Unemployment figures have been accelerating upwards as the economic environment deteriorates and are predicted to go higher for the remainder of the year, leaving the possibility of redundancy looming large for many people. However, for anybody worried about their job security, there are a few practical steps we offer that help prepare for these difficult times.
BUILD AN EMERGENCY FUND
Holding three months’ income in readily available funds will provide some breathing space in the event of redundancy. This should be in an instant access savings account or ISA but do check the small print – banks frequently penalise savers for taking money out of a savings account through loss of interest. An emergency fund is particularly important for families where there is only one breadwinner.
ASSESS YOUR OUTGOINGS
Keeping track of expenditure can highlight potential problem areas. You may find you have old direct debits for things you no longer need – insurance payments on long obsolete mobile phones, for example. See if you can switch to cheaper utility providers, better value car insurance or credit cards with lower interest rates. Set a budget and then make sure you stick to it.
PAY OFF DEBT WHERE POSSIBLE
Reducing debt can significantly cut your monthly outgoings. Start with the most expensive debt first, which is likely to be credit and store cards. Banks will also charge heavily for overdrafts, even when they are arranged, and personal loans can be cheaper. It is worth checking the rates for all debt and, if you can’t pay it off, switching to cheaper types of debt. Mortgages will usually be the cheapest debt – so although it is worth paying down mortgage debt, it should be a lower priority than unsecured debts.
DELAY LARGE PURCHASES
This is not the time to start a kitchen refurbishment or loft conversion. Keep new purchases to a minimum and consider putting planned expenditure on hold. With house prices falling, refurbishment may not add value the way it did only a couple of years ago.
CHECK YOUR INSURANCE SITUATION
Unemployment cover can be bought on its own or with policies such as income protection, and protects in the event of longer-term unemployment. The cost will vary depending on when the payments kick in and the level of income needed. Insurers have policies in place to ensure that people don’t take it out in the knowledge they may be made redundant imminently. There is usually a qualifying period and the insurer will not provide a policy if there is already a specific risk to the policyholder’s job.
Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.