Slim Is In: A Gentleman’s Approach to Wallet Management

A fat wallet sounds nice if it's stacked with bills, but when it's overflowing with receipts and stubs and who knows what else, it's just a pain in the ass - literally. Lighten your load with these simple carry solutions to that clumsy leather mess you call a wallet.

Hey Gents—

It's the beginning of March and we're well into 2010. Have you stayed on top of your New Year's resolutions? Even if you've managed to slip a little, here's a quick, easily-implemented change that could make a significant difference in your everyday life: Dump that bulging tumor you call a wallet, and opt for something slim and sleek.

Start by asking yourself these questions, and be completely honest:

  • Do I REALLY need those Target receipts from last October?
  • How about my library card? Wait… when was the last time I actually stepped foot inside a library?
  • How about these business cards from my last company event?
  • What about this “Get-10-cones-for-the-price-of-one” coupon from Baskin Robbins?

Okay, maybe you should hang onto that last one.

The point is, 97% of the crap men keep in their wallets isn't actually needed on a daily basis, if at all.

Wean yourself off the wallet-as-storage habit by following these pointers:

1. Toss or File?

Every evening, spend a couple minutes clearing out your wallet and tossing out the junk you don't need (old Post-it note reminders, last week's grocery list) and filing away the more important things (gas receipts, business cards). Getting into this daily habit insures you won't accumulate a bunch of waste that over time becomes so overwhelming you end up putting the Toss or File process off indefinitely.

2. Minimize the Plastic

Ideally, you have one or two credit cards, a debit card, some cash, and an ID. A gentleman needs nothing else. You don't need to tote around your vision insurance, 3×5's of your ex-girlfriend's Pomeranian, Daisy, or your college meal card from 2003; it's just taking up space.

3. Invest in Something Slim

The benefits of a slim wallet are two-fold. You are forced to simplify and carry only the essentials, and aesthetically, it doesn't look like you're growing a third butt cheek.

Not sure what to look for? Here are some options:

Slim Clip

I have to admit that the Slim Clip‘s infomercial had me sold. This wallet boasts the capability of holding up to 30 bills under its clamp, and 6 cards on the flip side. The kicker is that even when filled to capacity, it is only 1/2″ thick. Additionally it comes with a lifetime warranty, in case you don't trust the reliability of those As-Seen-On-TV type products. Given its affordable price point, it's definitely worth considering.

Magic Wallet

From the original magic wallet, to Wilsons Leather to J.Crew, it seems everyone has their own version, and for good reason. This is a great option for a gent wanting to keep his cash and cards in one place. Most magic wallets have room for four cards and the four strategically-sewn elastic bands hold cash firmly in place.

Card Case

Most card cases are double-sided and have two card slots on each side, perfect for housing the necessities I mentioned in #2. Some versions feature a middle slot for some extra storage, while others have only one side with two card slots, and a clip on the opposite side for cash… perfect for the gent who carries a couple bills for incidentals like tipping, a cocktail at happy hour, a mid-afternoon latte, etc.

The One Wallet

There are many variants of this, but I prefer the One Wallet by Makr Carry Goods, who specialize in delicious leather goods and produce in small quantities. This is constructed for the ultimate minimalist that finds cash too cumbersome to carry. It is essentially a leather pocket, but when all a gent carries is his ID, a credit and/or debit card, and one or two bills, how many slots do you really need?

Money Clip

Sometimes, all a gent wants is something to hold his cards and cash together. If that's you, go with something durable and timeless, like this piece from Tiffany&Co: Paloma's Zellige Money clip.

The Money Clip Alternative

If you consider yourself less fancy and more utilitarian, opt for a binder clip. Seriously.

I may be attracted to shiny things like Tiffany money clips, but in the hustle and bustle of daily life, a binder clip just works… and works well. Opt for the smaller variety—choosing a binder clip that can firmly secure a 600-page novel creates unnecessary bulk in your pocket, which is what you're trying to avoid in the first place. Plus, you don't want to be the weird guy with the comically-large binder clip in his pants.

In Conclusion

It's no fun subjecting yourself to a lopsided posture with one cheek atop a billfold the size of a paperback romance novel. Taking the minimalist approach to wallet content management is the best way to avoid clutter as well as back pain.  Follow these pointers and explore the slim alternatives; not only will your necessities be readily accessible, you'll also save yourself the hassle of numerous chiropractic visits down the road.

Barron Cuadro runs The Effortless Gent, a site dedicated to better equipping the everyday man by helping him find his own personal style. You can find him on Twitter @effortlessgent, Facebook, and at http://effortlessgent.com. He lives in San Francisco.

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