Wallet Efficiency

April 26, 2006 by Jared Goralnick

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So many threads have been rounding up the slimmest and coolest lately that I thought I’d take a stab at what I consider to be an efficient wallet. To me, intelligent use of a wallet is a combination of the following:

  • Quick access to the things you need
  • Professional appearance (“you’re gonna cover the bill with that worn out thing?”)
  • Convenience for it fitting with any outfit or occasion

Let me say right off the bat that I’m a geek, entrepreneur, and efficiency-nut. As such my idea of the intelligent wallet fits within these paradigms. In line with the company whose article inspired this post, I’m going to offer insight through what’s worked for me.

The wallet you use all the time, and storage for the rest of the junk

Being a spendthrift I have one of those frequent shopper cards at every store from my bagel place to my hair salon. As someone who travels a lot for work, I have a frequent-use card for every major hotel and airline. But I don’t hold onto any of them, not really. This leads me to two tricks I’ve picked up.

Tip 1. Store the frequent flier and frequent guest numbers in your cellphone or PDA.

When I show up at the Hilton I click the Find feature on my Samsung Palm phone, enter “Hilton” and ouila, there’s my membership number. Same thing for

frequent flier numbers. As an added bonus, since my phone synchronizes with my computer, I can copy and paste the relevant membership number whenever I make reservations online.

Tip 2. Keep a second “wallet” for the stuff you don’t need all the time.

I keep the following in a second wallet that I store in my glove compartment for the times when I need it:

  • Restaurant cards for priority seating or buy x get one free
  • Coupons
  • Gift certificates
  • Rarely used membership cards that require a magnetic swipe (such as the video store I rarely visit, Costco, etc.)
  • Things that are used only-occasionally, but are required for certain tasks (like ID badges for some clients’ sites)
  • A spare credit card in case I forget my primary wallet when I’m out

Since creating this second wallet I’ve found that I only end up needing things in it once every couple weeks. Of course there can be a tweaking period to find the right balance. And, this is also dependent on your using the same car regularly or finding a similar convenient place for it.

The tiny wallet for the necessary stuff

I have a tiny wallet, roughly 1/3 the size and weight of my older wallet. I hardly even notice it in my back-pocket when I’m sitting on it. I probably keep more than I need:

  • License
  • ATM / Debit card
  • Business Credit Card
  • Personal Credit Card
  • Business Cards
  • WMATA Metro Smartcard
  • Cash
  • Flash Drive (see next section)
  • Really-frequent discount bar-codes card (see next section)

In the image below here you see the primary and “storage wallet”, and my keys for comparison:

Wallets comparison

And a couple tips for the truly Geeky/Savvy

Combine the frequent-customer / discount card bar-codes

While I once came across a more techie way of doing this, for years now I’ve been cutting out the bar-codes from the places I go all the time and putting them on one card:

Specifically I took two business cards and flipped them face-toward-the-inside then put cut-out bar codes on both sides of the card and labeled them. Then I sealed it with clear packaging tape. I could’ve laminated it or done something more fancy–but the “wow that’s cool!” looks I get imply that it’s certainly good enough.

Keep your critical data handy all the time

Nothing beats a Walletex flash drive. It’s a USB 2.0 Flash drive that’s waterproof, nearly indestructible, and fits neatly in your wallet. It comes in many storage capacities. It was a big hit at CES that, strangely, hasn’t taken off. Check it out!

Hopefully these small tips will help you to lighten your load a little. (Oh, and if you’re curious, the wallet shown above is the smallest size sold by Wilsons Leather, but I couldn’t find it on their website.)

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9 Responses to “Wallet Efficiency”

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  5. Technotheory.com – Productivity tips are only valuable if you use them. Here are some tips to use
  6. What makes a great wallet? – Carryology


  1. joleta

    Re: Walletex flash card (“It was a big hit at CES that, strangely, hasn’t taken off.”) Maybe because, as flash memory goes, it’s overpriced.

  2. Billgable

    Ok, thanks a lot for your post. It was of good help to me, hope to hear from you soon again.

  3. Bryan

    I use a similar system. My Storage wallet in the glove compartment is an Original All ett and my tiny wallet varies. Either a Big Skinny sprots wallet or an All ett card case. Thinking about getting a Billykirk cash/card case, looks very cool.

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