Wallet organizing tips

When I was in university in Canada in the late 1980s, I had a hard time keeping my money organized. I had tried a number of different wallets and coin purses but I always seemed to have a heavy pile of $1 coins that I kept forgetting to use.

Everything changed when I visited Switzerland in 1990. Switzerland had 1, 2, and 5 Franc coins. The wallets in Switzerland were designed with a larger section for coins. In Canada, I only had access to purchasing American made wallets that were designed for American currency: $1 banknotes, not coins. Canada had introduced the $1 coin and had not redesigned wallets to adapt to more coins and fewer bills. I purchased a Swiss wallet and my organizational dilemma was solved!

Over the years, Unclutterer has discussed several ways to organize and trim down your wallet, but there are a few more things to take into consideration.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to pay in cash, and the currency in the country in which you live has more banknotes (bills) than coins, choose a wallet with a smaller coin pocket and larger bill pocket. Consider keeping coins in a separate coin purse.

If the currency has more coins than banknotes, a wallet with a large coin pocket might be beneficial. However, if you’re likely to pay for lower priced items in cash, then a separate coin pouch will allow you to quickly find the coins you need without opening your entire wallet.

In many places debit/credit card payments are very popular, so popular that some people never carry cash. This also means that we need more places in our wallets to carry credit and debit cards as well as cards for all of those loyalty programs. For those who prefer electronic payments, choose a wallet with enough card slots to suit your needs. You may wish to consider a second wallet for your loyalty cards.

Tips for International Travelers

Transfer the currency from your regular wallet to a separate coin pouch or even a zipper-seal bag and place currency of the new country in your wallet. This is ideal if you wish to carry many of the loyalty cards and ID cards with you when you’re doing business or sightseeing within the country you’re visiting. This system works well if the banknotes and coins of the two countries are similar.

An alternative is to have a different wallet for each country. Transfer only relevant ID and credit cards between the two wallets. This option is preferable if the currencies between the two countries have differently sized banknotes and coins that will not fit well in your “home” wallet. Also, you may not need many of your loyalty cards or perhaps even your driver’s licence in the country you are visiting so it may be better to keep those cards in your “home” wallet and lock it in your hotel room safe. By purchasing a wallet in country or from an online site of that country, you’ll be able to get a wallet suited for that country’s currency. Many people must keep records of all of their purchases so a wallet with a separate section for receipts is helpful.

Tip for Handling Coins and Banknotes

For greater efficiency and speed in checkout lines, pass the cashier the coins first then banknotes. It makes it much easier for cashiers to put the money in the cash register and it makes it easier for customers to put money in their wallets.

11 Comments for “Wallet organizing tips”

  1. posted by infmom on

    Related thought: If you’re a man, consider carrying a bag instead of sitting on your wallet in your back pocket. I finally talked my husband into getting a bag from the Duluth Trading Co. and it has worked wonders. And now he doesn’t have to worry about breaking the belt holster off his phone again, either.

  2. posted by pwm78 on

    One of my husband’s and my pet peeves is cashiers handing the bills first then piling coins on top, like the bills are a plate or something. They nearly always slide off. “Coins first” should be blinking in huge red letters on the cash register screens! Thank you for that last paragraph.

  3. posted by Iris on

    Ah, it always depends what you are trying to achieve… ;-)

    A restaurant owner (in Europe, no “mandatory” tipping) once told me that he advises his waiters to return the bills first and hope that the customer will say “just keep the change”.

    Here in Japan cashiers usually hand you the bills first, then wait until you have put them away, and only then will you receive the receipt and the coins.

    Do you have time to put away the bills before the cashier can do the coin piling?

  4. posted by G. on

    @Iris – often, especially at big-box stores where cashiers are tracked for number of transactions done, they will have the bills in one hand and coins in the other and give them to you bills then coins with no pause in between. Even with cards, they are usually starting the next transaction before you get your card and receipt put away and your items off the checkout. Not great service, but I can understand that they don’t want to get dinged on their transaction count.

  5. posted by Lea on

    You haven’t even mentioned smart phones.
    My husband and I have been travelling for 2 years and use a smaller wallet than I ever have because of having a smart phone. My wallet now is basically a coin purse the size of my smart phone.
    Smart phones revolutionise downsizing everything.
    1. Many Loyalty cards can be photographed as the scanner at many businesses will recognise the barcode on the phone.
    2. Receipts can be photographed immediately and discarded (the Evernote document camera and storage system is superb).
    3. Many airlines now use electronic boarding passes, scanned directly from the via, usually via their App.
    3. You never ever need to print out accommodation information, it is all stored on the phone.
    All of these can be accessed without data also.
    We are in our mid 50s and are amazed how few people (including the younger so called technology generations) are embracing this technology.
    Vive le smart phone!!!!

  6. posted by AinOakPark on

    @g and pwm78: I agree with pwm78, change first, then bills, because if things go as g suggests, then you at least have a chance to hold onto your change, bills as well as coin, as you step away to allow the next transaction continue, without having to pick coin up off the floor, a thing few people do these days. And if cashiers are, as you say, g, holding coin in one hand and bills in the other, how hard is it to give the coins first? It’s just a matter of consideration. Sometimes, when I know my hands will be full of merchandise (no cart), I quickly whip my hand away before they deposit the coin, and put the bills away, then accept the coin.

    And, to Iris: I was a wait person (in the USA) and if someone said, “Keep the change” it meant coin AND bills, as “the change” meant whatever the difference was between the bill and the given cash.

  7. posted by skywind on

    Back in the days before cash registers did the math for the cashiers, they would always count the coins into your hand up to the dollar, then count the bills on top of that. Nobody knows how to do that any more. They just take the amount the cash register tells them is the change, take out the bills and coins, and give them to you in that order. And the receipt comes out last, so that goes on top.

  8. posted by G. on

    @Lea – GAAAAHHH!!!! I’m tired of smart phones being pushed as the solution to everything for everyone! :-) I’m happy that they work so well for many people, but so often those who have them seem to assume that everyone has or can afford one.

    That said, I’m thinking about moving to a smart phone sometime in the near future. If I can figure out a phone/plan I can justify the cost for those few times internet access would have been nice to have while out and about. Even the $45/month pay-as-you-go plans would be a huge jump in cost from my current $100/YEAR pay-as-you-go basic phone.

  9. posted by Carla on

    @G. – I don’t have a smart phone either (I’m 26), but my husband just got one from Republic Wireless. We had held out because of the cost, but RW is so much more affordable than any other carrier we could find. The only downside is you HAVE to use the Moto X, but it is a really nice phone.

    That said, I’m the one who keeps track of all the things Lea mentioned, and I still have a dumb phone – so paper for me! :) And I won’t be the one in trouble when my phone battery dies…

  10. posted by Emma on

    I used to get annoyed at the coins-on-top-of-bills thins. Then I realized that, like so many other things in life, it’s not worth it to try and change everyone else when I can just change myself.

    Make a habit of waiting for your change with your change purse open, then just slide the coins into it, zip, and lay the bills into your wallet. Once you get the hang of it, that’s one less frustrating thing to deal with in life!

  11. posted by Patrick Dowd on

    Having once asked a cashier why she didn’t hand coins to the customers first, she said management required cashiers to hand back the bills first (no explanation as to why).

    I did not know about the transaction count but this is evidently so as the cashiers do turn rapidly to the next customer. Meanwhile, I am still standing in (blocking) the line putting away the bills after juggling the coins and receipt. Do the managers really think they are speeding up the transaction process? Heck no. It takes about four times longer to put my change away. Wake up, managers. You are annoying your customers.

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