With apologies (or not) to the unending stream of Capital One credit card commercials, some members of The Money Writers network that I’m a part of decided on a project: to show you…well… what’s in our wallets. We haven’t seen each other’s posts before writing our own, so I imagine we’ll learn something. Maybe you will too, and at the end of the post feel free to share anything interesting you keep in your wallet (or purse or money clip or whatever).
So here’s my wallet:
Originally I planned to pull all of my cards out and blur out the identifying information, but that ended up looking like a big blurry mess, so that’s what it looks like unfolded. So what’s in it?
Pocket A: The non-essentials
These are the items I like to keep, but none of them are that critical. Here I keep my library card, a grocery store loyalty shopper card (which I seldom use, since I go more often to another store), my Florida discount prescription card and my voter registration card. The voter registration card is a surprisingly widely accepted form of identification here; any time I’m asked for two forms of identification I’d usually provide this (since I don’t carry my passport around).
Pocket B: The identifying information
These are the important items. My health insurance card, my driver’s license and my AAA card. I don’t know if I could get by presenting my driver’s license instead of my AAA card, but the AAA card is so useful for so many reasons (discounts and so on), let alone the actual car breakdown/accident services, that I consider it a “must.”
Pocket C: The credit/debit cards
Unfortunately this one keeps growing despite my best efforts. I’ve got an Amex Blue Cash card which has been our “family” card for years. I use that whenever possible, but I do keep an amazon.com Visa card for the rare institution that doesn’t accept Amex, or times I need to keep a purchase hidden from Bubelah (and not like you might be thinking – since we both see the Amex bill, and the Visa is mine alone, it’s useful when it’s gift-giving time).
Now that we’ve switched to a high-deductible plan with an associated Health Savings Account (HSA) we had to add a debit card for that account, in addition to the ATM/debit card we use with our primary checking account. I also carry a very seldom (physically) used business Amex card for my consulting business. The business expenses are few and far between, though, and most of them tend to be online, anyway.
The cash flap
I usually carry about $100 or less; in recent years I’ve found cash is almost never necessary, but I still feel weird walking around without it. I also keep a few receipts in there that haven’t managed to make their way into my inbox prior to filing. I keep a couple of business cards, but that’s another item I find myself handing out less and less; I’ve considered just carrying some blank white cards with my name printed on them, and then scribbling down whatever contact information I need to give a particular person. Some people don’t need your website; others do. It’s either carry blanks or get five different variations.
So what’s missing from my wallet?
I used to carry around various loyalty program cards in my wallet – Marriott Rewards, Continental, Where Ya Bean? coffee and so on. I found that so few of those cards ever came out of the wallet that the annoyance of carrying them around far outweighed the benefit of having them on hand. Once phones were developed with “note” capabilities the need to have the numbers physically on hand disappeared.
With the rapid advancement in, and acceptance of, smart phones and similar devices, I imagine we’re only a decade (or less) away from being wallet-less. Of course that applies mainly to (a) people with income high enough to afford smart phones and (b) people technologically comfortable enough to use them. I doubt I’ll ever travel without a credit card and a couple of $20 bills tucked in a money clip, just in case I come across a non “smartkey” (or whatever it will be called) area; but before long I’d imagine things like loyalty cards will be replaced by phones sending Bluetooth signals or something. What does it mean? Probably nothing – maybe an increase in the type of advertising as seen in “Minority Report,” in which billboards scan your retina, determine who you are and then display an ad appropriate to you: ”Steve, get your New York Jets Super Bowl 45 memorabilia!” Does that matter? Not really – advertising is a fact of life in the Western world, unless you want to live in a van down by the river.
Other Money Writer posts in the “What’s in My Wallet” project
For the other Money Writer posts, check out: