What’s In Your Wallet?

Pull out your wallet.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.  How big is it?  Is it bulging?  Open it, what’s inside?  If you got mugged today, how much hassle would it be to replace everything in your wallet?  Would you even know exactly what was in your wallet, phone numbers to call, account numbers and such in order to get everything replaced?

Here is a picture of my real wallet.  Whether at home or traveling, this is it:
image

For scale, I put it next to a standard deck of playing cards.  It’s not much bigger.  Now what do you see missing from my wallet even before we open it?  A checkbook.  I don’t carry a checkbook.  Other than my hairdresser, all the other places I do business with take credit cards.  I never “drop in” for a cut and color so it’s not a big deal for me to carry a single check with me to the salon the day of my appointment.

Eliminating a checkbook greatly reduces the size and bulk of a wallet.  Years ago we went 100% credit card for our daily use.  Many reasons, mostly speed, ease of use, convenience and we earn reward points – something free just for doing what we already are doing.  In our case, we opted for miles and yes, I actually manage to use them quite effectively (4 of the 5 first class tickets to Egypt for our family were FREE).  I don’t care what you elect to get for free, books, sports tickets, cash back – just get something!

Keep in mind though, this is a travel tips, reducing hassles blog – not a financial consulting blog but I don’t use a debit card – only a credit card.  We pay our balances in full every month and if you are fearful that would not be the case for you, feel free to carry the paper checkbook register and log each of your credit card purchases as you would a check written, deducting it from the available funds you have to avoid credit card statement shock.

Now let’s look inside.  Again, compare this photo of the inside of my wallet with the inside of yours (the photos are slightly blurred on purpose, this is my real wallet!):
image

On the left are my two credit cards – yes, only TWO.  One MasterCard, one VISA.  (My husband also has an American Express so we can shop at Costco.)  On the right is my driver’s license and tucked behind it, my ATM card.

In the compartment behind the credit cards is where I keep my health insurance card and a couple of postage stamps.  You never know when you might end up in the hospital and I have a couple of elderly relatives who don’t use the computer but enjoy postcards from our travels – hence the stamps.

Then behind my license, I have a little cash folded in half and tucked in.  I use so little cash that I don’t need to carry much.  Since I don’t use cash, I don’t need a coin compartment.  The rare times I do use cash, there is usually a charity or tip jar nearby for the few coins I get in change.

What do you NOT see in my wallet?  Store credit cards.  Don’t use them.  I prefer the convenience of only having two cards to pay each month, not 5 or more.  Certainly when you travel, you don’t need these store cards in your wallet.  Those are not the stores you are likely to be shopping in and it’s just more hassle to get new cards should you get mugged.

Same goes for the loyalty cards from grocery stores and drug stores.  I don’t carry them.  Use a designated phone number (it can be your office fax number if you don’t like giving out your real number) for all your loyalty cards and then ditch the physical card!!!  Certainly you don’t need your local grocery card in Italy!

Now build a contact in your cellphone for each of your remaining credit cards.  Use the phone number on the back of the card because that’s the number you need to call if your card is lost or stolen.  Enter the account number in a coded fashion for security.  This will make getting replacements so much easier should it ever become necessary.

When I travel I will tuck in my Platinum or Gold travel cards (airline, hotel and car rental) but only for the ones I am using that trip!  I keep all these type cards in a separate holder at home and only take what I need.  It does help  to lay a top tier card on the counter when you say “I have a problem and I need your help”.

When you reduce the size of your wallet you reduce the amount of headaches should your wallet be lost or stolen.  Are you ready to lighten your load?

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One Response to “What’s In Your Wallet?”

  1. Denise Celentano Says:

    This is the only thing I didn’t think of “Now build a contact in your cellphone for each of your remaining credit cards. Use the phone number on the back of the card because that’s the number you need to call if your card is lost or stolen. Enter the account number in a coded fashion for security. This will make getting replacements so much easier should it ever become necessary” Thank you!!!! Yes mine is just as small, but I do carry my check book for those 10 checks a year 😀 …lol

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