Q: Should the primary breadwinner always pay the bills?
A: No. Some experts recommend the lower-paid partner be responsible for the bills to offset any potential for power plays. However, the best answer is that couples should decide what works for them. If the wife really enjoys managing the finances and has good organizational skills to ensure things are paid on time, she probably has a comparative advantage over her husband. Or if she travels extensively, perhaps the husband can assume that responsibility because he is home to keep up with the record keeping. Generally, it is best to have one person responsible just to ensure things are done. What matters is that both individuals are actively involved and aware of what's going on with the family finances. Having a monthly business meeting ensures they are both aware of how much they owe, where the money is going, what bills need to be paid, how to access their financial records and so forth. Taking the time to talk about financial issues each month also reduces potential surprises — especially if something happens to the person paying the bills.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER