Do this now, before you lose your wallet

Woman checking out her walletMost of us have experienced that stomach-churning moment when we realize we've lost our wallet. As Consumerist points out, a little preparation now can make that experience much less dreadful. Here are four things to do before you realize your wallet is gone, and one suggestion of how to avoid losing your wallet.

1. Know what you have in your wallet. Emptying mine, I find:
  • Driver's license
  • Two library cards
  • One credit card
  • One debit card
  • Proof of insurance
  • Car registration
  • Medical insurance card
  • Coffee shop gift card (a free $2.50 coffee with every $25 added; where else can you get 10% on your money?)
  • A list of my current medications
  • My glasses prescription
  • $1 cash (come on, payday!)
  • A blank check
  • One business card

What's in yours? Some might question my carrying my car registration, medications list and a blank check in my wallet, but these options are worth the risk to me.

2. Make a copy of everything
Using my home printer, I was able to make copies of all these documents, front and back, in case I need to replace them.

If you're going on vacation, it's even more important that you do this, and carry the photocopies somewhere other than in your wallet or purse. Make sure you can read the phone numbers to call should you need to report a lost or stolen card.

3. Add useful content

Consumerist suggests adding a baby picture, pointing out it can increase the likelihood that your wallet will be returned. Also add something that has your cell phone number on it, perhaps a slip of paper offering a reward for anyone returning your wallet. Consider getting a free phone number from Google Voice or the like that you can give out without compromising the sanctity of your personal cell phone number.

4. Purge compromising information
Any items with your Social Security number on it should be stored elsewhere. Likewise for your passwords (home security system, computers, etc.), bank account information and any other confidential information like a combination for a lock.

5. Double-check how you carry your wallet

We handle our wallet without thinking about it, and sometimes we can fall into dangerous habits. Do you leave your wallet on top in an open purse? Carry it in a back packet that isn't quite tall enough, so that it sticks out a bit? Carry it in the back pocket of baggy, baggy pants? Rethink.

Men, carrying your wallet in a front pants pocket may be a little less comfortable but it will make things more difficult for a pickpocket. And watch those brand-new leather wallets -- they are so slippery they can slide right out of your pocket.

Women, closing your purse and securing your wallet in a zippered pouch within will help you avoid the light-fingered. And don't leave that purse unattended for even a second.

Losing your wallet can be devastating. Don't make it even worse by failing to have the documentation needed to replace what you've lost.
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