Yes, I realize that if you have a teenager at home or work with a group of twenty-somethings, Venmo is very old news. However, when I mention Venmo to my group of mom friends, I tend to get blank stares and radio silence. Further, when I suggest that they pay me back with Venmo, they respond, “I’ll just give you cash or a check. It’s easier.” Actually, it’s really not easier.
Now that the school year is winding down here, it seems that every time I open an email, someone is collecting money for a teacher: dance, preschool, elementary, and coaches. More often than not, that email actually comes from me as I am the class mom for both of my children. Just this morning, walking into my daughter’s preschool, a gathering of nannies and moms awaited me, shoving cash, checks, and various papers into my hand as I passed them. If it’s not apparent from my earlier posts, I do not like handling cash. I either misplace it, forget who already paid, who still owes me, and I never have the correct change on me. I create lists upon lists to keep track of everything. Don’t you wish there was an app for this? Meet Venmo.
Venmo is a self-described fee digital wallet that lets you make and share payments with friends. This past January alone, Venmo processed over $1 million dollars in sales. Put away the checkbook, ladies. Save your gas money driving to the ATM. This app literally takes less than a minute to install, set up, and make a payment. I’ll walk you through it right now.
How to Use Venmo:
- Download the free app to your phone.
- Open a Venmo account: sign up through Facebook or with your email address.
- Verify your phone by entering the code sent to you via text message.
- Enter your checking or credit card information. Note: you do not pay a fee to send or receive money, with the exception of credit card payments (3 percent fee). Debit cards are free.
- Find friends. You can search your contacts, Facebook friends, or by name. If your friends haven’t joined yet, invite them.
- Make a payment or request money. Bonus: you can charge a group of people in one transaction, given that it’s the same amount. Think of all your birthday dinners, group gifts, or class dues.
- You can either carry a Venmo balance or cash out.
Um, not to name any names, but you can also send reminders via Venmo. Ahem ahem.
By now, you know that I pay my babysitter with Popmoney. The other night, I asked her if we could instead try Venmo. She installed the app, I searched for her by email, executed the payment, and cha-ching (that’s the sound your phone makes), she saw the money show up in her Venmo account instantaneously. Although she needs to wait until the next day to cash out, she could choose to use her Venmo balance to pay friends, never cashing out. When I pay her with Popmoney, it takes days for her to actually receive the payment. So, it looks like I will be paying her with Venmo from now on.
Venmo inherently has a social media aspect to it like Waze, the driving app, which has appealed to many of its millennial users. When you sign on, you will see a newsfeed of all your friends and a memo of their payments: pizza emoji “yum, yum,” although the amount of money paid remains private. Don’t let social media scare you away from this app. You can make all your transactions private. To do this, go to settings, privacy, and set the “make the default for future transactions” and “past transactions” to private or just “limit to friends.” For kicks, check out this site for a laugh.
If you hesitate because of security issues, rest assured, Venmo encrypts your account information. If you lose your phone, you can revoke access. However, even Venmo itself claims that this app is designed to be used with friends. Do not accept payment from someone you don’t know, especially if it involves goods and services, like sales on Craigslist. Just as someone can cancel a paper check, they can also cancel a Venmo payment. For transactions involving strangers, use PayPal, which owns Venmo and has added security features.
Think of all the times in your life when you wished you had Venmo. Only last week, I went to my son’s school for an author study visit. Naturally, I didn’t have enough cash on me to buy a copy of the author’s book and the school didn’t take credit cards. A mom I know lent me twenty dollars. I hesitated since I really dislike owing people money. We don’t ordinarily bump into each other, which means that I now have to mail her a check, make a plan to meet up, or I can just Venmo her the money. I just took two seconds while writing this post to pay her. Done!
Do you use Venmo? Thoughts and comments are always appreciated.