Have you ever been out to dinner with friends, and fumbled about with cash and credit cards when it comes time to split the bill?

Or perhaps you, like me, have that special acquaintance, who always seems to forget their wallet whenever you go out? Or maybe you’ve played the role of special friend, realizing that the exclusive supper club where you and your friends have just been seated, is cash only? Rather than running out to an ATM or entering into a debtor’s agreement, you could download a free digital payment service like Venmo, and settle up on the spot.

Venmo is an app for your smartphone that links directly to your bank account, debit card or funded Venmo account, and processes paperless transactions for free (they will also process credit card transactions for a 3% fee). With Venmo, you can easily send or receive funds from another user by linking to their Venmo account or their email address, without having to find an ATM (and paying fees) or agreeing that one of you now owes the other, knowing full well that those details will be forgotten by tomorrow morning. If you don’t have a Venmo account, it takes about 90 seconds to set one up. Venmo is a subsidiary of PayPal, who has been in the digital payment business for over 20 years. All user data is encrypted, and protected on secure servers to guard against unauthorized transactions or data breach. Venmo is a leader in the peer-to-peer transaction space, and processed $6.8 billion in payments in Q1 2017 and $17.6 billion in 2016. For best practices and other information about using Venmo, this article is a great resource.

If this comes across as native advertising for Venmo, forgive me, but it’s not. This is just an app that I have used for the past two years that has made splitting bills and making joint purchases much, much simpler. In short, not carrying cash, but still being able to split a bill using the one item no one ever forgets, their phone, was a life hack worth sharing. So, the next time you need to settle up for dinner, pay your fantasy football dues or split mom’s birthday present, try using a digital payment service like Venmo to simplify your life!

Lara Dalton, CFP®

Wealth Advisor

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