It’s time to bill, but we never talked about a budget

Myntillae Nash, a graphic designer who has been taking part in the Controlling the Money Conversation with Clients Webcast Series, emailed me this question:

I just finished doing this logo project for a software company, and I have to send them the bill. But I realized that I never talked to my client about their budget. My client did ask me my going rate, and we kind of talked about it briefly, but I told him prices for things always depended on the project. Since he was a friend of a friend he asked me to do the project without hesitation, knowing that I studied it in school and did lots of freelance aside from my full-time job. But now I am to the point of having to send the bill for these logos, and we never even determined the budget (which I normally do). How do I remedy this situation so that he doesn't, like you said, "fall off of his chair"?

I gave Myntillae this short answer, and urged her to take advantage of my free mentoring session if she needed more specifics. (If you have questions like this, you can too!) Here’s what I said:

I would give him a call and tell him you're getting ready to bill and you realize you never actually agreed on a price, so here's what you're thinking. Then just tell him and see what he says. Then be open to negotiating if he does fall off his chair and know that this is a lesson that may cost you something (literally).

Is this something you’ve experienced? If so, how did you handle it?