Kevin Kautzmann, CFP® Consulted in AOL – Money

Posted on January 8, 2011

Reaching retirement can be a wonderful thing — except when it catches you by surprise. Say, for example, when you’re in your late 50s and the boss gives you the boot. Or you might fall victim to downsizing at a newly merged company. The culprit could even be an illness that interrupts you in the twilight of your career. And suddenly, it becomes clear that the next job isn’t just around the corner.

Whatever its cause, an accidental retirement can leave you scrambling to come up with a Plan B. With the economy still shaky, and unemployment still far too high, many more people are finding themselves looking for ways to the plug the financial gap created by an early retirement. Here are a few ideas.

Get Real About Your Situation

Once you get over the shock, get a clear picture of where you stand. Start by charting your monthly expenses. “If you don’t track expenses, now would be a good time to go back over the last 12 months of expenditures and set up a cash-flow-tracking program like or,” says Rick Kahler, a certified financial planner with Kahler Financial Group.

Next, conduct a “gap analysis,” advises John Diel, a certified financial planner with The Hartford. How much do you need to cover the basics? How big is your buffer? How many months will any severance you receive last, compared to your expenses? What unemployment benefits are you eligible for, and for how long? And how big is your own emergency fund?

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