The Wallet Slimming Trick: A Time & Space Saver

  • Huge wallets are NOT cool

    Monstrous wallets have never been in vogue, and likely never will be. I had been thinking about slimming down my wallet for some time now, but this morning I got the jolt of inspiration I needed. As I walked into work, I noticed another employee swiped in with his “wallet”—a black binder clip holding together a handful of credit cards and IDs. I asked him about it; he seemed more than pleased with the minimalist wallet. It looked straight up cool. I decided to give it a try. At left is my “before” photo: a huge, scratched up Tommy Hilfiger wallet. At one point, this was an attractive wallet, but years of abuse and receipts have turned it into a hideous block of warped leather and plastic.
    Eye-catching simplicity
  • Eye-catching simplicity

    At left is my “after” photo: my entire financial and work identity reduced to a slim stack of nine cards, and then boiled down even further to seven cards. I used a standard black binder clip. Pretty much every office should have a bunch of these. As you can see, the result is striking. No more fumbling around for my debit card. No more receipts falling out or crinkled bills drenched in viral DNA fragments. And no more worries about any of my cards falling out—the binder clip is surprisingly strong. What cards did I end up keeping? Which ones did I toss into the circular? Read on, young padawan.
    Down to nine cards: clutter gone
  • Down to nine cards: clutter gone

    I was able to toss out an expired auto insurance card, a Post-it note with some useless phone number on it, a bunch of receipts, a couple business cards and of course the wallet itself. My current stack of cards: American Express credit card, checking account debit card, subway MetroCard, two work IDs, driver’s license, old college ID, Barnes & Noble membership card and a health insurance card. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Now down to seven cards
  • Now down to seven cards

    The stack still felt a bit too bulky. The whole point of a binder clip wallet, aside from the practical points I have already outlined, is that it makes you look like something of a style rebel when you pull it out in line at Starbucks. (For those of you who seek to impress people in line behind you.) I tossed my college ID; I figure I’ll never need that one again. The Barnes & Noble membership I was able to pull out as well because I remembered that B&N does not require the physical card to be present in order to get the member’s discount: you can just give them the phone number you have on file. Seven pieces of plastic! One binder clip! Nothing else. That’s minimalist bliss. My wallet should be on display at a modern art exhibit somewhere uptown.
  • Modifications…

    When you streamline your own wallet, you may want to throw in one or two business cards—in case you meet an important contact in the seat next to you on the plane, in the elevator, etc. You never know when you’ll bump into the big kahuna. Also, even though I have plenty of faith in the combined powers of MasterCard and AmEx, it’s still a good idea to fold up a twenty or fifty dollar bill and place it somewhere within your stack. Every once in a while, you need cash to get you out of a bind—a psycho cab driver whose card machine is down, a convenience store that doesn’t accept cards, etc. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Make it even slimmer
  • Make it even slimmer

    As you have probably noticed, the side of your credit cards with the raised account numbers creates a gap between cards. Reduce this space by pairing credit cards back to back.
    Avoid magnets and heat…
  • Avoid magnets and heat…

    Since all of your magnetic stripe cards are in one cluster, you don’t want to expose them to any powerful magnets—doing so could wipe all of the cards. Also, avoid extreme heat—don’t leave your new binder wallet in the car for extended periods of time when it’s hot outside. You don’t want the card decals and graphics to melt or distort. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    What if you get mugged?
  • What if you get mugged?

    It’s also a smart idea to do a written inventory of each credit or debit card you have in the stack. This way, if your wallet gets lost or stolen, you will know exactly what accounts need to be closed down. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Taking this even deeper
  • Taking this even deeper

    Cards toward the top of the stack are easier to get to—less shuffling is required. Use this fact to discipline yourself… If you want to use a cash back rewards credit card on most purchases, place that toward the top of your stack. Similarly, if you want to cut down on credit card usage, place a checking account debit card right at the top and bury your credit cards. Be ruthless in deciding which cards to keep on you. If you have a library card you haven’t used in two years or a credit card you only use once every six months, chances are these can be left in a drawer or safe at home. Enjoy your new wallet—it’s bound to impress quite a few bartenders and Starbucks baristas. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Health benefits, too?
  • Health benefits, too?

    There is actually something called "fat wallet syndrome" -- a painful condition that affects those with oversized wallets. "Sitting on a thick billfold can put pressure on your sciatic nerve, the major nerve running through the buttocks," according to Men's Health. One more reason to cut down on wallet clutter right now! Photo Credit: Getty Images
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