What would you do in the face of a layoff?

It’s a question aircraft maintenance technician Wayne Whelan never thought he’d have to ask.

But after working for Air Canada for 27 years, he suddenly found himself unemployed.

"Within months of Air Canada being transferred to Aveos, we got a phone call. ‘Don't come into work. You're permanently laid off,’" Whelan recalled.

A few months after acquiring Air Canada’s maintenance division, Aveos filed for bankruptcy, causing Whelan’s severance cheques and employment insurance claims to be delayed.

“We could slowly see the savings running out,” Whelan said. “I wasn't prepared at all. All of a sudden it was, ‘Do I pick up another trade? Do I go to school? What do I do?’”

Credit counsellor Sandra Fry says situations like Whelan’s are becoming more and more common.

"We don't save any more. We rely on credit for those bumps in the road instead of saving for them," said Fry.

Fry said about half of her clients have been laid off and most aren't financially fit to weather the storm.

“They should have six weeks to two months of emergency savings,” said Fry. “And that's not RRSPs. Not credit. That's actual cash in the bank.”

For Maria Cadieux, that's actual cash in the jar.

She and her husband buy for things such as coffee, dining out and groceries with cash stored in separate jars.

But Cadieux said spending only with cash wasn’t always the case.

"We were going into over draft always and that was scary. It was paycheque to paycheque living," said Cadieux.

The reason was she and her husband put everything on credit and debit cards and didn’t keep track of it, spending $400 a month on takeout coffee alone.

Since they started using only cash, they’ve been able to put $800 towards a loan and have savings to spare.

“The last four months, I haven't gone into my overdraft. I always have money in my account and it's not stress and it feels a lot better," she said.

As for Whelan, he also has a new take on saving. He doesn’t rack up the credit card, but hasn’t been able to take a vacation in three years.

“We don't have that much of savings account that we don't touch,” he said. “But, we make sure everything's paid off.”