East Texas Recession Survival Guide: Early retirement

The economy is facing a deeply uncertain future, which translates into job anxiety for millions of workers. Some employers are responding to hard times by cutting their work force, but not always by layoffs.

In this East Texas Recession Survival Guide, we're talking about the pros and cons of early retirement.

In the wake of the white-knuckle ride that is the economy, some 600 executives at Walt Disney Theme Parks have agreed to voluntary buyout packages.

Many employers are turning to severance packages to endure the financial downturn, but there are a few things you should consider before accepting that early-retirement offer.

"We are seeing many more layoffs than we've seen at one time in many years," said Karen Altfest, a financial planner.

For those making $100,000 or more a year, a generous severance package is often in the ballpark of six months pay, but severance packages vary and often depend on the company's state of health.

"I would say if someone is offering you a severance package, negotiate the best you can and take it," said Altfest. "I see no reason not to take it. I think you are one of the lucky few if you are getting a good severance package with a lump sum and medical coverage, 401k other things that will tide you through to your transition."

Circuit City, for example, said it intends to pay 60-days salary to field managers and associates who were laid off at the company's headquarters. At DHL, most employees will receive two weeks pay, plus an additional week for each year of service.

"Because of this economy, we have to be prepared to work even longer maybe into your 60s maybe 70s be prepared to take on those extra years of work," said Altfest. "Don't count on stock options so many of them are under water anyway."

What you can do is get educated on your company's policy in advance.

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