Wallets have been around for centuries. Initially designed to hold currency, they've evolved to store much more than just cash. Most of us keep everything from receipts to credit cards to IDs in our wallets. While it's a convenient place to store the things you need easy access to, a stuffed wallet is unorganized and also a treasure trove for identity thieves. If your wallet or purse ever gets stolen, what you keep in your wallet could end up costing you not only your money, but your very identity.
This list will help you know what you can keep in your wallet and what to store in a safer place.
There are certain things you should leave out of your wallet and instead store at home or in a safe deposit box. Some of the most important things to keep from your wallet include:
Keeping a social security card in your wallet is something all financial experts advise against. It’s all a savvy thief needs to nab your identity. Never store your social security card in your wallet, period.
Most wallets should have at least one government-issued ID. This will usually include a driver’s license, and a driver’s license will have your home address on it. For this reason, it’s a bad idea to keep any spare keys in your wallet or purse. If your wallet is stolen, the thief knows exactly where you live and can get into your home with the key.
Many people will list their passwords on post-its or papers and store them in their wallets or purse. But if your wallet also has your ATM card in it, a thief could clean out your bank account. If you have a smart phone, consider downloading an app that keeps your passwords in a passcode-protected or encrypted account.
While storing everything in your wallet can be risky and unorganized, there are certain things you need to keep in your wallet for convenience and identification. These include:
Your medical, dental, and prescription cards should be kept in your wallet for easy access. This is important if you need to visit a doctor or have a prescription filled while traveling. Keeping your insurance cards in your wallet also saves you the hassle of getting reimbursed.
A government ID—such as a driver’s license, government issued identification card, or a passport—to do things like open a bank account, travel on an airplane, receive public benefits, get an apartment, cash a check, and anything that requires proof of identification. The best place to keep at least one is your wallet. For most people, this is a driver’s license.
Your wallet should carry a credit or debit card for your everyday purchases. If you have a lot of credit cards, however, don’t store them all in your wallet. If your wallet ever gets lost or stolen, it’s easier to cancel just one or two cards instead of half a dozen or more.
Plastic is the norm, but it’s prudent to carry at least some cash in your wallet. It comes in handy for things like tips in restaurants, parking garages, and in emergencies. Make sure you never carry more than you can afford to lose.
Keeping a tidy, organized wallet with only the essentials not only makes things easier to find, but it also lessens the damage that could occur to your bank account (and identity) if your wallet is ever stolen.