these core insights, you will automatically be able to see all the complications and secrets behind the complex world of personal finance. I can see that most of these points are nothing but common sense .

1. When you invest in Safe products , Its nothing but Lending

This can’t get simpler. When you choose products like PPF, Bank FD, companies FD, NSC, KVP, Infra bonds, RBI bonds etc … You are choosing safe investment product, where the money will come back with a high guarantee … Now with these products its foolish to expect very high returns, you are doing nothing but lending your money to someone else so that they can expand their own business. In case of Companies FD, your money is used in Companies expansions.

In case of PPF, it is used by Govt. In case of Infra Bonds, it is used by Infrastructure companies and in case of Bank FD’s, it’s used by banks to lend it to other people who are in need of credit. So your money is used by others. You are nothing but a lender, lender and only lender; get that point. All you will get is some near inflation returns or even less.

2. When you invest in Equity or Real Estate, you are a partner

When you put money in stocks, Mutual funds, ETF’s, Index Funds, Real Estate etc, you are not lending money to anyone; all you are doing is putting your money in some business or an idea. You share all the good and bad phase and its effects and  become part of profits or share the risks involved. You can get high returns or low returns or negative returns and that’s not happening because of some secret, you have chosen it yourself.

So if you invested in HDFC Top 200, you are agreeing to take ownership in Reliance, Infosys, Bharti Airetl and dozens of other companies. Your investment will depend on their future and how these companies perform. If you expect 20% return without any risk involved, come on!… Wake up. Over the long-term these investment options will perform good , but in short-term there will be a lot of volatility, which can scare you .

3. Risk and return go hand in Hand

“Where should I invest for next 5 years to get maximum return and minimum risk?” . This can be a question from someone who really has no clear idea of basics. What is being proposed here is just not possible. The safest investments at any point are Bank FD’s or PPF. See how much return they are providing. If any other product offers higher returns than these, there has to be higher risk associated with that, otherwise wont every bank will put their money in these high return product itself and enjoy.

So if you want more returns, then you need to be taking more risk. Else it’s not possible. Over short-term, there is no chance you can get high returns with high probability. Its only accidental and on luck.

4. Companies are here for business, not charity

All the companies offering Mutual Funds, Term Plans, Endowment Plans, ULIPs, Health Insurance, PMS, Motor Insurance, FD’s etc are all in existence only for one reason i.e.- to make excellent profits for themselves. Don’t expect charities. If you are obese, then your life insurance premium or health insurance premiums have to be more than some normal person. Don’t feel bad about it. It’s perfectly ok and ethical from company’s points of view. Even you would do the same thing what companies are doing if you were to run that business.

If you are investing in Mutual funds, AMC’s are bound to charge Fund Management Charges. Insurance companies are there to take your money and exploit your attitude of “If I get something back, the product is good” mentality (example) and throw all the useless policies at you. If you have a Relationship manager assigned, his main job is to motivate you to keep investing your idle money in company’s products and less of helping you with personalised services.

5. You are never sold something, you always buy it

Don’t try to get sympathy of others by telling them “An agent came to my home, threatened me to shoot and took my signatures on the policy, he sold me that policy” or “My uncle created a situation where I had to buy it”. While that might be the case at times, please accept that you were wrong and you need to change that attitude, or else you will keep blaming what happened to you, but never yourself. It will create more problems in your life. A nice short article on mis-buying from subra.

6. Pain now or later, your choice

Pramod Moudgil , one of our readers once told me what his grand mother told him

“zindagi maein bhagwan ne sab ko khane ke liye Channe aur Halwa diya hai aur ye dono sab ko khane hain. Ab agar pehle chane (which are hard) kha loge to phir aaram se halwa khana otherwise abhi halwa kha lo phir chane chabane padenge. Bas fark itna hoga ki tab tak daant nahin rahenge so make your choice abhi mehnat kar ke saari umr aaram karoge ya abhi aaram karke saari umr mehnat”

If you have not inherited lots of money or are not working on something great which will make you millionaire soon, then probably you will work for salary for most of your life and your financial life will be mostly like majority people. If you are enjoying too much today at the cost of future, then there are tough times ahead for you.

People burning their money in useless spending today do not realise that they are eating money from their retirement corpus right now, they are putting pressure on their future at this very moment, just because its years away, you don’t realise all this, but one day you will remember all this. Look around people who are retired today, how many of them are self-sufficient and totally independent, enjoying their life to fullest and exactly the way they dreamt all their life ? Not many . Do you want to be like them ?

7. Not taking risk is extremely risky in today’s world

I remember how one of the person I was talking on forum told me that he keeps all his money in FD’s and PPF and LIC policies , because he does not want to take any risk , All I asked him was “What are doing now then ?” and he didnt understand what I am pointing at .. If you are like that and hate to put your money in Equity , don’t like to spend time on your financial life , don’t like to take time from your busy schedule to organise it , your are already taking a high risk in your financial life , you are distancing yourself from a good financial life each day and each moment. You will probably meet all your goals , but may be half-baked, not on time , who knows !

So what is your learning from these basics of personal finance ? Do you feel more knowledge in yourself now ? Which of these points do you think is hardest for other people to understand ?

73 replies on this article “7 basics of Personal Finance you should know”

  1. Manoj says:

    I have invested in LifeStage Pension Advantage for my retirement corpus. Yearly premium is 2lac rupees, I have already paid 6lac and it’s current values is 5.75lac. I am bit worried should I continue with it or withdraw as after three years I can withdraw. Please suggest.

    1. Markets have not performed a lot in last 3-5 yrs , so performance like this is justified. Only when 3-4 more years you can judge it . But why are you not investing in mutual funds ?

      1. Manoj says:

        Thanks Manish for the response. I read your articles regularly and they are very informative. I have already invested in Mutual Fund, three SIP around 1500 per month, 5000 half yearly and 5000 per month. So the performance is justified, I will continue and wait for some more time, meanwhile I will not pay this year 2lac premium.

  2. Kajal says:

    Thanks Manish.
    I am not keeping Gold for marriage. I purchased gold bars as investment 1 yr back.
    Is it good to keep them for long term say 4-5 yrs?
    Also, should I invest money in liquid fund…reliance money manager?

  3. Kajal says:

    Hi Manish,
    could u please help me with my portfolio?

    I want to get my portfilio reviewed and need your suggestions for the same.

    I am 27 yr old single girl working with IT industry.

    Following are the details of my portfolio –

    SIP – Tax saving

    2000 – HDFC Taxsaver – Gr
    2000 – Fidelity Tax Advantage Fund – Gr

    lumpsome –

    28000 – Canara Robeco Equity Tax Saver Fund – Gr
    25000 – Fidelity Tax Advantage Fund – Gr
    25000 – HDFC Taxsaver – Gr

    Other SIP’s –

    3000 – Reliance Regular Savings Fund Equity Plan – Gr
    1500 – Mirae Asset India Opportunities Fund – Gr
    1000 – Kotak Gold Fund – Gr
    2500 – HDFC Equity Fund – Gr.

    Gold bars –

    current value – 6 lacs

    PF – 60000 (till date)

    LIC New bima gold moneyback policy – paid third premium this yr for 42300

    Ideal cash in bank – 2 lac

    My questions –

    Does my SIP portfolio looks good? How much more should I invest in equity to get a good corpus retirement? I will invest for atleast 5 yrs.
    What can I do with ideal cash? Should I invest in liquid fund?
    Is my gold allocation correct? I want to keep it for atleast 3-4 yrs.

    1. Kajal

      I can see too much of diversification and confusion in your portfolio . You need to do really less things and keep very very simple .


      Just DO SIP’s in 3-4 funds .. 2 of them can be tax saving if you want to invest for tax saving . Thats all on mutual funds side assuming you have 5-10 yrs of investment horizon

      Gold Bars you can invest , I assume you are doing it for GOLD in your marriage..

      PF , I assume is EPF (which is there in your company) , you need to continue it as you cant do anything about it

      LIC policy should not be continued for long term , from investment point its really not good .

      Take a term cover incase someone if dependent on you .

      The idle cash can be reduced to 1 lac , assuming you want to have a some money for emergency . Rest 1 lac do a FD

      So at the end , 3-4 SIP , Gold , 1 FD and your PF .. may be a term plan ,thats all .. keep it simple


  4. readtoawake com says:

    Here are of some ideas to become financially free .

    1. Spend less than you Earn – To achieve your well defined Financial goal, you need to spend less than you earn. If you can’t save money then the seeds of success are not in you. In the beginning, try to save 1% per month and then increase the saving amount each month till it reach 10% or more.

    2. Minimize your Expenses – If you are living in the big house and driving an expensive car that is costing you a lot, then try to move in a smaller house where you will pay less rent or low mortgage installment. You should buy an economical car that has better fuel efficiency and lower insurance costs than your current car. Here is a great advice to reduce your household expenses – Keep track of your household expenses for next 3 months. And then reduce the unnecessary expenses.

    3. Educate Yourself – You need to get financially educated to become financially successful. The key is getting started. Start reading financial and business books, magazines and articles to stay motivated and learn some new things everyday.

  5. ajay says:

    Vision ( Goal ) without action is only a dream ( Hawaa Mahal ).
    Action (performance) without vision is just (like) passing the time.
    vision with action can change the world ( gives result).

    1. Ajay

      Nice points 🙂

  6. Ruchika says:

    Very well said and written… I like all ur articles… they r very informative for a newbie like me… 🙂

    1. Ruchika

      Good to hear that 🙂


  7. sagar godse patil says:

    hi manish,
    i read ur artical regarding personal finanace. I like it so i need some guidance. Currently i have invested 7k in reliance gold ETF. Now i want to invest in equity. I have selected some scripts like TCS, wipro, ongc,icici. But as i am student my budget is low. So i can invest upto 25k. So plz guide me how to invest it properly. I want to invest it for long term investment. N plz guide me on T&c of demat acc. Which i can check while applying for it.

    1. Sagar

      You should not invest in stocks at this moment if you cant pick them yourself, just invest in Mutual funds for now .


      1. sagar says:

        hi manish,
        i would like to know the difference between growth fund and divident fund. and how to judge the performance of the fund? Is there any basic terms to guage its performance. n also comment on how to make the
        balanced portfolio.

        1. Sagar

          All these articles are written already , just search it on archives : http://jagoinvestor.dev.diginnovators.site/archives

  8. Kiran says:

    Hi Manish, nice article , though you touched the most common sense stuff.I was browsing the Net for some information n suggestions on investments/insurance as we are blessed with Baby. I have invited people from Financial advisers to LIC /Other insurance company agents.After 2 weeks of this exercise, I am still not convinced with the plans n advice they have suggested (child plans(ULIP), Jeevan Komals, Sarals..n all). I wish if we can pay the advisers on their service , otherwise their suggestions look more to earn commissions than creating a Financial Planning for ppl like me.In case you have any advice for me, I can provide some information on my so far savings/policies with current income.Pl. let me know if you can take out some time.Thanks

    1. Kiran

      You can just start by having a right protection for yourself . take a term plan so that incase anything happens to you , child is secured .

      Start 2-3 SIP’s in good long term winners in Mutual funds , that should be good for now . If you want to hire us to work dedicately and give you a good enough direction , you can also hire us : http://jagoinvestor.org/

    2. sunny says:

      Thanks to this wonderful website by Manish, i have finally managed to dispose off all my LIC polices 9the endowment, money backs) and took a term plan of 50 lakh and 3 SIPs of 3000 each in HDFC top 200, HDFC Prudence and IDFC premier Equity. I plan to add a midcap and small cap fund soon. You can follow this route. I personally take interest in personal finance and do a lot of reading and i am confident where I am putting money. You need to do a bit of comparisions, check ratings of the Funds, sector allocations (if you have any specific choices) before you put money in there. Its not much hard. And you can always take help of people like Manish.

      1. Sunny

        More than picking right things ,the best part with you is that you “Started” things and got in action

  9. Suresh K Narula says:

    Dear Manish

    Brain stroming article, it is awakening to all of us but it is not necessary that more risk more gain because in current volatile scenario, how can we believe in equity and mutual fund returns as from the last two years, their returns are lagging behind from investing in safe products. Until, the stock market is get out from narrow range bound, how can we invest either SIP or lump sum amount. Traditionally, all experts say that keep investing for long term irrespective market conditons. Sadly, I have been investing in SIP HDFC Top 200 fund since 2006 but after disaster in 2008, all my gains were wiped out and getting only 10-12 % returns.
    My question is “where my risk return tradeoff” ? It implies that I am foolish to invest in risky fund to get more returns. Because, I took more risk to get less return. Now a days, banks FDs interest is hovering 9.25% to 10.50%. Why should we invest in risky products in current volalite scenerio. I am not saying you should not invest in risky proudcts. But point is “Timing is very important for investment” It may be interesting to know that people have getting handsome returns from equity and mutual funds who were invested after disaster 2008. In nutshell, while investing “Timing is very important when we are investing and when we need money.


    Prudent Investing!

    1. Suresh

      I understand your point . But what would be your reaction if you got 200% in 5 yrs ? instead of getting 10-15% right now ?


    2. sunny says:

      I donot agree with you. Check your returns correctly. It has a 18.4% returns in last 5 years. Use this http://www.moneycontrol.com/mutual-funds/nav/hdfctop200fundg/MZU009

      1. Sunny

        Yea lets say 18% , still my question to Suresh remains same

  10. T S Ashok says:


    Lending, partnership… wow… nice terms . Now it is very easy for me to explain to my friends..Thanks..

  11. sridhar says:

    Thought provoking article Manish!!! Keep it up.


    1. Sridhar

      Thanks 🙂


  12. Vaibhav Aggarwal says:

    I have got different opinion about your answer to question
    “Where should I invest for next 5 years to get maximum return and minimum risk?”
    This question means to me where can I invest and reap better returns vis-a-vis risk. We always talk about risk-reward ratio. It’s true that risk and return goes hand in hand but not always.
    For a scenario let’s consider following examples:-
    1. Their are many AAA bonds rated by CRISIL but all of them does not give the same return.
    2. In case of mutual funds, even if we go and see “Balanced Funds” only the returns have varied and by huge margin.
    3. The basic reason we say not to go for NFO as we are not sure of their returns but have tested the returns of funds like HDFC TOP 200. So we have reduced the risk but the returns are still great.
    Opinions are like Wrist Watches! Everyone’s watch shows different time from other? But all believe that their time is accurate!

    1. Vaibhav

      To whom is this reply addressed at ? The main answer given of the question on forum or me ?


      1. Vaibhav Aggarwal says:


  13. Kaushik says:

    An excellent article. All points were well articulated but to me the one that hit me hard was the 6th point that you mentioned.
    This is so true and I for one knowing and chanting this point for many years now is yet to implement it!

    1. Kaushik

      Yea .. the 6th one is really a favorite of many 🙂

  14. dr vishali says:

    thanks manish for the article.it is usefull for people like us who r learning phase of financial planning. i liked ur 7 point about risk.i think it suits the saying no gain without pain.can u just tell me is it write time to invest in silver or should i go with gold

    1. Dr Vishali

      I cant put any views on gold . its anyways so high prices . No way you can predict it


  15. raj says:

    Hi Manish
    excellent article again!
    Investment in equity with patience is like “the road less travelled by”.

    again lot of Thanks.

    1. Raj

      uyea .. agreed . good point

  16. shobha says:

    Hi Manish,

    Great article. Completely agree with Point 6, but when I see around me….delayed gratification is the most difficult to understand point.

    Thanks to you, I am better informed and have already started to make changes to my portfolio.

    Keep up the good work.


    1. Shobha

      yea .. point 6 is really not easy to implement .

  17. saumya says:

    where can i invest my monthly saving of Rs. 3000? Can I invest in some mutual fund? if yes, which mutual fund?
    thanks in advance for helping people like me.

    1. raj says:

      dear saumya
      invest Rs 3000.00 in mutual fund like HDFC Top 200 or UTI Div Yield

    2. Saumya

      Unless we know your requirement and what you expect , its tough to suggest you anything . Mutual funds are long long term and comes with risk


  18. I really like the simplicity you have used and that is what makes this article great….
    wonderful stuff

    1. Ashish

      Thanks for appreciation 🙂 .


  19. S S says:

    For younger generation toughest one is point 6. Everything else put aside (savings are made to save tax primarily, so its a rule rather than “will”) youngsters spent illogically on shopping, movies and all that. There’s no method in madness here.

    1. SS

      Yes .. point 6 is extremelly tough to follow , Its related to Instant gratificatioln and dealing with it


  20. Chinmoy Sur says:

    Hi Manish!
    I may called the article ‘Warning’, that is extremely useful!
    In my opinion, the basic problem is in financial literacy in our country. It is not that nobody want to live wealthy but, it is tough to find anybody who explain him the Truth at the first day of start earning i.e. what he really want to achieve financially! If anybody tells him that ‘Today Your lifestyle cost 10,000 which will be lakhs in years to come and to maintain the lifestyle he/she needs Crores at retirement & that is not possible to accumulate by saving 40% in so called safe products’ – obviously he must understand the needs. He must start taking calculated Risk – which may even after 5 years when he realized! I think managing finance is one of the toughest matter in life which should handed over to an honest & expert unbiased Advisor!

    1. Chinmoy

      Good to hear your views 🙂 . I agree that the issue is we are never taught personla finance at school level


      1. Hem says:

        Hi Manish,

        Thanks for putting it simple and straight. It is a big warning. Wake up call!!

        When I started learning about personal finance in may late 20’s, I thought I was too late. I asked many of my colleagues and friends to not do the same mistake but I never succeeded. I feel bad when they do the same mistakes (buying Money back polices, ULIPS & FDs) again & again even after the warning. Not sure how to convince them. I almost stopped giving them any advice but after seeing your dedication, I’ll spread whatever I knowledge I gain from you.



        1. Hem

          Good to hear that 🙂 . There is nothing wrong in trying more and more …

          People who are not listening to you right now are paying the price


  21. Smart Singh says:

    Excellent post once again. Great refresher. To add to the ‘pain now or later’ – personal finance is the most boring subject in the world because it asks you to save and not spend. Spending is so much fun and saving is not. But one should be willing to learn about the boring details of PPF, equity, taxes, etc. Pain now, and none later. I hope people over here are e-filing their own returns.

    1. Smart

      There are many readers who are e-filing there returns .. See the article we did just few days back and provided so many free coupons to our readers : http://jagoinvestor.dev.diginnovators.site/2011/07/online-tax-returns-efiling.html


  22. Santosh Navlani says:

    Nice post Manish. Very well put. Like & can related to every point!

    Santosh Navlani

    1. Santosh

      Thanks ..


  23. Srinivas says:

    I start with personal experince.

    I started learning about personal finance a few years back.

    Till such time, i was not very comfortable with personal finance and i used to skip this (anything related to finance)thinking that i will be immune that way. this happened for 15 long years.

    When I started learning, i started liking it and now i think i am in a better position regarding my finances. I think(in hindsight) that i would have been in much better position had i started learning these, 5-10 years back. Similar insight can be had on physical exercise also.

    People wake up at different times in their lives to this fact and learn to improve(normally when they land up in a big problem). However, best way is to realise this earlier and be prepared.

    Now i make it a point to add a related financial insight to any advise i give to my friends and relatives. Hardly any, respond to that input. I tried to explain the things related to personal finance to close relatives and friends. The response (always) is, just tide over the current issue and thats all.

    From this experience, i realised that one can not teach/train someone unless one(the taught) is ready to learn with real inclination. Any number of trials cannot raise motivation in anyone, because the enthusiasm and inclination should be felt internally.

    However, if one is sufficiently motivated to learn, the insighsts like these will be of real use in understanding nuances of PF and improve ones lot.

    I read somewhere that if you want to have anything real badly, nature conspires to give that to you. On analysis we can see that, it all starts with personal need/enthusiasm. Ultimately personal effort is a must for for improvement. If i want to reach somewhere and i start, someone can guide me and help me reach there. However if i remain in my easy chair, even the best of advise cannot reach me there.

    I feel that this easy chair types(i was for 15 years) far outnumber the learners in the real world.

    Thanks for the nice insights, Manish. Keep up.

    1. Srinivas

      I very strongly agree with you on this point , that one needs determination from internal self to learn something .. If I share my case, All i have is that extra “want to” attitude which has helped JI comes this far .. I have no degree or certificaiton in Personal finance, all i have is that attitude and passion for learning


    2. vijay says:

      It great article about investments.

    3. preeta says:

      gr8 piece of personal experience.im sure it’s happening 2many of us.
      keep going by advising one and all.

  24. jitendra solanki says:

    Hi Manish,

    Very nice write up.

    What this brings out that peple still make same mistakes even after reading or listening so much about personal finance.Just give you an idea one of my clients i met six months back for FP said no at that time but came back to me after six months since he did some mistakes in between.This too when he use to read a lot about personal Finance.

    Its a need now that articles like these should not only be written but rewritten to tell investors -Jago 🙂

    1. Jitendra

      Good to hear that .. Looks like you left a nice impact on clients mind who had to come across you again .. We see this a lot happening with us also 🙂 ..

      Clients finally understand that not having a financial roadmap is much costly in terms of money,time and everything than Having it !


  25. Nilesh says:

    HI Manish

    once again excellent article on the BASICS….in one of my lectures during MBA one of our marketing professor had mentioned “Common Sense is the most uncommon thing in todays world”…..so no matter how many articles you write..people who dont want to understand will never will…

    I liked the “Not taking risk is extremely risky in today’s world” statement very much as it true in todays time..



    1. Nilesh

      Yea .. All the points mentioned in the articles are common sense points only . I dont consider them anything advanced .. People just forget these points , because they feel complex is powerful . Which is not true .. Were you clear with these basics from the start or understood them on the way \


    2. preeta says:

      it’s not abt people not understanding,it’s about lots of awareness as well as gr8 articles which r helping people 2think whether they r doing right.
      well informed articles like these help the public and it’s difficult 2get fooled becaz he will ask counter ques when some1 sells him a product.

  26. rahul says:

    but manish, are not we ceasing to live the life today on our terms in anticipation of better future by having such approach of “work today so that u can rest tomorrow”. why to live in misery today when today is the life. who knows abt tomorrow.

    1. Rahul

      NO , its a myth that Financial Planning or learning all these things has to do with Compromising , Its all about planning and allignment ..

      there are many who go beyond their means at the cost of tomm .. Today if you can live a comformable life (with enjoyment) in 30k , still people go overboard and spend all there 50k , finding more enjoyment ..

      They could save 20k for future .. but still they dont do it . I am talking about that case .

      “Who knows about tomm” .. Its the way of looking, you dont know about tomm , but what if tomm comes , then what ? It would be very painful that time .. And I am not saying give away your life and start living like a Saint , I just say , make provisions .. thats all


  27. Amit Gulati says:


    As always, another great article. Many thanks for writing this article. I guess the sixth point “pain now or, later your choice” is of utmost importance because if we don’t save today we won’t be left with anything to invest in risky or non risky assets. As the old phrase goes “A penny saved is a penny earned”.


    1. Amit

      yea .. the main reason why people forget 6th point has to do with “Instant Gratification” . Not saving today has nothing to do with any paid “right now” . It will only come later and our mind thinks , we will deal with it in some way !

      But it will get later in future . People who realise it todya will have a great life tomm .


  28. Mohan says:

    Once again Nice article…

    I like “Not taking risk is extremely risky in today’s world” this statement, since without taking risk we cant expect high rish

    However that risk taking depends on the person to person.

    1. Mohan

      yes .. risk depends from person to person . But a lot of people who can take risk after understanding it also dont pay any attention to it


  29. Hemant says:

    Hi Manish,
    One should always remember “Keep it simple stupid” – points that you have added looks simple but are one of the most important rules of personal finance. I think time & again you have to come with such articles as most of the investors are suffering from short term memory loss.
    These articles are like notes for final exams 😉 Keep Rocking.

    1. Hemant

      Yes .. good point overall


    2. preeta says:

      i completely agree,we shud keep going through it again and again 2make it a mantra of r lives ahead.
      many reading this will be aware of the fine nuances of great investing.
      i must admit,it has enlightened me becaz we live in a world where we feel we know all and done all!!
      thanx.appreciate this wisdom.

  30. rajiv ahuja says:

    Wise words.

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