For most of the year, my wallet has been slowly weighing me down. It’s been one of those small, yet important things to the family finances that I have neglected for a while.
So I decided to tackle it and make some changes. My approach was focused on the concept of minimalism — only carrying the essentials and focusing on what matters. Beyond the physical aspect, I also wanted to remove behavioral and psychological triggers that were negatively affecting my spending.
For me, a revision of my wallet was about three things:
- Spending more time creating and less time consuming
- Eliminate distractions (out of my sight = out of my mind)
- Continue building healthy financial habits and mindsets
The wallet is something we carry with us every day. Beyond the basic function of carrying ID, it serves as a gateway to how and when we spend our money.
If your wallet isn’t set up to work with your money plan, it will work against your system of spending and wreak havoc.
The benefits of a decluttered wallet:
- It eliminates distractions, by removing triggers that cause you to spend more.
- It helps you think clearer. (Systemise for fewer decisions)
- It literally makes your wallet lighter. Who wants to carry around a bulky wallet in your back pocket anyway?
Three (simple) steps to win the wallet
1 — Buy a new (slimmer) wallet.
Whenever you change a system, it’s best to do a clean reset. That means completely removing your current way of doing things and starting afresh.
2 — Remove the junk.
Be ruthless and remove every and everything that’s holding you down. Here’s a quick formula:
RULE #1: If you haven't used it in the last 30 days — Remove
RULE #2: If it causes you to spend more than you should — Remove
RULE #3: If it uses up excess space in your wallet — Remove
I got rid of all my shopping and loyalty cards and moved them to my phone using the STOCARD app. They’re all still within easy access when I need them.
3 — Structure for success.
At some point, most of us have fallen into the trap of throwing purchases onto a credit card (outside our budget).
Rearranging or removing your cards will help you trigger better spending decisions. For me, I put my Amex in the reverse pocket and my debit front and center. Because it’s out of sight and hard to pull out, I now only use it when it’s really needed (business/travel/online). When you use your physical money (debit, not credit) you think twice before spending.
4 — Declutter your digital wallet
Your physical wallet is just one half of the problem. The other half is your digital wallet. When you take out a store card, loyalty card or credit card, you’re also signing up to get email offers and notifications from these businesses. The same goes for e-commerce apps on your phone.
All of these savvy marketing triggers are designed to alert you to spend more money. Here are three things to help solve the clutter:
#1 Delete all shopping apps on your phone
#2 Disable 1-Click Buy on your Amazon account
#3 Unsubscribe from every e-commerce newsletter
So what happened?…
One month later…
While I’m not a big spender to start with, my main struggle was being bogged down by so many marketing messages. This caused friction in my finances, and around deciding what to buy and what not to.
My minimalist approach to the wallet paid off, literally.
The biggest win overall was simply removing triggers to excess spending. For example: receiving a flybuys email to spend more in order to earn bonus points, or using my Apple Pay with Amex to shop online quickly. These types of triggers always resulted in buying more things I didn’t need.
Consumerism really is an uphill battle. You have to fight it.
During this exercise, I also stumbled across new ways to save money on memberships and subscriptions. I discovered most of what I was paying for, I wasn’t really using. Every small decision adds up to bigger wins over time.
A minimalist approach to my wallet, in the bigger picture, is just one refinement for our family finances. If you don’t have a plan for your money in general, this whole exercise is putting the cart before the horse.
Thanks for reading,