This post may contain affiliate links. FinanceSuperhero only recommends products we know and trust ourselves.
Two weeks ago, I channeled my inner Cesar Millan and began training our newest four-legged friend, Coda, who joined our family on Easter. I stood at the top of the staircase and looked down at my puppy. He stared back at me. And then it started: the shrill, deafening barking.
Some readers may find my training methods a bit cruel, but I refused to walk down the staircase to carry the little pup up the stairs. Yes, I felt bad, but after a few minutes of prolonged whining, Coda’s persistent protest gradually shifted toward perseverance.
One step. Two steps. A struggle to conquer the remaining steps.
Without becoming overly philosophical with this illustration, I believe Coda succeeded for a reason. It was not because of my tough love. He made it to the top of the stairs because he had not yet been conditioned to give up.
In this moment, it occurred to me:
Whining might get you pity, but it won’t net you any PROGRESS.
Unfortunately, the average person yields to his own inner whining and gives up far too easily. We are conditioned by our culture to seek and accept the path of least resistance. Furthermore, we whine and complain that life is so difficult and trying even in the absence of real difficulty, discomfort, or strife.
I am guilty of it from time to time, and chances are, you are, too.
The Problem With Whining
Despite my best intentions to avoid association with chronic whiners and complainers, society has conditioned us all to complain as an odd sort of coping mechanism. We are encouraged to talk about our problems, yet rarely are we encouraged to act upon potential solutions.
So instead of helping each other to grow and overcome difficulty, we lend a listening ear, nod in agreement, and encourage the status quo.
Over the years, I have heard it all. Nothing surprises me anymore. The following are some of my favorites:
The little guy never gets ahead.
I often wonder who started this myth and why it continues to linger in the collective consciousness of the people. It is ironic that this statement is believed by so many, while countless underdog stories prove otherwise.
For example, consider the life of businessman Tom Gores. Born in Israel, Gores moved to the United States prior to turning five years old. He grew up playing playing football, basketball and baseball at Genesee High School in Genesee, Michigan. He stocked shelves at his father’s grocery story in nearby Flint, graduated high school in 1982, and attend Michigan State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Construction Management.
Gores did not experience a privileged upbringing by any stretch of the imagination.
Today, Gores’ net worth is $3.3 billion. The founder of Platinum Equity and majority owner of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, Gores is a self-made man. His high school coaches credit his business successes to his competitiveness, perseverance, and decision-making. None of them expected the quiet-but-talented athlete from a town of 24,000 people to follow the path Gores has blazed, but the little guy did it.
I’ll always have debt of some kind. It is a necessary tool for most people.
My head nearly explodes every time I hear this or a similar variation. When I achieve financial independence, I may take out a month-long ad in several major newspapers to remind the public that debt is not mandatory. These ads will also include a reminder that debt is not an exclusive club designed for lifelong participation, though Visa, American Express, and MasterCard would like you to believe otherwise.
I will not sport a holier-than-thou position and claim that debt has not helped me. Debt has allowed me to earn two college degrees and buy a house. However, these experiences would have been far sweeter had debt not been part of the equation.
When Mrs. Superhero and I finish paying off my student loans in the next few months, there is no turning back into debt (barring absolute catastrophe). Income is the only we will use to support our family and lifestyle.
I’ll always have a car payment/car lease because I can’t afford a nice car without one.
This statement also sends me into orbit every time. The truth is that moving up in vehicle is a process which need not involve debt nor take long if you are willing to be patient for a short time. Mathematically-speaking, a car payment or car lease are usually the worst methods toward owning a vehicle.
Let’s suppose you currently own a $2,000 beater car. While it is likely to depreciate over the next 12-24 months, I am willing to bet the vehicle could be sold for $2,000 in 18 months with careful marketing. Let’s also suppose that you saved $250 per month for 18 months prior to selling the beater. Through this flipping method, you could afford a $6500 vehicle. Continue the plan for another 18 months and an $11,000 vehicle is in reach. One additional cycle could allow you to purchase a vehicle valued at $15,500. In four and a half years, you’ve moved up in car from a 1993 Honda Civic to a 2013 Hyundai Elantra. And you did it without a single payment! Of course, saving more than $250 per month could significantly change the conversation.
I deserve to be paid more than my current salary.
I find this phrase (and similar offshoots) is most often uttered by millennials. Please allow me to apologize for the collective whining of my generation.
Most millennials really need a lifestyle and attitude adjustment, not a salary adjustment. While the millennial median income is admittedly low across the United States, that hasn’t stopped millenials from living far beyond their means.
Facebook envy is largely to blame. Pictures of new cars and new houses lead the average millennial, especially men, into foolish spending in order to maintain appearances.
I am not saying that millennials should not increase their earnings. However, I am saying that whining is not the way to achieve that increase.
Recommended Action Plan
If you want to be successful, not just with your finances, you must start by addressing your attitude. Stop whining and take action to get ahead. Envision what you want your circumstances to look like and figure out how you will make that vision a reality. This will require V-SMART Goals, a plan to achieve the goals, and accountability. Ask a friend to call you out every time you complain about any financial struggles in your life. Put your wasted time to good use and correct the circumstances you hate.
A friend recently commented to me and Mrs. Superhero, “You two are busier than any other couple I know.” I had to hide my excitement that she had noticed! Ironically, she probably doesn’t even know how right she is; collectively, Mrs. Superhero and I typically work over 120 hours per week.
If people are noticing your hard work, you are on the precipice of greatness! Mrs. Superhero and I have done some basic math. There are 24 hours in one day and 168 hours in one week. This gives you plenty of opportunity to change your circumstances. Time is the great equalizer. It is an asset everyone possesses equally.
Suppose the average person logs a 40 hour work week and sleeps 40 hours per week. This is less than half of the available hours in a week!
If you have significant financial problems, you have approximately 88 hours each week, when you are not working or sleeping, to roll up your sleeves and pursue progress! Pick up overtime, extra shifts, work a little harder to earn extra commission, start your own business, work as an independent contractor, start a new side hustle, or start your own blog with Bluehost. Even if you worked one additional hour Monday-Friday and five hours on Saturday or Sunday, your progress would be significantly boosted.
Time is the great equalizer. It is an asset everyone possesses equally.
My dad is a great example a Finance Superhero in this regard. He typically works 55+ hours per week. Similarly, Superhero Grandpa often worked 16+ hours per day in his younger years and even worked 8+ hour days on his side hustle in retirement.
Grandpa was too busy making (and counting) money to whine or complain.
As an added bonus, if you work additional hours for a short time period, you will not have time to spend money foolishly or put yourself into further debt. This is a worthwhile, temporary sacrifice. Yet people today are averse to hard work because we are conditioned, as I wrote earlier, to seek the path of least resistance.
This is why Americans are in love with debt. Our society must learn to see hard work, in a sense, as a punishment for putting yourself into a situation to have to pay off debt. Yes, you should be a little masochistic for a while. It will be good for your progress. Too much comfort breeds contentment, and contentment is the enemy of progress. Every time you feel tired or just want to quit, you should relish the feeling and know that you are on the verge of winning.
You won’t have to work hard forever. Do it for a short time and earn the right to relax in early retirement. As talk show host Dave Ramsey often says, “Live like no one else so later you can live like no one else.”
Readers, what do you do to guard against whining and complaining? How do you respond when others do it? What is the most common complaint you hear when others whine about their finances?