There are currently 2.67 million unemployed people in Britain and while the economy is, very slowly, making a recovery, unemployment is still going to be a real concern for a good while yet.
Suddenly being without your salary and still having bills to pay and a family to look after is a terrifying thought for anyone, but there are things you can do now to protect your income and make sure you can still afford to keep going if you were to lose your job.
Read on for our seven invaluable ways to protect your income and put your mind at rest.
- 1. Set up your savings safety net
- 2. Take out income protection insurance
- 3. Get mortgage payment protection insurance
- 4. Get critical illness cover
- 5. Set up extra ways of making cash on the side
- 6. Get some training on the side
- 7. Set up passive streams of income
Having a savings safety net is absolutely essential. It’s self-insurance – which is the most reliable form of insurance to have, because you don’t have to depend on anyone else for your money. You are insuring yourself by creating your very own emergency fund.
Your emergency fund should have enough money in it to cover your expenses for at least three months, ideally six. Yes that is going to be a substantial amount of money, but it is so, so important to have this savings account.
Why? Because if you suddenly lose your job or you can’t work due to illness or other problems, you can at least pay your bills and keep the roof over your head.
The added bonus: If you don’t lose your job, you still have a nice wad of money quietly earning you interest in a savings account that you can enjoy in your retirement.
So how do you set up this savings safety net? Well, you need to open an easy-access savings account with the best interest rate you can get – check out the best deals now here. Then put as much money as you can spare into it each week.
Even if you don’t think you have any cash to spare, we’ll show you how you can get some by telling you the secrets to saving when you don’t have any money.
If you don’t have self-insurance then an option you could consider is income protection insurance (IPI). This kind of insurance will replace some of your salary if you have an accident or illness that stops you working for some time.
Good policies will continue to pay out until you are ready to return to work again – even if that’s in a few years, and if you never recover enough to go back to work, they should pay you an income until you reach retirement age (and payments are tax-free).
Unfortunately, you will have to wait before you start to get the benefits – usually around 13 weeks/three months is the norm. You can get policies that will pay out from the moment you have to be off work – but the monthly premiums for those are much higher.
The best way to get this kind of insurance is to shop around, as there are many different policies on the market. Use our comparison service to find the best deal for you.
WARNING! Income protection insurance does not protect you against unemployment. If you are made redundant, this form of insurance will not pay out.
Why not? Because we think it’s expensive and in many cases it doesn’t pay out when you need it.
Redundancy insurance, also known as unemployment insurance or redundancy cover, is supposed to provide a payout if you lose your job.
The idea is that redundancy insurance will pay out if you lose your job because of compulsory redundancy. On the whole, you get paid about 50-65% of the income you were on, up to a maximum benefit of £1,000-2,000 a month. But you can’t claim if you choose voluntary redundancy.
If you do manage to get a pay-out you must be able to prove that you’re actively seeking work and you’ll only get the benefits for 12 months (24 months with some policies). After that you’re on your own.
In addition, you usually have to wait for one or two months before you start to receive the benefits of the policy and there’s a qualifying period of 120 days before the policy is valid. In other words, if you take the policy out now and you get made redundant next month, you won’t qualify for the money.
Plus – you have to be continuously employed for at least six months before you can make a claim.
If you’re keen on protecting your income against redundancy, you’re better off with the next point….
If your savings safety net is still a work in progress and you have a mortgage to pay, then you should seriously consider mortgage payment protection insurance (MPPI).
WARNING! Don’t just get the insurance offered to you by your mortgage lender. Figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders show that of the borrowers who have MPPI, three-quarters took out the cover with their mortgage provider. But these ‘bolt-on’ policies tend to be more expensive – up to three times as much as those from independent providers who charge around £5 a month for every £100 of monthly repayment.
As well as looking at the price of MPPI, you need to be aware of exclusions with the cover. Many MPPI policies will exclude stress and back trouble – two of the most common reasons for claims – so ideally you should find a policy that includes these conditions.
Also find out if there’s an ‘excess period’ before the policy starts paying out, or whether the provider offers ‘back to day one’ cover. MPPI normally pays out between 30 and 60 days after you become unable to work and continues to pay the benefit for 12 months (sometimes 24).
Be aware that claims will not be met if you knew you were likely to be made redundant when you took out the policy.
Don’t forget – although MPPI may sometimes be cheaper than income protection, income protection pays out until you can get back to work or until the policy end.
Once again, because there are so many different policies out there you need to shop around. Use our comparison service to find the best deal for you.
In a way, critical illness is one of the most pessimistic forms of insurance, but it can be a huge relief not to have to worry about money should you be struck down with a long-term disease.
A lot of people are unable to work for long periods – over two million in the UK currently claim State incapacity benefit for more than six months at a time. Critical illness insurance will give you reassurance in these circumstances, if you can afford it.
WARNING! Thousands of employees receive critical illness cover as part of their employment package, so make sure to check whether you do before taking out a policy.
Some types of insurance will give you ‘level’ or the same pay-out during the policy term. In other words, you could get a lump sum pay-out if you get ill at any time while the policy runs.
However, it is possible to buy cover where the lump sum gets smaller over the five years – and this sort of cover is cheaper. This type of ‘reducing’ critical illness cover is designed to be used with decreasing home mortgage repayments. Less and less cover is needed as the mortgage gets paid off.
If you’re self-employed, or you don’t have critical illness insurance as part of your work benefits and you are the only or main earner in a household, it is worth considering this type of cover for a few key years. The cash can be a major boon if your health goes wrong.
Having a bit of extra money coming in from somewhere other than just your day job is a perfect bit of added security to put your mind at rest. We don’t mean getting a second job, we’re talking about easier ways to make some money.
Check out our top ten easy ways to make quick cash for starters – it’s the most popular article on our site! If the idea of being able to make cash sitting in front of your computer is appealing, then you should check out Moneymagpie’s favourite money-making websites and find out how you can make money from competitions.
There are tonnes of other easy ways to make money from things you enjoy doing, and you really can turn them into regular little earners without too much trouble. For loads more money-making ideas from house-sitting to being a car boot king or queen, click here.
Brush the dust from your CV and take a long hard look at it. Do you have a host of transferable skills? What about a second language? A good knowledge of different IT programs? Don’t worry if you’re drawing a big fat blank at this point, because now is the time to get yourself some new skills – for free.
Want to start learning a new language? Then head to BBC Languages. You can learn a language for free with their great courses and you’ll even get a certificate at the end! The BBC also has free online media training courses too.
To find out lots more about how you can increase your skill set for free, check out our article here!
N.B. these are long-term ideas. They’re unlikely to help you in the next twelve months. However, to protect yourself in the future, it’s worth setting up at least one of these now.
With passive streams of income you’re talking real money – regular money. Setting up one of these means creating something that will pay you year after year, later on, with minimal effort on your part.
This all sounds great, of course, but be aware that in order to create this lovely stream of money in the future, you’ll have to put some effort and money in now…probably quite a lot of it.
Here are some activities that could provide you with a regular income later on:
- Network selling
This isn’t about pyramid schemes, it’s about selling goods or services to a network of friends and, importantly, trying to get them to sell to others on your behalf.
There are several different companies that operate this system, but if you’re interested in getting into it make sure you only go with one that is a member of the Direct Selling Association.
There are still a lot of cowboys in this arena and you need to be careful. Be aware, also, that it’s really not for everyone. You need to be good at selling, networking and motivating others. Not everyone is.
- Your own web business
This is such a big subject that it would take a whole book to explain how to do it properly. However, why not start small now by setting up your own blog. It’s free (just go to Blogger.com to do it) and you can start making a very small amount of money by getting Google AdSense on it.
You could even write a blog about redundancy if that’s what you’re going through. As we’ve shown in this article on making money out of misery, you can turn a bad situation into gold if you try.
- Invest in shares
While you might think this is a terrible idea, investing in the stock market is actually a very reliable way to make money in the long term. If you are willing to invest for at least five years, and ideally more, you can see some pretty impressive returns.
Put money in regularly – each month or each year, whatever you can manage – and sit tight. Don’t be put off by hysterical news reports about the stock market tanking, just keep quietly investing. Over time the stock market will go up, even if it drops wildly in certain years.
- To dream about!
Write a successful book, play, song or film. Mm, that’s easy…not! However, if you’re talented enough and you come up with the right formula, you can set yourself up for life with just one successful creation.
Very few of us are actually able to do it, but it doesn’t mean you can’t try. Just because only a few people manage it doesn’t mean that you can’t be one of them. Remember, J.K. Rowling was rejected by nine publishers before she was accepted by Bloomsbury. Keep trying.