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Know What’s In Your Wallet or Purse

Posted By Jim On 04/02/2008 @ 12:18 pm In Personal Finance | 11 Comments

I had lunch with my beautiful wife yesterday at a local Baja Fresh, it’s something we don’t do often because her office is 45 minutes away, but we were able to yesterday because she had an appointment in the morning. As luck would have it, after we had parted ways she discovered that she left her purse behind! Fortunately, either someone had turned in the purse or one of the workers there picked it up, but Baja Fresh had it secure behind their counter for me to pick up a few minutes later. Whew! Disaster averted.

That made me think about the importance of capturing a snapshot of your wallet or purse, on a monthly basis, in the event that you do lose it. The first thing my wife said to me, after she explained it was missing, was that this never happens to her and it’s been a very long time since she’s misplaced her purse like this (she didn’t bring up the fact that she misplaced her license for about a week!); to which I thought to myself, “Of course not, this isn’t supposed to happen ever.” This underscores the importance of having a snapshot of your wallet or purse on a monthly basis.

I don’t think you should photocopy everything, that’s a waste of paper and an increased security risk. For the sake of simplicity, I’m just going to say purse from now on since it would likely contain a superset of what would be in a wallet (yes, I just basically said people with purses, i.e. predominately women, carry more stuff than people with wallets, i.e. predominately men; get over the sexism! :))

Here’s what I propose:

  • Photocopy your license and insurance card. If you have any other important documents in your purse, chances are you don’t need them so you don’t need to carry them around. Birth certificates, social security cards, and passports are probably not necessary daily items, leave those at home. If you must have them, keep photocopies instead of originals.
  • Record last 4 digits and customer service phone numbers for your credit cards. In the event you do lose your purse, you will want a list of all the cards in your purse along with the phone number you have to call to report the card stolen. The last thing you want to do is have to look up the phone numbers, so have them handy. Also, most of the time you can handle all the cards from one issuer in one call. If you have 2 Citi cards, you can handle the loss of both cards with one call to the Citi customer service line.
  • Record the cards that are actually in your purse. This is crucial because you don’t want to cancel a backup card you have in your desk drawer unless you absolutely have to. This is the one thing you have to keep as fresh as possible.

Update: I forgot about this when I originally posted this but the logic behind photocopying your license was that, should you lose it, you at least have a copy. When people travel, they often take photocopies of passports. While it won’t be “official,” people are oftentimes sympathetic to your situation and will cut you some slack as long as you can prove you had a driver’s license once.

Some resources suggest photocopying the front and back of every credit you have, it’s something I’ve done in the past but soon realized was completely unnecessary. Why collect all that information when all you really need is the last four digits and a phone number?

Take a snapshot of your wallet today because you never know when you’ll accidentally leave it behind in a Baja Fresh.

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