Welcome to the final installment of our three-part series on Marriage and Money. In the last two episodes, we looked at the importance of married couples becoming one financially and at the key step of understanding each other’s financial backgrounds and motivations. This week, we’ll wrap up the series with a discussion of the significance of shared values and priorities.

Built on a commitment to oneness and informed by an understanding of each other’s backgrounds and motivations, an ongoing discussion regarding priorities and non-negotiables is the final key to charting a financial course. Two basic skills are needed: identifying priorities, and managing trade-offs.

It’s been said that “You can do anything you want, but you can’t do everything you want.” Any realistic financial priority is achievable, but all of the priorities collectively are not. And back to the discussion about oneness – this is not about his priorities vs. her priorities. It’s about shared priorities based on an agreed-on vision as a couple.

It may not be possible, for example, to send children to a private school on only one income – so the priority of private school may be in conflict with one spouse’s priority of focusing on raising a family rather than having a career. A priority placed on family vacations may be in conflict with a priority on extensive children’s activities such as sports.

Mapping out these priorities as a couple – and later on, as a family – is crucial both for marital and family harmony and for achieving the most important financial goals. And it’s foundational for the family’s financial stewardship.

Free Resource

Priorities & Non-negotiables

Need a framework for establishing your priorities? Download the free Priorities and Non-negotiables exercise mentioned by James in the podcast.