We all know someone whose wallet looks like this:
The coupons, the immunization records, the defunct grocery lists, the Blockbuster cards. Their entire life, stuffed into a bulging slip of leather that’s begging for a merciful death. If you want to see how well this wallet worked out for George Costanza, read to the bottom of this post.
Being behind the Costanza Wallet at Starbucks is an especially pleasant experience. You may eventually get to pay for your own Americano, only after its owner rummages in the sub-sub folders of the wallet for five minutes to find the right points card.
First rule of wallets is: this is an object of speed and utility. If you can’t find what you need quickly, then it’s time to rethink.
“I need everything in there!” -George Costanza, Seinfeld
No you don’t. At least not on a regular basis.
Take a moment to dump everything out of your wallet. Then, run through the 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Purge, which include:
1) How often do I use this?
2) Do I have more than one of these? and
3) Is there room to keep this?
Then, divide the surviving items into two “keep” piles:
Things I actually need in my wallet. This likely includes things like primary identification (i.e., driver's license), money, debit/credit cards, and oft-used points cards.
Things I need, but not necessarily in my wallet. This likely includes secondary identification (i.e., your Social Insurance card), coupons, and less-used points cards.
Is your physical wallet working for you? Too big, and you’re going to be tempted to use it as a time capsule. Too small, and you’ll find yourself shoving cards and money into other locations (like purse pockets). Think about whether your current wallet can accommodate the items you have labeled as things I actually need in my wallet?
One cool option for the uber minimalist is this combination phone case and wallet. There are loads of neat options, if this size works for your wallet contents. These three options are found on the Apple Accessory site
While not yet available in Canada, there are some products like Coin and Plastc, which seek to combine your cards (Visa, AMEX, Debit, etc.) into one slim card. This is something to watch for. Depending on the security of the option, this could be a great way to minimize your wallet card count.
So, what to do with the items you’ve labeled as things I need, but not necessarily in my wallet?
One low-tech option for items like coupons and points cards is the single binder ring (just punch a hold in the corner of your cards and coupons):
There are also some who like to use a separate change purse in their bags to house coins, cards, or coupons. This is a great way to house the things I need, but not necessarily in my wallet as long as your change purse doesn't become your Costanza Change Purse.
Part of having a slimmer wallet is maintaining a slimmer wallet. Don’t accumulate receipts, parking stubs, and other disposables as you go. Take some time while you’re waiting in line to pull out any garbage. Or, engage in Friday “Dump Day.”
The best way to get an organized wallet: never allow it to become Costanza Wallet in the first place.