What Should Be In Your Wallet?

Another interesting post from LearnVest this week: What should be in your wallet?  This will, of course, vary by person, but they offer a few pointers for paring down your wallet. You don’t want the exploding wallet a la George Constanza!

However, I had to disagree about some things they suggested for wallets, because I either don’t need them or keep them in my purse instead. If I kept everything in my wallet, it wouldn’t close.

What’s In My Wallet
My wallet has slimmed down significantly since most of my store cards have been cancelled, but it’s still got quite a bit of stuff in it:

License/ID: Obviously my driver’s license needs to be in there because I drive. Even if you don’t drive, you should always have ID with you because it could be needed in an emergency. Behind it I have my organ donor card and a change of address card because California doesn’t issue a new license when you move.

One point of contention with the LearnVest article though. They said, “Stores have the right to ask for an ID when you use a credit card, so you need to have one ready to show them.” Although some state laws do permit the request, it’s a violation of the store’s merchant agreement with Visa and Mastercard to require ID. They can request, but can’t make showing ID contingent on completing the transation. Requesting ID protects the store, not you. The signature is considered your ID for the transaction.

Emergency contacts card: My husband and I printed emergency contact cards that we keep behind our licenses. In case we’re in accidents and are separated from our cell phones, any emergency workers who find our wallets will know how to reach our spouses/relatives in an emergency.

Credit cards: LearnVest recommends only carrying one, but I carry three. One Amex, one Visa, one Mastercard. I mostly use the Amex, but I rotate the other two at stores that don’t take Amex. Their recommendation is to use a Visa or MC branded debit card if a store won’t take your primary Amex, but that really wouldn’t have worked when I had to buy $1400 worth of furniture! I recommend carrying at least two cards, just in case a card is rejected for credit card security reasons, as happened to me at Cost Plus while buying furniture.

Debit cards: Again, I carry two. One for my regular checking account, one for my business account. I could probably stop carrying the biz account card since I only use it to deposit infrequent checks, but I know I’d forget to bring it when I did finally have to deposit a check.

Retailer Cards: I’m down to Goodyear at this point, so that card stays with me. When your car has 150,000 miles on it, a service emergency can happen at any moment!

Membership Cards: I keep my Blockbuster card and my Costco card in my wallet, but other cards have a different home. I also keep my library card in my wallet in a prominent pocket because I use it almost every week.

AAA/Roadside Service Card: Another must carry. If you’re a member and drive a car, you should always have it with you. You can’t use it if you don’t have it! AAA members can also use it if they’re a passenger in a non-member’s car, so there’s no reason to remove it for a road trip where someone else is driving.

Health Cards: One more must carry. Actually, for me, it’s three cards. Medical insurance, dental insurance, and FSA debit card.

Business Cards: One of mine and one of my husband’s.

Cash: I’ll be honest. There are times when I run out of cash. Before my husband had surgery, he went to the bank each week and then I’d take enough money for the farmer’s market out of his wallet. Any leftover went into my wallet. I rarely spend cash, so after a while, the total will get up there. Other times, I’ll spend all the farmer’s market money at the market and not have any leftover. After a while, my wallet starts to empty out. I have to remember not to let myself be cashless! Fortunately, there’s an ATM for my bank in my office park, so I can replenish if I’m going to a team lunch or happy hour.

What’s Not in My Wallet
LearnVest recommends a few other items that aren’t relevant for my life, or that I’ve found a different solution for.

Frequent Flyer Cards: Rather than put them in my wallet, I put them in my address book so I can look them up when I’m booking travel. I also registered at each airline’s website. All you have to do is sign on to the website to get your number. You can always go back and add your number to the flight record later if you forget.

Club Cards and Gift Cards: Rather than keep my CVS card, Ralph’s card, Vons card, and all manner of gift cards in my wallet, I keep them in a zipped pocket in my purse. That way I can easily access them, but can still close my wallet. Actually, I keep my grocery store cards in my coupon folder because I can use my phone number to get the discount if I need to run out for one or two items. The card isn’t really necessary unless you want it to print out the points you’ve earned.

Are you a keeper of a slim wallet or do you let it fill up with junk before finally emptying it?

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