This is my wallet
The old “phone, wallet, keys” check that many people do before leaving the house feels inconclusive. People often pat their pockets to check that they have their essentials before leaving. As a woman, many clothes that are catered to me don’t have pockets, so I’ve literally got nowhere to pat down on my person to check for these things. They’re already in my hands.
I also feel, as a woman, that I’m predisposed to having some other shit to carry, like a pack of tissues, eyeliner, foundation, a pen, dental floss (yeah really?), painkillers, a box of tampons, cough syrup, and the hair of a banshee.
I’m joking. About the hair of a banshee, anyway. I wouldn’t be surprised if a woman had the other items listed in her handbag along with the old phone, wallet and keys.
When I was in high school, having a giant wallet was the thing to have. A nice, fancy, slim, tri-fold long wallet that had everything in it. Your ID, your library card, your credit card, bills and coins, loyalty cards for every coffee shop, every clothing shop (hey, what happened to those?), fuckin’ business cards, a photo of your mom, and your boyfriend, and your best friend (and the hair of a banshee).
I soon realised how inconvenient and annoying that was, and over time I tried to find a wallet that would fit into the pocket of my jeans. That was when my tomboy chain-attached-to-my-wallet-and-belt-loop phase started. Then I carried less, and less, and I just wanted a small bifold wallet like most men had. Except I just wish it were thinner. Way thinner.
Today, the things I tick off before I leave the house
For me these days, the mnemonic goes, “phone, wallet, keys, handkerchief, lipstick”. (I also have my sunglasses because I have sensitive eyes, but they are always on my face or head already, by the time I do the check.) Just about the strangest combination that one could think of, because I’m sure someone is already questioning why I’d choose lipstick over gum, or a handkerchief over a pen. These mnemonics are highly personal, even the “phone, wallet, keys” one. I could say that someone mightn’t own a phone, but it seems that the majority of people do. Instead I’ll say that in this day and age, digital technology has replaced a lot of what we do. So it’s more likely that the wallet and keys needn’t be carried, and be replaced by something else.
I don’t think that a great deal of buildings have keypad access – at least I don’t think that’s the case in most cities. Where I’ve come across it is in AirBnB rentals where the owner of the property is either in some new high-tech building, or has has chosen to install a keypad for guests to have easy access to the property. (I want one!) Even hotels still require you to have a swipe card. But with more of those, we can drop “keys”.
It has been a little over a year that my wallet has consisted of almost basically nothing, such that the mnemonic in my head goes something like, “phone, ????, keys, handkerchief, lipstick”. In fact, most times I’m just going out for a quick brunch, the lipstick becomes irrelevant, and I could live without the handkerchief.
On the handkerchief note, yeah I have seasonal allergies, and my nose leaks sometimes, which is super awkward. I’ve been known to borrow Nick’s handkerchief (which I’m sure people dub as both cute and also kind of gross), but on our honeymoon a couple of years ago I decided to invest in my own cute handkerchiefs from Japan. They come in a large size and I also can’t tell you how handy handkerchiefs are beyond the nose-picking – they are useful for general hand-wiping, mouth-wiping post-meal (which is also better for the environment that you’re not picking up and wasting napkins for just one pathetic mouth-wipe), and other things. Having a handkerchief is on par with remembering to bring your towel.
Why my wallet has very little
Anyway, about this time last year, I didn’t have much in my wallet:
- drivers licence (identification)
- Opal transport card
- debit card (in case I need to take money out)
- one random bill, probably $20
- card pass for entering my office building
Slimming down my wallet since then got really exciting, because this is what I usually carry in my wallet now:
- card pass for entering my office building (only on weekdays)
Especially since 2020 brought the digital drivers licence to my state, and you could also make contactless payments with major credit cards to pay for transport. I also kept all my credit and debit cards on my phone, so that meant I wouldn’t have to carry the plastic for those either. My bank provides cardless cash at their ATMs, with just the need for a code and then a security code, so getting cash out is easy peasy. No luck on the card pass for my building though; but at least I only have to carry it on weekdays.
So I don’t really have a proper wallet; it’s just a card holder. In fact, I carry the pass without the card holder sometimes.
Of course, there are days when I need to bring other things with me. Sometimes I need my Medicare card if I’m going to the doctor. Or my health fund card if I’m going to the chiropractor. Or if I’m planning to hit the stores and I’ve got gift cards, I bring those things too. Just most days are minimal because I don’t need all that much.
These changes to carrying less plastic cards do have some drawbacks though.
Disadvantages of going super-digital, and things you should keep in mind
The need for carrying an Opal transport card was no longer there, but now it’s more of a pain to request for a refund if the system goes down while you’re in the middle of a journey and you get charged a full day’s fare. Rumour has it that the physical card will have a digital version, though, so you can keep it in your digital wallet. The card readers are also a bit shitty with contactless payments – I’ve noticed they are better with the physical card, and a lot more responsive yet with the Opal card itself.
The digital drivers licence was to be used with caution initially, because not all establishments were accepting them yet. So I had to carry my licence around for some time. I feel safe not carrying it in my day-to-day, though when we travelled to Tasmania I took it just in case. It also occurred to me that if you were to suddenly collapse in the middle of the street, assisting bystanders might look for a plastic ID on your person… but then I guess there is also the Medical ID on phones such as the iPhone, which can be easily accessed in an emergency.
The other drawback, obviously, is that when you travel, going contactless does not always apply. I made this incredibly silly mistake last year when we went to the States, and I realised that I literally had brought no card with me, so in a country where contactless payments are not in abundance, I totally screwed myself over. Now we’re lucky that I was travelling with Nick, haha! 🤪 Some of my friends offered to help, but Nick was able to take out some extra cash for me in the events that I was alone. All because I’d made such a boo-boo.
We can also talk about the obvious disadvantage that you’re effectively fucking screwed if your phone isn’t charged up or just decides to shut down. I guess we should all carry a bit of plastic as a backup.
But generally, in my day-to-day, I don’t mind. We can go with just my phone. And on weekdays, my work pass. Because gone are the days when I carried a giant wallet with my entire life in it and expected that I would need it all. Having a smaller wallet isn’t just for the sake of having a smaller one or carrying nothing at all. It’s just about carrying only what you need.