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What’s in Your Wallet? What You Need and What You Don’t

While our wallets have gotten smarter, slimmer, and more minimalist as the years have gone by, their job has largely remained the same: to carry all the essentials.

The problem, however, is that what is essential and what’s not isn’t always crystal clear. In this post, I give you a quick rundown about what you should carry in your wallet and what you should leave at home.

What you need to carry in your wallet

1. License/ID

Other than money, a license is one of the most important things you could possibly carry. It’s your ticket to drive, drink (but not at the same time, folks!), buy a lottery ticket, and even see the latest garbage horror movie. So, don’t be like the idiots on Live PD. Put it in your wallet and leave it there.

2. A Couple of Credit Cards

Nothing in life is free. With that in mind, it’s always a good idea to have several ways to pay on hand. Just don’t go overboard here. A credit card or two plus a debit card is plenty to cover your bases.

3. A Bit of Cash

Regardless of what the commercials say, the world doesn’t run on Dunkin. It runs on those slabs of plastic we call credit cards. However, that doesn’t mean cold hard cash is obsolete. From vending machines to tattoo shops to taxis, bills are still everything. Always have a few on you, if for no other reason than emergencies.

the cards I carry in my wallet
This is what I carry in my pocket: 6 cards, some cash, and my trusty Chipolo wallet tracking card.

4. Insurance card

Carrying your medical insurance card is a no-brainer. You never know when you’re going to need it for yourself or your kids. Even your regular doctor will periodically ask you to refresh your information, and by golly, you better have your insurance card when they do. Your auto insurance card? Keep that one in the glove box of your vehicle along with your vehicle registration.

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5. Most-Used Membership Cards

Are you a total Starbucks junkie? Do you consistently go to the gym a few times a week? Do frequent the Gamestop shelves perhaps a little too often? When’s the last time you locked your keys in the car or needed a tow? For all of these, it pays to have any important membership cards on hand.

6. Wallet tracking card

Most Bluetooth wallet trackers are almost as thin as a credit card so they don’t take up much space. The bad thing is their range is severely restricted inside an RFID-blocking smart wallet. So many of them reserve a non-RFID protected slot or pocket outside the wallet where a Bluetooth tracker like the Chipolo CARD will work like a charm. If you lose your wallet 5 times a day like I do, a wallet tracking card is a must.

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What you don’t need in your wallet

1. Social Security Card

Do you absolutely long for identity theft like Gomez Addams longs for Morticia? Well, you must if you’ve got your social security card hanging around in the back of your wallet. Don’t be this naïve. Protect your social security number. Leave your card at home where it belongs.

2. Blank Checks

I get it. It’s convenient to have on hand but carrying around blank checks just invites a whole mess of trouble. They could easily make their way into the wrong hands, and I’m a firm believer in not tempting fate. Fill out checks in advance and avoid putting any blank ones in your wallet.

3. List of Passwords

poor password choices
A compilation of the worst passwords from 2018 and 2019.

Once again, are you trying to give some criminal the full reigns to your life or do you just not know any better? For those who fall into the latter camp, I’ll tell you right now. Never keep a record of passwords or PIN number in your wallet – especially for your bank account. Identity theft can happen, but at least make them work for it. Use a password manager, instead.

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4. Unused Rewards/Membership Cards

gift cards in a fan with X
Way too many gift cards to carry at once.

The majority of us have significantly more membership cards than we’ll ever use. They just kind of build up over time, like those annoying newsletter emails practically no one ever wants. They’re also just as big a waste of space, so slim it down. Keep them in your car, if you must.

5. Old receipts

wallet full of junky receipts
OMG. This is so old school. Get rid of all those junky receipts.

Clean out your wallet every day for heaven’s sake. Who needs this sort of clutter?

(Editor’s note: I hate to admit it, but this used to be me.)