Heyo! It’s Cat from Budget Blonde. I’m so excited to be crashing Frugalwoods today, and lucky for you, Mrs. Frugalwoods is crashing my site so you don’t have to go a day without her (whew! I knew you were worried!)

So, while I’m here, I might as well tell you something I’ve never written about before. Yep, in almost 4.5 years of blogging there is one particular story I’ve never told – until now.

I’m always writing about how the hubs and I don’t fight about money. I’ve written post after post about how we consult each other if we spend over $50, how we budget, how we invest, etc.

But, the truth is, it wasn’t always this way.

In fact, once upon a time, we had a pretty big throw down about a bill – a little water bill that is now a bit infamous.

affordable antique engagement ring
A Valentine’s Day proposal in 2009

You would think that two people who dated for 4 years before getting married would know a thing or two about having a relationship and having good communication, but no, we had quite a lot to learn especially in the early years. In fact, since we waited until after we got married to move in together, we had an incredible amount of adjustment to go through in that first year. We used to say that first year was the hardest year of marriage we’ve ever had, until this year of course. (Having twins really takes the cake.)

Our twins – born March of this year

But I get ahead of myself.

So, in our first year of marriage, we moved into our new apartment as a married couple, and as tends to happen when you go about your day-to-day business, we got a bunch of bills. It was double the amount of bills I was used to living by myself, and we were disorganized and kept missing things.

In sum, it was a total mess.

We tried to put something by the door to catch all the mail but we never said who was in charge of what so things got lost.

Surprise surprise one day we got a late notice for our water bill but hey, no problem. Hubs was about to head out the door for work, and I asked him to drop by the company and pay it. He said sure honey and went on his merry way.

I called him later that day and asked him if he paid the bill and he said yes – all bright and cheery like.

I stopped worrying about it and that was that until about two weeks later I got another letter in the mail saying it was our final notice and our water was going to be cut off if we didn’t pay it.

I bet you can guess who didn’t pay the bill, right? It wouldn’t have even been that bad except that he kept insisting he paid it until I actually showed him the letter – then he was busted! Poor hubs!

I have to say though, hubs has a lot of charm (all southern men do) and so he was rather adorable about the whole thing so it was hard for me to be mad at him. He said he felt so badly – like it was his first task as “The Husband” and he failed. It turns out he was on his way to work but got an emergency call (he was working in organ donation at the time) and got diverted. He said he kept meaning to go back and pay it again and again but he never could get back over to the company. He didn’t want me to be disappointed in him so said he paid it thinking it would be no problem to get to it.

I don’t remember what happened but it eventually did get paid, and it didn’t take long for me to take over paying all of our bills. Plus, just two months after that incident, in an effort to get organized and committed to saving money, I started Budget Blonde which is now my full time career.

budget blonde easter
Twins first Easter

Hubs and I laugh about the water bill incident now. We’ve been married almost 5 years and in that time, a ton has happened. For one, hubs got accepted to medical school and is just about the most responsible and on time person I’ve ever come across now. He has far surpassed me in reliability and last night he even delivered his first baby at the hospital. So, needless to say, other people are trusting him with their lives so I pretty much trust him with the bills now and again. 😉

Anyway, I hope this shows that even if you start off on the wrong foot, even if you and your spouse don’t agree about money at fist, a few years of working together can really help you overcome some of the biggest money hurdles and even little ones, like that pesky water bill.

Catherine Alford is a freelance writing coach and blogger at www.BudgetBlonde.com. She pays all her bills on time now and even makes a living writing about it. 😉

 Mrs. Frugalwoods here: I’d like to thank Cat for sharing her water bill incident and for inviting me to swap marriage-related posts with her today! You can check out my post, Go On A Finance Date: It’s Sexier Than It Sounds, over on Budget Blonde. I am deeply honored that Cat was interested in collaborating with me as she runs a fabulously successful and well-respected blog. Thank you, Cat!

In other news, our friends at Cash Cow Couple are running this feature today on successful professional women and Cat is featured. Somehow I am too. I am in fact a woman, so one out of three ain’t too shabby.

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  1. Ohh the water bill : ) I think the first year of marriage was challenging too. Just learning how to operate as one legal entity and making decisions together can be tricky business. Thankfully, after four years married, we’ve definitely figured things out now!

  2. Gah- poor guy. It’s easy to forget to pay bills sometimes when we’re busy with life and everything else. I know I forgot to pay a $6 sewer bill once and ended up with a $3 late fee- why?

  3. Going from looking out for just me to combining efforts with Mr PoP had a few bumps along the way, too. I think it does for most people. Marriage is a little bit of work, but worth it. =)

  4. Oh man, poor hubby. We had a few bumps and bills along the way, but since we’ve lived together for 3 years, we’re in a pretty good routine for that stuff now for when we get married.

  5. Such a cute couple. I and my wife had the same situation before. But, mine is a little different. I paid all the bills for some months at the start. When I forgot to pay some of it, my wife got mad at me because she said she felt like she had no role or say when it came to this task—paying bills. That’s when we made a strategy who pays the bill and the division of labour. Haha! Now, we settled that issue.

  6. I think everyone has an incident like this in marriage and I think it is good to work through it and become stronger together. Finances are hard by yourself let alone merging two people together that may or may not have the same philosophy.

  7. Hubby has actually forgotten a few water bills in our marriage. It’s tough being married to someone with ADHD, and as tempted as I may be to start a fight over it, I realize that no one is perfect and we just move forward. I know he feels bad when it happens and there is no need for me to kick him when he is down.

  8. “Drop by the company and pay it?” Where do you live? 1962? This is what computers, or at worst, envelopes, are for.

    You’re much more forgiving we would be. If someone in my house incurred a late charge, either one of us, I’m pretty sure there would be holes punched in the walls.

  9. Confession: I’m the one who failed to pay the bill–twice. After our son was born, one month I wrote on our rent check, instead of the rent amount, the amount of the balance in my checkbook (which was way less after paying the rent!). I had to write a special letter of apology to get them to waive the late fee.

    Then the next month… I just didn’t pay it. Oops.

  10. I love this post! My boyfriend says he can’t wait till we’re married so that I can take over paying all of the bills. Why are women naturally more organized than men? Even my doctor-brother isn’t nearly as organized as me! 🙂

  11. Back in the early years of our marriage before people paid everything online, I sent Jim to the post office with all of our bills to mail. He did mail them, but failed to put stamps on any of them. We got them all back a week later marked “insufficient postage” and of course, everything was late. We still laugh about that one, but I don’t think I ever gave him bills to mail again.

  12. Gotta love it! DH has forgotten to do this once or twice so that’s why I took over the bill paying/finances and set up a very easy system that he can follow if need be. Still wouldn’t trade DH for anything in the world though!

  13. Mr. Me tried paying the bills for a bit this year. But he set the payments to go to the old account and then signed up for ebilling. Long story short I had thought everything was going fine until we got our final notice that our electricy was going to be cut in the mail! It’s all better now, but I’m paying the bills again…

  14. Congrats to your husband for the first baby! We’ve had a water bill incident or two over the year, but it’s like you said: you work on it together and it sorts itself out after the first little bit. That’s too cute that he didn’t want to disappoint you!

  15. Since I’m the official procrastinator, Hugh does the finances,and I just have to remember to put them(the few not on-line) in the mail. Works for us!

  16. I feel like I’m always hounding my bf to pay bills, haha. When I moved from NYC to Portland to be with my partner, it was our first time living together. My sweet reunion quickly turned into a reality check — learning how to live together is tough. But you made it through. You guys are pretty much the cutest family ever.

  17. Forgetting or plain not paying bills was me a few years ago. My finances were in really bad shape and sometimes I would not have enough money to cover bills. Fast forward a few year later, I meet my financial obligations on time and no longer live paycheck-to-paycheck. My rent covers all my utilities and so at least I don’t have the smaller bills to take care of individually.

  18. Oh how easy life would be if it wasn’t for money and bills hey, what would people ever argue about? 🙂 I’ve been married for 7 years now and my wife and I had BIG differences in our views on money in the early days but it is nice to look back now and see how much we’ve grown together.

  19. Such cute pictures! I have reminders set on my phone for when our bills are due. Lucky for us, water is grouped in with rent, and I would die if I ever forgot to pay rent! I definitely wouldn’t leave it up to my boyfriend to remember to pay anything on time; he forgets things in a matter of seconds. =)

  20. I think working through – and dealing with – money issues, disagreements, and even little incidents like this, make couples much stronger. We definitely did not have a lot of money when we got married (nor do we now!) and debt can be exhausting sometimes. I truly believe in 10 years we will look back on it and think of it as an essential time for us to grow together.

  21. Ah Cat, we have a similar (but worse!) story just from a few weeks ago and we’ve been married 25 years! I haven’t got the courage to blog about it yet. He said exactly the same thing, he didn’t want to disappoint me so he used avoidance until he got busted. I was so furious I spent that whole Sunday away at the coffee shop, the library and all evening at my daughter’s place. Let’s put it this way, he’s always been a people pleaser and terrible communicator which is why we ended up with such a debt problem. Anyways after a few days of stewing, all is forgiven but I don’t forget, until a new history is written. 🙂

  22. You are very forgiving, Cat! I would have been pretty mad at my husband if he lied to me, even if it was just about paying a bill, but I’m glad you sorted it all out. We are working through who pays what and when right now, now that we are married.

  23. Man I’m behind the times.

    My wife missed a credit card bill because we had to use a card which we NEVER use! It was seriously like $13. We paid it and the interest, and I set up the automatic reminders just in case we had to use it again in the future. Better to nip it in the bud if you can, but we got it the 2nd time around!

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