Let’s Talk Wallet Clutter

Written by Sarah Spedding


Posted on July 06 2021

You’ve gone ahead and made the jump from a traditional wallet to a super-slim wallet, and you’re pretty proud of yourself, aren’t you? But let’s talk about minimalist wallet health. 

With a minimalist wallet, you would think that things couldn’t get much more straightforward. You’re partially correct.  Decluttering from a traditional wallet is about 80% of the battle with junk, but sometimes we need a refresher course to keep it slim when it comes to minimalist wallets.  

Why should we be mindful of this?

  1. It eliminates distractions.
  2. It removes spending triggers that can spur ‘impulsive’ purchases.
  3. It makes your wallet more functional and comfortable to use.
  4. It clears mental clutter, too.

Here are some handy rules to keep in mind when you are finally in the wallet cleaning mood:

  • Rule #1 - If you haven’t used it in the last 30 days, you don’t need to carry it in your wallet
  • Rule #2 - If it causes you to spend more than you should (DANGER!), you don’t need to carry it in your wallet
  • Rule #3 - If it uses up excess space, you don’t need to carry it in your wallet

Here are the golden items that need to be in your wallet:

  • Cash. Only what you need. You shouldn’t need to keep exorbitant amounts of money on hand. If you do, you shouldn’t carry it all in one place, anyway.
  • One, maybe two, credit/debit cards. Carrying a lot of credit cards can not only become a spending problem, but it can become a serious issue in cases of theft or loss.  The fewer cards you need to cancel if your wallet were lost or stolen, the better. Plus, it gives thieves less of an opportunity to be able to spend your money or steal your identity. 
  • A driver’s license, student ID card (if applicable), or whatever form of personal identification you need. Again, less is more.  The less you carry, the less you have to worry about getting out there in the wrong hands if you were separated from your wallet.
  • A baby photo. What? According to a study done in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2009, wallets with photos are more likely to be returned than wallets without photos.  A baby photo takes the lead—88 percent of wallets with baby photos were returned, compared to 53 percent for puppy photos, 48 percent for happy family photos, and 28 percent for images of an elderly couple.  This, of course, is totally up to you, but who can argue with those stats? 

Remove these things from your wallet ASAP:

  • Receipts. If you need them, scan them and throw away the receipt. Don’t stuff them in your wallet. (This may be a hard habit to break for some of you.)
  • Gift cards/coupons. These are space wasters and the first thing that would be lifted and used from your wallet by a thief. 
  • Membership/rewards cards. We love ourselves some good rewards points redemption, but there is a better way than carrying around a gajillion cards. Store them on your phone. There are apps (we’re thinking the Stockard app and others like it) made just for this situation. Liberate yourself!
  • Business Cards. If you sincerely need the card, take a photo (both front and back if applicable) and create an album on your phone just for business cards.  You will always have those cards on hand without using up precious wallet space.
  • Anything of great value: Jewelry. USB device. Gold Boullion, whatever.  Get it out and keep it safe somewhere else. 
  • Social Security Card. This shouldn’t need to be on your person. When was the last time you were asked to produce your SSN Card on the fly? Never? Then play it safe. Don’t carry it. 

Emotionally, it can take some prep to hone our wallet contents down to the bare minimum. This is normal.  If you get in the habit of cleaning out your wallet every 1-2 weeks (yes, we just said that) to kick out the grifters, it should become second nature. Before long, you won’t have to wonder what should stay and what you should give the boot.  And that, friends, is true minimalism.