Monday 21 January 2019

Six smart ways to survive redundancy

Tina Leonard

There is nothing that will put more pressure on your finances than losing your job. With the unemployment rate at 12.4pc it's fair to say that things are not looking good.

Even if you are in work, you may be worried that your hours will be cut back or that your job will go altogether, sometime down the line.

If so, TV business expert Liam Croke says that you have to start planning now.

"You should start by reading your employee handbook," advises Croke, "to see what the company would offer. That way, even if the worst arises, at least you'll be forearmed with some information."

If you've never come across an employee handbook then ask your boss for a copy. If there isn't one, ask what the company policy is and whether you would get statutory redundancy or more.

Putting our heads in the sand is a mistake most of us make. But there are other ones too, and knowing how to avoid them will set you on a fast road to recovery.

Hasty financial decisions

The first mistake people make when they lose their job is to panic and make hasty financial decisions. "Instead," says Liam Croke, who advises on The Afternoon Show's recession clinic, "take your time to work out a plan of action.

"For example, you may think it will be worthwhile to use your severance pay to reduce your mortgage. But the difference in monthly re-payments may be small and it is likely that you will need that money for living expenses until you get a job, so it is more sensible to hang on to it."

Croke also advises against cashing in savings or selling off long-term investments. "There is no point in immediately starting to cash in everything if you haven't already analysed your current expenditure," he cautions.

Knowing how much you spend

You need to know how much money you can live on, so Croke suggests that you find out by listing your expenses in order of priority such as mortgage or rent, groceries, utilities, car payments, fuel, insurance premiums, clothing and so on, down to cups of coffee and magazines.

Draw up a list of your income along with this list and if it turns out you're spending more than you're taking in, it's time to get real.

It may be painful, but you're going to have to defer any major purchases, shop around for less expensive insurance premiums, reduce eating out or takeaways, and talk with creditors about delaying or extending payments.

It's also worth downgrading your TV package, and remember to check how much you're paying for phone, broadband and electricity to see if you can get a better deal.

Don't take a break

If you lose your job then you've got to be tough with yourself. You should start to look for work immediately, and don't even think of taking a little break before looking.

While tempting, unfortunately that 'holiday' mightn't end as soon as you'd like.

Instead it's the time to reassess your career. Look at your experience, skills and education and whether you can invest the time and money in learning a new skill.

At the same time, start networking, by telling everyone you know that you're searching for work or that you're trying to make a career change.

Sign on

Eibhlín Clifford, Advocacy Resource Office at the CIS in Co Westmeath, says that many people make the mistake of not signing on immediately.

"Maybe you think you'll have another job very soon or maybe you're waiting to get your P45," says Clifford. "It doesn't matter. Head to your local social welfare office immediately. They will assess you from that day, with or without your P45."

Knowing your entitlements

Most people have little idea what they're entitled to so don't make the mistake of staying in the dark. If you have been in continuous employment for at least two years and have paid enough PRSI, you may be entitled to job seekers' benefit or you may be entitled to job seekers' allowance, which is means-tested.

Remember, it can take 10 to 12 weeks for payments to be processed, so you'll need that redundancy payment and to make those changes in your spending habits.

In the meantime, if you have no savings to support you, you can apply to your community welfare officer for income supplement. Low-income families may also be entitled to family income support.

Don't feel bad

Clifford explains that "the CIS will look at your situation from a holistic point of view, taking into account your civic as well as social entitlements". She urges the newly unemployed not to be embarrassed amount finding themselves without work.

"You have been contributing to these funds through your working life, and now you can get back what you put in, so don't look at it as a handout. You are more than entitled to it", Clifford says.

This is a positive outlook that will go a long way if you find yourself out of work and low on cash. Add to that pro-active stance by following all the advice you can get your hands on. Remember too that a problem shared is a problem halved, so keep talking to your friends and family.

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