“Put that thing away, you’re going to get us mugged, Anthony!”
If it was summer 1977 and sweltering, which means you could find Anthony and I burning hours navigating the trash, bums, and faded carnival infrastructures of Coney Island. And of course, the crinkle-cut fries at Nathan’s were a daily staple.
Anthony (he hated to be called Tony), always carried a wallet. I felt it strange for 13 year old chubby (deemed husky at the time) kids to carry wallets. I thought about it briefly but was happy to add money earned (paper route) to a dollar ball stuffed in the front pocket of my Levi’s.
Not that there was any cash in Anthony’s bulging backside pocket. His old man was going to trash this frayed leather black thing with the words “SWANK” stamped in gold letters on an inside fold, but instead tossed it to son for fun.
I don’t think Anthony Sr. knew what he started.
Not that there was cash in this wallet. It was loaded with baseball cards (I remember Rusty Staub in there), Wacky Package stickers (very popular at the time), and Partridge Family trading cards (embarrassing).
However, if you flashed a fat wallet in Coney Island you were screaming in public – “Rob me!”
My favorite “Wacky Package” Sticker.
Somewhere along the way I channeled Anthony. It happened.
I admit: I was WatFat.
I suffered from the debilitating financial and physical effects of a bulgy, unsightly (fat) wallet.
It wasn’t just cash – although I am guilty of trashing ten bucks along with a bunch of ancient wallet-flap papers.
An endless explosion of receipts, photos, business cards, wrinkled cash. It was too much.
And women? You suffer too. I’ve seen wallets extracted from purses that revival the weight of bricks.
If your wallet is unorganized, how is your money doing? Think about it.
Lighter wallet, lighter financial burden?
1). Take inventory now. Break out wallet contents; take inventory of your spending habits. Wallets bulging with store receipts, holding more than 2 credit cards, overflowing with retail reward punch cards that frequent purchases, have little cash, can be WatFat warning signs of excessive credit usage and overspending. Do a dive into the deep pockets of your debts. Add up recurring monthly debt including mortgage (principal, interest, insurance, taxes) and auto loan payments. Total gross monthly income. Calculate your household debt-to-income ratio using Bankrate’s online calculator. A ratio below 36 is considered favorable by lenders. I say it’s still too high. Work at a ratio closer to 25% which means a greater discipline to slim down spending and expenses.
2). Lighten the load. Carry less, spend less. First, ditch the empty wallet. It’s stressed and worn from carrying so much – like its owner, perhaps. Reduce WatFat with a light replacement. My favorite website for slim wallets is www.bellroy.com. Second, carry your best reward point credit card and a debit card. That’s it. With credit centralized to one card, you’ll gain discovery over spending weaknesses as you review the December credit card statement which aggregates and categorizes expenditures. Last, take the statement to an objective financial partner who can help you pinpoint areas for improvement.
3). Don’t fight the sleek. So, what should you carry? A form of identification like a driver’s license and medical insurance card. No receipts – most retailers will offer e-mail receipts; create a folder in your inbox. Still carry photos? Why? You have a smartphone for that. Cash can be neatly folded in a slim wallet. Do we even need to discuss coins? No we don’t. Carry coins in your pocket. At the end of each day, place them in a coin jar. Laughing at the coin jar? Read this – The Power of the Lowly Coin Jar. My coin jar is a 2 foot-tall 1966 plastic Batman bank. Make it fun.
4). Slim wallet, slimmer medical bills. Piriformis Syndrome or “Fat Wallet Syndrome” is the irritation of a strap-like muscle in the buttocks that may be occur when a person sits with a bulging wallet in a rear pocket for prolonged periods. Literally, it’s a pain or numbness in the butt or hip that requires medical attention. Treating my posterior like a file cabinet is not worth increased medical bills. What do you think?
5). Less wallet, better moods. People with a streamlined portable money system appear to have lighter attitudes and feel greater control over money. Through the years I’ve conducted joint “wallet-ectomies” with others who reported back an overwhelming feeling of relief. Spending had been examined, reduced and monitored successfully just from a reduction in wallet size.
Individuals tend to be less stressed by reducing clutter in their wallets and purses. Perhaps, it’s a small step to greater financial improvement and organization.
So, it’s ok to give in and confess to WatFat.
I’ve been there. The weight has obliterated many back pockets.
Fight WatFat and succeed.
Realize your household cash flow may increase in size.
And that’s weight you’ll be thankful for.
FYI – Anthony and I did get mugged. Thugs (grasping stiletto knives with growling orange tigers printed on the handles) near Spook-A-Rama horror attraction, snatched his wallet and demanded my cash ball. Guess I was stupid and revealed too much.
Shaken, we walked it off. Cops wouldn’t do anything. Flash a wallet, pay the consequences.
Eventually we found it: Underneath the Coney Island beach boardwalk.
Tossed among the rocks, ripped apart, a gusset assault.
We accounted for almost everything.
The crooks took nothing although the Topps’ Keith Partridge trading card was missing.
Perhaps the waves took it.
Or criminals had a soft spot for David Cassidy.
It was too much to ponder for a 95 degree day.
Anthony was done with the wallet. Never looked back.
Cured of WatFat.
I bet he’s a fan of money clips now.