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What's In Your Wallet? 10 Things That Should and Shouldn't Be


Most everyone who watches TV is familiar with the advertising slogans, “What’s in your wallet?” and “Don’t leave home without it”.  Here are a few helpful tips for what to leave in, what to leave out of wallets and purses.


So what SHOULD you carry in your wallet or purse? 

1. Driver's license or government ID

Always carry your driver’s license or state I.D. card.  However, remember that a government I.D. has only basic information such as your photo, age, height, weight, hair and eye color, and residential address and doesn’t provide medical or contact information.

2. Emergency contacts and other important information

You should have emergency contact information in the form of an In Case of Emergency (ICE) card with you at all times.  If you were in an accident, had a medical emergency, or suffered a bad fall, for example, no one would know who to contact on your behalf.  You don’t want your medical care, pet care, or other decisions left to strangers because no one can locate your emergency contacts.  There is often room on ICE cards to also list your medical conditions, allergies, and prescription information.

3. Insurance cards

It's also a good idea to carry your insurance cards, both medical and automobile, as long as they don’t have social security numbers pre-printed on them.

4. Debit and credit cards

You have to have a way to purchase things right?  But don't overdo it.  One or two credit and/or debit cards should be enough.  It’s often a good idea to carry two, because sometimes one won’t work for an unknown reason and you will have another option.

5. Cash

Carry a small amount of cash, for small expenses, tips, or emergencies.  A few small bills are generally sufficient. 


So what should you NOT carry?

1. Social Security number

Anything that has your social security number (including Medicare cards) should be avoided, as these make it much too easy for identity thieves to steal yours.  With just your name, address (found on your driver’s license or state ID), and social security card they have access to most or all of your credit information.

2.  Passwords or PINs

If you keep your passwords or PINs with you and your wallet or purse is lost or stolen, it could not be any easier to steal money out of your ATM or log into your online accounts since they know where you have your bank and credit cards!.  This invites not only identity thieves, but other thieves as well.  The same is true for blank checks, which have your bank account information pre-printed on them, and usually your name and address, too. 

3. Spare keys 

Obviously you have to carry your keys but don't keep a spare house/apartment key with anything that lists your address!  Not only could a would-be thief have your address, but they would also have your key forcing you to change your locks. 

4.  Too many cards and too much cash 

There is no need to carry more than two credit cards in your wallet, and maybe a debit card or two.  Leave others, especially store credit cards unless you specifically plan to shop at that store, at home.  In general, if you have one credit card to which you have things direct billed, it’s better to leave that one at home and carry a different card.  That way should your wallet be lost or stolen, you won’t have to contact many merchants and cancel the direct billing.  Keep loyalty cards to a minimum also.  Most places have key tags or you can just use your phone number.

5. Too much cash

Don't carry more cash than you are willing to lose.  For most people, $20-$50 is sufficient.

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