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But in general, I prefer to buy stock directly, to avoid paying for time value.

This is part of why I've been using option spreads periodically. Some of the time value that you pay in the long option, you get back in the short option. And if someone exercises (you get assigned) the short option on you, it is probably also worth exercising your long option, so you can remain even (as far as position in that stock) after the two transactions. Of course, you have to decide *before* you are assigned, but generally assuming that "everyone" is behaving rationally, it is almost always obvious which to choose - you choose the most economically advantageous choice (regardless of those case sin which you get lucky and not get assigned on the short option).
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