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Lifehacks: What To Carry In Your Wallet

Updated on October 12, 2015
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Dr. Penny Pincher founded the popular personal finance blog Penny Pincher Journal in 2013 and has published two books about saving money.

What's In Your Wallet?

What do you carry in your wallet? Here's a breakdown of items to carry in your wallet to make it through the day and help save money as well:

What do you carry in your wallet?
What do you carry in your wallet? | Source

Credit Cards

When asked, "What's in your wallet," most people think of credit cards. Carrying at least one credit card is a good idea. With a credit card, you can handle expenses that pop up. If your car breaks down and needs repair, you can conveniently pay the bill with a credit card instead of using cash or carrying a checkbook.

Lifehack: Request a lower interest rate on your credit cards

There is a famous credit card company that uses a tag line, "what's in your wallet?" in their advertising. In fact, I used to carry one of their credit cards in my wallet since it had lots of perks, points, etc.. One day I called up the credit card company and asked for a lower interest rate- the interest rate was around 20% as I recall. When this request was refused, I asked to speak to a manager who also refused my request. "I would like to cancel my card, then," was my response. They cancelled my card and have not contacted me at all for 5 years or so. Even though my wife gets credit offers from this company at least once a month, I have not heard from them at all since my call. I must have gotten on some sort of list...

Although this effort to get a lower interest rate failed, you can often call up your credit card company and get a lower interest rate simply by asking. In the case above, I think the points program was so generous that they had a hard time lowering the rate.

What's in your wallet?
What's in your wallet? | Source

Lifehack: Use credit cards- not debit cards- at gas pumps

I always use a credit card- not a debit card- at gas pumps. Credit card numbers can be stolen using stealthy card scanners hidden on the card reader on a gas pump. I would rather have my credit card stolen than my debit card since credit cards have better refund policies than if money is withdrawn from your bank account using a debit card.

Lifehack: Carry credit cards with a points program

I like to carry at least one Mastercard and one Visa card. Most places take both, but sometimes you run into a place that only accepts one or the other. I currently have a Discover card in my wallet as well that has a good rewards program.

I prefer to carry cards that have points and rewards. If you can pay the cards off every month, you can get lots of free stuff. I have a Citi rewards card that gives points that can be spend at I get so many points that I have trouble spending it all. The points are great to use to buy birthday and Christmas presents- anything on Amazon.

Debit Card

Lifehack: Use your debit card for small expenses to get free checking

I just mentioned that I never use my debit card at a gas pump out of fear that the card number can be stolen and funds could be withdrawn from my bank account. I do carry my debit card with me since in order to get free checking, I need to have 10 transactions per month on my debit card. This is not hard to do, I usually pay for small transactions such as buying milk or coffee beans at the grocery store with my debit card.

Coupons and Gift Cards

Lifehack: Carry your best coupons with you in your wallet

I have a few coupons squirreled away in my wallet. There is a $5 off pizza coupon that I use whenever I buy a pizza at my favorite place. I have probably saved hundreds of dollars over the years using the same coupon. I have it cut out nicely and keep it in my wallet, ready to go. Every year or two, the person working at the pizza shop decides to take the coupon, but not to worry- I have a stack of them at home ready to cut out and put in my wallet.

Sometimes I carry a 30% off coupon from Kohls in my wallet as well. The 30% off coupon is the best one that Kohls has, so I like to keep it with me when I have one. If I have any Kohl's Cash, I carry this as well.

Looking in my wallet, I am currently carrying a $10 Money card from Gordmans and a $7 off a $20 purchase at ACE hardware. I like to keep any especially good coupons or deals handy. If I need to buy something, I can quickly check my best coupons and see if I have a coupon that will cover what I need. I also have a Visa gift card that I received for good behavior at work.

Carry your best coupons in your wallet...
Carry your best coupons in your wallet... | Source

Punch Cards for Discounts

Lifehack: Carry punch cards for discounts

I also carry some punch cards to get free items. I have a punch card for milk from a local grocery store- buy 10 gallons of milk and get the 11th gallon free. This works out to about 30 cents off each gallon of milk.

I also carry a punch card for coffee- buy 10, get the 11th free. I normally make my own coffee at home for about 60 cents per 16oz cup, but sometimes I need that extra cup. I like to have my punch card handy in my wallet when that happens. This amounts to about 20 cents per cup savings.

Phone Numbers & Account #'s

Lifehack: Carry essential phone numbers and account numbers in your wallet- in case you lose your cell phone

In my wallet, I carry a small piece of paper with phone numbers and account numbers on it. I have phone numbers for my family and a few people at work. Although I have most of these numbers on my phone, I want a backup in case my phone goes dead or gets lost.

I also carry some account numbers with me, for example travel clubs and consignment shop account numbers. Having these handy helps me get points when I stay in a hotel or be able to easily check my balance or drop things off at the consignment shop. One consignment shop I used to sell at would charge $1 to look up your account number if you didn't know it!

Photos, Driver's License, AAA card

In my wallet, I fill in the standard compartments with photos and my driver's license. I need to access my driver's license when boarding an airplane and when taking cars for a test drive. I don't think I have ever been asked for my driver's license while driving, but I always keep it with me just in case.

Years ago, it was not uncommon to pull photos out of my wallet to show people. Now this is mostly done using cell phones. I think the most recent photo I carry in my wallet is between 5 to 10 years old.

I carry my AAA card whenever I drive. This gives me towing insurance for up to 100 miles if I break down, plus free jump starts, tire service, etc. They will also unlock your car if you lock your keys in. AAA can be very handy, especially if you drive an older car.

Carry the right things in your wallet to make every day go smoothly.
Carry the right things in your wallet to make every day go smoothly. | Source

Business Cards

I carry a business card for the manager of my car shop. This shop has several locations and it is handy to have all of the numbers and store hours listed. I could look this up on my smart phone, but it is handy to have this on a card and I am used to finding this information in my wallet. I also like being able to look at the business card while I am talking on my cell phone.

I see that I am also carrying a business card from someone who has recently come out to my house to do an estimate for some remodeling work. Carrying the card helps remind me who I am dealing with on current projects.

I also carry my veterinarian's business card, which lists the vet's hours on the back which is very handy.


Lifehack: Carry large bills only- you are less likely to spend your cash

I still carry cash in my wallet sometimes. I like to carry large bills- I am less likely to spend large bills so they are more likely to stay in my wallet where they belong. For me, a $10 or more is a large bill. The main use of cash for me is to pay my kids allowance. I should see if they will take credit cards instead...

Recently, I saw a sign in a Chinese restaurant requesting payment by cash for amounts under $10. You never know when you might need some cash, so keep some in your wallet.

Stock your Wallet

Stocking your wallet with the right items can make your day easier and help you save money.

  • Carry a variety of credit cards to handle any situation- and get points.
  • Keep discount punch cards handy so you'll get your discount every time.
  • You'll want your driver's license and AAA cards handy- just in case.
  • Have your best coupons and gift cards in your wallet so you can get the best deal in case you need to buy something.
  • Carry large bills so you'll be less likely to spend your cash

The Future of the Wallet

Would you rather use a smart phone instead of carrying a wallet?

See results

© 2014 Dr Penny Pincher


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