Top Items to Leave Out of Your Wallet

By: Denise Kovach 

Have you ever gone to get your wallet and it wasn’t where you left it? You start immediately wondering, “Okay. Did I drop it? Did I leave it at home?” and then the inevitable feeling of panic creeps in, right? As you are nodding your head in agreement, I want to point out that our reaction is the same because the majority of us keep so many valuables – so much of our lives – in our wallet.

Below you’ll see some things I recommend not keeping in your wallet, but for the remaining items that must be kept in your wallet, I always suggest photographing everything (that means front and back) so that way if you do lose it you can at least quickly and easily file reports with the appropriate agencies and maybe financial institutions if necessary.

The Most Important Thing to Leave at Home

One of the things you really shouldn’t carry — and I think most people do not any longer — but we have to be sure we talk about it: your social security card. If you lose your wallet with your social security card in it, identity thieves could use to your number to get loans in your name or obtain credit cards. Having a copy of it is necessary for situations like new employment, but don’t carry it around with you.

Also as a reminder, the old Medicare cards contain your social security number on them but the new ones do not.  If you have the old style, be sure to obtain the new medicare card which shows a unique ID number instead of your SSN. I’d advise to double check and make sure nothing else in your wallet contains your Social Security Number that you may not realize.

Other Top Items Not to Have in Your Wallet

Passwords, we all have dozens of them these days, right? Password lists are showing up more and more in wallets right now in the form of a cheat sheet because we can’t remember all of them. I recently read in a 2017 survey by the Pew Research Center that 73% of people have a cheat sheet and of course one of the worst places to keep that is in your wallet because of the debit card also in there. When you have your bank password on your cheat list next to your debit card, you’ve created a thief’s perfect day. Instead, I suggest you explore a digital password manager. If that doesn’t appeal to you, it’s at least a good idea to keep your cheat sheet locked up in a safe in the house.

Something that might not occur to you as being a bad idea are spare keys in your wallet. However it creates a similar situation as the password list; you’ve got spare house keys next to your driver’s license with your home address making it too easy for criminals to collect information that can help them access your home, car, and valuables. I also suggest not carrying all of your credit cards at one time so that if you do lose your wallet, you don’t have as much to take care of. Try to plan out which cards you may be using or not before you leave the house. I like to keep my American Express card at home sometimes and instead take a Visa or a MasterCard, because not all places let you use your Amex. Lastly, I also recommend keeping your gift cards separate from your wallet unless you know you are using them that day, since anyone can use a gift card, it’s like losing cash or having cash stolen.

Denise Kovach, CFP®, AIF®, NSSA®To learn more about Denise or to schedule a meeting with her, visit her planner page here: Denise Kovach

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