Gerri Willis Commentary:
Top Tips by Gerri Willis Column archive
Before you call it quits
Early retirement means less time to build a nest egg and more time to spend it down. Here are other options.
By Gerri Willis, contributing columnist

NEW YORK ( -- While half of all baby boomers expect to be working past 65 years old, only about 13 percent of retirees are actually doing so, according to a recent study.

The actual average age at retirement is 59. That means fewer years of earning power and more years of trying to stretch one's nest egg.

In today's five tips we're going to explore other options.

1: Start your own biz

If your dream is to start your own business, you're certainly not alone. In fact, most self-employed people are over 50 years old, according to Clare Hushbeck of AARP.

You should have a good-sized amount of cash on hand. To get started, contact your local SCORE group for advice. SCORE stands for Service Corp. of Retired Executives; it's a nonprofit group that provides free confidential business counseling, face to face or by e-mail. The number is 800-634-0245.

You can also contact the National Association for the Self-Employed at or 1-800-232-6273 or get in touch with your local Small Business Administration office at

2: Break the gray ceiling

It takes someone over 50 about seven weeks longer to find a job than a younger worker, according to AARP. But you can make your age work for you.

First of all, don't include dates on your resume. List only your most recent experiences of the past 10-20 years. Summarize your successes, and, remember, you don't have to focus on chronological order.

Emphasize your experience over age. It's also a good idea to get your technical skills up to speed. You can take a course at a local college or library.

3: Find the friendly employers

There are employers out there who are actively recruiting older workers, including Pitney Bowes, MetLife and Johns Hopkins Medicine. For a complete list of age-friendly employers, go to the AARP Web site at You may also want to check out This is a Web site for job seekers over 50 years old that lets you search for jobs in your area.

4: Fight back

Of course employers can't discriminate against you if you're over 40 years old. And while many age-discrimination lawsuits can be difficult to prove, there are some red flags you can look for if you are concerned about age discrimination.

One red flag: You were turned down for an internal promotion, and instead a younger outsider was hired. A second one: Your responsibilities are cut in half. Yet another: Your boss doesn't include you in meetings that you previously attended.

If you want to file a complaint, you should do it within the first 180 days of the alleged discrimination. Call the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) at 1-800-669-4000 or go to

5: Delay your benefits

If it's at all possible, don't take your Social Security benefits early. The typical baby boomer loses as much as 30 percent of his or her Social Security check by taking those benefits early, according to Steven Silbiger, author of Retire Early?

Delaying your benefits by one year will give you an 8 percent increase in benefits. To get normal retirement benefits today you should be at least 65 and a half years old. Of course you don't want to wait until past 70 years old. At that point, any benefits of waiting will disappear.


Gerri's Mailbox: Got questions about your money? We want to hear them! Send questions to or click here - each week, we'll give answers on CNN, Headline News and Top of page

Follow the news that matters to you. Create your own alert to be notified on topics you're interested in.

Or, visit Popular Alerts for suggestions.
Manage alerts | What is this?