You had a plan: You were going to work for a few more years and ride into the retirement sunset. However, your company had other plans. Instead, you’ve found yourself laid off without a clue as to what is next.

It’s no secret the job market is harder for older folks, and if you are a few years from retirement, you may be unsure of the next steps. Are you asking: Can you retire early? If not, what jobs are available for people your age? Do you even want to work full-time?

Everyone’s scenario is different, but there are options for older people who find themselves laid off before their planned retirement.

Looking for a new full-time job

There’s no question that those 50 and over may have a hard time in the job market. Ageism exists, especially in fields where employers assume younger job seekers will have more technical skills. But it’s still possible to find a new job, and there are companies that will value your experience and knowledge of an older employee.

According to The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) names several jobs for people 50 and up such as an accountant, personal trainer, landscaper and interpreter. Keep in mind that it may take weeks or even months to land a position you desire. Therefore, it’s important to maintain an emergency fund with at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses.

Discover a fun part-time job

If you feel like you need to work to stay active and bring in some cash, but don’t need to work full-time, try to find something that ignites your passion. Perhaps it’s working outside in landscaping, home improvement work, or tutoring students. If you can find something you like and get paid for it, that may be better than hunting for a full-time job.

Find consulting gigs

While companies aren’t always eager to hire older workers on a full-time basis, they sometimes rely on them for expertise on a contract basis. It’s not unusual for workers to be laid off only to return as a consultant, doing similar work.

If you do find yourself laid off, consider marketing your services on a contract or as-needed basis. You may be shocked at how lucrative these opportunities are, and you will have some job flexibility that could help you phase into retirement for good.

Adjust your budget

The good news about being laid off when you are older is that your living expenses are often lower. But you’ll still need to reduce your spending if you find yourself without a job. Keep track of expenses and see where to cut costs.

Can collect Social Security

If you do find yourself laid off at age 62, the good news is being of age to begin receiving Social Security benefits, though your payments will not be as high as they would be if you waited another five years (until your full retirement age). At age 62, you’ll receive about 70 percent of the maximum monthly benefit, according to

If you can wait until you are older to collect, you’ll receive more benefits in the long run. But even a partial benefit is better than nothing and may let you retire early.

Start a business

Did you spend your entire work life wishing you could be your own boss? Maybe now is the time to take the plunge and become an entrepreneur? There’s some risk in starting a business, but you could be at a point where you have some money saved with low living expenses. Go for it!