We're not saying you have a George Constanza problem, but over time, you've loaded your wallet up with so many odds and ends—and credit cards and receipts—it's hard to locate what you actually need when you need it. Here's how to streamline and lighten your wallet or purse.
Only carry 2 credit cards at once
It's a theft prevention thing: The more credit cards you carry, the easier it is for someone to rack up a bunch of debt should you accidentally misplace your purse. In addition, if your wallet goes missing, it's a colossal pain to get a temporary card to shop with while you wait out the arrival of new replacement cards. Instead, stock your wallet with just 1 major credit card, plus a backup—then leave the rest at home.
Ditch your gift cards
We understand the logic: It's always the time that you're without the gift card that you find yourself passing by the exact store where you have the prepaid cash to spend. Still, carrying gift cards in your wallet is not only a space-waster, there's no way to recover the balance if your wallet gets lost. So, unless you know you're going to the store where you have gift cards to blow, leave them behind. Another option: Pre-load the balance to your account. (Stores like Target and Amazon allow you to do this for free via their websites.)
Always carry a $20, plus a few singles
We live in a debit card world, but cash is still king. Make it a rule to always tuck a $20 in a safe place where you know you won't spend it unless you're in a jam. Add to that a few singles, which are good to have on hand for smaller expenses or when there's a minimum spend to pay with a card. As for any quarters and dimes you get back? Off-load them in a jar on your nightstand that you'll eventually cash in so they don't weigh you down.
Never ever carry your Social Security card or passport
It may seem like a no-brainer, but lose these, and it's like you're on the fast track to identity theft. Not to mention, it's quite a hassle to replace them. Unless you're traveling—or updating some important life documents where 1 of these items is required—best to leave both in a locked safe or filing cabinet at home.
Throw away all your receipts (just scan them first)
Hello, paper clutter. The worst part about holding onto a zillion out-of-date receipts is that you can never find what you need for, say, a return, when you need it. Instead, use an app like Evernote to digitally scan and organize all your receipts on the go. (It takes literally 2 seconds to snap a pic, then file it away.)
Carry a baby photo
According to a study out of the University of Hertfordshire in England, a pic of a cute baby is the one item that could compel a person to make every effort to return your wallet to you should you lose it.* (In the study, 88% of wallets with a baby photo were returned.)
*Wesci, Using Psychology To Get Back Your Lost Wallet, Anupum Pant, February 8, 2014.
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