What’s in your purse or wallet?

Years ago, I remember getting permission to go into my mother’s purse to get a piece of gum or hard candy. 

Inside was a veritable treasure trove of items for a young girl to examine. Lipstick, a compact, eyeliner, a hairbrush, a calendar, a pen, an address book, an embroidered cloth handkerchief, keys, a nail file, and a wallet as fat as an overstuffed sub sandwich (we will get to that later).

Back east we called them pocketbooks, here they are called purses. What’s universal is that their contents are as unique as each person.

A few years ago, my wallet was stolen from my purse, which was stupidly sitting open in the grocery cart. The attempted theft - I ran after the culprits and retrieved my wallet - really made me rethink what I was carrying. I now use a very small cross body bag for all my essentials.

For hundreds of years, men have been the paradigms of minimalism when it comes to what they carry because most of it must fit in their pants pocket.

I asked my mother the other day where all the extra stuff a man needs is kept while he is out and about and she told me without hesitation, in his wife’s purse. Sexist, I know, but maybe true in some cases.

The essentials to carry in our wallet these days are fairly straightforward – a minimal amount of cash, only essential credit cards, license, insurance cards, and an auto club card like the AAA card, if one has one.

What is NOT needed so much anymore - coins. They weigh you down and there’s a shortage, so I just use my credit or debit card when paying if it is not a flat sum that I can pay in cash.

Check books - many of us have debit cards now. Checks and deposit slips are now on the list of things to never keep in your wallet. They have information on them including your name, address, bank name, routing number, and account number which is very valuable to bad actors.

Social Security cards - Never carry your Social Security card or your Social Security number written on a piece of paper in your wallet. If stolen, thieves can get loans in your name or obtain credit cards.

Your ATM passcode, or any passcodes, should not be carried. Spare house keys should not be carried either.  Keeping those in your wallet invites thieves to steal your money or your belongings.

Cell phones have replaced the need for paper copies of photos, address books and calendars. 

Whatever we are carrying these days, I am guessing that many of us don’t have the two other things we need as older adults.

First on my list for the prepared senior is a list of current medications, emergency contacts, your physicians, key medical conditions, and allergies. All that information can be typed up and placed in your wallet or some folks carry a File of Life that has all that listed inside a bright red plastic pouch. 

First responders (paramedics, police, and firefighters) know to look for the File of Life if you are found in distress. Senior Concerns www.seniorconcerns.org provides free Files of Life if you come by their offices during business hours.

The older we get, the chance that we will experience an unexpected hospitalization increases.

Every senior (actually, everyone over the age of 18) should have an Advance Directive. It is a legal document that tells health care providers how you want medical decisions to be made and who should speak for you if you are unable to speak for yourself.

Sometimes, people say they have their Advanced Directive filed at their local hospital, but if you enter the Emergency Department in a life-threatening situation, no one is going to spend time looking up your document in medical records. It is best to have yours with you should you experience an adverse event.

There are also cloud storage options to file your medical information and Advance Directive, like Docubank, which gives immediate access to healthcare directives & emergency medical information.  With Docubank, you only need to carry a simple card. You can learn more at https://www.docubank.com.

Now is a good time to take stock of what you are carrying and see if some streamlining might be right for you.


Categories: Elder lifestyleNumber of views: 156

Tags: what to carry in your purse

Andrea GallagherAndrea Gallagher

Other posts by Andrea Gallagher

Contact author

Contact author