Clean Out Your Wallet

About This Week’s Action

If you think about it, your wallet is the cornerstone of your financial life. It’s what you grab when you make a purchase or deposit a check. It’s where you keep the cash you spend. And it’s where you put the receipts showing what you spent. If you’re anything like me or my friends, after a little while your wallet can get out of control. There are gift cards with $0.05 on them and receipts from a year ago. If you want to take control of your financial future, you need to start with taking control of your wallet. If you want an added bonus, clean out your entire purse too.

Why Clean Out Your Wallet

The main reason to clean your wallet is to take back control of your finances. When you only have cards in your wallet that you actually need, you’ll be using those cards for their intended purpose.

I strongly believe that when you are better organized you will be richer and happier. (That was one reason an entire week’s action was to donate 25 things to charity.) When you get rid of crap you don’t need it clears up space and enables you to focus on what you do need and use. Some folks may even believe that when your wallet has fewer cards in it, there will be more room to fill with the cash that universe will send your way. Who knows if this will happen, but it’s worth a try.

How Long Does This Action Take?

I cleaned out my wallet yesterday to prepare for this post. It took me 10 minutes to clean my wallet and another 15 to figure out what to do with the stuff that didn’t need to go back in it.

How to Clean Out Your Wallet

1. Take Everything Out

There is something oddly satisfying about dumping out a wallet or purse onto the floor. The first thing my 9 month old son did when he found my wallet was turn it upside down and shake it and shake it and shake it until everything came out. It was hysterical. So, find a clean space on a table or floor and remove everything from your wallet.

2. Sort

Next, sort the items in your wallet into piles. Credit cards in one pile. ID cards in another. Membership cards in another pile. Gift cards in another. You get the idea.

3. Put Some Back In

Now it’s decision time. You can’t put everything back in your wallet. Sort through each stack and put back in your wallet only those cards which you use at least 1 time each week. If you belong to Costco but only go once per month, consider stashing your card in your car. You don’t need any gift cards in your wallet – keep them in a drawer at home and take them out only when you go shopping. And change? You don’t need more than 4 pennies, 2 nickels, 4 dimes, and 2 quarters in your wallet at anytime. Put the rest in a change jar.

When I sorted out my wallet here’s what went back in:

  • Photo ID
  • Library Card
  • 2 Credit Cards
  • 2 Debit Cards (1 for personal, 1 for business)
  • Health Insurance Card
  • Cash

4. Deal with the Rest

This is the part of cleaning I hate the most – what do you do with the rest of the stuff you took out our your wallet? Honestly, the last time I cleaned out my purse I put everything leftover in a plastic bag and put it in a cupboard. I only looked through again when there was something that I knew I had, but couldn’t find anywhere. It was usually in that bag. (For example, I had a camera/computer cord and a bike light in my purse that ended up in this plastic bag.)

Instead of putting everything in a bag, I recommend shredding the cards and receipts you don’t need. Put the receipts you do need to save in a folder. Put change in a change jar. Put rarely used membership, credit, and debit cards in a safe place in your house. And put gift cards in another safe place that you check frequently before shopping. For example, we have a coupon drawer that also stores our gift cards. Some people also use a separate compartment of their purse for gift cards – just don’t put them directly in your wallet.


You can read this post and say to yourself, “Of course I’ll remember to clean my wallet this week.” But chances are you’ll get too busy. So instead, sign up to get a reminder.

When you register for free here, you’ll get an email reminder 2 times during the week reminding you to actually stop what you’re doing, take 20 minutes (or less) and clean your wallet.

What do you think you have in your wallet that doesn’t need to be there?

Photo credit: Charkrem