Battle of the Bulge – Slim Down the Wallet!


July 13, 2007   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

It occurred to me that I have seen this happen before… the Stuffed Wallet Syndrome (SWS) and it doesn’t ever happen to be stuffed in a good way like with cash or ladies numbers. Not only is it hard to find anything when you need it, this can cause a big number of health issues especially back pain from sitting crooked.

So I thought about some simple tips that I use everyday to keep my wallet slim and organized.

  1. Cards – The biggest culprit in most wallets can take up at least 50% of that finite space.
    With every store in America having that dreaded plastic savings card, your wallet gets bigger. Instead check out It’s a nice application that puts 8 barcodes on one printed card to carry. I actually played around with a resizing tool and fit much more on it using both sides. If you seriously want to pare these down just place them all together in your car. Wherever you go just carry the card into the store with you and put it back when you are back in your car.

Credit and debit cards are a little easier. If you have more than 2 cards in your wallet you may need to rethink your credit and spending habits. Just carry the two credit or debit cards with the lowest rate on them. You’ll be forced to save money if you don’t have a plethora of cards to choose from.

Skip the social security and leave it at home in a safe place.

I try to follow a 1-2-2 rule: 1 ID, 2 forms of payment cards, and 2 insurance cards (Health and Auto) and that usually does it.

  • Receipts – When my friend was fumbling around in his wallet receipts and various other papers were falling out everywhere. File, delegate, To-do-list it, or record it and throw it out either as you get the receipts or as soon as you get home. 
  • Cash – If you’re like me having too much cash in your wallet is never a problem but I use a debit card for everything anyways. But if you find yourself with loads of $1’s then try to not carry more than 10-12 of any bill. If you do have more than that, take out what you don’t need and put it in a safe place or put it in an account of some sort. The less money you have on you the less likely you are to spend it on more stuff you probably don’t need. 
  • Change – My father likes to carry change in his wallet and I’ll never understand why. I keep change in my pocket and as soon as I get home it goes right into my change sorter. Bank of America started a new change saving program called “Keep the Change”. You use your Visa Check Card for everyday purchases and the total is rounded up to the nearest dollar. The difference is transferred to your savings and pretty much forces you to save money. Very neat idea and fewer coins will find their way into your sofa, car, and wallet. 
  • Tri-fold vs. Bi-fold – Seeing how a tri-fold wallet is almost 100% thicker than a bi-fold it seems just logical that the latter is the winner here. Besides bi-folds usually hold more in a thinner package. Just don’t get one of those ridiculously huge bi-folds that can also carry your checkbook seeing as it defeats the slimming purpose. 

Misc. – When my same friend opened his wallet he had so many various items in there that he would impress MacGyver. So here are a few guidelines for that other stuff.

    • Pictures – Maximum of two or none at all. No one wants to see your entire photographed family history. I have pictures on my cell phone which is easier and keeps them out of my wallet. 
  • Keys – This is what a key ring is for. 
  • Condoms – One should be good. (Use your judgment on this) 
  • Wallet inserts – If you follow the above guide you shouldn’t need these. 

If you have to question whether you should put something in your wallet, then don’t. If you really want to take this to the extreme try taking one ID, one credit card, and one insurance card along with any cash and hold it together with a rubber band or one of those binder clips.

Jeremiah G. is a freelance writer without a site of his own. He will occasionally pop his head out at Dumb Little Man with new suggestions that will make your life a little more efficient.


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