The Minimalist Wallet – Seven Ways to Slim It Down

I try to keep my wallet as light and streamlined as possible (no Costanza wallet for me!). To this end, I’ve found the following strategies to be particularly useful:

1. Carry one credit card. In fact, own as few as possible; signing up for every store card, or offer that comes in the mail, only complicates life. Who wants to deal with all that paperwork? (And worse yet, all that potential debt!) I typically keep two credit cards at a time: one with a high credit limit, for travel and big-ticket items; and one with a low limit for online shopping (to lessen the hassle if the numbers are stolen). The low limit one stays at home, the higher limit one in my wallet.

2. Carry one debit/ATM card. This not only reduces the bulk of your wallet, it helps you consolidate spending onto one bank statement.

3. Carry cash. Okay, from a strictly minimalist standpoint, you might say that cash adds unnecessary bulk. However, I much prefer to carry a few bills, rather than review a bank statement that has a zillion little purchases on it. In fact, I use cash as much as possible, particularly for minor expenditures like food, household supplies, drugstore items, books, magazines, and most clothing. I simply don’t want to be bothered with keeping the receipts, and matching them up to a bank statement every month.

4. Don’t carry a checkbook. It takes up too much space, and makes you that person that nobody wants to be in line behind.

5. Don’t use your wallet as a filing cabinet. I empty all the receipts from my wallet as soon as I get home, trashing the insignificant ones and filing those that I might need later (for warranties, returns, tax purposes, etc.).

6. Don’t use your wallet as a Rolodex or photo album. Leave your business cards and photos at home (or convert them to digital format and put them on your smartphone or PDA, if you carry one).

7. Be selective with “loyalty cards.” Don’t accept them for places where you don’t shop frequently; or if you do, only bring them along when you’re going to that particular store. I only have one at the moment, for the store where I do most of my grocery shopping. If I had more, however, I’d seriously consider using a service like JustOneClubCard to consolidate them.

When it comes to your wallet (and financial transactions), how do you keep things simple? I’d love to hear more tips!