Last year, on a trip back to my parents’ house in Baltimore, I discovered the day after my arrival that I had lost my wallet. It must have fallen out of my purse at some point while I was on the plane.
Luckily, the airline found it and sent it overnight to me, so what could have been a major headache was only a minor inconvenience. (All the money was still inside, too).
But not all wallet loss stories have such happy endings. While there’s no fool proof way of preventing the loss or theft of your wallet, there are things you can do to make the aftermath much less stressful. Here are three things you should do now to protect yourself in the event of lost wallet. You’ll be glad you did:
Photocopy and List the Items in Your Wallet
Your wallet is a gold mine of information about you, and in many cases, it is the only place that you keep that information. Rather than relying on your faulty memory to determine what was in a missing wallet, take the time now to photocopy the front and back of each card in your wallet and store them all in a safe spot (like your home safe). And don’t just focus on the big-ticket cards. Finding the information for your health insurance card or even your library card can be a headache after a loss.
In addition, on each photocopied sheet, write down the phone number for reporting a lost card. That way, in the event of a lost wallet, you won’t have to waste precious time looking up the contact information.
Take Sensitive Information out of Your Wallet
There are very few reasons why anyone should need to carry a Social Security card or birth certificate in their wallet. If you ever need to carry those items to fill out paperwork at a new job, for example, remove them from your wallet as soon as possible. The potential havoc that an identity thief can wreak using that information can be devastating.
Follow Your Grandparents’ Advice and Don’t Carry All Your Money in the Same Place
When my wallet went missing last year, I happened to be traveling with my husband. That was lucky, because I would have otherwise had no way of paying for anything on the trip. All my cash, my credit card, and my debit card were all in my wallet.These days, I try to keep one card and some cash in a pocket, while the rest stays in my wallet. My grandma would be proud. She always told me to tuck some money away in addition to what I carried in my wallet, because “you never know.”
The Bottom Line
There’s nothing so stressful as losing a wallet. But taking reasonable precautions ahead of time can really help to mitigate the possible problems.
Editor’s Note: Every time my wife and I travel overseas I go a little overboard with cash. I will have some in my wallet, some in my suitcase, and my wife’s suitcase. One night we were out late in Lisbon, Portugal and I even stuck cash in my shoe. Overboard I know.
Does anyone have any other tips that want to add?
Emily Guy Birken
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