Independent music instructors live like most of the rest of the world: paycheck to paycheck. Imagine going into your human resources office on payday and being told that you will have to wait a week. Too bad the mortgage payment won’t wait a week.
Chapters 34 through 37 in my book Six-Word Lessons for Exceptional Music Lessons: 100 Lessons to Enhance the Parent, Student, Teacher Relationship address the issues of the private music instructor being paid. The last line of chapter 35 states: “With today’s technology, there are several ways to make sure that tuition is paid on time.” When the book was published in 2017 I honestly didn’t know how many options were available for parents to easily pay their kid’s music teacher, but I certainly do now!
- A little over 50% said they use Venmo.
- The next in line for the most usage is Zelle, right up there with PayPal.
- Google Pay and Apple Pay had a fair amount of respondents.
- Fons was mentioned once. I’d never heard about this one.
- Square and Wave were also mentioned, as well as one called Stripe. Never heard of it.
- One teacher said “cash or checks.”
EASE OF USE – Very easy. All you have to do is create a Venmo account. https://venmo.com
Tuition can be paid with a Venmo account using money you have in your Venmo account or link your bank account or debit card. When money is sent using a Venmo balance, bank account, or debit card, fees are waived. Free! There is a 3% fee that applies to credit cards and used to send money.
MY EXPERIENCE - My student set up a Venmo account and I set up a Venmo account. He sends his tuition using Venmo. I receive an email stating that money is in my Venmo account. It gives me the option of leaving it in my Venmo account or transferring the money into my bank account, which is what I do. Very easy and convenient for both of us.
ZELLE – “Zelle is a fast, safe and easy way to send money directly between bank accounts.”
EASE OF USE – Very easy to use. Look for Zelle in your banking app or go online at www.zellepay.com to get started.
When using Zelle, you can quickly and easily send and receive money with just an email address or mobile phone number. No fee – Zelle doesn’t charge a fee to send or receive money. It is recommended that you confirm with your bank or credit union that there are no additional fees from them. If your bank or credit union doesn’t offer Zelle, you can still use it by downloading the Zelle app for Android and IOS.
MY EXPERIENCE – I have a student family that pays their tuition using Zelle. We both use the same bank, but I don’t think that makes a difference. I receive an email telling me that money has been deposited into my checking account. I really like the bank-to-bank concept that Zelle offers.
GOOGLE PAY / GOOGLE PAY SEND / GOOGLE WALLET – Okay, so this is one of the reasons I steered away from this app . . . names kept changing! But after a little research on my part, I learned that Google Pay and Google Pay Send are just mobile payment apps that can store your credit and/or debit card to use for payment. No fees attached to this service.
To use Google Pay Send you must have the app. Then, simply tap on the SEND tab on the task bar on the bottom right of the Google Pay app, then hit the SEND button. From there, all you have to do is select the “friend” (the teacher) you want to send money to, type in the amount, and press SEND once more. I would imagine that Apple Pay is very similar but used only with iPhones and other Apple products.
MY EXPERIENCE – I’ve never used this app so I can’t tell you if it’s easy to use or not, but it appears, in print at least, to be straight-forward. I found answers and how-to information at www.pocket-lint.com/apps/news/google and www.pay.google.com.
BY THE WAY – you may be nervous about using these types of apps for sending money, but all the Internet payment options that I researched use encryption to help protect your account information.
EASE OF USE – pretty easy to use.
When tuition is paid, for the “service” of music lessons, and the money your teacher receives comes from a PayPal account, your teacher pays a fee of 2.9% of the transaction amount, plus a fixed fee of .30 cents USD. For example, if you pay your teacher $190 a month from your PayPal account you, actually need to submit $195.81 to cover those fees. I asked the Facebook posting teachers who use PayPal how they accommodate for this. They all said they had to raise their monthly tuition to cover the fees of “fee-charging” payment apps.
MY EXPERIENCE – I’ve had limited experience with PayPal. One mother didn’t understand why I was not receiving the full amount of tuition. I tried to explain that there were fees attached to using PayPal but she said that had never happened with anyone else she paid with PayPal.
Just this week I created an invoice for a family from the PayPal app. They received the invoice in their email and paid from the invoice. There were no fees taken out of their payment, and I am confused about this. I did a little digging and this is what I found:
Perhaps the most straightforward way to send money without facing a PayPal fee is to send money as a “Personal” payment, making sure to select “Other” as the reason for payment. PayPal won’t add a fee to these types of transactions. http://www.techguidefortravel.com/2010/10/05/how-to-avoid-paypal-fees-and-send-money-for-free/
Teachers: PayPal invoices can be automatically set up to be sent out electronically to your families.
SQUARE, INC – “The Square device / chip reader allows the teacher to accept client credit cards to be used as payment via the mobile phone app.”
Using Square requires the teacher to purchase the hardware and set up accessories and software. The fees are as follows: 2.75% for “swiped” transactions; 3.5% + .15 cents for manually entered transactions.
MY EXPERIENCE – This product has evolved substantially since I first used it, which is good because I had difficulties with it. (I haven’t used it since.) You’ve probably used the Square Register or Square Contactless and Chip Reader (again, what’s with all the different names?) at a community market or fair, your local coffee shop, or your independent hair stylist. I asked my hair person if she preferred check or credit card (she uses Square) and she much prefers a check because of the fees involved in using Square.
WAVE – You can create and send professional invoices to your clients. Upon viewing the invoice online, clients can pay instantly by credit card or secure bank payment (ACH). The payment would go directly into your teacher’s bank account within 2 days when a credit card is used for payment, or 2 to 7 days for bank payments. The fees are as follows: 2.9% + .30 cents per credit card transaction, and 1% ($1.00 minimum) per bank payments. www.waveapps.com
MY EXPERIENCE – I have no experience with this payment method, but I think I would like it except for the fees. It seems, after the initial set up of the account, it’s fairly easy to use.
FONS – All I know about this app is 3.4% + 30 cents for every credit card transaction. www.fons.com
BY THE WAY – it is important to note that the fees, the amount that is taken out of your payment to your teacher, will likely cause your monthly tuition to be increased. That is why most people prefer to use one of the “money moving” payment apps that does not assess a fee.
AUTO BANK PAY (Bill Pay) – the nice thing about an automatic bank pay to your music teacher is that once you set up the account with the parameters that you choose, you do not have to think about it again. Your tuition is paid automatically on the same date each month, with the check being delivered through the U.S. mail service. Most banks have a bill-pay option.
MY EXPERIENCE – I love this method!! The years that I had several families using an auto bank pay I absolutely loved getting paid on time, month after month after month. It’s a check, but I didn’t care because it was ON TIME!
Continuing as the #1 teacher complaint is not receiving their “paychecks” on time. All of these “technological” methods of payment, as far as an independent music teacher is concerned, are designed for ease and convenience for families to make prompt tuition payments. You know the old adage, “Better late than never?” Well, for us independent music teachers, we say, “Better Never Late.”
Look forward to your comments and positive input.