Venmo is my Swiss bank account

How an app turned into something bigger.

Sponsored by


Happy New Year! Heather here, wishing you the absolute best in 2024. We spent a good portion of our winter break celebrating the holidays, eating lots of cheese, and forgetting what day of the week it was. Anyway, it’s back to circling back. Have a great week.

Mom-Mom was my favorite shopping partner. We had our rhythms and rituals, our favorite stores and ways to move through them. Before we’d enter anywhere, she would sift through her envelope of coupons in the car, check her purse for her overstuffed wallet, and place hands on her checkbook to make sure it was there. The checkbook was key. It wasn’t for an account she shared with Pop-Pop. She called it her pishka: money to spend as she liked. I’m told this isn’t technically the correct term, and that knipl is the actual Yiddish word for a woman’s secret stash of money, but who would ever question their own grandma, particularly about the funds she chose to treat her only granddaughter with?

This practice has existed for centuries. Women in Japan, for one, kept their hesokuri, or “belly-button money,” separate from the household funds. Across cultures, similar customs stem from women historically not earning their own income and thus choosing to stockpile money in secret to fund their only autonomous spending. The mere existence of a woman’s private stash resisted the grip of patriarchy and hedged against the risk of needing independent financial resources, for one reason or another. 

For many of us, life is different now. From the Pew Research Center, the percentage of heterosexual marriages in which husbands are the sole or primary earners have decreased nearly 30% over the past 50 years. Egalitarian marriages - where women and men earn around the same – have reached their highest rate ever at 29%. Whether or not a woman earns a paycheck, I’d like to think we’ve progressed in our society to a place where our voices carry enough weight in our household financial decisions that we don’t need to be hedging our bets on the side.

But let’s not pretend all is equal or that all feels equal. I could take you on a long, winding journey with more statistics around the gender pay gap or just state the truth as many women know it. Within the 71% of households where a husband outearns his wife, we still hesitate to spend our joint finances on certain things. Not everything – just some things. We also lament over the prospect of having to discuss those things with our partners, who may not be clued into every single line item of the family’s needs. Our couples’ interviews for the book keep demonstrating this dynamic; and notably, attitudes of our male partners have little to do with it. 

Women crave privacy. Maybe not unlike the reasons my Mom-Mom used her private checkbook when she didn’t have to, we feel freer to spend behind a thin shield of opacity. And with today’s technology, we’ve got ways she never would’ve dreamed of. 

Venmo is that place for me. For many of us. If this blows your mind, as you’ve never considered the sweeping changes that one digital wallet could afford to an entire demographic, then settle in. I’m about to state my case. 

Venmo is the underground hub of women’s transactions between each other. Prompted by a simple text or conversation and executed within minutes, we are able to fund, support, gather, and collect, all with the comfort of a transaction as personal as cash in a cashless world. 

It’s true that most Venmo accounts are linked to checking accounts, which may or may not be shared with your partner. But I don’t necessarily think our desire for privacy means we are trying to keep secrets and fly our entire financial lives under the radar. Venmo’s self-containment and sheer ease of use facilitates our perceived ability to spend more autonomously and deepen our connections with one another. We’re empowering ourselves the way generations before us did; like a pishka on my phone, capable of so much more.

Splitting bills was my entrypoint into reaping the benefits of Venmo. Anyone who experienced their Twenties B.V. (Before Venmo) can tell you about the horrors of a 12-woman dinner that culminated in nine women pulling out their credit cards, two wanting to pay with cash, and one claiming she didn’t eat anything. No more. It is no longer socially acceptable to engage in such neanderthalian behavior when a more seamless option exists. No one has to dread the arrival of a bill. In fact, Venmo now helps me take advantage of opportunities to place larger charges on my credit card to earn points while resting assured that I’ll be instantaneously reimbursed. 

I also love what Venmo does for gifting. By enabling us to pool money together in an efficient manner, we can purchase more meaningful gifts that people actually want. My friends always collect money for group gifts for our children’s birthdays. Now, we’re able to do something nice instead of trading $20 plastic tchotchkes back and forth between families. It’s not only thoughtful but helps each other out with bigger-ticket items. 

In the same spirit, Venmo has become a conduit for support. We can participate in collective good deeds, like chipping in to send dinner to a grieving family. We can show a friend we’re proud of her promotion by sending flowers from the group. We can create that village. While these acts of kindness took place B.V. too, the ability to seamlessly combine resources removes logistics and lowers costs to the point where saying yes is a no brainer. Gestures of kindness and love deepen our relationships. In our ever-transactional world, these are transactions that can actually mean something. 

But my favorite part of using Venmo is witnessing the birth of so many small businesses. For women in particular who are looking to re-enter the workforce, experiment with a new idea, or turn their hobby into a side hustle, Venmo lowers the barrier of entry to getting paid. I’ve purchased everything from birthday cakes to eyebrow waxes and gotten that money directly in the hands of those doing the work. I think for some people, nothing might be more empowering than realizing, or rediscovering, their ability to generate money. I love seeing my patronage build someone else’s confidence and wealth. Now that’s impactful. 

I may joke about Venmo as my figurative harbor of offshore funds for children’s party favors, but the truth is much less nefarious. I’m not one hedge or hoard. If stashing money in private is our resistance, then transacting money in private is our sisterhood. And I’ve got many sisters. 

What does Venmo or other digital payment apps do for you?! Let’s chat! DM me @averagejoelle or email us both at [email protected].


Taste Rare Wines from Untouched Vineyards

Embark on a wine adventure to the literal Edge of the Earth! Picture cowboys beneath starlit skies, where a remarkable red wine is crafted, nurtured by pure snowmelt at up to 10,000 feet.

No chemicals, no shortcuts—just 200 years of family tradition.

Today, you can be among the first Americans to reserve your very own supply of these small-batch, limited production wines.


Send us your money questions for a future issue of The Joint Account! We’ve got some good ones in queue, but let’s keep ‘em coming.

HOT COUPLE ALERT! Not us…you. We’ve had some epic convos over the past month, but we’re nowhere near done. If you and your partner are willing to share your money story with us, please reach out. We can protect your names, if that’s important to you. Email: [email protected].

Are you a brand or business interested in reaching The Joint Account’s audience of 11,000+ subscribers? Email [email protected].

Find us everywhere: @dougboneparth + @averagejoelle

The content shared in The Joint Account does not constitute financial, legal, or any other professional advice. Readers should consult with their respective professionals for specific advice tailored to their situation.