This song is about a man who gradually becomes more dependent on his girlfriend for money; he runs up bills and then asks his girl to pay them. Kandi Burruss and Kevin "She'kspare" Briggs, who had already written the song "Bug A Boo
" for the group and had worked with TLC on "No Scrubs
," came up with "Bills" on their second trip to Houston to write songs for Destiny's Child. Briggs got the idea for the "can you pay my bills?" hook when they were in a grocery store. According to Burruss, she came up with the melody, and made sure the song wasn't about desperate girls looking for a guy to pay their way, but ladies who thought they deserved better than a man who never picked up the tab. Burruss based many of the lyrics on a true story: a guy she dated would drive around her car and use her cell phone while she put gas in it.
When Burruss and Briggs went back to the studio, they had a writing session and worked on the song with group members Beyoncé Knowles and LeToya Luckett, who got writing credits on the song for contributing lyrics (this is something Beyoncé would often do: work with experienced writers and grab a lucrative writing credit on her songs). By the end of the session, they figured out that the reason they were asking a guy to pay their bills was because the guy was running them up, a distinction lost on listeners who heard only the chorus and figured the girls were looking for a sugar daddy.