F.I.O.R. – Financial Independence Optional Retirement

Since my husband and I discovered the F.I.R.E. community, two years ago, we’ve been spreading the word about it like kids on a playground. There was something about the idea of saving money at an alarming rate to retire decades ahead of schedule that got us really excited. But as our journey has progressed, we realized we’re actually on FIOR – Financial Independence Optional Retirement, not FIRE – Financial Independence Retire Early.

We both had a fairly strong start to life after high school. But, unfortunately, we allowed things (read: relationships) to get in the way and derail us from making real financial progress at a super early age. Those things are behind us and now we’re full-speed ahead on the path to financial independence!

FIRE vs. FIOR – The Choice Is Yours


FIOR | FIRE | Financial Independence Optional Retirement | Financial Freedom | Financial Independence | Retire Early | Early Retirement via @MadMoneyMonsterAbout the same time I started getting excited about the concept of FIRE, I started Mad Money Monster to chronicle our journey. But, then I started to really analyze what that meant. I did all the calculations and figured out our FIRE date but I still wasn’t super excited to give notice to my employer.

After thinking long and hard about this, I determined the reason I wasn’t excited to tell my boss I was out, so to speak, was because my career is all wrapped up in my identity. And for me, I kinda decided that that’s not a terrible thing.

Our Decision


When we started on our path in 2015, I always knew that Mr. Mad Money Monster would never retire. He absolutely LOVES what he does for a living because he’s already living his dream.

His lifelong dream was never to be financially independent, it was to work independently in the career of his choice. And after over a decade of being a history teacher, he ditched it to pursue a career in film. He has wanted to make movies since he was 10 years old – and he’s actually doing it.

Then there’s me. What about me? I have always loved money and the idea of building wealth. So, naturally, hopping aboard the FIRE train seemed like a no-brainer. I gobbled up the numbers, I created spreadsheets, and I picked a date for us – the year 2021!

But, as time goes by and we get closer and closer to reaching our Financial Independence number, I noticed my analytical mind going into overdrive with question after question.

“How would I quit? Why would I quit? What would I do after I quit? Do I even want to quit?”

Then it hit me, I don’t really care about chasing early retirement. What I’m really after is amassing wealth – legacy wealth.  What I really care about are options. I want the option to continue in my current job and I want the option to tell them to shove it. I want the option to climb the ladder, or change careers altogether.

What I want to achieve is F.I.O.R. – Financial Independence Optional Retirement.

Choosing FIOR – Financial Independence Optional Retirement


Us - FIOR - Financial Independence Optional Retirement

We just want options.

For all intents and purposes, let’s leave Mr. MMM out of this. Like I said, he will never (nor does he ever want to) retire from his dream career. I, on the other hand, am not sure. And that’s why I feel like I don’t completely fit into the FIRE movement.

Most days, I really enjoy what I do and truly believe I make a difference. I work in an industry that enhances and saves the lives of many people around the world. And that feeling ranks pretty high on the career satisfaction ladder.

My career is also a large part of my identity, and giving that up is no easy task. Yes, I have other things that I do and I could switch gears to create a new identity, but I’m not sure I want to.

Articles to help with your FIRE/FIOR Journey:

If you’re looking for other reasons I chose FIOR (Financial Independence Optional Retirement) over FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early), here you go…

FIOR | FIRE | Financial Independence Optional Retirement | Financial Freedom | Financial Independence | Retire Early | Early Retirement via @MadMoneyMonsterLegacy Wealth – I already touched on this, but I really want to create legacy wealth for my family, not just enough for Mr. Mad Money Monster and I to live a modest lifestyle the rest of our lives.

Home – We love our home and we love being at home. And since we enjoy being right where we are, and my current employer is only a 10-minute drive away, it’s easy to stay put and continue earning my salary and reaping the career satisfaction rewards I’m currently experiencing.

School – Our Mini Monster is still in school – with a long way until graduation. Because of this, we’re choosing to not uproot her or drastically change our lifestyle during this time.

Considering she spends most of her time each day in school, I don’t feel too bad spending the same time at work (again, only 10 minutes away from the house). And in the process, I get to continue to build significant wealth thanks to the excellent pay and benefits from my employer.

Healthcare – It’s no secret that healthcare can be unbelievably expensive in the U.S. Thankfully, my employer offers top-notch healthcare benefits to employees and their dependents. And in fact, if I meet certain criteria (which I will within the next 10 years) I’ll be entitled to healthcare benefits at my current employee rate for myself and my dependents for the rest of our lives. And, I won’t be anywhere near traditional retirement age. Talk about an enticing benefit to bridge the gap between W2 work and Medicare coverage!

Travel – We love to travel, but we don’t have a strong desire to live a nomadic lifestyle or be away from our home for months at a time. We’re just fine (and actually prefer) traveling a few weeks each year and enjoying our home the rest of the time.

Yahoo Headline – We’ll never be a Yahoo headline for our unique lifestyle. And, we’re okay with that. We’re just an average family chasing a slightly above average dream – financial independence. We’re not going to live in 100 SF, we won’t sell all of our stuff and relocate to a remote island, and we’re not going to live in a van down by the river with our daughter our 2 dogs (and 2 cats). Nope, that’s just never going to happen. We live simply and we enjoy it.

Options – I saved the best for last. I absolutely LOVE options. I want to have enough money invested to have the option to quit my job, travel the world, start a new career, you name it.

Going to work every day is definitely going to feel a whole lot different when I don’t have to. In fact, since starting our journey in 2015, I’m already feeling a sense of freedom the closer we get to our financial goals. And it’s a wonderful feeling.

Life Is All About Options


Mad Money Cat - FIOR - Financial Independence Optional Retirement

Mad Money Cat is already financially independent. #endlessoptions

Ultimately, I want options. And, financial independence gives me options.

I want the option to hand in my notice one day and become a full-time blogger (something I am actually considering, by the way).

If I want to throw in the towel at work because I’m sick of the grind, I want the option.

I want the option to consider living the #vanlife or traveling the country in an Airstream. By the way, I do love following people who do this. I’m lookin’ at you, ThinkSaveRetire! I just don’t ever really see myself pulling the plug and trying it. But, I want the option!

I want the option to leave our house empty for a year while we backpack through Europe or live in Costa Rica.

So, after much consideration and analysis – FIOR – Financial Independence Optional Retirement – really is the right fit for me, and for us.

Have you chosen FIRE or FIOR? What are your ultimate life goals?

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Aparna @ Elementum Money Dec 13, 2017, 1:29 am

    Fantastic article. It really echoes my thoughts when I said early retirement is not for me, though I am willing to put whatever it takes to get financially independent. I would pick FIOR over FIRE any day.

    • Mad Money Monster Dec 13, 2017, 6:37 am

      Thanks so much! Yeah, it definitely speaks more to us than traditional FIRE. 🙂

  • Jason Dec 7, 2017, 8:02 pm

    I absolutely love this article. One of the best I have read in a while and wish I came up with it. Seriously though I got done listening to your interview at ChooseFI and it was great. We have similar circumstances and the like. And like you and Mr. MMM we are GenXers trying to right the ship to FI. Cheers to a great post and a great blog. So glad I found it.

    • Mad Money Monster Dec 7, 2017, 8:04 pm

      Thanks so much! I had a lot of fun doing the ChooseFI podcast. And that article is one of my all-time favorites. Righting the wrongs isn’t so bad. At least we have good stories 🙂

  • Stop Ironing Shirts Dec 1, 2017, 7:59 am

    Loved your interview and what an accurate post! Optional Retirement!

    • Mad Money Monster Dec 1, 2017, 11:47 am

      Thank you so much!

  • Mr. VOF Nov 28, 2017, 3:30 pm

    Excellent article. Optional retirement post FI is exactly what I am working on!

    • Mad Money Monster Nov 28, 2017, 5:55 pm

      Thanks! 🙂

  • A Journey to FI Nov 20, 2017, 5:08 pm

    This hits home. Even though I’m in an industry where acronyms dominate I gotta say you nailed it. I happen to love what I do but I want to reach FI so that I have the option to take a walk if things go south. A lot of people get caught up on FiRE. To me is all about reaching FI so that I can have FU money. Maybe FI+FU money = FIOR? Hahahaha.

  • CJ Nov 20, 2017, 1:57 am

    This article resonates with my thinking over this past week. I just got done reading Early Retirement Extreme, and came out of it thinking I needed to sell my car, start a small-holding and shun civilisation (Although, that is the fault of my over-zealous mind, and not the book!).

    After giving it some thought, I’ve figured I want what you’ve outlined in this article. Options. The ability to choose the life I live and not have to live it according to a script made by someone else, be that my employer or one of our fellow FIRE (FIOR) community. Just my life, unfiltered.

    Great post 🙂 I’ve subscribed for more!

    • Mad Money Monster Nov 20, 2017, 3:02 pm

      Thanks for commenting and thanks for subscribing, CJ!

      I think the FIRE community is extremely motivating. I just never felt like we fully fit into it. When I sat down and thought about it, I realized that what we really want are just more options. Hence, the FIOR article. 🙂

  • TJ Nov 20, 2017, 12:23 am

    It was always about having options for me. That was easily my biggest motivation for saving.

    Retiring? I guess not working = retiring, but I never called myself retired.

    The secret is that I just I just don’t want to be in a financial position where I am forced to take a crappy job. That’s a very different financial circumstance than “financial independence”.

    What i’d ultimately like is to have a career that like your husband does – something that I don’t want to retire from. I just wish I had a clue what that was.

    • Mad Money Monster Nov 20, 2017, 2:58 pm

      Thanks for the comment, TJ! I must say, even I am jealous of my husband’s career passion at times. But it’s definitely nice knowing we’re getting closer and closer to FI with each passing month, and that means, I’ll have more options. I am passionate about Mad Money Monster and would love to pursue it full-time. You never know!

      Congrats on being “retired”, by the way! I’m sure you can find your passion with a little soul searching. And when you do, I want to hear about it!

      • TJ Nov 20, 2017, 11:20 pm

        it’s super cool to see how much Mad Money Monster has grown, too.

        Blogging….been there done that. Not for me. 😀 Sigh.

        The main problem is that my story isn’t super relatable, so like, I’d need to team up with someone who actually has a relatable story if I want to do anything in this niche. A podcast could be fun. We’ll see.

  • Angela @ Tread Lightly Retire Early Nov 19, 2017, 9:44 pm

    I actually just wrote a very similar post a couple weeks ago. I do love my job and don’t plan to quit once I hit FI (at least at this point), but I very much want to “retire” from the obligation I have to work at this point. I want work to be something I choose to do because I find it important and fulfilling, not because I need it to pay the bills.

    I also think the “FIRE” community can be really off putting to some people who would really fit with the idea of early financial independence, but blow it off because of a lack of interest in the early retirement aspect. FIOR is something that can be agreed on by everyone, I think.

    • Mad Money Monster Nov 20, 2017, 2:54 pm

      Thanks for the comment! I do think that FI is something most people can get behind, as opposed to FI for the sole purpose of retiring early.

      And I know that when most people talk about retiring early, they’re still planning on pursuing other money-making ventures afterwards. I also know myself well enough to know that, even if I do retire early from my current employer, I’ll still be working in some fashion, hence, I’m on the FIOR path 😉

  • Kim from Philadelphia Nov 18, 2017, 11:19 am

    Hi Lisa- I read your blog all the time (and love it!) but don’t comment often. Just had to say I wholeheartedly agree with your perspective.
    I’m 50, and my husband is 48. Our son is just 11. I don’t have any desire to move or travel full time in the near future, as much as we do love to travel.
    Our goal is to have all aspects of financial stress removed from us.
    Right now I’m working 32 hours as I can be home 2x per week when my son gets home, plus I have one day a week off. To me this is a total luxury (I used to work a ridiculous amount). So thankful that I can do this and not stress, and still save money.
    I do also worry about healthcare costs between now and when we qualify for Medicare at 65. It would cost us an incredible amount of money for a decent plan for the 3 of us. That’s always in the back of my mind, too!
    I see myself more likely reducing my work schedule a little more in the future, but still working enough do we can get benefits from my/our employer.

    • Mad Money Monster Nov 18, 2017, 2:59 pm

      Thanks so much for being a reader and for commenting! It’s always nice to hear from different people.

      I completely agree with your point about healthcare. In fact, I wanted to list that in the post and I believe I forgot it. I feel a slight edit coming on 😉

      At any rate, one of the major benefits from my employer is also healthcare. I’ve been there so long that if I can make it another 10 years, I’ll get full benefits at my current employee rate for myself and my dependents for the rest of our lives. That is really hard to walk away from – especially when I know how quickly 10 years can fly by.

      Congrats on having the financial backing to reduce your working hours in a way that suits you and your family. That is true luxury!

  • The 76K Project Nov 17, 2017, 9:34 pm

    Like you, what I really want is the ability to choose from a bunch of options. Getting rid of our debt = having more options. Knowing how antsy I get, I can’t imagine NOT having a job… but it would be pretty awesome to have the flexibility and financial cushion to start my own business.

    • Mad Money Monster Nov 18, 2017, 9:27 am

      Exactly! It really is all about creating options for yourself. I will probably never retire in the traditional sense of the word, but having the option to become a full-time blogger (my dream) would be amazing. Thanks for your comment!

  • Church Nov 17, 2017, 4:24 pm

    I think you are wonderful for thinking a generation ahead with “Legacy Wealth”. I am in the midst of chewing a similar path in this life, but for my family’s life long after I get off this merry-go-round.

    Generational wealth isn’t the easiest to accomplish, but like anything else in the personal finance world, just start by savings $1. And then keep moving forward.

    Well done MMM, I really enjoy this post!

    • Mad Money Monster Nov 18, 2017, 9:25 am

      Thanks so much! Yeah, we really are focused on creating something that truly is bigger than just our lives. Fingers crossed that we can actually accomplish it. 🙂

  • J Savvy Nov 17, 2017, 3:43 pm

    I like this take! The options point rings so true. Why quit if you don’t want to? Why do something you don’t want? Answering “Why this/that/etc.” without having to worry about money is what it’s all about!

    • Mad Money Monster Nov 17, 2017, 3:47 pm

      Thanks! I really enjoyed getting my thoughts out on this one. We really are on FIOR, not FIRE.

  • Tawcan Nov 17, 2017, 3:15 pm

    Love this and that’s exactly what I talk about on my blog as well. FIRE doesn’t necessarily mean you need to retire. It’s about choices and shift in your mentality. I love how you created a term for optional retirement.

    • Mad Money Monster Nov 17, 2017, 3:27 pm

      Thanks. Yeah, I completely agree that it’s all about choices and a mentality shift. We’re looking forward to having the retirement option, whether or not we act on it is up to us!

  • Accidental Fire Nov 17, 2017, 11:51 am

    Yep, you nailed it. It’s all about options. Of course the premise is that being FI puts a safety-net under those options, so if any of them don’t work, then so be it. You can also choose riskier options.

    I just went semi-retired at 20 hrs. a week in my job since I’m FI. My main reason was to keep my healthcare plan. But I do have the option of fully separating, just not sure I’m ready now. Either way, I’m not too worried, I’m FI and it’s a comforting feeling!

    • Mad Money Monster Nov 17, 2017, 3:26 pm

      Thanks! It really is all about options. Congrats on your semi-retirement and achieving the option for full retirement!

  • Lindsay | Notorious D.E.B.T. Nov 17, 2017, 9:38 am

    Love this! I wish I had enough money so that I COULD afford to work in my dream career, haha. Plus I’m with you: I love my pets and my (someday) house, and I also love to travel, but not all the time. It’s all about options!

    • Mad Money Monster Nov 17, 2017, 10:39 am

      Thanks, Lindsay! It truly is all about chasing options!

  • Dave @ Married with Money Nov 17, 2017, 9:25 am

    Oh I love the different take on this. I feel like people bash the FIRE community sometimes because “they still work!!”. But yeah that’s NOT the point. FIOR resolves that – it’s all just about FI and Options!

    • Mad Money Monster Nov 17, 2017, 9:34 am

      Thanks 🙂 I still want to work, whether it be at my current job, in a completely different field, or in a job that I create. It really is all about FI to us!

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