What’s In Your Wallet?

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Everyone knows the popular Capital One commercials, with the tagline “What’s in your wallet?” I always thought it was a stupid tagline, but of course, as good business marketing always does, the saying got stuck in my head. So, today, I’ve decided to answer that nagging question so I can once and for all get it out of my head. Here goes:

First Look

Upon my first gaze at the worn leather rectangle that has followed me around wherever I go for the last 5+ years, I didn’t notice anything that would catch the eye. Well, besides the devilishly handsome man staring back at more from the WA driver’s license 😉 (p.s. do I have crazy eyes in that pic, or what?) . One side had my main credit card sticking out, the other side my bus pass. It’s a familiar site that I have seen several times a day for years and years. But upon closer inspection, a story starts to unfold that gives much more insight into my life than I had ever imagined.


As I pulled out everything from my wallet and spread it out on the bed, I began to realized that my wallet carried some very important memories from my life. We’ll get into those in a minute, but first, let’s take inventory of what I found:

  1. Airline Rewards Credit Card
  2. Credit Union Debit Card #1
  3. Credit Union Debit Card #2
  4. Card with business checking account info (not sure why that’s there…)
  5. Store rewards card
  6. 2 business cards for people I know
  7. Bus Pass (free bus rides, perk of work)
  8. 2 medical insurance cards (one duplicate, from before I added my son)
  9. Dental insurance card
  10. Library card (I’m pretty sure we owe money to like 3 libraries for late fees…)
  11. Driver’s License
  12. Michelle’s Driver’s license
  13. Copy of SS card
  14. Passport services info card
  15. Enrolled Agent Card
  16. Picture of brother from like 8th grade
  17. Picture of wife when she was a senior in high school

If This Wallet Could Talk

My wallet could tell stories of excessive spending, good food, great relationships, good tips and great conversations. Stories of heartbreak, stories of hope, success and failure, stories of generosity and scarcity, stories that have helped shape who I am today. Many of those stories involve the cash that is no longer present, the receipts that have long been recycled and the multiple credit cards that I have since cancelled or stored away. But today, I can reach into my wallet and pull out stories that bring me back to key moments in my life.

My airline rewards card helped my wife and I take our first vacation since our honeymoon 3 years earlier. We got the card, received a $99 companion ticket voucher and saved about $500 on our flight to Hawaii. We found out we were pregnant the day before that vacation started. My first debit card became a companion as we started our second year of marriage, finally ridding us of our national bank and their fees. We steered clear of credit cards for that year, paying off over $5,000 in student loan debt before redirecting our efforts toward buying a home. My second debit card is the account where all our extra cash went to pay off that loan. We wrote “debt” on the card to remind us what we were using it for. We haven’t used that card since we now don’t make enough money. The business checking account was created after I became an enrolled agent and went through my first tax season. I started doing taxes because I had a passion for helping people with their money, and I knew I wanted my wife to stay at home once we had kids. This account represents my love for my family and my commitment to provide for them.

The store rewards card is used almost every shopping trip at the store we frequent the most, but they seem to be paying out less and less rewards. I do pride myself in how fast I can check myself out in the self-checkout line, though. I’m faster than the computer! The business cards are pretty random, one from a couple who own a housecleaning business, the other from a guy who helped me get my current job, but split and started his own consulting business just before I came on. I’m probably going to recycle both tonight. The bus pass is a sweet perk from my job, but I haven’t been utilizing it as I should. Probably because I didn’t pay for it. If I had, I would probably be taking the bus every day. Honestly, I have been staying up so late blogging that getting up in time to catch the bus has been a chore, not to mention it doubles my commute time.

The medical insurance cards are just that, insurance cards. One is old because it only has my wife and I on them. The other is current. Though, my medical insurance company doesn’t seem to want to pay anything and makes way too many billing mistakes, so I’m not sure why I even use these worthless cards anymore (bitter, much?). The dental insurance card is used at my mother-in-laws place of work. She an awesome dental hygienist, and I love going there, though they are not “in network”, so I pay a little more every time.

The library card is awesome, and has some random stuffed characters on them names Ziggy and Iggy. Never heard of them, but it’s a dog wearing a polo and a guy dressed as a #2 pencil. How epic is that?! My driver’s license was just renewed this year. The picture guy was very rude and didn’t even say when the pic was taken, and yelled at me to leave when I stood there, thinking he hadn’t taken the pic yet. Well, at least I still have my license and can drive my awesome old car. My wife has 2 driver’s licenses. She thought she had lost one, so she ordered another, only to find the “lost” one in her wallet. She gave it to me so when we go out, if she forgets the other one, we can still order drinks (this has come in hand a few times already).

Ziggy and Iggy rock!

For some reason, I really needed a copy of my SS card, and stuck it in my wallet like 5 or 6 years ago. It has stayed with me ever since, though it’s probably the dumbest thing I could do with it. I really need to shred this thing. Same with my passport info card. That information does not need to travel around with me, for any reason, except if I want to have my identity stolen so I can blog about how to recover your stolen identity. My enrolled agent card is proof that I’m a real tax specialist, not just a tax preparer. Passing that last test after a year of intense studying was one of the most rewarding things I have done. Having dropped out of community college twice because I had no idea what to do with my life to becoming a licensed tax professional and holding down two respectable jobs, this license really helped juxtapose how far I have come vs. where I was. Life has been an adventure for sure, but I have matured far beyond my years in just this last half-decade.

I still have a pic of my little brother in my wallet from middle school, and I’m not sure why I have chosen to keep that on in there. I only see it on rare occasions, but when I do, I just see my brother as a young man, full of questions, and think about where he is now. He’s 18, graduated and trying to figure it all out, just like I was back then. He hasn’t made the same dumb-ass decisions that I did at his age, I’m so proud of him.

And finally, a picture of my wife as a senior in high school. I still remember when I knew that I was going to marry that girl.  She had a radiant smile, beautiful brown eyes and a wit about her that made me laugh and fall more in love with her after every conversation. I like having this picture in there, remembering the nervous butterflies of asking for her number, the hours and hours of talking on the phone because she was far more interesting that anything else in my life, and the sparks that started it all. This picture is now 7 years old, and she’s more beautiful today than ever. This picture brings back the good nostalgia of a young love that has turned into an awesome marriage and has even brought a new life into this world.

My Belle

What’s Your Story?

Everyone’s wallet tells a story about them, whether they realize it or not. If you wallet could talk, what would it say? I am so glad that mine has so many wonderful memories still present, and will hold many more in the years to come. So I guess the question to ask it; what’s your story?

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade has been a nationally-recognized personal finance expert for the past decade. He has written professionally for The Balance, The Spruce, LendingTree, Investing Answers, and other widely-followed sites. 
He’s also been a featured expert on CBS News, MSN Money, Forbes, Nasdaq, Yahoo! Finance, Go Banking Rates, and AOL Finance.

In 2018, Jacob quit his job and his family decided to sell everything (including their home) to take off on an adventure. They traveled the country in an RV for nearly 3 years, visiting over 38 states, 20+ national parks and eventually settling in the sunshine state!

41 thoughts on “What’s In Your Wallet?”

  1. Greg also has my high school senior picture in his wallet! What is up with that? I’m 32 years old now!!!

    Anyways, I just popped my wallet out and I have credit cards, business cards, pictures of old pets, and pictures of my kids. That’s about it!

    • It’s a reminder of the woman we fell in love with, but also we probably just keep forgetting to get an updated picture in there. I mean, when was the last time you printed a wallet sized picture?

  2. I guess my wallet reflects my minimalist tendencies: Driver’s license, one credit card, one health insurance card, one debit/ATM card, and one emergency road service card (I should keep that in the car to lighten this baby!). That’s it. I’ve always carried currency in my right front pants pocket. Oh and I’ve got three tiny slips of paper a brother gave me decades ago with several Zen quotes. Example: “If happiness is your destiny, you need not be in a hurry.” – Lao Tzu from the Tao Te Ching.

  3. Well my wallet in pretty damn boring in comparison. It just has necessities and several store discount cards. I wouldn’t say there’s much memories behind any of that stuff. Or maybe my memory just was a bit impaired when I got all those various cards.

    • Agreed. I meant to get rid of it last night, but just shoved everything back in and went to bed. Theives would be laughing all the way to their fake ID guy with my info if they got a hold of my wallet!

  4. I have a wallet that really needs to be cleaned out. There’s an old Disney room key from a conference we attended there in January. You think they’ll let me back into my hotel room now?

  5. Strangely, I always have unused coupons in my wallet that I have the best intentions of grabbing while checking out, but I forget pretty frequently. Oh and I have a coupon binder! Why in the world are they ever even in my wallet….and what does that say about me? I don’t want to know!

  6. My purse -is- my wallet and has become far more interesting now that my firstborn mucks around in there. I never know what gunk I’ll accidentally pull out while trying to shove fistfuls of cash at the clerk in the grocery store — bills or a stale Cheerio or a plastic dinosaur. Maybe some filthy grit from the fish tank.

    Congratulations on your radiant Belle!

  7. I used to keep a ton of cards and stuff in my wallet, but it became so thick that it was hurting my…uh…bum. (I wish it was thick with money. Now that would be a good problem to have! My wallet. Not my bum.)

    So I got rid of just about everything. Right now, in my wallet you’ll find my license, Costco & Sam’s Club membership cards, my debit card, and my credit card for my job, a few business cards, and a picture of my family.

  8. That’s interesting you write about the emotional connection you have with cards. In fact that’s one of the MAJOR things that credit card companies try to do to people. The more emotional connection you have with it, the more likely you’re going to use it and the longer you’re going to keep it. It’s one of the main reasons the Chase cards look so fancy these days. They make you feel special.

    • I definitely understand it’s not the cards, but that is very interesting. I never thought about the marketing technique of creating an attachment to a credit card.

      That being said, I WANT THE BLACK CARD!

  9. I try to not have too much stuff in my wallet. I have one credit card, my health insurance card, my bar card, a Mcd gift card, a Visa rebate gift card,my driver’s license, and some cash. There is usually some receipts in there too since I keep all of those and enter them into my expense spreadsheet each day.

  10. I never thought about my wallet telling a story. It would probably tell me to clean out my purse more often. I have a red wallet that turned my white debit card pink. I’ve had probably 20 cashiers at various places tell me how cute it was and ask where they could get one!

  11. I kind of like to go through my wallet once in a while and see what I have. I think the best idea is to carry the most important cards and pictures and as little personal info as possible. Making a copy of each card in a wallet can be handy too, especially if you lose your wallet and have to call credit card companies and cancel your cards.


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