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
About 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.
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.
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
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:
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- Early Retirement: Can You Really Retire In Your 30s?
- 7 Quick Side Hustles Busy Parents Can Start This Weekend
- Uber: A Behind-The-Scenes Look At How To Make Money Being A Driver
- Our Surprisingly Lazy (and Free) Money Management System
If you’re looking for other reasons I chose FIOR (Financial Independence Optional Retirement) over FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early), here you go…
Legacy 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
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.