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Jeremy DEagle

Quick questions

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We have a similar thread on another forum I visit where people can ask quick questions that don't really deserve their own thread. 

 

Personally asking if anyone knows of an iPhone app to use for identifying UK wildlife and trees, preferably free. Anyone know of any?

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I asked Elder Son, who is fairly knowledgable about this sort of thing, and this is his reply:

Google Goggles? Maybe.
But image recognition is pretty cutting edge stuff. I would be very impressed if it ever managed anything more specific that "dog/cat".

I've managed to get it to recognise *products*, but it's never worked with anything *natural*.

Or do you mean a library/book type app? There are lots of books, including bird spotting type things in, that your can read/refer too in the iBooks app - but they aren't free, usually in the 69p to £2.49 range.
 

 

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Yeah image recognition isn't much good as your son says. I'd imagine it either being some kind of guidebook in app form or a questionnaire type set- how many legs does what you find have, what colour is it, can it fly... Following this would then lead you to a 'the bug you have found is.....'

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Hi Meg, thank you. I have the first one but it is a very basic. I've actually stumbled across something called 'Project Noah' which has an app. It is a worldwide community looking to plot where wildlife is found and seems pretty good. It doesn't seem particularly active in the UK from what I can see but I've identified a couple of bugs I've seen round here on there.

 

I also found a free app for trees that does the job as well, that one is called FSC Trees. 

 

The final one you listed doesn't get particularly great reviews, which is a shame, I didn't want to risk buying it with that rating. I'll see how I get one with these for now :)

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We have a similar thread on another forum I visit where people can ask quick questions that don't really deserve their own thread. 

 

Excellent thread idea, Jeremy - thanks.

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This may or may not work here but... Who is good at managing their finances and would they care to share any tips? Our monthly income is about 3k, mortgage 500 quid a month so you'd think we'd see it through until payday in reasonable health. However, we seem to go overdrawn by about 300 quid every month. We don't spend excessively, don't have massive outgoings on debts or loans etc.

Edited by Jeremy DEagle

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It's a bit of a chore, but worked for us when Mr meg went through a string of redundancies back in the nineties - I wrote everything down, to the last penny. Everything that came in, and everything that went out.

 

Then we prioritised the outgoings: Mortgage; utilities; food; children's necessary expenses etc etc. Non-essentials were bought less often, and we bought cheaper brands. Household items had to be worn out or broken before they were replaced, not just because we fancied a change of colour scheme. Entertainments, takeaways & such were right at the bottom of the list - and often not there at all.

We really had to cut right down as there was only one part-time income much of the time,  so I'm not advocating that you should be quite as hard on yourselves, but some way of checking your expenses against your income should help.

 

That and remembering that 'I want' and 'I need" are not the same. ;)

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One of the first things that comes to mind is how to cut down on the prohibitive price of various cleaning materials. This is an oldie and a goodie. Used together or on their own in the right way Bicarb and vinegar are amazingly versatile for cleaning so much.  I have a giant container near my kitchen sink and buy it in as large a pack as I can. (Sometimes get funny looks, believe it is used for more questionable practices).  Go online and key in "Bicarbonate of Soda for Cleaning" there are plenty of sites and hints, or if you want check out with the same title in Amazon and see what looks good and ask your library to get it.

 

If you have young children who wear out the knees of their pants/jeans in a month, try and put on thick double layered patches - using material from old jeans, or any contrasting material for patches are acceptable fashion up to about 9 years old and it does help. If you can't sew in your house ( please don't be offended, despite efforts my own adult children are hopeless) find a grandma to  help out.  :yup:

 

Check out op shops for children's clothes, you would be amazed what people throw away because kids grow out of things.

 

 

Started to write here to recommend you look at Jamie Oliver's New "Save With Jamie"Cookbook, but it got so long that I have reviewed it in the Food and Drink Forum instead, so please check there. :)

Edited by grasshopper

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My experience of budgeting tightly was very similar to megustaleer's (although for different reasons) and it really is the only way. Yes, buying own brands in the supermarket, making little tubs of bolognese sauce from a pound of mince, waiting for the sales for clothes, etc are boring but useful tips but still it's basic accounting of the ins and outs, the budgetting, that can do 'the reveal'.

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I'd say try shopping at Aldi or Lidl.

Most items are good quality - the fruit and veg are good - and it is loads cheaper than the mainstream supermarkets. One of my friends finds money is tight and that is her main economy drive as she has two kids and a hungry husband.

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Where possible we have all of our direct debits and standing orders go out on the first of the month. For those that couldn't be moved we pay them from a savings account and load that account up at the beginning of the month. We then budget for shopping, lunches and general household depending on the number of weekends before the next pay-day (4 or 5) and put a bit aside for savings. Whatever is left is our "pocket money" some months we have £50 per week, but sometimes we only have £20.

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My mortgage is the same as yours and my income is lower.  I normally have money over at the end of the month, despite having more cars than is sensible for one person and all of them costing me plenty of money to maintain, plus I seem to be spending a fortune dealing with 40 years of bad decor and neglect in my home.  So,  as meg says, write everything down and see where it all goes - go back over several months if you have bank and credit card statements.  Have a look at regular outgoings by DD/SO, do they all need to be there?  Some things can't be avoided, like paying for the electric, but others can (e.g. Lovefilm type subscriptions - I'm guilty of this, I haven't watched any of the DVDs they sent me weeks ago so I'm paying them to do nothing).  I know people that kept gym memberships running as a statement of intent, not because they actually ever went to the gym that they were members of.

 

Food : One thing I found was that lunches can cost a bomb if you go out and buy a sandwich every day, so I take my lunches in.  I buy my meat in bulk, portion it up and freeze it then only go to the supermarket for perishables.  It is very rare that I have takeaways, even rarer that I eat out and aside from the occasional supermarket pizza I don't buy any ready made meals.  This keeps my food budget well down, around £100/month for one person (it goes up in term time as I eat in a cafe before my evening class to save driving home to cook then driving back in to Bristol) and I eat a self-cooked meal every evening.

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If you have a smartphone, mint.com allows you to set a budget and then allocate costs to that budget in real time (on your phone) so that you know with every purchase if you are keeping within your budget.  I don't know if there's a UK version, so I won't go on and on about how great it is in case there's not.  It's been helpful to me, but my husband refuses to use it, preferring tiny little ink scribbles on yellow notepads. :dunno:  :grumble:

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I second MarkC comments about lunches.  I see people I work with spend £5 a day on food and the same again on coffee.  £10 a day, twentysomething work days in a week...  There's big savings to be made there.

 

I've used Microsoft Money (no longer available) to track and manage all of my finances since the late nineties.  It takes some effort to maintain but I know exactly what I've got to spend and how much I can siphon off in to savings every month.

Edited by Jen

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This may not apply, but I used public transport with long term season tickets rather than drive and park to work. This all depends where you work, but it was useful for me and saved a lot in petrol, parking, possibly stress and car wear and tear. It certainly took much longer but I read a lot. If you still need to drive, rather than pay for parking, you could perhaps park further away where parking is free and walk.

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Public transport has saved me a lot as well. However, I have to leave for work earlier so my alarm now goes off at 5:40am. And I have to leave work an hour earlier on the days when I have to do the school run.

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Can anyone help me with how to sign a card.  My d-i-l calls me by my Christian name.  I am about to send my son and his wife a wedding anniversary card.  Do we just sign the card from 'Mum and Dad'[ or do we also put our Christian names as well?

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My d-i-l does the same so I have got into the habit of  -  cards to my son always Mum, cards to d-i-I Christian name, cards to both of them Mum.  We are all comfortable with that.

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Any cards or gifts to son and daughter in law are always signed Mum and Dad, and if I send a birthday card to d-i-l it is signed Mum and Dad M.........    Our d-i-l calls me "Ma" and hubby Dad, I don't know how this evolved and now anything originating from their home gets signed 'to Grandma and Grandpa' so Christian names have never come up.  I don't think the matter ever was discussed.  It is a bit of a puzzler - Barblue, if your d-i-l has parents who are still living you could sign it Mum and Dad and your surname?  Would that work?

Edited by momac

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We've just had a similar dilemma. It was my step-daughter's 8th birthday last Friday and my Mum spent a long time debating how to sign her card to her. Step-Grandma didn't seem right. She went for 'Grandma' in the end, with the inverted commas.    

 

Modern family life, eh? 

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