When you leave your house in the morning, you probably grab the same list of things over and over: your keys, your phone, and, of course, your wallet. And when it comes to the latter, before you go rushing out the door with literally all of your most important documents and paperwork jammed into your back pocket, consider taking a moment to ask yourself whether that’s really a good idea.
Setting aside the fact that you don’t want to be George Costanza, it’s important to remember that wallets get lost often, and it’s always smart to cut your losses. And while wallets are there for a reason and many things do belong in them—money, credit cards, and your drivers license—there are many more that absolutely don’t.
So read on to discover just what those things are, and keep your wallet handy while doing so: you’ll probably be dumping some of its contents soon. And for more brilliant help navigating your daily life, don’t miss All of the Things You Shouldn’t Keep in Your Car.
While it’s always good idea to have a condom handy, it’s a bad idea to keep one in your wallet. According to the National Institute of Health, condoms should only be stored in cool, dry, places, like a closet or desk drawer. If you must keep one on your person, they recommend storing it in a loose pocket or purse for no more than a few hours at a time. The reason? The heat—along with the constant friction—that a condom will experience in a wallet is liable to cause microscopic tears in the latex, rendering it useless.
Too Much Cash
Carrying cash can be a helpful way of sticking to a budget: unlike a credit card, once you spend it, you’re done. However, carrying a wallet bulging with bills is also sure to make you an attractive target to any would-be thief.
If you find yourself dropping Jeffersons and Lincolns every time you pull out your wallet to make a purchase, that’s a good sign that you’re carrying too much cash. If you’re determined to refrain from credit card usage, consider instead keeping a small amount of cash in your wallet, while storing the rest in a front pocket that will be way more secure. And for more advice on beefing up your own personal security force, see the 15 Best Ways to Protect Your Home.
Keeping receipts is a smart way to make sure you’re not getting overcharged, in addition to allowing you to return any unwanted items. However, you’d be surprised how much information a prospective identity thief can lift from those very receipts should they slip out of a back pocket.
Instead of keeping them on hand, designate a drawer at home for those crumpled sheets of paper. And for more ways to watch your own back, don’t miss the 20 Subtle Signs Your Identity Has Been Stolen.
Whether it’s to help get through the day, or to simply show off how handsome your kids are, keeping photos in a wallet is one of mankind’s oldest traditions.
However, think of how disappointing it would be to learn not only that you’ve lost your wallet—and have to cancel all your credit cards—but you’ve also lost a collection of priceless images. Instead, make copies of beloved photos and carry those around as a substitute. Or, better yet: Since it’s 2018, put that lovely photo of you and your loved ones on your smartphone lock screen.
Password Cheat Sheets
Given how many passwords it’s necessary to remember nowadays, it’s common to use cheat sheets to keep all those codes written down in one place. That place, however, should not be your wallet—thieves don’t need any more incentives to slip that thing out of your back pocket.
Instead, try a digital password keeper. Or, if you’d prefer sticking to paper, keep that paper at home, and far, far, away from anyone’s grasp. Also, be sure you’re not using the 50 Passwords So Common You Should Never Use Them.
It makes sense to have your business cards on you at all times—you never know when the next opportunity may greet you. However, it’s a much better idea to use something specifically made to hold your cards rather than piling them inside your wallet.
Why? Well, business cards should always be presentable, and unless your wallet is made of unbendable metal, you’re all but guaranteed to maim and discolor your cards if you’re keeping them in a leather folding contraption that goes in your back pocket. After all, do you want a potential employer to be holding a flimsy cardboard rectangle that looks as if it’s been through the wash?
It might seem like a good idea to keep a pair of spare keys in your wallet. That way, when you inevitably can’t find your first pair, you know exactly where to find another set.
However, the last thing you want to worry about when you lose your wallet is the possibility that a stranger is now able to enter your home. Calling the credit card company to cancel fraudulent charges is one thing; changing the locks on your house is another.
USB drives are a great way to store all sorts of information on-the-go. Similarly, wallets are a great way to store money and credit cards on-the-go. However, just because they serve a similar purpose doesn’t mean the two are meant to be mixed.
While it might seem like a good idea to keep these important personal effects together, it’s better—just like investing—to diversify your risk. So, keep your data and your credit separate; should you lose one, you’ll be happy you didn’t also lose the other.
Social Security Card
If for any reason your social security card is not in a safety deposit box and indeed sits in your back pocket, allow us to offer up a helpful reminder: should your wallet fall into the wrong hands, the combination of your credit cards and your social security number will allow the wallet’s new holder to do just about anything on your behalf.
Children’s Birth Certificates
Parents constantly need to use their children’s birth certificate to register them for numerous things: school, insurance, even recreational sports. Even if you carry this around only momentarily, it will cost you if you lose it. Not just monetarily: You’ll also need to find a notary to go through the bureaucratic rigmarole to replace it. So do yourself a favor: make a copy and carry that around instead.
Two words: Blank. Check.
Nowadays, a lot of phone accessory companies have the bright idea of combining a wallet and a phone case. Like much else on this list, however, the slight ease gained from combining the two doesn’t come close to the pain of losing both your wallet and your phone at the same time.
How, for example, are you going to call the bank to cancel your credit cards when you don’t even have your cell phone on you?
Excess Credit Cards
While you might be signed up for a number of credit cards, it’s likely you only use one or two. If that’s the case, there’s no reason to be carrying around the others. You’ll be protecting yourself from fraud and protecting yourself from buying things you simply don’t need. Win win!
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