The other day I finally got around to changing wallets (I received a new wallet from my wife for Christmas). Guys are lucky because our wallets are tucked away in a back pocket, or inside our jacket, so they are less of a fashion statement than women’s purses. I prefer a practical wallet with lots of slots for membership cards, and a divided cash area to separate bills, checks, or receipts.
When moving things over to my new wallet I looked at all the items out on the desk and thought, “Do I really need to sit on this stuff all day?” I’m not just concerned with ergonomics, I’m concerned with my lack of wallet organization. I can rarely find my Kroger Plus card on demand at the checkout, and have to fumble around for my insurance card when checking in at the doctor. Maybe it’s time to inventory my wallet and purge a few useless items. Here’s what was in my wallet:
- Primary Checking Account Check Card. This Visa check card handles expenses our budget envelopes don’t cover. I typically use this to buy gas, clothes for the kids, and for our monthly trip to Sam’s Club for paper products, detergents, etc.
- Online Savings Account ATM Card. My ATM card accesses my emergency fund stashed away in an online savings account. Online savings accounts are nice, but some take three or four business days to transfer money back to your primary checking account. If you don’t have a card with ATM access it could leave you in a bind if you have to pay a plumber for an emergency late-night repair.
- Kroger Plus Card. Kroger is our primary store for grocery shopping. We take advantage of their coupon doubling policy to get great deals listed on The Grocery Game.
- Library Card. To reach my goal of 52 books in 2008 I had to enlist the help of a regional library located in a neighboring town. They have an excellent selection in the personal finance and personal productivity genre.
- 10 CashCrate business cards. I like to drop these CashCrate business cards in my shopping cart, bills and post on bulletin boards around town. They have my CashCrate referral link where people may sign up to complete surveys. I’ve used CashCrate for over a year and it has contributed significantly to my debt snowball. Best of all, I ordered them for free at VistaPrint.com. Vista Print will ship out 250 template business cards for a small shipping fee in exchange for their logo being placed on the back of your card.
- 1 Emergency Check. I don’t carry my checkbook with me, but have run into occasions where I needed to write a check. For this reason I carry a single check folded in the back of my wallet just in case.
- 5 $1 Bills. Unfortunately, I did this exercise right after my daughter hit me up for $20 to buy her school yearbook. It’s hard to believe it is already time to order yearbooks! Where has the school year gone?
- Blockbuster Membership Card. This one has not seen much action since I canceled our Blockbuster Total Access membership. I switched to Blockbuster from Netflix because I thought the idea of returning movies in the store and picking up a new one would be convenient. Just about the time I started enjoying the membership Blockbuster decided to limit the number of in-store returns each month. I promptly complained and canceled my membership. I may renew my Netflix membership soon because without cable our options are pretty limited.
- Office Depot Advantage Membership Card. Another one that hasn’t seen much daylight thanks to my frugal streak. I used to buy ink, paper and basic office supplies here for the rewards, but have since found cheaper alternatives such as re-manufactured ink cartridges.
- Travel Club Card. It’s only a few dollars a month, and it gives me peace of mind when my wife travels.
- Driver’s License. Standard issue for any wallet. I did notice that the listed weight was WAY understated since my last renewal…shhhh!
- Health Insurance Card. This card lists deductibles and co-pay percentages. When you visit a new doctor they will ask for a copy of your proof of insurance. If you are ever in a accident it helps to have this handy to give to medical personnel.
- Company Division Directory. A coworker had a great idea to make wallet cards with important contact information for key personnel in our division and laminate it for protection. I carry it with me, since you know I don’t have a Blackberry, PDA or other electronic gadget to store numbers. Believe it or not, pens and paper still work just fine.
Well, that’s quite a list for such a small wallet – no wonder my back hurts after sitting in an office chair all day! I decided to keep most of these items in my new wallet, but I grouped them more logically and took advantage of the new wallet’s improved design.
One thing not in my wallet (sorry Capital One) is a credit card. I used to carry several cards, and then I scaled down to just one. However, I removed the temptation to spend by taking that last “emergency” card out of my wallet and placed it in a safe place at home. I do take it with me when I travel, but it is reserved strictly for emergencies. When my emergency fund is fully funded the associated check card will replace this last credit card.