How My Funemployment Is Different from Jan from the Office’s Unemployment

I am a huge fan of The Office.  I’ve probably watched through the whole series about eight times on Netflix!  It’s my go-to programming in the evening when I’m cooking, cleaning or otherwise occupied when I can mostly only listen.  Well, it just so happened that I recently rewatched the episode “Money,” in which Michael is basically a poster child for what not to do in personal finance.  But this time around, I was struck by his girlfriend Jan’s behavior.  Jan had been fired in the previous season and had moved in with Michael and was basically spending him into the poorhouse.  I realize that in my funemployment I have been trying to basically do the opposite of everything Jan does in the episodes that chronicle her unemployment and the demise of her relationship with Michael!  Even though the situation might look similar at first blush, I am nothing like Jan. 🙂


Jan was fired; my funemployment was anticipated.




Jan was unexpectedly fired, moved in with Michael the same night, and started depending on him for money.  While I won’t go so far as to say Kyle and I planned for my funemployment period, we could see it coming.  We’ve been discussing how to transition out of grad school and into our next jobs since our engagement 4.5 years ago.  We have adapted our plans as things have come more into focus, and realized a few months ago that I would finish working before Kyle had his job in a new city lined up.  At that point, we decided together that I would have a few months off to pursue my own projects – it was in no way spur-of-the-moment!


Michael and Jan don’t talk about money; Kyle and I are totally open.


In “Money,” it is readily apparent that Jan and Michael are both spending far more money than he earns and really racking up debt, yet Michael is reluctant to discuss it with Jan.  “I don’t talk to my girlfriend about money,” he states. “It is rude, and unsexual.” When Michael is finally forced to tell Jan that her spending on his credit cards has nearly bankrupted him, she immediately turns it on him, saying “Where exactly did your money go? I don’t understand how you can be so irresponsible.”  Kyle and I not only talk about money openly, but we keep fully joint finances, share a Mint account, and document it all here on the blog!  There’s hardly room for miscommunications with our readers, let alone each other!  We are a team with our money and careers, with everything being “ours” and have never blamed the other for a poor choice.


Jan’s main activity is spending; I’ve taken over the chores and I’m trying to earn money.


she bought the milk


In the first few episodes of Season 4, Jan appears do be doing a lot of work on Michael’s condo (or the contractor she hires are), but not much around the condo. Michael says, “Jan made me breakfast this morning. Well, she bought the milk.” In direct contrast, I actually am cooking breakfast for Kyle nearly every morning. 🙂 I’m trying to break him of his cereal habit and the only alternative he’ll accept is omelets!


Kyle and I used to have a fairly equitable split in the chores department – we each cooked for ourselves and had certain tasks we were largely responsible for.  While Kyle was working on his dissertation, I took over more of the household chores and errands, and when I was writing up he did the same for me.  Now that he’s working and I’m not, I am again taking over most of the household stuff.  So I’m not just cooking for both of us (breakfast and dinner), I’m also straightening up, doing laundry, cleaning, running errands, grocery shopping, etc.  I basically want to free up all the time Kyle used to spend on household stuff so that he can devote it to working on our websites. 😉  Except he’s still in charge of taking out the trash – ick!


zero salary


We know that Jan isn’t bringing any money in during her unemployment, as Michael says that she no one has bought her candles and she earns $0 per year.  Even though I don’t have a full-time job, I’m still working part-time.  My online efforts may continue to bring in peanuts, but I also have a contract job for which I get paid per assignment and I’m taking on as much work as they’ll give me.


Jan sleeps in late; I’m getting up before Kyle.


sleeping in


After eating breakfast and feebly trying to convince the camera crew that he is happy with his situation, Michael peeks in on Jan sleeping and remarks, “She probably won’t be up for a few hours.” Now, I’m not one to knock sleeping in late, especially as that is part of the grad student lifestyle.  But in my funemployment I find myself waking up earlier than ever! I’ve always woken up slightly before Kyle, but these days it’s more like an hour and I’ve already accomplished one or two things by the time he gets up for the day. I think this one is really going to be a point of pride for me in my funemployment – I don’t want it to seem to Kyle like I’m lazing around.


Jan spends freely; I’m trying to be economical.


To explain his high credit card debt to Oscar, Michael says, “Jan has my credit cards, and she’s using them as if I’m made of money, she thinks I’m a human ATM machine.” Part of this is due to their communication problems, but Jan is also making no effort to be thrifty, as she bought a new Porsche, is renovating Michael’s condo, going to yoga classes, and drinking a lot. While I haven’t made major efforts yet to reduce our spending, I am working out at home and meal planning and we’re not going to eat out unless I can fund our restaurant budget.  I should make a plan for reducing our expenses further before October hits with our reduced income.


Jan has no plan to work again; I’m ready to apply for jobs as soon as possible.


We never see a discussion between Jan and Michael or anything that indicates that Jan has a plan to move on from this phase.  Eventually, when Jan and Michael break up, she does go on to get another corporate job.  But while they are together, there was no end in sight to their misery.  While I’m happy for the break I get right now, I think in a month or two I’m really going to be chomping at the bit to apply for full-time jobs!  I don’t want this funeployment to turn into plain old unemployment once I burn through the projects I want to do.  In fact, I already applied for a fellowship that will be for three months next spring and gave my resume to two companies at a career fair I attended recently.


Jan and I are similar in some ways, though.


jan charades


1) I definitely want to put on a few awkward dinner parties this fall!


2) Jan is trying her hand at being an entrepreneur with her candle business, and I one of my funemployment activities is to work on our websites and write a couple ebooks. They both sound like rather harebrained schemes!


What is your image of an (f)unemployed partner?  What TV or movie characters do you really, really not want to become, even if you are in a similar situation?


Thanks to for making getting the dialogue from these episodes so easy!


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22 Responses to "How My Funemployment Is Different from Jan from the Office’s Unemployment"

  1. moneystepper says:

    Haha – I think that we can conclude that you are not Jan!! 🙂

    My fiancée and I have both just left jobs in a Big 4 professional services firm to essentially be funemployed. I’ve started my own businesses (moneystepper, initially, etc) and she is now looking for a new job in industry.

    Therefore, there is absolute no “Jan” like behavior in our house at the minute!!!
    moneystepper recently posted..How Should I Save For My Children?

    1. Emily says:

      That must be so interesting and challenging to both be funemployed at the same time. I’m sure you had a lot of savings built up, though, after your years of corporate work. You can keep one another accountable for not becoming like Jan!

  2. Hah! You are definitely the anti-Jan! I think you’re very wise to use this time so productively. You’ve made me think of all the things I could do if I was funemployed…. one day, one day. Must keep bringing home (half of) the vegetarian equivalent of bacon for the present 🙂
    Mrs. Frugalwoods recently posted..Frugalwoods Reviews: Train Your Way To Financial Fitness

    1. Emily says:

      Don’t get to jealous of me or you will up and quit your job too early! It’s not too much longer before you guys reach FI, really.

      I really thought I might give myself a week or two to just watch Netflix and eat bon bons but I had no desire to this month… Maybe once my funemployment becomes exhausting like normal work; right now it’s exhilarating!

  3. Ashley says:

    HAHA thank you for letting me relive one of my favorite office episodes– I forgot that she was trying to start a candle business! HA! too funny.
    Ashley recently posted..Don’t Deprive Yo-self! {{Pumpkin Spice Latte Edition}}

    1. Emily says:

      Serenity by Jan!

  4. E 2 says:

    Reading about your “funemployment” is making me feel better about my unfunded “maternity leave” in the spring! Like you, I have “big projects” planned – I’ll be trying to finish revisions & graduate, job search, and oh yeah, take care of a baby. My only funding option is teaching, and that doesn’t seem worth it, as it would be a huge additional time commitment that would pay pretty close to nothing after commuting and day care costs.

    I feel pretty anxious about it because I’m not sure how long “maternity leave” could stretch into “unemployment” in this job market, but if I’m graduating in May regardless, it’s just a matter of hitting it sooner rather than later. Our situation is a little different than yours because we literally can’t live on just one (average postdoc) income in our (way above average cost-of-living) new location, but like you, we’re also planning ahead financially by socking away as much as we can to help pay bills from targeted savings during those months, planning to stop eating out, and considering ways I could bring in a little extra income through weekend, evening, or online work if we need it while I’m looking for a “real” job. For instance, I could probably make more net in 12 hours a month of evening/weekend tutoring than 80 hours a month of TAing, and in the spring I can go back to my second job on Saturdays while my husband is home.

    All we can do is approach these things as responsibly as possible. I probably won’t make my husband omelets every morning, but avoiding being Jan still seems reasonable 🙂 That episode traded in “funny” for “sitcom interpretation of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” – so memorable!

    1. Emily says:

      YOU’RE GROWING A HUMAN RIGHT NOW?!??!?!?!??! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!! That explains why I haven’t seen you around the comments section as much – higher priorities. 🙂

      Um yeah I think anyone who takes care of a child – before or after birth – is in no danger of becoming Jan, omelets or no. Be careful to not take on too much too soon! Yes, tutoring would be easier and more lucrative than TAing, although I wonder if there is some way you can do it online or on your own time so you don’t have to keep appointments?

      One of my friends had a baby, defended, and landed a faculty position all within about 6 month so I know it can be done (great job HC!).

      When my defense date was set and this funemployment plan was crystalizing, Kyle and I remarked that it was too bad we hadn’t gotten started on the baby-making in time because my funemployment seemed like a great opportunity for postpartum recovery and bonding. At that point we only had 2 months notice so no dice. 🙂 But I’m glad the defense/baby timing is working out for you!

  5. I miss The Office! I have to say my funniest period of funemployment was after graduation and before starting work – I knew I would have a job, but I also had months of free time to travel and hang out. It was glorious while it lasted.
    Well Heeled Blog recently posted..How good is your 401K plan? BrightScope helps you find out

    1. Emily says:

      I hope that I’ll have a few weeks at least between securing a job and starting so I can really cut loose like you did! It’s a great psychic load off to have employment lined up.

  6. I’m impressed with the omelet thing!

    I was funemployed for a while, with the idea that I would take over household duties. Thing is, I was terrible at it! I found out that I missed the social interaction / sense of purpose of a job so much that I spiraled down into not even doing the laundry! I wonder how it would be if a similar situation happened where I had projects like you do with your blog/sites to give some of that sense of purpose.
    Brooke @ PFTwins recently posted..Frugal FINCON Fiesta Party!

    1. Emily says:

      I definitely believe that I’ve been able to keep my spirits up about my funemployment by having so much to do beyond just keeping up the house. I really feel productive. I’m sure I will want to have coworkers again but I’ve been okay with my level of people-interaction thus far. I am pretty terrible at housework, though – Kyle is much more efficient, but I’m the one with the time now.

  7. Oh, I loved that show! The Jan and Michael stories were the best.

    Glad to hear you have nothing in common with Jan though!

    Thanks for the fun read. 🙂
    kat ~ recently posted..Our Tushies

    1. Emily says:

      You are welcome and thanks for your comment. 🙂

  8. This made me laugh so much – love The Office!

    1. Emily says:

      Thank you! Jan was a great character. 🙂

  9. Ch says:

    I love The Office, too!*
    When my husband and I got married, he really wanted to go back to school and finish his undergrad degree. We talked it through and figured no time like the present! He quit his full time job as an IT Director and we´ve made our finances work with only my income while he´s finishing school. It´s been tough to transition from two incomes to one but he loves being back in an academic environment, is getting perfect grades, studies constantly and is really helpful around the house. I couldn´t ask for more!

    *Have you ever watched Better Off Ted? It´s also on Netflix, also a workplace comedy, and also hilarious.
    Ch recently posted..Hi, and Welcome!

    1. Emily says:

      Being enrolled in school full-time is definitely nowhere near being unemployed, income or not! I’m glad you and your husband have been able to flourish on one income while he is in school and that he’s been doing so well.

      I haven’t watched Better Off Ted, but I think Kyle has. Thanks for the suggestion!

  10. I am very familiar with characters on TV who are fired and get get depressed for so many months before that realizations come in. When I get fired, I’d take alternatives like getting freelance jobs or helping manage our family business. I wouldn’t want to find myself unemployed for too long. My savings can’t back that spending up.

    1. Emily says:

      Jan was unbalanced before being fired but it seemed like she really went off the deep end after she was fired. Perhaps it isn’t a topic to make light of! If I had been in her position I definitely wouldn’t have spontaneously started to depend on Michael, especially since their relationship was so weird to begin with. I agree with you – it’s better to get back to some kind of work!

  11. […] fall, I was funemployed. I had a bunch of different projects and goals, and though I was working very hard and long […]

  12. […] for my food each day actually makes meal planning a lot easier. Oh, and I basically stopped cooking breakfast – I mostly just eat oatmeal with peanut butter or something I cooked earlier in the week. I just […]

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