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What’s In Your Wallet (And How Can You Clean it Out)?

What's Inside Your Wallet? (And How to Clean It Out) :: Mint.com/blog

In ZZ Top’s “Sharp-Dressed Man,” the band sings about a fat wallet as something irresistible to the ladies.

Perhaps in 1983, when the song was released, this was true.

Today however, with credit cards and digital everything, a bulging wallet is less a sign of wealth and more a sign of disorganization and clutter in the man’s life.

Therefore, it’s time to cut down your wallet to only the barest essentials — a couple credit or debit cards, one or two major IDs, your blood donor card in case something horrible happens and you need a blood transfusion stat, and a bit of cash to cover you, should you hit a tollbooth or an old-timey general store that still doesn’t take plastic.

Anything else can be kept at home unless it’s absolutely necessary to take on the road. You probably don’t need your CVS Rewards card unless you’re actually going to CVS, for example.

Luckily, modern technology (including Mint.com itself) can help you quickly clean out that wallet.

That way, you don’t have a hundred random things creating a giant bulge in your pants–plus you won’t risk losing the extra stuff among a sea of household clutter.

Receipts

Keeping track of finances is always a smart decision, but it can quickly get overwhelming.

A weekday shopping trip, or a weekend shopping trip, can easily result in up to a dozen receipts or more, all taking up space in your wallet and making it look to the world like you’ve lost control of your finances, and possibly your life.

That’s where Mint.com comes in.

Our system allows you to record all of your purchases immediately after making them, simply by accessing the site on your smartphone and pulling up your personal spending history.

Tap in the amount you just spent, and on what, and chuck that ugly, wrinkly receipt into the nearest trash bin.

If you don’t have a smartphone, it’s still as easy as going home, turning on the computer, accessing mint.com there, and entering the day’s figures. Your receipts will met the exact same fate.

Pictures

As sentimental and thoughtful as it might be to have pictures of your spouse and children in your wallet, it’s just not practical if your goal is to clean that thing out.

This is especially true nowadays, when you can carry your pictures around on just about anything.

Your child’s class portraits can easily be scanned into your computer, as can every single one of your family photos from over the years.

Share the ones you really like on social media so all can see, and keep the rest to yourself.

If you wish to walk around with your favorite family picture, that’s what your phone is for.

If your favorite picture is currently on your computer, simply connecting your smartphone or tablet to your computer will enable you to transfer the photo.

Then, simply set it as your phone’s wallpaper, and you’re done! No wallet required.

Gift Cards

These things are especially cumbersome after Christmas, when a half-dozen friends and relatives who didn’t know what else to get you settle on a gift card to what they hope is your favorite store.

Until you spend them, you’re stuck with them, right?

Wrong. More and more companies offer digital gift cards these days, where all you need to do is present a barcode on your phone, and the store will scan it in and deduct the total from your account.

Let everybody know about this, and watch as your plastic percentage dips to almost nothing.

But if somebody whiffs and gets you a physical card, fret not — chances are, it’s for a store with a website where you can shop online.

In that case, why carry the card around at all?

Simply leave it at your desk until you’re ready to use it, then fire up the computer and shop away! Once you’ve hit the card’s limit, snip it and chuck it in the trash.

Library/Store Cards

Yes, people still go to libraries — for the money-saving individual, a large building offering free literature, movies, music and Internet access is practically a gift from the gods.

But you don’t need to carry that library card around anymore, even when going to the library.

Downloading a free app like Cardstar is a fast and easy way to store your library card information (or any other reward or membership card, really) on your smartphone.

Simply input your card’s information one time, head to the library, pick out what you want, show your phone to the librarian so they can scan your info in, and you’re done!

And as we mentioned, it’s not just for libraries anymore. Remember that CVS example we made earlier?

Well, if you have something like Cardstar on your phone, you don’t need to carry that card at all, even to CVS.

The cashier scans the barcode on your phone, and you get your rewards just like that.

No more will you have to struggle with a cumbersome series of paper coupons, because they’re all automatically accessible from on your phone at any time.

The Digital Age has made having all but the most necessary of physical items completely obsolete, and has also made it easier than ever to keep your world clean, neat, and organized.

Now, when somebody asks you “what’s in your wallet?” you can proudly proclaim, “not much at all.”

Mary Hiers is a personal finance writer who helps people earn more and spend less.