Build Family Wealth and Happiness.

Fill out this form to receive our free 39-page Family Wealth and Happiness guidebook. You'll also receive periodic updates from me to help you take your family to the next level.

December 30, 2019

Why I Stopped Pursuing FIRE and Early Retirement for a Happier Life Today – with Lisa Harrison


This post may contain affiliate links or links from our advertisers where we earn a commission, direct payment or products. Opinions are the author's alone, and this content has not been provided by, reviewed, approved or endorsed by any advertiser. Information shared on this site is for entertainment purposes only and should not be considered as professional advice.

The FIRE movement (Financial Independence, Retire Early), has become a wildly popular concept over the last decade, but it's also become wildly controversial.

Today, Andy talks with Lisa Harrison, the writer and podcast host behind Mad Money Monster. She’s had her story featured on major media outlets like Yahoo Finance, MarketWatch, and Forbes. She started off in love with the FIRE movement and the idea of early retirement but then had a change of heart.

We’ll be diving into how she discovered FIRE, what changes she made to her lifestyle and what caused her to abandon the idea of early retirement altogether. 

Discovering Early Retirement and FIRE

Lisa and her husband discovered FIRE when they were considering buying a house. But they backed out at the last minute when they realized they lacked the financial education to handle the process efficiently. That was their catalyst for a financial reboot. 

Lisa then started discovering FIRE blogs and podcasts and learned as much as she could about the financial movement. She then launched her own blog to write about her own personal journey to financial independence. At the time, she and her husband had a young daughter and had the ambition to reach FIRE so they would have more flexibility, more freedom and more time with their daughter.

Adjusting to the FIRE Lifestyle

Both Lisa and her husband were bringing in separate incomes. Her husband worked as a contractor and had a variable income from month to month. The first step they took was to live on only Lisa’s income and save her husband’s income. 

At one point they hit a savings rate of 70% (they lived on 30% of their income and saved 70%). They cut the cord on cable TV, removed subscriptions, gym memberships and even cut down eating out to the minimum as well as coffee dates (which they used to do every weekend!). The plan was to retire early, so it was all worth it. 

They even tried living in a camper van, just for the holidays. But after trying it a couple of times Lisa decided she didn’t love it, and holidays were meant to be comfortable, not painful. An idea that was good to experiment with but not something they were interested in long term.

Lisa Harrison Mad Money Monster
Lisa Harrison and her husband (Mr. Mad Money Monster)

Why they Stopped Pursuing FIRE

Lisa argues it was a cumulative effect of various different things that brought her to stop pursuing early retirement and FIRE.

She said she sees too many people making money by writing about being early retired. Lisa argues that to her, early retirement means completely ceasing to work. To her, early retirement isn’t about changing jobs and it’s not about pursuing entrepreneurship. She wanted to seriously cease working and live off investments. 

Related Interview: How Pursuing Financial Independence Put Us Into Marriage Counseling – with Andy & Nicole Hill

After some time, her blog was evolving into a second full-time job with deadlines, deliverables, and a large time commitment. In fact, it was even more stressful than her regular corporate job because this time she didn’t have a team of people to help her. In her mind, this would mean she’d have to manage a business out of early retirement – which felt disingenuous. 

She took a step back and realized that she did not hate her job. Her job lets her work from home two days a week and she enjoys several benefits and stability. In the end, she decided that working at her job was best. 

Figuring Out What's Best for the Family

Lisa realized that she DID want cable and she DID want a nice car. She wanted to enjoy life now, and not later.

However, FIRE hasn’t been useless. Lisa and her husband still have a pretty high savings rate of 50% and they’re not forgetting the future.

But one thing she has realized is that, especially while her daughter is still young, she doesn’t want to forego a nice family vacation. She doesn’t want her memories with her daughter to be “Oh, how can we save another $2?”. She wants her daughter to have nice memories as well. 

Lisa has realized, through her FIOR (Financial Independence, Optional Retirement) journey, that it’s all about finding what is right or you and your family. In her words:

“If a 70% savings rate is going to make you feel uncomfortable because you can't get your pizza on Friday night, don’t do it!”

Grateful for the FIRE Movement

Lisa does not hate the FIRE movement. In fact, she says that if it wasn’t for the FIRE movement, her family wouldn’t be in the position they are today.

Since 2015, she and her family have been very focused on their finances, and have eliminated all debt except their mortgage. That’s a huge feat in itself. They’re now going full-on with their investing, and they still find the FIRE movement motivational and inspiring. 

As she says, you need to pick and choose who you follow, who resonates with you and who is being genuine. They now focus on financial improvement instead of financial independence. Lisa and her husband own two properties and like the idea of buying more properties and celebrating the small wins along the way.

As Lisa says herself, it’s important to enjoy life today. Although they’d like to hit their FI number sooner rather than later, they are happy with reaching the normal retirement age and having a very comfortable retirement instead. 


Marriage, Kids and Money Apple Podcasts
Marriage, Kids and Money Google Podcasts
Marriage, Kids and Money, Andy Hill
Marriage, Kids and Money CastBox

Show Sponsors


The College Investor

Learn more about the 10 Best High Yield Savings Accounts.

Fetch Rewards

Fetch Rewards

Earn 2,000 points ($2) when you sign up here (use code “MKM”).

MKM Podcast Resources

Personal Finance Influencer, Personal Finance Speaker

Thriving Families Facebook Group:  Join our new FREE Facebook Community!

Young Family Wealth Playbook (FREE):  7-Steps to Solidifying Your Family’s Future Wealth

Young Family Wealth Playbook

Support this Show

If you enjoyed this episode, here are some excellent ways to support the show:

I truly appreciate the support everyone!


I’d love to hear from you!

If you’d like your question featured on the show, reach out and let me know. It would be my honor to support you in your journey toward financial freedom.

Leave me a voicemail or connect with me on Instagram and Facebook.

Carpe Diem Quote

“The journey toward self-discovery is life’s greatest adventure.”

Arianna Huffington


Marriage, Kids and Money Apple Podcasts
Marriage, Kids and Money Google Podcasts
Marriage, Kids and Money, Andy Hill
Marriage, Kids and Money Castbox

What are your thoughts on the FIRE Movement?

Please let us know in the comments below.

stop pursuing fire

Andy Hill

Andy Hill, AFC® is the award-winning family finance coach behind Marriage Kids and Money - a platform dedicated to helping families build wealth and happiness. With millions of podcast downloads and video views, Andy’s message of family financial empowerment has resonated with listeners, readers and viewers across the world. When he's not "talking money", Andy enjoys being a Soccer Dad, singing karaoke with his wife and relaxing on his hammock.


  • Thanks for sharing this… I look forward to checking out her blog. This resonates with me because FIRE has never quite resonated with me. We love to save, but I’m happy at my job and grateful that we have been able to take a nice vacation every year.

    • It’s important to enjoy what you do every day!

      It’s all about moderation and finding what works for you.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Marriage Kids and Money Podcast

About Marriage Kids & Money

The Marriage Kids and Money Podcast is dedicated to helping young families build wealth and happiness.

With over 400 episodes and counting, we share interviews with wealthy families, award-winning authors, and personal finance experts to help you find your version of family financial independence.

Scroll to Top