Unexpected Bill catches Ollie out – and explains why online expense software is so important

Ollie can’t see the funny side when his friend Bill plays a practical joke on him to start a discussion about how easy it is to get into debt…

A loud bang within inches of his ear made Ollie clutch at his heart with his left hand and spill coffee onto his trousers with his right.

“What the… What did you do that for?” he demanded of his friend Bill, who had caused the noise by bursting a leftover party balloon, and was now laughing and pointing at his friend. “Unexpected bill,” he said. “I’m Bill, and you didn’t expect that, did you? It came as a bit of a shock, didn’t it, just like an unexpected bill would, for car repairs, or a broken kitchen appliance?”

“Fool,” said Ollie, holding his trousers away from his legs, and wondering if he’d been scalded.

“Look, I’m sorry about the trousers, and perhaps I should have waited until you’d put the coffee cup down, but the point is a serious one. There are more people than there ought to be for whom an unexpected bill of as little as £20 would cause real hardship.”

Ollie was sceptical. “£20? Are you serious? It’s not that much money.”

“It might not be that much to you, my friend, but you’re one of the fortunate ones. Good job, regular income, friends with a good sense of humour…

“Two out of three’s not bad,” muttered Ollie.

Bill went on: “However, this isn’t a finger in the air assessment; this is real research from an organisation called R3, the insolvency trade body, and ComRes. More than one in ten people, according to the survey, would struggle to pay up without help from another source.”

“But what has that got to do with being in business?,” Ollie wanted to know. “Surely that’s about personal debt?”

“It is, but people run businesses, and businesses get into trouble too, which is why it’s so important to use online expense software to keep track of all those apparently insignificant bits of spending. They can add up, and get people into trouble financially – at work as well as at home.

“You see, by doing business on a trust basis your own business is put at risk by other people’s poor financial control. Why do you think there’s a need for credit checks and demands for you to pay up front? On the other side of the same coin, our use of online expense software means we have better financial awareness, and because of that we have built up a financial cushion so that unexpected bills won’t catch us out.”

By now Ollie had taken off his coffee-sodden trousers, and was wearing an overcoat to protect his modesty. Bill pointed at its hem. “Wait, there are a couple of threads hanging from the bottom of your coat,” he said. “Oh no; sorry, it’s your legs!” He laughed uproariously at his own joke. Ollie didn’t, and said: “Why we were ever friends at University I’ll never know,” he said. “Anyway, here’s another unexpected bill that Unexpected Bill didn’t see coming.” He held out his trousers. “Get these dry cleaned. I bet you didn’t see that one coming, did you?”