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Don’t Retire To Something. Retire On Something.

hobie blue sky

Retire On something.

And With something.

And From something.

And Under something.

And Before something.

And In something.

And For something.


If you’ve read any advice related to early or standard retirement, you have encountered the following mantra:

“Don’t retire From  something. Retire To  something.”

Retire To Something is great advice and I’m not here to dismiss or disparage it. I could have just as easily written this post with the quote as the title, but where’s the fun in rehashing advice that appears on the pages of hundreds of other articles and forum threads on the subject?

So let’s try the phrase with some different prepositions.


Don’t Retire To Something. Retire On Something.


Retire On Something


Retire On your own terms. Leave when you’re good and ready, not when someone else decides it’s best for you to move on.

Retire On the day of your choice. Perhaps you’ll celebrate your birthday with an early retirement or decide to make Labor Day your Anti-Labor Day. Or work just long enough in the calendar year to max out your retirement accounts one last time.

Retire On a sizable pile of investments. Play your cards right and your passive income streams and investment accounts will allow you to live a retired life with little worries about money with your safe withdrawal rate below four percent.

Retire On drugs. Just kidding! Don’t do that. Maybe some metoprolol and a baby aspirin. Toss in a statin if your liver will tolerate it and probably some insulin if you’re diabetic. But none of the illegal stuff.


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Retire With Something


Retire With your better half. If you’ve achieved FI as a couple, you’ll probably want to enter the next chapter together, as well.

Retire With your kids’ best interest in mind. Build up their 529 Plans first. Expect to be more present for them than you were able to be during your working career. Make it to every game, recital, and holiday celebration for the rest of your years.

Retire With your health intact. Many an ailment has led to a retirement that was neither planned nor fully funded. Take care of yourself and retire while you’ve still got some of that youthful vitality!


Retire From Something


Retire From the obligation of paid work. While the common quote begins with “Don’t retire from something,” that’s exactly what you’ll be doing. Embrace your newfound freedom.

Retire From the alarm clock (or alarm app). And the pager. I hate  the ^$(#! pager.

Retire From the stress that came with your job and your prior reliance on a paycheck. Financial independence takes away the stress of financial insecurity, and retirement can take away the stress of dying patients and other stressors you might have encountered on the job.

Retire Under Something


Retire under a blue sky. Make plans to visit your dream destination and plan to stay awhile. #slowtravel


hobie blue sky


Retire under the impression that you’re making the right choice. If you turn out to be wrong, you can always return to paid work someday.

Retire under mysterious circumstances. If you’re not comfortable telling people you’re retiring when you’re so young and good-looking, just say you’re moving on to explore additional opportunities and other vague language that implies you’re not actually retiring. And then do whatever it is you want to do.


Retire Before Something


Retire Before it’s too late! Sadly, some people never get a chance to experience a single day of retirement. I suppose that’s the dream for someone who absolutely loves to work, but if you’ve read this far, that’s probably not you.

Retire Before your friends and colleagues. Be prepared for looks of bewilderment and lots of questions.

Retire Before your parents. It’s too late for me, but millennials are realizing it’s possible and seizing the opportunity. See Retire Before Dad for further details.

Retire In Something


Retire In the prime of your life. Why wait until you’ve experienced decades of physical decline and at higher risk of cognitive impairment to retire? Play with FIRE and retire when you’ve got the energy and ability to check all the boxes on that bucket list.

Retire In your dream home. A dream home doesn’t have to be a grand estate, but it should be right sized for you and in the geographic location you most want to be. Without the need to work, you can live wherever you’ll be happiest.

Retire In comfortable clothing. No more suits or starchy scrubs. Business casual becomes beach casual. You can still dress up if and when you want to, but wearing certain clothes (or in certain places, wearing any clothes) becomes optional in retirement.

Retire For Something


Retire For your mental health. I’ve explored how retirement can make it easier to do all the things that science says will make us happy. Rates of depression and suicide are higher among physicians as compared to the general population. Retirement can take away those stressors and give you back your time.

Retire For your family. As long as you’ve taken care of your financial needs first, retirement can benefit your immediate and extended family. You’ll now be able to prepare a meal and sit down with your family to enjoy it on a more consistent basis. When a loved one becomes ill, you can go to them and spend all the time with them that they may need.

Retire For a change of pace. Maybe you just need a break. Or a different career; remember, retirement doesn’t have to be permanent. But if you’re in a career or life rut, and you’ve saved a good deal of money, a trial at retirement might be just what you need to figure out what you want the next chapter of life to look like.



What did I miss?

Give me your best Retire ________ Something below. I look forward to seeing what my creative readers come up with!



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62 thoughts on “Don’t Retire To Something. Retire On Something.”

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  5. Very inspiring words of wisdom, good job!

    My favorites:

    “Retire on your own terms. Leave when you’re good and ready, not when someone else decides it’s best for you to move on.”

    “Retire on a sizable pile of investments. Play your cards right and your passive income streams and investment accounts will allow you to live a retired life with little worries about money with your safe withdrawal rate below four percent.”

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  7. All good points and worth considering. I’m not convinced the super early retirement that you read about in blogs makes a lot of sense. I feel that most of them want to get away from working but don’t always have a plan on how to be happy and what they will do with their lives.

  8. This is great…I resonated with most of the ones you wrote. Don’t think this is a preposition, but I’m going to Retire once I no longer enjoy my job. I really love what I do, I’d just like to do it less and am taking steps to get there.

  9. Wow, great post! Others already found all the cool prepositions. My contribution:
    Retire over the span of a few years, from full-time work to part-time to full retirement.

    Thanks for the shout-out for my safe withdrawal series!!!
    Big ERN

    • That’s the plan, Big ERN.

      Last I recall, you were potentially done about a year from now. Has anything changed with your FIRE itinerary?


      • Haha, that’s how rumors start! No, I was just thinking out loud. My wife will definitely do some more part-time work. I might do some consulting for a while and could potentially keep working remotely (!!!) for my current employer, all on a part-time basis. That wouldn’t be such a bad transition.
        But the most likely outcome is still a cold-turkey retirement for Big ERN!

  10. I’m trying to follow the ‘comfortable clothes’ while working for now. Both actual texture comfort, and clothes that _I_ feel comfortable in. If I wasn’t going to work today, would I choose all or part of this outfit? The culture here is much more accepting. At my last job I felt like I was required to dress a certain way, even though it wasn’t specifically stated. Here, I keep things professional, but I’d feel comfortable wearing this out after work too.
    I love your prepositions! I’m trying for the before it’s too late, to family, to blue skies.
    Thank you for cheering up my Rainy Tuesday.

  11. Retire without something
    Without guilt
    Without fear
    Without regret…because you gave it your all while you could
    Without worrying about what others will think

  12. Ha! This is a good one…. I retired and little over a month ago from a high-income job and half of my colleagues think I’m insane. The other half totally get it. But I retired with my integrity and my sanity intact. Retire when money loses its utility! And retire before your entire identity becomes consumed by work.

      • It’s a double meaning… I suck at surfing but love it but also wish I could do it more often. Retire to making space for more surfing or whatever else floats your boat (or board).

      • Learning to surf was one of my goals when I took a one year sabbatical between selling a critical care staffing business and starting cardiology fellowship. I’m no expert, but I can offer tips for beginners:

        First, learn with a longboard. You’ll get up much quicker than with a sexier, smaller board.

        Second, learn at a place where the surf rolls in with long parallel wave sets that look like they were generated by a machine.

        I learned at Waikiki which fits this description. I also surfed at Flagler Beach in Florida, and at Surfer’s Paradise in Australia, but the wave sets at the latter two spots are less predictable and much more difficult for inexperienced surfers.

        • My one and only surf lesson was on Oahu’s north shore at Turtle Bay resort — where Forgetting Sarah Marshall was filmed. I was hoping to get Paul Rudd for an instructor.

          I didn’t, but I did get up on the board, at least.

  13. Retire sans fear. This time won’t be different. You will be ok.

    Retire with aplomb. Because every now and then it is fun to say aplomb. But don’t overdo it.

    Retire with heart. Give more of yourself and your time (and yes, I am aware that I repeated prepositions).

  14. Oooh, loved this post. Great read! And the comments too.

    How about the following?:

    Retire without any reservations
    Retire during your peak earning years
    Retire despite popular sentiment that says you shouldn’t
    Retire across the pond ….(thought about it very briefly and quickly dismissed the idea….)
    Retire like a pro! (You’ll likely only do it once, so make it a great one!)
    Retire upon reaching 30x your annual expenses in investments
    Retire following years of discussion with your partner, only to realize you should have done it much earlier

    • All good statements, Mr. PIE. I’ll add one.

      Will you forego the standard sheet cake and replace it with a Happy Retirement PIE at your retirement party?


      • Mrs. PIE is renowned for her mastery of all things cake.
        I suspect she will be concocting up something rather special and yummy to mark the ocassion!

  15. Great list, I think you hit all the big ones! I retired on my own terms from a stressful job, in the prime of my life, for a change of pace with my better half, and now enjoy life under blue skies. Haven’t been happier 🙂

  16. Bahahaha, I love this! There’s so much that can be said about retirement, but I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here. 🙂

  17. I really like this framework! How about…

    “Retire among the people who are most important in your life” 🙂

  18. Retire! Retire?? Something.

    That is how I feel some days reading these blogs. Yes I want to retire. Can I retire? Well there is something in between. Maybe working part time or taking a work sabbatical as you mention.

    Retire with a private jet or something.
    If I had a private jet my retirement travels would be so much sweeter. I would be like Mayweather flying all over the place.

    • The problem with the private jet is eats up all of your retirement savings. A real conundrum there for the average physician, eh?

  19. Nice work! I’ve been FIREd for over 5 years and I wish I had some of this advice before I FIREd.

    I’ll add one – Retire near something.

    Retire near your favorite city.

    Retire near the people that you love.

    Retire near the place with an optimal cost of living.

    Retire near where you can do your favorite sports and hobbies.

    • @Mr Freaky Frugal – How did you address the health insurance when you retired early? How much are you paying monthly for that?

      • Health insurance costs are my single largest hurdle also. Currently paying just under 20k/year for family of 3 for a BC/BS plan that we have had for decades.
        Including estimated deductibles and increase in premiums, I expect closer to 25k next year. Many years to reach medicare age, so I remain unhappily employed,
        at least until health care costs get more…predictable.

        • Sorry for the late reply. No, we haven’t looked at the exchanges due to the uncertainty involved. Very few options in my state. When we did look, our grandfathered plan from BC/BS was still the best option.
          But with the current and accumulated stress, there may come a day soon where I bail regardless of insurance costs.

      • I should write a post about FIREing and health insurance. You’re at least the 3rd person to ask me the same question.

        To answer your question, Mrs. Freaky Frugal and I use ACA also know as Obamacare. We have a PPO Bronze High Deductible plan that costs $1274 per month. Our taxable income is so low that our subsidy is $1387 per month. Yep, you read that right – we make money to the tune of $1356 per year.

        We also max out the HSA.

        • Wow! You’re profiting off the ACA subsidy?

          Good for you, but I’d submit that as Exhibit A that the program could use an overhaul.

          I don’t anticipate having income as low when we’re paying our own way, and will be looking into health care sharing ministries more closely as my retirement date approaches.


        • I agree – it doesn’t seem right for millionaires to get subsidies. But I am enjoying it while it lasts! 🙂

        • I don’t fault you for taking what the government gives you. If you’re a millionaire, you’ve paid in plenty and are getting a tiny slice back.

          But does it make sense to subsidize beyond the cost of the insurance? Of course not.

        • A note of caution: If you are healthy you may have inadequate (ACA) health insurance without knowing it.

          My former girlfriend, now wife, thought that she had good health insurance through the ACA until she needed to use it. We then discovered that it was no better than Medicaid.

  20. Retirement should be a time for reinventing yourself! I’d like to think that I’ll have a plan in place how I’ll accomplish this before retiring!

  21. Loved this! Sounded a little like Dr. Suess in the intro.

    How about…Retire spending something. Spending time the way you want to spend it. Spending your savings on travel. Spending your attention on family. Spending your efforts on helping others.

    • Very nice, Amy. Those types of spending are PoF approved!

      I suppose I did subsconsciously channel the good Dr. Suess there. I’ve read his books hundreds of times in recent years, so it makes sense.


  22. This is an awesome list and this is probably a stretch but Retire To Be Something (else). This could be where you want a 2nd career doing something else in life or “retiring” your old persona to become someone new in life 🙂

  23. I’ve got one:

    Retire Astride the white stallion that is your fully-funded nest egg, and ride off into a happy sunset.

  24. “I hate the ^$(#! pager.” – I love this! It’s like a pavlovian bell.

    Thank you for a very insightful article. Reminds me of the reason whey I should pursue FIRE before my 65th Birthday.


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