The job market
Job opportunities are fairly abundant in the retail industry; the downside is those jobs don't pay anywhere near what many workers were making in manufacturing or other long-term jobs. The good news, Skladany notes, is more retail employers are making affordable health insurance available to even part-time workers.
Staffing and employment agencies are picking up some slack in the job market for older workers, offering a variety of temporary assignments as well as temporary to permanent assignments. These employ workers with professional skills, such as accounting, software testing and technical writing as well as clerical skills for such jobs as receptionists and administrative assistants.
If health insurance isn't an issue, freelancing or consulting can work well. "I've been doing all sorts of things in the year since I retired from my full-time job," says Leonard Honeyman, a former journalist with Gannett and author of the Len's lens blog. "I've actually turned down full-time jobs because I want more flexibility, including working on my blog, writing newsletters and doing some freelance articles for newspapers," he says.
Starting a business
It takes a certain amount of courage -- and financial freedom -- to start your own business later in life. Rob Bennett, a tax attorney and journalist, dreamed of writing a book but needed to work a full-time job for financial reasons. With his dream as a goal, he "worked and saved like a madman until I got to the point fairly early in life where I had saved enough so that I could do what I wanted to do," he says.
"Now I'm at the point where I only have to make $12,000 a year or so to pay my bills and that covers food, utilities and other day-to-day expenses," he says. "My mortgage is paid off and if I make more than my minimum, we can take a nice vacation." His book, "Passion Saving: The Path to Plentiful Free Time and Soul-Satisfying Work" and his blog, promote the idea of early savings as a path to financial freedom.
Many employees have transferable skills and networks they could tap if they want to start a business, says Ken Gelman, vice president and director of market research at AXA Equitable, which recently sponsored a study on global retirement. Keep in mind, though, many small businesses fail because of a lack of planning and cash flow. "If you are interested in starting your own business, it makes sense to play off your strengths and also to get some financial advice," says Gelman.