Lack of job security for many women over 50
The Office for National Statistics has revealed that in the period December 2011 to February 2012, there were 153,000 women aged 50 to 64 out of work – the highest number since the ONS began collecting such data in 1992. The 39% rise compares with just a 5% rise for all over-16s.
Worse still, women in their mid-50s have been unfairly targeted by the sudden pension age changes, some losing up to £11,000 as a result, so planning ahead has never been more important.
The threat of redundancy also looms large for many, yet huge numbers of people still don't have a financial safety net in place, giving them even more cause for concern.
There are ways of preparing for a loss of income which soften the blow as best you can.
While you can claim unemployment benefits from the government, these will not start immediately, and are unlikely to enable you to continue your current lifestyle until you find a new job.
If you could not work because of redundancy, having unemployment insurance gives you some financial security that some of your bills, mortgage or loan repayments can be kept up.
However, if you take a policy out because you know your employer is planning a round of redundancies, the insurer can refuse to pay out should you make a claim.
Bear in mind that many policies require you to be out of work for a certain period before you can make a claim, so always check the small print carefully.
You can also make sure you have a financial cushion to fall back on if you need to access cash to make ends meet in any interim period.
Financial advisers recommend that ideally you should have six months' of your current salary squirreled away in case you lose your job.
The worrying truth is that many of us have nowhere near the amount of savings we should have to cover costs in the event that we become unemployed.
If you are yet to use up your tax-free ISA allowance for this year, then an account of this kind should definitely be your first port of call.
You will, however, need an easy-access ISA if you want to be able to make withdrawals to cover living expenses should you become unemployed, rather than a fixed rate which pays better rates of interest but requires locking your money away for a term.
To make sure you can access your money swiftly it is important to have it in a cash ISA.
The Revenue allows you to shelter a total of £11, 280 from the taxman but a maximum of £5,640 in cash.
If your money situation is tricky then sit down with your bank statements, work out what comes in and what goes out and see if there are any areas in which you can reduce monthly bills to free up more money to save.
With times likely to be tough for most of us for some time yet, paying down debts should be a priority, as it will reduce your outgoings. If you have debts languishing on a credit card charging a high rate of interest, you should move your balance to a card offering 0% on balance transfers for an introductory period and aim to pay off what you owe during this time.