Give me my money!!

October 28, 2019, 5:32 PM · Teachers: How do you get paid? Students: How do you pay your teacher?

Another post got me thinking, how do you get paid?

I accept cash and checks, but honestly, I prefer to be paid via Venmo. I get my money immediately and can keep a record. I use quickbooks to record payments and other expenses related to teaching. (I do use quickbooks for another business; It's overkill for a private violin teacher, probably)

Replies (32)

October 28, 2019, 5:51 PM · I accept a combination of cash, checks and credit/debit cards (the cards are processed through Square). I give out paper receipts (I buy books of duplicate receipt books so I keep a copy and give the student/parent a paper copy). I do that for cash students as well as check/credit-debitcard so it's easy at the end of each month to tally my income/expenses for the month and keep a running tally for the year. I use an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of my income and expenses.
October 28, 2019, 5:58 PM · David, what are the fees you pay to Square?
October 28, 2019, 7:51 PM · Checks or cash. I keep an excel spreadsheet--one workbook per year with a sheet for each month--in which each student has two rows. In the top row I record dates of lessons; in the second row I record amount paid on the date it was paid. At the end of the year I add everything up to report on my taxes.

I don't take credit cards. Nobody has ever asked about paying via venmo or anything similar; not sure I'd be receptive to that anyway.

October 28, 2019, 8:13 PM · When I teach, I insist on bank transfers. I ask them to do it before they leave (I charge an odd number). Somerimes people will brinh cash, which I'll also accept. When I'm being taught, if they have a round number (e.g. my violin teacher 40/hour) I'll bring cash unless I'm running late and I'll do a BT. But with an odd number (e.g. my music theory teacher charges 38/hour) I'll do a BT as its less hassle than getting change
October 28, 2019, 8:37 PM · Bank transfers and Venmo etc are ripe for fraud, no one should use them unless its someone they totally trust.
Edited: October 28, 2019, 9:05 PM · Most of my students pay by check*, many by QuickPay/Zelle (for all intents and purposes, the transfer is immediate), and some by cash. I track income and expenses on an Excel spreadsheet and as a former Excel nerd, have each transaction listed on a separate line and the data table linked up to a layout of array formulas showing how much transacted in a certain month, certain category, etc.

*Mostly check in hand but some do bill pay online and a bank check gets mailed to my address

There is at least one media figure who warns people away from Zelle and similar systems - something to do with fraud and mistake risk. I figure there are precautions that can be taken and convenience wins out, such as: chronically late check-payers get converted to Zelle because I can send a request through the system and it can be answered before the next lesson happens.

edit: Lyndon - I guess it's fortunate that my students trust me!

October 28, 2019, 9:30 PM · I have to admit I am terrible at this (as a parent). My son is easy -- his program sends me a bill three times a year, I pay it, and done. But my daughter studies with an independent teacher who never bills and the amount varies depending on whether they do or don't have group that month or a recital and various other things. If she sent me a bill, I would always pay right away. But without it, I never know the right amount and so I frequently end up going 6 months without paying before I sit down and try to figure it all out. Which reminds me that I haven't paid her since April......
Edited: October 28, 2019, 9:39 PM · I only have one (piano) student. His parents are dear friends. Eventually it gets to the point where the boy has had a couple of dozen lessons and I gently nudge his mother, who replies with "Oh my gosh!" or words to that effect and, of course, a check -- which becomes kind of a nice windfall actually. So I don't mind. If I had studio with 40 kids, though, then I'd probably need some kind of organized system. I pay for my kids' lessons a semester in advance.

One thing I've learned is that your calendar is an archive of your work. So if a lesson is cancelled, take it off your calendar or code it a different color or something. Otherwise you can just keep a running spreadsheet of what you're bringing in -- probably the best way. In a year's time I'll give maybe 40 lessons to my one student and play 30-40 gigs, so it's not that hard to figure out what I've earned.

October 28, 2019, 9:32 PM · I write a physical check on a more or less monthly basis. For the community music school where I take coachings and stuff, I pay by the semester.
October 28, 2019, 11:10 PM · I start out by offering them the option of either a weekly bank deposit or weekly cash at the lesson.

If they turn out to be reliable they can keep it that way (and they get more lenience with the occasional mistake).

If they are unreliable, which I can usually sense within a few weeks, they have to pay 10 weeks in advance via bank transfer. I also prefer this because it lets me dictate what happens with last minute cancellations etc.

As a student my lessons are paid for in my tuition fees.

October 29, 2019, 5:31 AM · Square charges 2.6% plus 10-cents for each transaction. So on a $100 charge they would keep $2.70(US), so I would get $97.30. Depending on the circumstance I frequently add on 3% to cover the processing fee, so for a $100 charge I would charge the customer $103.00 and Square would end up keeping $2.78 and I would end up with $100.22 in my bank account the next business day or two. But I've been rethinking adding on that processing fee -- when I use a credit card at a business (restaurant, hardware store, whatever) they don't add on extra for the processing fee, they just price things accordingly so they don't lose money with credit cards. On the other hand I am a much smaller business than those other businesses and I accept credit/debit cards only as a last resort to ensure that I get paid in a timely manner.
October 29, 2019, 9:48 AM · Our first teacher requested a check for a month in advance and for years, the only check writing I did was to him. I don't even know where my checkbook is anymore. My current teacher is associated with a school, so they pull the funds through ACH each month. My son's viola teacher requested to be paid per lesson via Venmo.
October 29, 2019, 9:57 AM · David you can make it 20% to discourage the practice too. Someone gets hit for $120 a couple of times for $100 lessons, they'll do a better job of trying to remember to bring cash or a check. Or if paying by card makes all your accounting easier, etc., then you can offer a discount for those who do .... nah.
October 29, 2019, 9:58 AM · For my non-musical part-time business, I send an invoice to the client and accept cash, check, venmo, paypal (in that order of preference). I'm also considering adding on a processing fee as it eats into my fees in a significant way.

For my violin teachers, I've always paid at my lesson. I leave cash on the table when I arrive. If I forget to pay, I usually Venmo right after the lesson. If I had a standing lesson time, I'd ask to pay up front for the month or at the end of the month.

October 29, 2019, 1:40 PM · My teacher requests cash up front at the start of the lesson. That way neither of us forgets, which did happen once. We both forgot at the same time, I was mortified, it won't happen again.
October 29, 2019, 2:05 PM · Back when I was taking lessons, I paid by check at the beginning of each lesson.

As most here know, I do not charge for lessons because I only accept students who cannot afford private lessons. Occasionally a parent will give me a gratuity that is often in the form of a delicious food item that they prepared as a thank-you.

I have the good fortune to be able to do this and it is my way of giving back to the universe.

I don't compete with the paid professionals as I will not take a student who can pay for lessons. A few of my friends who are professionals, take my students at reduced or no fee when I can no longer move them forward and they do earn their scholarships by practicing.

October 29, 2019, 3:25 PM · That is very generous of you, George. I commend you for offering those lessons. I wish I were in a position to do more in that way.
October 31, 2019, 7:01 AM · I pay my teachers with cash at the end of each lesson. I also make an effort to have the exact amount so they dont have to scramble to get change. While electronic payments seem easier, you still spend extra effort checking that the payment came through, setting up an account or two, playing the fee game, and maintaining more paper work. Is it really that hard to go to an ATM and get cash? Do we really need to give more money to some nameless conglomerate? I would encourage teachers to request cash payments or at least a monthly check to make life easier and give you more options with YOUR money and time.
October 31, 2019, 9:13 AM · Many of us don't carry much if any cash these days. If violin lessons are $20/hour in your area, cash is a very different matter than if they are $120.

Also, cash can make it harder for teachers to keep records. On the other hand, I have had some teachers request/require cash payments, because they were taking payments "under the table" -- i.e. not reporting the income on their taxes. I always asked explicitly if they prefer to be paid in cash.


October 31, 2019, 10:06 AM · I far prefer trackable payments. Online (zelle, usually) is my preferred method. I can deal with it outside the lesson time and everybody has a clear record of what's been processed. I charge monthly, payable up front. I have a few students who pay at the end of the month and that's fine with me as long as they're consistent/not taking advantage. I have a "late fee" clause that I would invoke were it ever to be a problem and also a policy that I will not teach in the new month if the old month is unpaid. Have never had to use this since I instituted it years ago. (though early on, I did have some students who were the reason it was instituted!)
(Part of this is that tracking and accounting is NOT my strong point--so a system that does much of the tracking for me is ideal. Then when I do my accounting, I can easily go back and make sure I've got everything put down accurately)
Edited: October 31, 2019, 9:43 PM · I have absolutely no respect for people who take cash under the table and don't report it, and it's offensive when people assume that I am engaging in that activity. A parent once apologetically paid by check (he usually paid in cash) and was very surprised when I said that it didn't matter to me as I reported everything. He had been assuming all along that I was taking cash under the table. Always nice to find out that someone thinks I'm a thief./s
November 3, 2019, 4:43 PM · I paid my kid's teacher by check up front for the month.

It didn't inconvenience her: She used her phone to take a picture and have it deposited between lessons.

November 4, 2019, 7:24 AM · My teacher requires bitcoin deposited in an offshore account, (preferably in the Cayman Islands or Cyprus). This is referred to as the Russian School of Violin teaching.
November 4, 2019, 7:42 AM · I had one teacher who had very different prices for cash and check.

One thing that surprises me about the UK is how far ahead they are in electronic banking. It’s to the point that if I owe someone any amount— even less than 20 pounds— They will forward the bank sort code and account number to make the transfer.

November 5, 2019, 2:18 PM · These days we have things like Venmo, that don't have any fees. Why not try that?
November 5, 2019, 2:35 PM · because Venmo can be abused to defraud your bank account.
November 5, 2019, 3:16 PM · Tim, do you mean she deposited the cheque by phone? How does that work?
My teacher charges me in 5 week chunks, strictly cash, in advance, and gives me a weeks notice when the payment is due. ( I never have cash either)
My preferred method would be setting up a regular bank transfer.
November 5, 2019, 4:42 PM · My bank has a phone app that allows me to take pictures of the front and back of a check and deposit it immediately. I would expect any financial institution these days to have the same. There are limits, both on the size of a check and on the total deposit one may make in a day.
November 5, 2019, 4:47 PM · For those of you who are thinking of using an excel spreadsheet, but don't want to pay for microsoft office, Libre Office is free of charge and copes with all straight spreadsheet stuff, probably even Mengwei's formulae - It's when you have to go into vba that Libre Office has problems I can't solve, and I haven't taken the time to learn python to link to Libre Office.
Edited: November 5, 2019, 5:06 PM · My children's violin teacher uses paypal, and she bills us at the beginning of the month. Their piano teacher is "old school", she still wants to be paid by check (I believe she's the only one we do transaction with a check with nowadays). Both ballet and karate schools do automatic transfer from our account -- which to me is very convenient because whenever my kids need a new karate belt or karate gi, or new shoes for ballet, we just tell the school to charge it to our account.

Personally, I've used zelle to pay folks for things -- very convenient. My bank also has the ability to accept deposits via their bank app on my phone. I actually don't bring cash anymore, I use the electronic wallet on my phone and watch to do most transactions. Even food trucks nowadays use some sort of electronic medium to do transactions. Well ok, I do keep $20.00 in my wallet just in case all else fails (lol).

November 6, 2019, 8:40 PM · Back when I had a lot of private students I found this to be the easiest: I used to have monthly rates ( counted up the number of weeks I was teaching in a half year, multiply that times the lesson rate, then divide by the number of months). This meant the monthly rate, which was paid at the first lesson of the month, was always the same amount regardless of how many weeks were in the month. This helped me income wise (i.e. not having Dec be super light for example) and families budgeting. I had a card with the official rates by my payment box (1/2 hour lesson = x/month) andI had a little stack of self addressed envelopes, with a stamp on it. If a family forgot to bring their check (or cash), I said "no problem, here is an addressed envelope, just put the check in the mail when you get home".
Edited: November 7, 2019, 12:13 AM · Paypal works really well for me. It's connected to email rather than social media like Venmo, which seems more professional. I also accept cash and checks, though I once had a family write me 4, $25 checks in one month. Since then I decided to charge monthly and that makes life a lot easier.


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