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Six Things to Keep in Your Wallet

Farnoosh Torabi

An overstuffed wallet is waste of space, whether it’s in your pocket or pocketbook. And it’s not doing your finances any favors either. A simple and well-organized billfold can save you time, hassle, and if you stay organized, even earn you rewards. Here are the only six items to keep in your wallet.
Basic Contact Information

First, it’s smart to have some basic contact information in your wallet should it ever get lost. It’s best to include your phone number where it’s easily visible. While you’re at it, make sure to include some emergency contact information as well, whether it’s the phone number of a spouse or roommate. According to Emergency Lin, 89% of us fail to include this basic information in our wallets or cell phones, yet it can prove helpful in case of an emergency. You may have personal identification buried somewhere in the form of a business card or I.D., but it may not be readily clear that it’s your wallet.

Business Cards

Separately, you may want to keep some business cards in your wallet, because you never know who you might meet. Better yet, save the wallet space and go digital. Apps such BeamMe, SnapDat and DropCard make exchanging information easy.

You may think it’s passé to carry cash these days when you can make nearly any purchase with your bank card or smartphone, however consider that $25 to $50 is enough to split a restaurant bill with a friend and cash always comes in handy in an emergency.

Debit or credit cards help with everyday transactions, but if you have more than a few you may want to place the ones you use more frequently near the front — for example, your low-interest credit card or rewards card — and leave the extras in a safe place at home. 
Government I.D.

Your wallet’s biggest weakness is probably all those membership and loyalty cards, but remember that your government-issued I.D., such as your license, is a valid substitute and should be all you need. Try slimming down with services like Passbook, a new iPhone feature that lets you access reward card information, boarding passes, tickets and even coupons from your phone.
Insurance Cards

Next, carry your dental, vision and health care cards in your wallet whenever going to the doctor, and especially keep you primary care card on you at all times in case you have go to the hospital in the event of an emergency. However, be aware that Medicare cards still display social security numbers. Experts recommend using a photocopy and blocking the digits except the final four. This should work for all follow-up visits.
Another way to lighten your load is to clear out those receipts daily — and especially shred those receipts that contain any personal banking information. For receipts you want to save, keep them safe by going digital. Apps such as Lemon Wallet and Shoeboxed create and categorize digital copies of your receipts and business cards.
You may think this goes without saying, but never keep you passport, social security card, birth certificate or anything containing passwords in your wallet or purse. It’s a huge security risk. In the event you have a lost or stolen wallet, you want to know what you’re missing. Every few months, take inventory of your wallet by making a list, photocopy or even a digital scan of all its contents. Keep that list in a safe place.

 As always, we want to hear from you. What’s in your wallet? Connect with me on Twitter @Farnoosh and use the #finfit.

Special Thanks to Jonathan Adler for making this video possible.