While it helps to have severance, a working spouse, parents who will give you cash, or money set aside for such emergencies, "funemployment" is a great way to be unemployed if you can afford it.
A recent Los Angeles Times story about the term points out that the happily jobless tend to be single and in their 20s and 30s. Instead of filling out job applications and networking, they're volunteering, returning to school and taking cheap vacations. San Francisco Weekly recently profiled the term.
While it's no surprise that not working can be fun, especially if you have money from some other source, what's happily surprising to me is how the "funemployed" embrace their new lifestyle, at least until the money runs out.
During the almost one year of being unemployed myself, I've taken a weekday here and there to enjoy, but nothing like the stories I've come across or some of the people I know who are out of work.
Here are some examples of how the funemployed are getting by, as discussed in a WalletPop podcast "Your Job Will Come," a weekly discussion looking for work.
The LA Times story included Michael Van Gorkom, 33, of Santa Monica, who was laid off by Yahoo in late April. He now plays a lot of golf and is using the time off to relax and reflect on life and what kind of job he wants.
Some are using the time off to do projects they didn't have time for while working full-time, such as make a movie, as the New York Times reported.
Then there are the less serious ones who turn it into a blog, such as Stuffunemployedpeoplelike.com, with recent posts on guilt tripping friends into buying them drinks, playing video games until their hands cramp, starting the weekend early and daytime TV.
Another funemployment blogger cheerfully points out that not working gives her time to volunteer and spend time with her family, such as going to her cousins' graduations.
While I've spent more time playing with my daughter, 4, a mortgage helps keep my funemployment to a minimum. That, and seeing my wife trudge off to work each day.
I know some unemployed people, however, who are enjoying their time off. One woman I know took a buyout and traveled around Europe for a few months before returning home to her well-employed husband. She never filed for unemployment benefits, and from what I can gather, is no longer looking for work.
I know someone else who was laid off and she's jetsetting to New York and going to plays and recently attended the Tony Awards.
Every generation spends its 20s and 30s trying to find itself. While Woodstock and backpacking through Europe worked for some, today's young workers are finding that the recession is their chance to take stock of their lives and figure out what they want to do next. The recession may be why there are larger weekday crowds at bars, museums and coffee shops.
Maybe more of those people clogging coffee shops should read a national report about what many of the jobless do -- household chores. It's not exactly funemployment, but it is contemplative.
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