The last time I left my apartment with a wallet in my pocket was March 11, 2020 (guess why). I don’t carry one anymore, because wallets are bullshit, and you should stop using one, too. (If you are someone who prefers to carry a purse, this same advice probably broadly applies—unless you have kids, in which case you definitely need somewhere to store an ample supply of snacks and Band-Aids.)
I first started carrying a wallet in college, despite the fact that it typically only held 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. In the decades that followed, though, I slowly began to accumulate more junk to stick in there—additional credit cards, store credit cards, gift cards, coffee shop punch cards, pictures of my cat, pictures of my kids, and a small tree’s worth of receipts (so many receipts)—until it swelled to positively George Costanzan proportions.
Going minimalist is only a half-measure
I kept so much stuff in there, I developed back and butt pain when sitting—so I’d take it out before sitting down, which experts say is the best way to lose your wallet (something I used to do often). When minimalist wallets became trendy, I tried a new model every few years, usually keeping it only until I’d managed to fill it beyond its capacity and either break it or find the next Kickstarter promising to change my right rear pocket experience for the better.
But no more. The pandemic has taken many things from me, but it has given me the gift of freedom from carrying a brick around in my pocket everywhere I go. Sitting around with no stores to go to or café punch cards to fill up helped me realize that I don’t really go to J.Crew often enough to justify constantly carrying a J.Crew card. I don’t need to carry five regular credit cards when I always use the same one. When is the last time I looked at physical copies of my kids’ baby pictures? Never. Cash? I rarely use it, and usually forget to go to the ATM anyway.
A wallet phone case is all you need
All I really need to carry with me, I realized, is an ID, a single credit card, a debit card, and a transit pass. Everything else is, at best, a nice to have, and not worth the hassle. And all of it will fit in a wallet case that will also do me the favor of protecting my phone from drops (although I wouldn’t recommend the one pictured above; if dirt or sand gets into it, it scratches the hell out of the iPhone’s cute colored finish).
This take-only-what-you-need manta also applies to minimalist wallets, but even the most slender of wallets is still an extra thing I need to carry. And like all of us with debilitating internet addictions, I certainly never go anywhere without my phone anyway, and chances are very low I am going to lose or forget it (and if I do, it’s easily trackable—even if it has just fallen into the couch cushions).
Your phone is your wallet
The harder truth—one I’m still working to accept—is that I probably don’t even need my wallet case anymore. It’s 2021. My phone is basically my wallet.
Since 2012, Apple has been working to turn the iPhone into a hub for all of your credit cards via Apple Wallet, an app that has only grown more sophisticated over the years. Android devices have similar features.
These days, every credit card I hold can be recreated digitally within a virtual space, along with most anything else I’d stick in a wallet, from airline boarding passes, to proof of car insurance, to my COVID vaccination card. The MTA recently started accepting tap-and-go smartphone payments. Come the launch of iOS 15, I won’t really even need to carry my driver’s license most of the time—provided your state participates in the program, you’ll be able to take a photo of the real thing and store it digitally.
Everything else housed in my former constant pocket companion, which now lives in a drawer in my nightstand? It’s probably on my phone too, or can be: library card, health insurance card, gym pass, etc. And I’ve certainly never had a wallet that holds 60,000 pictures of my kids. Although to be honest, I never really look at those either.