Develop a Minimalist Wallet
It’s been too long since my last post, bear with me as I was handling a second hard drive failure within a year and all my data was lost. It took me some time to finally drop the cash on a new hard drive and reinstall the software.
I am now less than two weeks away from my trip to DC and NYC so I decided to take a temporary hiatus in conjunction with the computer troubles to get my life back in order. Given that my laptop is functional, I wrote up this guide on how to lose the “butt brick” that so many men (and perhaps women) carry around with them on a daily basis.
A fat wallet is cluttered, unattractive and cumbersome. It’s also extremely unnecessary in the world we live in. I decided to slim my wallet after having my wallet stolen a few years ago when I was on vacation. The process of canceling debit/credit cards was a huge headache and I didn’t have a strong grasp on what was actually in my wallet. This in itself was problematic because sensitive personal information was now in the hands of a thief and I didn’t even know what was missing.
I ultimately had to close my bank account because I had lost my account’s routing number which was clearly labeled on a card in my missing wallet. After speaking with a representative at my bank, they suggested that I acquire a new account because the account was now compromised. If you have never had this experience, count your blessings. Aside from the improved aesthetics, this is just another reason to strive to make your wallet minimalist.
What I Carry
- 1 Credit Card
- 1 Debit Card
- Drivers License
- Student ID (for discounts)
- Target Debit Card (5% off all Target purchases, debit card that only works at Target, free cash back, I shop here too often)
A SSN is basically your National ID
What NOT to Carry
NEVER carry your social security card (I thought this was common knowledge, but I have known people that did this) if you lose that card your identity is compromised and I probably don’t need to remind you that all your financials are tied to that SSN. Replacement is going to be a big hassle that isn’t worth the trouble. Don’t carry anything that has sensitive personal information, bank information, unnecessary duplicates (i.e. multiple credit cards or debit cards).
Many of the things in your wallet may need to be kept but they can be set aside and stored in a backup wallet which is detailed below.
Lanyard ID Holder for Urban Commuters
I keep some other common cards on a lanyard as they need to be whipped out frequently and I don’t enjoy fumbling for them in my wallet.
- Keys (shared entry door, apartment door, mailbox, bike lock)
- Office Security Card
- Gym Pass
- Bus Pass
Rack City Rack? No thanks…
1. Say Goodbye to Cash
Cash is an outdated and cumbersome form of currency. Unless you are trying to hide your paper trail, you should stop using cash as your primary form of payment. Multiple online banks (i.e. Charles Schwab, ING Direct, Ally) offer benefits like interest on checking accounts and refunded ATM fees so you can get cash when you really need it. I switched to Charles Schwab after paying numerous ATM fees because my old bank did not exist in my new state of residence.
Another reason cash stinks? You can’t track how you spent it, if you read my article on building a budget you can see why using plastic is a better way to get a grip on your finances. If you can’t handle a credit card responsibly, just use a debit card.
2. Buy a Minimalist Styled Wallet
One of the easiest ways to achieve a minimalist wallet is to buy a new one, you can re-purpose your current wallet as a backup (see below). Remove the temptation of accumulating a mobile, leather, filing cabinet simply by using something that does not accommodate lots of stuff. Sleeve, bi-fold, money clip card holder; these are just a few of the many slim styles you can find. Do yourself a favor and skip the classic tri-fold, all that material folding over itself makes the wallet thick even when it’s empty. (All under $100 From Top: MAKR Angle Wallet, All-Ett Sport Wallet, TUMI Money Clip Card Case)
Here is a super affordable sleeve wallet, sometimes the most simple and inexpensive solutions are the best. Phil’s Wallets. Made from recycled leather.
3. Establish a Backup Wallet
As I mentioned earlier, there are legitimate items that you may need to keep but are not needed on a daily basis. I have established a backup wallet to keep my primary wallet clutter free. Things that I keep in this wallet include:
- Gift Cards (Spend them online, bring them only when you plan on using it. A thief loves gift cards since you don’t need to worry about being asked for an ID to use them)
- Loyalty Cards (Don’t pack your wallet with loyalty cards, you rarely use them and most companies will accept your phone number in lieu of a card at the register)
- Library Card (I don’t use this enough…)
- Backup Credit/Debit Cards (Keeping some extra plastic around is a good idea just in case your wallet goes missing)
- Receipts for major purchases and coupons that I actually plan on using
- Important business cards
- Health Insurance Card/Dental Card (if you are really worried about having the info on hand, take a photo of the cards and store it in your email)
- HSA bank card (I know when I am expecting to be billed for health services, I don’t need to be carrying this around daily, just another thing to cancel and replace if my wallet is stolen)
4. Comb Through Occasionally
Look through your primary and backup wallet every so often to remove unnecessary items or move them to the backup wallet if necessary. When you only have a few things in your wallet you will be more aware when something is missing. If you find yourself without a wallet you only have to make a minimal effort to cancel off your cards.
5. Admire that Brickless Butt
Check out your tush in the mirror and be glad you no longer have a tumor growing on one side of your behind.
Update: I wrote this article around the time I decided that I needed a new wallet. Here is the leather credit card holder that I bought at Tokio 7 for $50 (Tokio 7 a designer label consignment/thrift store located in NYC). Great price for near mint Marc Jacobs accessory and the leather flap on the back allows me to carry a few bills and receipts if necessary.