Two years ago I packed up my American life and moved the whole operation over the Atlantic to Spain. Needless to say, a lot of things changed in my day-to-day. Certain apps that I relied on in the US were not accessible in Europe, and some that I was told were necessary for my new life weren’t available to me until I got a Spanish phone number.
One of the apps that I had integrated so easily into my life in the US that I could no longer use was Venmo. I couldn’t tie the app to my European bank account and it was too much of a hassle to use it via my American account. Not to mention, people in Europe have never heard of it.
My social life reverted to those high school days of having a lot of small change on me to pay for myself when checks were split or to be able to pay whichever friend covered the tab. As someone who never likes to carry actual money–let alone a wallet or a purse, this was annoying to me. I wouldn’t say having to count out my euritos at the end of a meal in order to get my portion of the tab covered spoiled my nights, but it definitely wasn’t a fun task.
I missed the ease of shooting off digital money to my friends with the click of a button. I missed adding little captions and emojis that would make them laugh by hinting at an inside joke. The voyeur in me even missed being able to see the exchange of money between my friends. My Venmo feed was a strange, intimate look into who was grabbing drinks with whom and who recently moved in together (light bulb emoji + flying money emoji = utilities).
It was also a look into people’s attitudes about money: some of my friends paid exact amounts to the cent, some only paid whole dollar amounts, some would change the way they sent money based on what it was they were paying. The almost mindless ease of sending money digitally allows the process to become one that we don’t analyze while sending money, but it doesn’t stop us from subconsciously analyzing on the back end. We’ve all received that transfer that ends in .98 and wondered, why didn’t they just round up? Is this mentality, then, causing us to pass judgment on our friends?
The reason, I think, that we feel this way is because that would be the simplest and easiest thing to do if you were exchanging real money. I don’t know anyone who would rather count out the .98 in euritos as opposed to handing over the extra two cents. When exchanging real money is normalized in friendships, this amount of wiggle room grows. “Just take a five, it’s no big deal,” is something I have heard a lot over the course of the past two years. In that exchange, there’s an inherent trust that somewhere along the line, it will even out. As that trust grows, sometimes no money is exchanged at all. “I’ll get this one, you get the next one.” What a beautiful thing: financial trust and social trust that you’ll see each other again in the near future.
So, yes, I do wish I had Venmo for the big things, like vacations with friends or huge group get-togethers, but I think that taking a break from so instantaneously monetizing interactions has greatly benefitted my relationships.
Author: Isabella Skovira
Author Bio: Isabella Skovira is a girl that likes making things and asking questions. She’s in a love-hate relationship with social media.
Link to social media: Instagram @htothe_izzzo