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A Man’s Wallet

Picture this: you’re talking to a small group of people.  Things are going great–in fact you feel this could really lead to something big.  Then someone asks for your business card.

You reach into your pocket and pull out……a huge lump of nylon and duct tape with tattered receipts and dozens of dollar bills sticking out from the corners.  Fumbling through the tightly wound ball of “important” items carried “just in case,” you finally manage to find a card after 5 minutes of searching. It’s marked up and bent, but hey–it’s a card, right?


Not a great impression, eh?

If you’ve had the same wallet since seventh grade, perhaps it is time to invest in something a little more mature and appropriate.

A gentleman’s wallet needs to be two things:

1) Functional

2) Presentable

Both have a lot to do with what you’re carrying, so get ready to clean house.

In this blog I will discuss the Functional needs:  What Your Wallet Needs

If you’re guilty of carrying around a George Constanza wallet, one that’s stuffed to the brim, waiting to explode and blow all your “important” papers to the wind, then you really should consider going through your wallet and stripping it down to its bare essentials. Because not only does an overstuffed wallet look kind of silly when you pull it out in public, it also does a number on your clothing and appearance when it’s being carried around in your pocket. A giant wallet in the back pocket of your pants makes sitting down uncomfortable and your backside look like it’s growing an unsightly tumor. Carrying an overstuffed wallet in your coat pocket weighs you down on one side, making the jacket’s shoulders a little lopsided. And regardless of the pocket you put it in, a heavy wallet will create creases that shorten the lifespan of the garment.

So if you want to streamline your wallet, how do you figure out what should stay and what should go? Here are some suggested guidelines:

Items Every Gentleman’s Wallet Should Have

Cash – Although credit cards and other forms of electronic payment have become dominant in how we exchange money, cold hard cash is still widely accepted and in some instances preferred.  It’s fast, convenient, and from a vendor’s perspective has no processing fee (which is why you see discounts occasionally).   Cash is king when it comes to tips and paying for quick services where electronic payment forms require extra time and you would rather just pay and be on your way.

Identification – Stick to the bare minimum here.  A driver’s license/identification card should be your default.  You may need a second ID for your job or school, but try to stop there.  No need to carry your international driver’s licenses or passport unless you’re in a foreign country.  And even then, I prefer to keep a photocopy and leave my original in a hotel safe or other secure area.

Credit Cards – Carry 1-2 credit or debit cards.  Here is where a lot of people go overboard–in fact the average American has 7 cards!  You do not need to carry your Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, and 3 fuels cards with you always. However, I do like to carry both a debit and credit card.  The better credit cards offer a wide variety of protections not offered to debit card purchases.

Items to Leave Out of Your Wallet

Discount, club membership, library, and medical cards should be left at home unless you’re making a specific trip and know you’ll need them. 

Condoms – Keeping condoms for long periods in your wallet only damages them.  If you need to have some on hand, store them in your vehicle.

Coins – Unless you’re in a country where coin usage is a larger part of society for transportation (I feel for you guys over in Europe)–leave the coins at home. 

Receipts – If you like to keep them for your records, transfer them immediately from your wallet to a folder as soon as you get home.  Week to year old receipts don’t have any place in your pocket.

Technology Note

Just because I do not carry the above items does not mean I do not have access to the information.  Using my smart phone, I keep scanned copies of important cards and files on a secure cloud-based service which I can access from anywhere.  Just the other day I had a receptionist make a photocopy of my daughter’s medical insurance card that was displayed on my iPhone via Dropbox.  There are many ways to do this–just remember to think through the security of the system you set up.  A lapse of security here could easily lead to identity theft.