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Big and small minds alike have thought and quipped about retirement. The retirement quotes below aren't all meant to be profound, but each has a lesson or two for us -- and they can help us attain more comfortable retirements.

Here are a few retirement quotes that are not only pithy, but helpful.

"The best time to start thinking about your retirement is before the boss does."
-- Author unknown

This is a key concept, in several ways. For one thing, many Americans end up retiring before they expected to -- either because they were let go or due to illness or some other development in their life. According to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, 41% of Americans working at age 58 are likely to retire earlier than they expected to. What can you do to avoid being forced to retire you're ready? Well, if you save aggressively and invest effectively for retirement, starting it early will hurt less. You might also take better care of your health, to reduce your chance of being unable to work anytime soon. Above all, don't keep putting off thinking about and saving for retirement.

"The question isn't at what age I want to retire -- it's at what income."
-- attributed to George Foreman

This is brilliant, as it reminds us that we have the power to make our retirements more or less comfortable, depending on how well we save and invest for retirement. You might use an online calculator to help you figure out how much you can save by the time you expect to retire. By tweaking the amount you plan to save each year, how long your money can grow, and the average annual growth rate you expect, you can arrive at a workable plan. For example, if you have $50,000 in retirement accounts now and can sock away $8,000 per year, aiming to average 8% in annual growth, you can end up with more than $600,000 in 20 years. If you plan to withdraw about 4% of that annually in retirement, that will give you $24,000 annually, a meaningful sum, especially when combined with Social Security.

'Retirement: It's nice to get out of the rat race, but you have to learn to get along with less cheese."
-- attributed to Gene Perret

Retirement quotes such as this are great reminders that we will probably have to rein in our spending in retirement, as we'll likely be living on a smaller income. To some degree, this will happen automatically. We will no longer be dry-cleaning suits, putting a lot of miles on our car commuting, buying lunches from eateries near our workplace, etc. It can be offset by increased spending on travel, though, or healthcare. To pare down your spending without going as far as moving into a smaller and cheaper home, you might sell one of your household's vehicles or trade in your cable TV for an inexpensive streaming service, among many other possibilities. (Stopping smoking, for example, can save you thousands per year.)

"Retirement can be a great joy if you can figure out how to spend time without spending money." 
-- Author unknown

Along the same line as the quote above, this one has a great recommendation: Finding inexpensive activities to engage in during retirement. You might, for example, cultivate an interest in board games and have regular game nights with friends. You might do a lot of volunteering, too. Some volunteering can simply make you feel better, while other kinds can entertain or enlighten, too, such as if you become a theater usher or museum tour guide.

"A retired husband is often a wife's full-time job." 
-- attributed to Ella Harris

Retirement quotes such as this point out another feature of retirement -- that our relationships can change, or at least how we interact with each other. When one or both spouses retire, they may end up seeing a lot more of each other, which may turn out to be suboptimal. Simply losing your old routine can be unsettling, too, leaving many retirees restless and aimless. It can be good for some to find a part-time job, just to get out of the house on a regular basis, to have a bit of a routine, to socialize with others besides a spouse, and on top of that, to bring in a little extra income.

Longtime Fool specialist Selena Maranjian, whom you can follow on Twitter, owns no shares of any company mentioned in this article. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.