Is financial coaching the same in different countries?

Our financial products may be different, but that’s not what’s important.

Most of my readers are from the U.S.

That’s not surprising. I’m from the U.S., and I talk about U.S. specific issues, from current events such as the 2016 presidential election and 2017 tax bill to more personal finance related topics like the Roth IRA and 401(k).

If you’re from France, you might be thinking to yourself: “what the hell is a 401(k)?”

(Actually, you’d probably be thinking “Mon dieu! Que se passe-t-il une 401(k)?“)

If you are from France, or Canada, or Cameroon, you may be tempted to tune this type of U.S.-centric talk as being Not For You.

But not so fast. Because so much of the Empathic Finance model knows no country borders.

Lack of knowledge isn’t the issue

We have the information we need.

If you want to find out about portfolio allocations, you can.

If you want to find out about debt payoff strategies, you can.

If you want to find out about historical returns and interest rates, you can.

If you want to find out about 401(k) contribution limits and Roth IRA income limits, or the equivalents in your country, you can.

This site is not meant as that kind of primer on personal finance. There are plenty of good places to go. Go to Bogleheads, go to NerdWallet, even go to Motley Fool if you can see through some of their more obvious ads for buying stock in specific companies. (And please, enter your own preferred sites in the comments below.)

But knowledge of rates, policies, and investments isn’t what I believe is needed.

Because the way I’ve seen it, knowledge is necessary, but it’s not sufficient.

What is missing is self-understanding, unpacking the money stories and resistance that are holding you back.

If I tell you, “this is what you need to do to be successful” and we both agree with this, but then you don’t follow through, does that mean that you’re deficient, unworthy of success, or doomed to a life of working in the trenches with no escape?

Of course not. All it means is that there is work to be done.

Why don’t we do what we know we must? Well, shame is often the culprit here. Shame, fear, hurt, confusion, internal conflict, they are all this cacophony of directives inside us all, leading us to misdirection and running in circles.

None of those feelings are U.S. specific. No matter where you’re from, you’ve got to deal with these conflicts before you can truly be unhindered in your financial journey.

We’re the same, even if our arrangements are different

I have coached plenty of people who were not based in the U.S. I didn’t always have the country-specific financial rules at the ready, I admit.

I remember working with someone in the U.K. a few years ago and having her explain to me to that, due to the rules of her specific student loan system, it really didn’t make sense to pay anything more than the minimum, because in a few years the whole loan would be forgiven.

Coming from the U.S., where debt forgiveness plans are often scams and at best not all that they are touted to be, it took me quite a while to see this as truth and not just a rationalization.

But in the end, I agreed with her.

But that wasn’t all we talked about. We talked about fears and dreams and goals, resistance and struggle, loved ones, family of origin and chosen family, societal expectations. That I had to learn a little about her student loan structure was kind of beside the point.

Welcome, wherever you are

So if you’re reading this and you’re not from the U.S., you are welcome here. There is a place for you. Your voice is important and I would be honored to hear it.

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