1) KEEP: Vital numbers. Aside from your home address, your
driver's license doesn't offer any actual contact info. Keep a card with it that
provides your own cell number and an emergency contact, as well as your
physician's information, any medical conditions, and your blood type.
KEEP: Credit Card. Keep only one. "If you use multiple cards, it's
too easy to lose track of your total debt," says Kenneth Robinson, C.F.P.,
author of Don't Make a Budget.
3) KEEP: Debit Backup. It's now legal
for stores to require a $10 minimum for credit card purchases, and soon they'll
be able to charge for using certain cards. Your best alternative: a debit card.
"If you're prone to carrying balances, consider paying for everyday goods with
debit and leaving credit for bigger buys," says economist David Evans, Ph.D.,
author of Paying with Plastic.
4) KEEP: Key Discounts. The average
household is enrolled in 18 loyalty programs, but uses just eight of them (once
a year or more). "Carry cards only for places you'd go even if no loyalty
incentive were offered," says Robinson. Otherwise you'll think you're saving in
those stores when in reality you're just giving yourself an excuse to spend.
5) KEEP: Dollar Bills and a 100-Dollar Bill. Researchers from the
University of Maryland and New York University found that shoppers carrying
large-denomination bills spent less than those who kept smaller bills.
KEEP: Business Cards. Carry a few in case you meet a potential client or
employer, says certified financial planner Michael Steiner. Wrap them in the
$100 bill to keep the cards' edges fresh and to remind yourself why you're
working so hard.
7) DUMP: Store Plastic. Most retail-store credit
cards are pointless; the interest rates can be high and the discounts paltry and
if you lose track of a bill or own too many cards at once, your credit score may
take a ding, notes Consumer Reports.
8) DUMP: Prepaid Cards. These
make sense only for guys who can't score a credit card due to past
indiscretions. If you need one, beware of a minefield of fees, says John
Ulzheimer, president of consumer education at SmartCredit.com. These may include
fees for activating the card, loading it with cash, making an ATM withdrawal,
checking your balance, contacting customer service, and more.
Insurance Card. Keep it, along with all other cards you don't use every day,
in a tray or drawer near your front door. Use your phone to snap a photo of the
front and back of the card so you'll have the necessary information handy in an
10) DUMP: Blank Check. Imagine some stranger finding your
wallet and writing himself a check. Even a filled-out check is risky; an account
number and routing number are all an identity thief needs to infiltrate your
11) DUMP: Your Social Security Number. A Social Security card
is a golden ticket for identity thieves, says Steiner. All you usually need to
verify your identity are the last four digits - and besides, you've memorized
the number anyway, right?
12) DUMP: Towing Card. Chances are you
already have roadside assistance through your car warranty, auto insurance, or
credit card. Compare those benefits with the ones provided by an auto club
before deciding to pay the annual fee, says Phil Reed, consumer advice editor at
13) DUMP: Condom. The bending, friction, and heat that a
condom endures in a wallet can cause damage, says Michael McNeil, the director
of Go Ask Alice!, Columbia University's Web health resource.
Everything Else. Now off-load the accumulated business cards, receipts, and
drunkenly scrawled phone numbers. It's a wallet, not a filing cabinet!