Don’t be a Venmo-ron, like me

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grazianoWhen it comes to managing my personal finances, I’m a bit of a moron.

It’s not that I’m incapable of comprehending the basic principles of finances—budgeting and planning, checking and savings accounts, interest rates and overdrafts and banking fees—rather, it’s that I find it all so utterly tedious and insipid that I have trouble focusing on it.

As long as my debit card swipes and no one is showing up to repossess my car or foreclose on my house, I’m generally satisfied. And while I don’t lead a monastic lifestyle, I also don’t need a ton of toys. I’m happy living a relatively threadbare existence.

Due in part to this apathy, my wife manages the household finances, and we share a checking account. As a career public school teacher, until recently, savings accounts had been as foreign to me as Kabuki dancing.

The only money that belongs solely to me exists in a Venmo account where I’ve squirreled away my earnings from various writing projects over the years. The money was intended to be a little scratch with which I could gamble and make frivolous purchases that would incense my wife, such as a reprint of Leroy Neiman’s painting of the final frame of “Rocky III”. 

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The gorgeous piece of art that I purchased then offered to hang in the living room. But apparently my wife hates art, so it now hangs proudly in my basement.

However, without necessarily realizing it, I had accumulated a little bit of nest egg in said Venmo account, but I figured my money would be safe there.

I was wrong.

Last week, after noticing a couple of small Venmo withdrawals from our checking account that I didn’t make, my wife hit the panic button and went to our bank to file a claim for fraudulent charges. As a result, Venmo froze my account, and my little nest egg was no longer in my control, locked in the ether, and it was suddenly my turn to hit the panic button.

I received an email from Venmo a few days after my wife made the claims that asked me to forward them a picture of my driver’s license and the last three months of bank statements to unlock the account. But it didn’t explain the reason for freezing the account in the first place. While I’m a financial moron, I’m not a complete idiot, and I wasn’t about to send bank statements to a vague email address.

So I tried calling the Venmo customer service line to speak to a human being about unfreezing[1] my account so I could move my nest egg money into a real bank. With a simple Google search, I learned that a Venmo account is not necessarily a great place to keep large sums of money.

For starters, the money in a Venmo account is not protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Company (FDIC) so if anything were to happen to the company, my imaginary cash could disappear as quickly as Aaron Rodgers’ season[2].

Additionally, it turns out that when you keep money in a real bank, you collect this stuff called “interest,” and the bank will pay you just for allowing them to hold—and invest—your money.

When I tried to contact Venmo, however, I went through the usual rigmarole of pressing numbers to be transferred to another electronic voice requesting that I press more numbers, and when I finally followed that process to the end of the line and got to speak to a human being, I had an extremely difficult time understanding them.

This was certainly not their fault. English was likely a second, or third, or fourth language for this person taking my call from a cramped cubicle somewhere in New Delhi and being paid peanuts.

I started to become despondent, mentally preparing myself to part with a formidable sum of cash—for me, that is—and wishing that I paid more attention to some of these things that I found tedious and annoying, which turned out to be pretty important.

The kids these days call this “adulting.”

I’m 48 years old.

In the end, the situation was resolved, and my account has been unlocked. It turned out to have something to do with my Venmo account linking to my DraftKings account, although I’m still not entirely clear on what exactly the issue was. And while I’m not the type of guy to typically write PSAs, I will say to anyone using Venmo—or any cash app, for that matter—be wary and do not use the app as a place to keep your savings.

In other words, don’t be a Venmo-ron, like me.

____________

[1] Would the correct term be “defrosting”?

[2] Too soon?


 

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About this Author

Nathan Graziano

Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester with his wife and kids. He's the author of nine collections of fiction and poetry. His most recent book, Born on Good Friday was published by Roadside Press in 2023. He's a high school teacher and freelance writer, and in his free time, he writes bios about himself in the third person. For more information, visit his website: http://www.nathangraziano.com