While there are things you should avoid carrying in your wallet or purse to minimize your financial security risk in the event of theft, here are a few things you’ll want to make sure to leave in. Carrying these items with you will make your life easier, both financially and emotionally, in an emergency or on an everyday basis.
1. A list of emergency contacts: If your body is rescued from the scene of a terrible car crash and you’re whisked away to a hospital, this information will allow emergency workers to contact those most important to you. Parents, children, significant others, close friends, and close relatives are all good candidates for your list. Make sure that some of your contacts are local–there’s only so much your parents can do if they live 1500 miles away. Try to include home, work, and cell phone numbers for each of your contacts. Type your list if possible, or print it very neatly.
2. Health insurance card: Unfortunately, you never know when you might wind up in the emergency room. Having your card with you when you check in will make it easier to get your hospital bills processed, which will decrease the overall stress of an already painful situation.
3. Important medical information: Create a list (again, preferably typed) of any important information that you would want medical personnel to know in an emergency situation and keep it in your wallet near your health insurance card and emergency contact list. Your medical information list should include medications and supplements you’re currently taking, important medical conditions, and medications you’re allergic to. You may also want to include the location of important documents relating to your health (i.e. your advance directive for health that gives instructions on things like whether you want to be kept on life support) and whether you are willing to donate your organs. None of this personal information is the kind of stuff you’d want a wallet thief to have, of course, but it will be a greater asset to you an emergency than it would be a detriment in a wallet theft.
4. AAA Card: It’s too easy to open the envelope with your card in it and forget to actually put the card in your wallet. If you have a roadside assistance service card and it isn’t in your wallet, stop reading this and go put it in there right now. This article isn’t going anywhere.
5. Small notepad and ballpoint pen: Target sells a great little notebook set at a cost of two notebooks for $2.50. The notebooks have a hard cover and a snap closure that keep the pages from getting wrinkled, and a spiral binding that’s the perfect size to store a pen. You don’t want to write down anything sensitive (like Internet passwords) in this notebook because it could get stolen, but I find it indispensable for keeping track of to-do lists, grocery lists, and random things I think of during the day that I need to remember for later. Always having your grocery list on you will help you minimize trips to the store and save time and money when you shop, and an ongoing to-do list will help keep you on top of bill payments and other things that are easy to forget when life gets busy.
6. High value coupons: I like to carry around coupons for $1 or more off on a product I definitely want to buy so that I won’t forget to use them. Instead of adding bulk to my wallet, I just paperclip them to the front page of my notebook.
7. Car registration and proof of insurance: These aren’t things you’d want a thief to have if your car got stolen, so keep them in your wallet instead of in your glove box. You’ll definitely want to have them on you to minimize the hassle and possible fines if you get pulled over or have an accident.
8. Just One Club Card: If you have lots of club cards that you use regularly, this website will help you consolidate them into a single slip of paper. Another option is to get keychain versions of the cards you use regularly and keep the rest at home, or link your phone number to your cards. If you plan your shopping in advance rather than doing it spur-of-the-moment (another good way to save money), you can easily store all of your club cards in a file at home and add them to your wallet only on days when you’re actually going to use them.
9. Enough cash to cover a small emergency: Credit card companies will occasionally freeze your account if they suspect fraud (does this ever work the way it’s supposed to?), and some gas stations only accept cash and debit cards. It’s a good idea to keep enough cash on hand for things like putting some gas in your car or buying a meal.
10. Stomach medicine: If you’re out to eat and the food makes you sick, enduring the rest of the meal or making it home can be a miserable experience. Most upset stomach medications come in pill or tablet form and can easily be slipped into your wallet.
While not all of these items may seem essential, when the need for them comes up you’ll be glad you have them, and the rest of the time, they don’t take up much space or compromise your security. There’s a reason why the Girl and Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared.” It’s prudent to plan for life’s little eventualities ahead of time, and while you can’t predict everything that’s going to happen to you (and you can’t carry everything you might ever possibly need with you), these ten items will help you maximize your chances of being able to handle any situation.