July 20, 2009


Ever wished for the simple life? Like when you were a kid, or a student. A life that has time to do the things you want to do? During the current economic bowel movement some people are getting their wish, having been pooped out by an ailing system. But they are turning poop into fertilizer.

For the funemployed the pleasures of a simpler life are apparent. They are re-branding their joblessness. They are taking advantage of being unemployed, which has never had much cachet in our work and money-obsessed culture. Instead of moping about and feeling like losers, they are seeing the value in being time-rich. They are doing what they want, not what their parents, or society wants them to do. They are going against their cultural programming that says it is better to have more money than more time.

We did not invent "labour-saving devices" and increase personal wealth so we could have less time than ever before to do what matters most to us. Many couples are convinced that double incomes are the only way parents can support a family. What happened to all the leisure time advertisers have been promising since I was a kid? Even with automatic everything we are more time stressed than ever.

Time will get you money, but money can't get you time. When you are on your deathbed taking your last breath, you can not, regardless of how much money you have, buy more time. Best you take advantage of the time allotted you while you can. Instead of fretting and worrying about being jobless, think about the free time you have had thrust upon you. Once a boss fired me by saying, "I am going to give you a wonderful opportunity to do something else, because as of today you no longer work here." I saw it as an opportunity, too. It was my first brush with funemployment.

A person could spend a great deal of time combing help wanted ads and pounding the pavement, resumes in hand, but I don't recommend that. See your freedom as a gift and you may never want to go back to the usual regime of work, sleep, repeat. A lighter life requires less money, less work, and allows you more time.

A job for most of us working stiffs is about money, nothing more, and there is nothing attractive about poverty. But let's face it, many of us in high-consuming nations could give up a whole lot before we got anywhere close to poverty levels. The more material things we give up, the less money we need. You are free to work part time, or casual, or on contract. Or be funderemployed.

Funderemployed is when you take a lower paying job because it really interests you, even though you may be overqualified. Some examples in my own life are river rafting with school groups, tour guide of a waste water treatment plant, and chauffeur. All paid less than I was used to, but all had either a more flexible schedule, a more scenic workspace, or interesting people I would not meet otherwise. Each job provided experiences I would not have had if I had stuck to a more profitable though less interesting line of work. Mostly though, I had increased control over my time.

What would you do if you had more time? Go fishing. Take the kids to the park. Plant a garden. Sit under a tree. Draw. Sing. Learn to play an instrument. Visit a friend. Picnic with your partner. Have a nap. Read a book. Lay on a beach. Walk a labyrinth. Ride a bike on a trail. Stay up late. Stargaze. Sleep in. Help a neighbour. Volunteer at your kids school. Take a trip. Go for a walk. Bake bread. Plan a staycation. Get an interesting part-time job.

The funemployed know a good thing when they see it. The idea of more work , more money, and more stuff, past a certain point, falls prey to the law of diminishing returns. After that point more becomes detrimental to you and your surroundings. What most of us need is more time. And you can't buy that. You just have to take it.


  1. Great Blog!

    I am in Seattle and I have many of the same goals as you outline and I have been doing it for over 20 years. If anything I would like to spend even less but my partner insists on cable and a real roof, so what's a person going to do? *Shrugs*

    I enjoyed this chapter in funemployment--I've actually been doing it for a long time, myself. I currently "work" about 10 hours a week at a job I love and I also teach "Heritage Skills" as a side line-Food Preservation, basketry, sewing and mending, etc, and do quite a bit of blogging on social justice and simpler living.


    Keep up the good work!

  2. Congratulations on 20 years of doing it your way. As the cycle continues Heritage Skills will become essential life skills again. I will be visiting your blogs. Thanks for the encouragement!


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