Photo: Joel Cunningham
The last time I left my apartment with a wallet in my pocket was March 11, 2020 (guess why). I don’t wear one anymore because wallets are bullshit, and you should stop using one too. (If you’re someone who prefers to carry a purse, this advice probably broadly applies – unless you have children, in which case you’ll definitely need to keep an adequate supply of snacks and patches.)
I started carrying a wallet for the first time in college, even though it usually only contained my driver’s license (I didn’t have a car on campus) and eventually a single credit card; Like all the coolest kids, I wore my student ID and room keys on a lanyard around my neck. However, over the decades that followed, I slowly accumulated more rubbish to stay there – extra credit cards, credit cards for stores, gift cards, punch cards for cafes, pictures of my cat, pictures of my kids, and a small tree the value of receipts (so many receipts) – until they were swollen to the proportions of George Costanzan.
Getting minimalist is only half a thing
I kept so much stuff in it that I got back and buttocks ache while sitting – so I took it out before sitting down, which experts say is the best way to lose your wallet (which I used to do a lot). When minimalist purses became fashionable, I tried a new model every few years and usually only kept it until I managed to fill it past its capacity and either break it or find the next Kickstarter, who promised to change my experience in the right back pocket for the better.
But not anymore. The pandemic took a lot of things from me, but it gave me the freedom to carry a brick in my pocket anywhere. Sitting around with no shops or cafe punch cards to replenish has helped me realize that I don’t really go to J.Crew often enough to justify wearing a J.Crew card all the time. I don’t have to carry five normal credit cards with me if I always use the same one. When was the last time I looked at physical copies of my children’s baby pictures? Never. Cash? I rarely use it and mostly forget to go to the ATM anyway.
A wallet phone case is all you need
All I really need to take with me is ID, a single credit card, a debit card, and a train ticket. Everything else is at best a nice to have and not worth the effort. And it all fits in a wallet, which also does me the favor of protecting my phone from drops (although I wouldn’t recommend the one pictured above; if dirt or sand gets in, it will scratch the hell out of the cute colored surface of the iPhone).
This manta of only taking what you need goes well with minimalist wallets too, but even the narrowest wallets are still an extra thing I have to carry. And like all of us with debilitating internet addiction, I never go anywhere without my phone anyway, and the chances are very slim that I will lose it or forget it (and if I do, it’s easy to keep track of– even if it has just fallen into the sofa cushions).
Your cell phone is your wallet
The harder truth – one I’m still working on gaining acceptance – is that I probably won’t even need my wallet anymore. It’s 2021. My phone is basically my wallet.
Since 2012, Apple has been working on turning the iPhone into a hub for all of your credit cards via Apple Wallet, an app that just got more sophisticated over the years. Android devices have similar functions.
Nowadays, any credit card I own can be digitally recreated in a virtual space, along with almost anything I would keep in a wallet, from airline boarding passes to proof of car insurance to mine COVID vaccination card. The MTA recently started accepting tap-and-go smartphone payments. With the introduction of iOS 15, most of the time, I won’t even really need to carry my driver’s license with me – assuming your state is in the program, you can Take a picture of the real thing and save it digitally.
Everything else housed in my former constant pocket companion, which now lives in a drawer on my bedside table? It’s probably on my cell phone or can be: library card, health insurance card, fitness pass, etc. And I’ve definitely never had a wallet with 60,000 pictures of my children. Although, to be honest, I never really look at it either.
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