Zeroth World Problems

First World Problems vs. Zeroth World Problems

You’ve probably heard the comment, “wow, that’s really a first world problem.”  Maybe it’s when you curse after getting some dirty slush from a puddle on your brand new Uggs, and then notice the homeless guy across the street with holes in his shoes.  Or maybe it’s when you’re feeling very put out by the fact that your remote is missing and you had to get up from the couch to turn on your 65″ TV.  These are problems that billions of people in the world wish they had.  First world problems.

"Hey! This Gulasch mit Spätzle had TWO sprigs of parsley garnish in the menu picture. Take it back."

“Hey! This Gulasch mit Spätzle had TWO sprigs of parsley garnish in the menu picture. Take it back.”

Lately I’ve started using the term “zeroth world problems” to describe ‘problems’ related to the free travel game.  These are problems that most of the first world wished they had.  Hang around blogs like this one and similar forums and you’ll know what I mean.

Poor me!  I just found a free flight to Europe with a lie-flat seat, in business class like I wanted, to the destination I wanted, on the date I wanted.  BUT it has a long layover at an airport where I don’t have free lounge access.” (This was actually a thought I had a few days ago.)

“I have 4 free nights expiring soon so I had to plan a free trip with my wife to Aruba.  What an inconvenience!!  (I’ve actually heard this one too.)

“There are just too many good credit card offers out there right now.  It’s going to be so much work to figure out which ones to get for the most free money and travel.”

What a rip-off!  I’m using OVER HALF the points from ONE CREDIT CARD BONUS and all I’m getting for them is 2 free international flights.”  (I’ll claim this one too, just yesterday.)

You get the idea.  These are zeroth* world problems.  Actually complaining about this stuff and calling them problems is pathetic.  If you’re fortunate enough to have the credit score and the information resources ( to maximize this game, you shouldn’t be complaining about anything.
* I like the alternate spelling “zeroeth” but google likes it the other way.

wine selection - a zeroth world problem

On our free first class flight last summer I could have had any of these wines for no charge. But I was utterly disgusted that they weren’t offering any California Champagnes by Paul Masson.

Travel snobbery is nothing new, but it’s usually reserved for those who are paying an arm and a leg for first class seats and luxury hotels.  This is somewhat understandable.  I could also understand complaining about major issues with free flights or hotels.  But traveling for free and complaining about tiny inconveniences or flaws?  Please. . .

You can’t be a travel snob if you’re getting it all for free!

Zeroth world problems

Sure we are staying at this $500/night hotel for free . . . but one-legged birds? Seriously? I’m calling the BBB.

We ValueTactical warriors might try and complain about such ‘problems’ on blogs and forums, but they aren’t really problems.  They are just challenges to overcome when trying to maximize value with these programs.  So take on the challenge with the help of websites like this and others!

Much to be Thankful For

Those of us in living in developed countries shouldn’t complain about first world problems like the exact temperature of our Starbucks coffee.  Likewise, those of us in the zeroth world of maximizing value, free money, and free travel shouldn’t complain about zeroth world problems.  We should be thankful that there is a ‘zeroth world!’

I said earlier that complaining about zeroth world problems is pathetic.  Fortunately when I make comments like those above, it is almost always tongue-in-cheek.  I do realize how fortunate I am.  Learning the value tactics I present on this site has allowed me to do some amazing things.

Enjoying a dinner in Frankfurt with the German exchange family I've known for 18 years.

Enjoying a dinner in Frankfurt with the German exchange family I’ve known for 18 years.

I’ve been able to visit friends on the other side of the world, reduce my commuting costs by 20%, get lots of free stuff, and extract thousands of dollars from points programs.  Nicoleen and I have been able to escape the craziness of daily life, take the family on vacations, and celebrate our anniversaries in style!

Nicoleen and I in Jamaica, 2015

10th anniversary vacation 1 of 2. Couples resort in Negril.

Sure, some of the details don’t always work out perfectly, but that’s nothing to complain about.  I am very thankful I have had the opportunities to do these things at all!

Do you want your own zeroth world problems to worry about?  E-mail me or message me on Facebook for free advice on which credit cards to get and which frequent flyer programs to join.  I’ll have you complaining about the free champagne selection on your free flight in no time!

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