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Gary Heitman, Plymouth, Mich.
Age: 55
Rescue strategy: Keep drawing a paycheck

Eyeing the repeated rounds of layoffs at Ford, IT manager Gary Heitman didn't need a GPS to know which direction his 30-year career with the automaker was heading. So he volunteered for a buyout in 2006, figuring the next offer might not be so generous.

Heitman, who'd been making $160,000 a year, knew he couldn't afford to retire on a pension of half his salary. The widower had two teenagers, Ashley, now 17, and Derek, 14, to raise and put through school. He also knew that finding a comparable IT job at his age would be tough. So Heitman worked his contacts and said yes to a $60-an-hour parttime job scouting new business for a staffing agency he'd worked with at Ford. The salary, plus his pension, brings him close to his former income, so his retirement plans -- he hopes to quit by 2013 -- are intact. The bonus: He gets to spend more time with his kids. Even on the days he travels, he's home in time to make dinner. --Joan Caplin

NEXT: Julia Andres, New York City
Last updated March 09 2009: 10:12 AM ET
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