10 Things that Dunder Mifflin Can Teach You About Finance

As fans gear up for the sixth season premiere of one of America’s favorite television comedies, “The Office,” we take a look at the top ten things that our favorite paper company employees can teach us about finance.

    1. Everyone needs help. As much as Michael might claim that he is the one person holding Dunder Mifflin together, he wouldn’t be anywhere without the help of Jim, Dwight, Pam, Angela, Oscar, Stanley, Andy, Toby, Phyllis, Meredith, Creed, Kevin, Kelly, and his beloved Ryan. We all know that the ensemble cast is what makes the show work so well.

Lesson Learned: When it comes to finance and investments, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your friends, family, co-workers, or even a financial consultant. Getting advice from someone more knowledgeable on the topic WILL pay off and potentially earn you lots of money.

    1. Diversify your portfolio to hedge risk. Everyone at Dunder Mifflin has a distinct and unique personality, and that’s what makes the office work so well. By having a diverse group of individuals, the cast is sure to constantly bring the laughs.

Lesson Learned: Don’t throw all your investments into one basket. The economic climate is constantly changing, and you never know when your portfolio might be in serious trouble. However, by diversifying your portfolio, it is less likely that all your investments will tank at once.
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    1. Be willing to take risks. When Michael decided to quit Dunder Mifflin, he was taking a huge risk leaving behind his job as branch manager of the company. It was an even bigger risk for Pam who decided to leave her job as a receptionist for a company that didn’t even yet exist (and in all honesty, seemed destined for failure). But it paid off when David Wallace begged for Michael to come back, and Pam was promoted to a sales position.

Lesson Learned: Investments are tricky, and one of the best methods to secure them is by hedging risks. However, risk sometimes does pay off, and you never know where you will land by taking a gamble.

    1. Things can change in a heartbeat. When Dunder Mifflin received news that their branch was going to be closed, everyone was worried about whether or not they would be able to find another job. However within a few hours, circumstances completely changed and it was the Stamford branch that would be closing. On another note, Michael’s perfect morning was ruined when he hit Meredith while driving into the parking lot. Another great example of how quickly things change.

Lesson Learned: Interest rates change all the time, so it is important to know how to hedge your investments to take advantage of the ups and downs of the financial market.
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    1. Think things through before making a commitment. When Andy proposed to Angela, she reluctantly said yes without thinking of the repercussions. After a duel between two men fighting for her affections, she ended up alone and disliked by the two men she had betrayed.

Lesson Learned: Lots of savings certificates have penalties for early withdrawals and other fees for different things. When you are looking at a 24 month CD or one longer than that, it is important to think things through before making a large deposit. You might end up needing that money sooner than you think.

    1. What might sound good in theory can turn out to be an awful idea. When Michael feels ignored by the warehouse staff after lecturing about the dangers of working in the office, he decides to buy a moonjump and fake his own suicide by jumping off the roof. Although it sounded like a great way to catch everyone’s attention, he soon realized his idea didn’t materialize the way he believed it would.

Lesson Learned: A portfolio that looks good on paper isn’t guaranteed to be a great investment, no matter how much we believe in it. Do research on the companies and accounts you’re considering before making a serious commitment.

    1. Know the difference between wants and needs. When Michael announced to the company that there was enough extra money left from the budget to buy something for the office, Pam and Jim were standing on opposite ends of the fence. It came down to a want (new comfy chair) versus a need (a new printer). Ultimately, Pam and fans of the printer won out, as it should.

Lesson Learned: Don’t overspend or splurge on things that you don’t need at this very moment. Wait until you have enough extra money in your budget before spending on these luxuries. Otherwise, it is best to continue saving up in your emergency fund or savings account.

    1. Don’t wait too long to jump on tempting offer. When Jim set up the perfect opportunity to propose to Pam (complete with fireworks, a band, and a ferris wheel), his moment to shine was stolen by Andy, who jumped at the opportunity to propose to Angela under the ideal circumstances.

Lesson Learned: Even though it is important to think through all investments before making a commitment, don’t wait too long. Interest rates change in a heartbeat, and you never know when a window of opportunity might disappear.

    1. Have a realistic budget. When it comes to throwing a party, no one at Dunder Mifflin makes it a bigger deal than Angela. But when Michael demanded the most extravagant going away party for Toby, Angela quit, believing his demands were unreasonable for the budget. However, Phyllis was promoted to head of party planning and was able to get just the party that Michael wanted.

Lesson Learned: Make a realistic budget, and get creative and figure out ways to get the things you want while staying in your budget.
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    1. Keep good records. In a series of Office webisodes, the accounting team investigates a $3000 discrepancy in the books. After speaking with countless people and racking their brains to figure out where the money went, it is revealed that the discrepancy was due to a mistake on Angela’s part (something she vehemently denied was impossible).

Lesson Learned: Anytime you are keeping track of what you are spending, make sure it is correct. It can end up saving hours of your time and spare you from a headache.