When you've got kids life gets hectic. You find yourself balancing your life, their lives, your partner's life, with work, housework, and all the other bits and bobs that go with it. Throw in a couple of pets and it is a wonder any of us have any brain cells left.
Apparently there's only so many decisions that anyone can make in a day. And your brain matter isn't indiscriminate. It seems to treat them all the same, from whether to have a cup of tea or coffee, to signing off on that multi-million pound merger agreement.
Maybe that's why busy and harassed parents can be a bit more prone than most to falling into some of those money traps that just suck our wallets and bank accounts clean. Here's the top five of these, and alternatives that won't bite you back. Read up now so you can be prepared later on.
Mobile phone and gadget insurance
Have you got home contents insurance? There's a good chance that this will offer just as much protection as the insurance sold by the mobile phone retailer, or for your iPad and other expensive gadgets. Without costing you any extra money.
Some mobile phone retailers can charge you up to £200 a year for cover. A hefty chunk of money if you don't need to pay it. Before you go out, check your home contents policy. What is the excess? Does it cover accidental loss and damage outside the home? Are laptops and electronics covered? Will your phone and/or gadgets be covered when you're abroad?
If it costs £50 to extend your home policy to cover outside the home, and a £50 or £0 excess charge, then this would be much better value. Especially as all the phones in the household will be covered.
Pay Day Loans
You just know these are a bad idea right? Your common sense tells you that every time you see one of those adverts. But common sense is the first thing that goes out the window when you're stuck with a bad cash flow problem, nothing to feed the kids, no money for the bus to get to work, and one of them has a birthday party to go to this Saturday. It is Thursday and payday is just a tantalizing five days away on Tuesday. What to do?
Get yourself set up with a local Credit Union now. It doesn't cost much, and you'll be able to get a fairly quick small loan with them. My husband and I have had a Credit Union account for ten years now, and it has saved our bacon on several occasions.
No they're not as convenient as a Pay Day loan company. But you won't get the outrageous charges and interest either. 1,000%? Please! Just don't do it.
PPI and Claims management companies
Payment protection insurance can add a fair whack onto the cost of loan repayments each week. Make sure you're not being missold. My brother found that when he went to claim he wasn't actually eligible as he'd been working as self employed. There's quite a few other exclusions and problems, and these are now fairly well documented.
They weren't in the past though, and there's a good chance you may have been missold PPI. In which case, as all those adverts on the telly say, you can get your money back. Just don't use one of those claims management companies.
They can take nearly 20% of your claim in fees. And it isn't that difficult to file a claim yourself. There's a fabulous tool you can use instead on the Which? consumer rights website - click here.
Personally I don't think you need this. Take a look at what the policy is offering. A credit check can be done yourself for a cost of between £2 and £5 - or for free if you keep an eye out for when the likes of Experian do a special offer.
By law you're automatically covered for fraud on your credit card and bank account anyway, with no limit on the amount. So do you really need to spend that £70 on more insurance, or would you rather treat your family to a meal out?
Debt Management companies
These seem to be doing a heavy sell on the TV and through direct marketing such as mobile phone texts. If you are in debt problems, then please don't consider using one of these companies. They're out to make money from you and will give you the advice that makes the most money for them. That's not necessarily the best advice for you.
Do you have something to add to this? A money trap that you've managed to dodge, or didn't but are now much wiser? Please share your sage words of wisdom and tell us all about it.