Clean out your wallet. Save your identity, your sanity, and your spine.

The Wallet.  Boy, it’s amazing how much stuff you can keep in there sometimes, isn’t it? I have friends who know how crazy the huge, stuffed wallet gets me.  Having a wallet like that is bad for three reasons:

1)   The worst: If it gets lost or stolen, there is a LOT at risk for you

2)   You waste a lot of time looking for the things you actually do want

3)   Carrying a bulky wallet in your pocket or a heavy wallet in your purse can just be bad for your skeletal frame.

The best way to approach how to have a streamlined, efficient and safe wallet, is to know what you should NEVER have in your wallet, and what you should ALWAYS have.


1)  Social Security Card.  Not only would this be a pain in the butt to replace if it got lost, but if it gets in the wrong hands (let’s assume for the moment that someone who steals your wallet might know some wrong hands), it can be used to steal your identity pretty easily.  Someone can get a loan or a credit card, and just wreak havoc on your financial life in a moment.   Unless you’re in transit to some place that has an immediate need for it, your Social Security Card should be at home in a fireproof safe or in a safety deposit box.

2)   Spare house key. Does it make sense that you’d keep a spare house key right next to your driver’s license, with your address printed right on it?  I know, it seems a convenient solution to “I’m more likely to lose my keys than my wallet,” but you need to find a solution that isn’t a written invitation for someone to help themselves to everything else that your wallet didn’t have in it.

3)   Passwords and PIN numbers.  Again, the risk to your identity and financial health exists when you make it easier for people to access all of your information, and all of your money.

4)   Multiple credit cards.  You probably never need more than one, maybe two, in your wallet at any time.  If your wallet gets stolen, there are less phone calls to make to cancel cards, (and automatic billing to change, and charges to dispute, and anxiety to stress you out) and less damage to be done with them before you get to that point.

5)   Blank Checks.  There’s probably already something in your wallet that has your signature on it, right? The back of your credit card?  Perfect for forging the blank check tucked behind your cash.

6)   Gift cards you don’t plan to use immediately.  These are as good as cash, to anyone who chooses to review the contents of your wallet and figure out what to keep that would not be cancellable or traceable.

7)   Receipts.  Not only can they contain information that can be used for identity theft, they’re annoying and bulky.  Unless you’re really going to do something with them (like file them for accounting and tax purposes, or save for warranties), you should just destroy them, not save them. And, by the way, if you ARE saving them for a particular purpose, then put them in a safe place as soon as you can.  If they’re important, you don’t want to lose them.

8)   Rewards Cards, for any place that will just take your phone number instead.  (I think that’s everywhere at this point?)  If they don’t take your phone number, and you shop there regularly, keep it. Otherwise, ditch them! Too much space is taken up for no good reason.

9)   Foreign Currency. Unless you’re heading there in the immediate future, no need to keep this in your wallet. Keep it at home, or in your safe deposit box or fire-proof safe, next to your passport… since the next time you’ll use that currency, you’ll need your passport, anyway!

10) Appointment cards. Go home, write down the appointment in your normal calendar.  You won’t need to hold onto that reminder of your next hair appointment if it’s in your calendar already.


1)    Identification.  Usually a license or a state ID is what most will have. Not only do you need it in case you get pulled over while driving, but it can help to provide some contact information, in case your wallet is lost, and discovered by a person who would love to get it back to its rightful owner, just like you would if you found someone else’s.

2)    Credit card.  Even if you’re not planning to shop, it’s good for emergencies.

3)    Debit card.  This is a good alternative to carry a lot of cash.

4)    Some cash.  Even though an alternative to a lot of cash is good, having SOME cash on hand is always important, especially if you frequent places that don’t take cards, or find yourself in a position where cash is the only option in a sudden change in plans (like needing a cab, only to find it doesn’t take your Visa).

5)    Emergency Contact information.  Obviously, a worst case scenario of someone finding your wallet is when it is on you and you’re not in a position to speak for yourself, like in an accident. Having an emergency contact card, and any important information like allergies, medical conditions or blood type, would be helpful if ever truly necessary.

6)    Health Insurance card. Sometimes you need it when you didn’t plan on it. It’s important to have on you, just in case something comes up.

I’m sure there are going to be some of you with some unique “ALWAYS” items on your list, and that’s totally understandable. But for the most part, this list is just about all anyone needs.

I’ll be honest.  If I went through my wallet right now, I’d probably find a couple of my “NEVER” items in there, which brings me to my final point:

Clean out your wallet once a week. After the first time you clean it out, upkeep is easy. It takes all of 30 seconds. Maaaaaybe.

So protect yourself, your identity, your sanity, and your posture, and clean out your wallet today!



1 Comment

  1. Clever Girl Organizing

    By the way — have a Medicare card in your wallet? Well, sure, it seems like something you should keep in there, BUT it has your Social Security Number on it! The AARP and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse suggest making a photocopy of your Medicare card, cutting it to wallet size and cutting out the last four digits of your Social Security numbers. Carry the photocopy in your wallet instead of the actual card. (You’ll still need your original card the first time you visit a provider, because they’ll likely want a photocopy of it).


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