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What to Keep in Your Wallet and What to Leave at Home

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When it comes to your wallet, sometimes it’s best to follow the “always, sometimes, never” rule if you’re concerned about what to keep tucked inside.1

You want to make sure you have the essentials, but at the same time, you don’t want to carry something that could pose a security risk. Here are some simple guidelines to consider when it comes to wallet management.

Watch Your Wallet

Always
Sometimes
Never
Driver’s license
Medical card
Social Security card
Credit card
Dental card
Passwords
Debit card
Gift card
Birth certificate
Cash
Passport card
House key

Always: When you have a driver’s license, it should be the centerpiece of your wallet. Consider carrying at least one credit card and perhaps your debit card. One credit card may be better than several cards in the event that you misplace your wallet and have to call financial institutions to cancel cards that were lost. Be certain to understand your spending limits—and your responsibility for fraudulent transactions—on your debit card. These can be different from those established for your credit card.

Sometimes: Remember that you only need to produce your health insurance cards when you have a medical appointment. While it may be convenient to keep in your wallet “just in case,” keep in mind that your regular doctors are likely to retain a copy of your card on file. In such cases you may only have to show your doctor the updated information once a year.

You might be thinking, “What if I have to go to the emergency room?” In most instances, a hospital will still treat you if you don’t have your health insurance card. You would simply be expected to produce the card at a later date.

The Inside Story

9% of people have an old hotel key tucked in their wallet. 15% carry around a Band-Aid, and 21% have an EMPTY gift card.”2

Never: This is a straightforward list that includes your Social Security card, birth certificate, and passport card. Only in certain circumstances will these documents be needed for identification purposes, and they can be a treasure trove in the event that a bad actor takes possession of your wallet. Leave them in a secure spot, and if they are ever needed, take them out and return them as soon as possible.

“In today’s society, far too many people don’t want to accept responsibility for their financial well-being,” wrote Mick Owens in his popular book, Diamond of Life: The Five P’s of Success and Significance. “Many consider themselves to be victims of their circumstances.”

Pro Tip: As soon as possible, make a photocopy of everything (front and back) that’s in your wallet. You’ll appreciate knowing exactly what’s in your wallet in the event it gets misplaced. You may want to pull some items out based on the “always, sometimes, never” rule. In the meantime, you can take a photocopy. Don’t rely on your memory!

The most important take-away is that your wallet is not a filing system. It should hold some critical items, and perhaps some other things that you find important, but in the unlikely event something were to happen, you want to know exactly what you have to replace.

  1. Artofmanliness.com, April 30, 2023
  2. Thebulltucson.iheart.com, August 22, 2022

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