Cleaning Out A Wallet

I just bought a new wallet. Or, maybe we could say that I was just forced to buy a new wallet because Marianne got a good look at my old one and gave me one of those looks that husbands get sometimes. You know, the “Who in his right mind would keep a wallet that looks like that?” kind of look.

A new wallet, of course, requires being filled with stuff from the old wallet. A process which I last enjoyed some time in the early 1990s? It is kind of amazing the stuff a guy an old guy a packrat can keep in a wallet, and how the stuff builds up like silt in the bottom of a harbor. So I will concede that it was time for a good dredging. What did we find?

There were at least three debit cards from accounts I no longer have. We all know why this is – you don’t just throw a card in the trash. It must be cut up. Therefore you have to have some scissors (or a big paper cutter) handy when you have your wallet open. Which is not often. In fact, it clearly has not happened in about ten years. Can you just throw them out when you no longer remember when those particular bank accounts were closed? Maybe not, so I’ll just set them down here . . . .

A prescription for my eyeglasses from 2009. I don’t know when I decided that optical prescription needed to be in a wallet. Maybe it’s the way I was raised. Just like you never go out without a coin for a phone call, you never know when your glasses may get run over by a bus and you will immediately have to grope your way to an optometrist and triumphantly hand him your prescription, so you can walk out with a new pair of specs. This has never actually happened to me. Or to anyone I know. I guess we can toss this one – it’s time for a new prescription anyway.

Bar association and other cards from professional organizations from several years. It was always just so easy to slide a new one into the space than to throw out the old one first. As I think about it, none of those cards has actually accomplished anything. My annual card certifying that I am of good standing with my state Supreme Court has never needed to be flashed to anyone. It certainly won’t get me past any courthouse security – there is a different card for that. Still, I have those days where it is good to get a little professional affirmation, so the Good Standing card will make the cut.

There were health insurance cards from at least three different companies that no longer insure my health. Well, we all know those companies don’t insure our health, they just beat the doctor’s billing staff with a lead pipe until they cut the price in half – and then make me pay almost all of it. Don’t get me started on health insurance. I remember thinking about these cards when I would get a new card – Do I get rid of the old one? No, I decided, because what if I need to deal with a straggler claim from last year? See, that old “Raised By Germans” thing still affects me. Because we must not rely on finding any claims paperwork to deal with these things – better to remain ever-ready by keeping that expired insurance card in the wallet. And in case you are wondering, no I have not actually had to handle one of those cards after the policy expired. So, out they go. As much as I hate throwing away something that cost so much to get.

A fun find is a memento from one of my kids. When he was in second grade, one of my children took the most horridly awful but hilarious school picture. He remembers being told to smile, and he was never terribly good at forcing those. What resulted was a look hard to distinguish from abject fear. Perhaps I need to ask what would have happened had he not smiled. We got the proof of the photo, had a good laugh, arranged for a re-take, and all was well for sending school pictures to the grandmas. But this one year kids were issued an ID card (for a second grader? Really?) and it used the original picture. I still laugh out loud every time I see it. I am laughing now just thinking about it. That one absolutely goes into my new wallet.

One thing that did not make the cut was my old pilot’s license (which I wrote about here). I last flew an airplane in 1988. The license reminded me of my accomplishment and that I could renew my relationship with flight any time I wanted, but I had to admit that I could still do that even without my old license in my wallet. That one went into a drawer. But not into the new wallet.

The last thing, and the one that kind of surprised me, is how I had to think about pictures. When I chose my wallet I noted that there were none of the little clear plastic things for photos. “What will I do without pictures in my wallet?” I asked myself. My answer kind of surprised me – I have an unlimited number of pictures available in my phone – why do I need to restrict myself to six or so little old snapshots that almost never get shown to anyone? Those will be scanned and will become part of my phone stash. But they will no longer be in my wallet.

It goes without saying that the new wallet is much thinner than the old one was. It still carries the drivers license, the credit cards and the other frequently-used things like the card the supermarket demands that I scan in order to give me the sale prices it touts on the store shelves. And a current health insurance card. But as before, there is little-to-no-cash in my new wallet. The health insurance company sees to that.

Photo by the author.

31 thoughts on “Cleaning Out A Wallet

  1. I think my wallet is doing ok, it’s had an easy time the past year carrying no cash, not going out very much and when it does it’s carried in the “man bag of many things” rather than my back pocket.

    Gotta love those unintentionally hilarious photos, we once had a family photo taken where our 2 year old daughter was giving the camera the angry stare of death. We bought a big print of it, and the photographer was offended πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, “The Angry Stare Of Death” is a phrase that should be copyrighted and used for a line of products of some kind. πŸ™‚

      And yes, cash is conspicuously absent from my wallet. Years ago I started carrying it in a money clip. Then, as time passed, I have almost completely quit carrying money around. If I have $3 in my new wallet it is an event.


  2. It’s amazing how much one can stuff into a wallet. Having gone through the new wallet process a few years ago, the amount of purge-worthy items was unreal.

    To shower credit on Mrs. Jason, this new wallet was purchased by her. It’s made of leftover vinyl upholstery originally purchased by General Motors and intended for use in GMC trucks. It is quite rugged.

    Like DougD’s, it has carried very little cash for the past year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nice! I would love to find a wallet made of vinyl from vintage Chrysler stock, but it would surely split at the seams after a few years of normal use. And yes, cash is becoming a foreign concept. There was a time when I felt funny about using plastic to pay for something under $3, but I got over that a long time ago (as did all the merchants). The only place I can think of in my world that requires cash is a certain donut shop that we hit up occasionally.


  3. Need your reaction: I still use cash more than I think most people do, principally for small-to-medium in-store purchases. I don’t want my card stmt. to have lots and lots of transactions on it, thus making it harder to spot a fraudulent charge. Also I think using the card less reduces the chance of identity theft. If a purchase is, say, $14.65, if I can do it quickly I’ll find 65 cents in change and present that with a $20 so I only get bills back. I’m actually losing out on 1% cash back by not using the card for everything.

    Since it seems most people (including yourself) are not using cash for much at all, how much longer before all that stuff in your newly cleaned out wallet (money, IDs, etc.) is stored on a digital tattoo on your wrist or forehead, and scanned as necessary (You know, “The Mark of the Beast”?) Rev. 13:16-17.

    Liked by 3 people

      • Yes, it is so much less effort to let things sit than to spend the effort to clean them out. And it’s not like most of us get a big charge of of a fresh, new wallet.


  4. I buy good wallets, from a company called Bosca, in Ohio. Their stuff lasts forever. My current unit must be coming up to ten years old with no signs of seam separation or undue wear.
    Closely inspecting my wallet, I just found a $50 discount card for an oil change for my car that I had forgotten about for about a year (pandemic). It may be there for several more months until the clock comes due again.
    Other than that, everything in there is useful.
    Then there was the time I forgot my wallet in O’Hare airport in one of the scanning stations. After walking the five miles to the gate I ran back and retrieved same, thankfully.
    I never use the back pocket for my wallet, it stays up front at all times in a side pocket. For safety.
    I have an overflow business card holder in my desk for old cards, contacts, library cards, old university student cards, doctors info, etc. Even one for a highway traffic act paralegal in the off chance ever I should encounter a constable with a citation in hand.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The business card method is a good one. Business cards (of other people) have always been a challenge for me. I understand there are apps that let you scan/digitize them so they are easier to find. For me, they seem to wind up in small piles in multiple places.

      There are few things worse than that feeling the moment you realize your wallet is missing. I have decided, however, that a missing phone has become even worse. The phone has all the info I need to cancel the cards if the wallet goes missing, but my wallet cannot do that job for a missing phone.


  5. Stephan P. I’m with you. I grew up in Chicago, where men walked around with a roll of bills that could choke a horse! I don’t want to be tracked by my purchasing habits, and I certainly do NOT want to charge every doo-dad I might buy during a day, and then track it myself to make sure it was debited correctly, when my statement comes in. I HAVE found mischarges on my accounts by retail stores, because I do go over everything. I also pay cash in coffee houses and the like, so the servers and counter people get cash tips, which they don’t have to report. Paying for things this way, and having ready cash, used to be called “walking around money”, and if you ran out, you were done with your “spendable income” for the day! No charging up stuff until the card was red-hot!

    I asked a group of millennials one time how they spent the time back checking all those penny-ante charges every month on their statement, and they looked sheepishly at each other and then up in the air, and…yep, you guessed it, it’s not a problem because they are NOT checking their statements at all! This is how they end up getting charged 25-35 dollars a month for over-charges on their accounts, because they don’t know how the money system works, including the idea that the bank doesn’t post debits by date and time, but by date and largest to smallest.

    Stay with the cash, my bill folding brother! Many times I walk around my neighborhood with no other ID than a tag around my neck with emergency numbers, and a wad of cash in my pocket! I refused to be forced into comporting myself into the proclivities of a young social group I don’t care about, and whose social operations I don’t respect!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember old Italian guys (business owners, and guys who go to Atlantic City and know how to WIN, not lose), and they carried big, impressive wads of cash (wrapped with a broccoli band!) I don’t know anybody like that anymore.

      The gov’t should start printing $500 & $1000 bills again. Have you ever seen one? Beautiful work of art. And if you want to buy something (like a car) on Craigslist, and the price is $10,000, you have to count out one hundred $100 bills, which is really tedious. But I don’t think the gov’t wants to encourage large cash transactions.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve been led to believe that 500 dollar bills are still legal tender, and a bank might be able to get you one, at least a decent big city bank that also does foreign exchange! Never seen the 500 or the 1000, but I guess the 1000 was still in circulation at least until 1969, so I could have seen one if anyone I knew had that kind of money ( I was 15!). Yep, because of inflation, I read there’s people inquiring about bringing them back!

        Liked by 1 person

    • It is interesting to me how at peace younger people are about information security. My kids say that everything is out there anyway and anyone who wants to hack you will, so they are not that worried – they are in the same boat as everyone else. I still have more need for privacy about some of my information – but maybe I am the one with unrealistic expectations in the modern world.

      A fixed amount of cash in your pocket is indeed an effective budgeting method.


  6. This one could have been deadly dull, JP, but it was a delightful read. I am also a pack rat; at the moment, I am tearing the address label off a zillion old magazines that will need a room of their own if I continue procrastinating. Knowing the psychic pain involved in such a process, I’d say this was a job well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. The wallet was a much easier project than many others that sit around my house. Getting rid of things does not come easily to Marianne or to me, and the bigger the thing the harder it is to let go of, it seems.


  7. Ha ha – I have a similar story as I treated myself to a small leather zippered case to carry my cards in. I have not carried nor used any money since the pandemic began, having gotten a gasoline card, the only thing I formerly used money for. So when I got my new Medicare cards last month, I ordered this holder from Amazon. I have kept my car registration/insurance/automobile club docs in the car for years so the wallet was in a drawer with about $20.00 in it. I put it into the trunk of the car in case I am ever robbed – I will hand them the wallet with the money, sans any I.D. Like you, I discovered a treasure trove of loyalty cards for car washes, Hallmark stores, Blockbuster … local business that have closed up shop a while ago. It’s always nice to stroll down memory lane.

    Liked by 2 people

      • That’s what I thought JP – they’ll likely only glance to see if money is in there, then run off. Like you, I shop at Meijer and they have everything I need which I just use the Meijer credit card for. I can’t remember the last time I was at a nursery or a hardware store and everything else I buy online. That said – I hope I never need to try out my decoy wallet.

        Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a great idea Linda. Once a colleague of mine once handed a robber a big bottle of Metformin (diabetic pill) instead of the Percocet (narcotic) he demanded. The bottles looked similar – both white with an orange lid. They never caught him but I often wondered what he thought when he realized he got duped.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’ll bet he didn’t try that trick again. That’s like when they put the exploding ink-type capsules when a bank is robbed and they stain the robber’s hands. I hope I never have to try this out.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I was surprised that my colleague did that because we were always told to give them what they want – otherwise they may turn violent. But I don’t believe he had a weapon, so maybe she felt safe in doing it? I know I wouldn’t be that bold. I’d be afraid i’d find my tires slashed.

        Liked by 1 person

      • No, I wouldn’t be so bold either as I’d be afraid he’d meet me in the parking lot after my shift was over. When I worked at the diner, I had to handle the cash register as well and was always told the same thing … just empty the till and hand it to him and turn around. Glad we don’t have worries like that anymore Joni.

        Liked by 2 people

    • This was a “thing” for my pals living in Washington DC back in the 80’s, a “dummy” wallet with a few bucks in it to hand to street robbers and run! By the time I moved there in the early 2000’s, I never felt the need, but I remember the discussion in the late 80’s about how much money to put in the dummy wallet, seems to me people though about 10-12 bucks in singles, so it looked like a lot!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wow Andy – I thought my idea was an “original” … guess not. πŸ™‚ I do have 12 singles and the rest is in larger denominations. I hope that works and I put it in the corner of my trunk, but where I can access it easily. Sometimes they bop you on the head or shoot you anyway. I never go out at night but it seems robberies now happen even in broad daylight.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Great blog JP – I can totally relate – but try cleaning out a purse with everything in it but the kitchen sink – every time the season changes. Unfortunately most of it goes back in. I do carry some cash for smaller purchases, as I hate having to balance my bank account all the time, but haven’t used it much during the pandemic.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The purse makes me shudder. I have asked Marianne if she buys her purses at a magician supply store. Things disappear and reappear in them so much they can’t be normal purses. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Joni beat me to the “purse punch”. No wallet clean-out compares to a thorough purse purge. Even after my wife gets everything sorted into the new one, I have to smile as she rummages through looking for what always seems to be the hardest thing to find. I’ll match the coin for a phone call with the twenty-dollar bill for emergencies (my dad’s priceless suggestion), but now it really is no cash at all. Frankly, it seems everything but the driver’s license is bound to become bits and bytes. Regardless, I can’t imagine NOT carrying a wallet. It’d feel strange to be missing that slight bulge in my front left pants pocket.


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