The search for the perfect wallet

Through my whole life I have always struggled to find the perfect tool for the job. No matter what I am doing I from the big to the little I question methods and tools I am using. Sometimes I find it, sometimes I struggle on and on. This is a story about how I think I found perfection.

I have always had a fascination with wallets. They are where we keep the summary of our life and our valuables. Your wallet is like a woman’s purse, the thing that curious people want to pick through to find out more about you and the thing more introspective people think about how it reflects on them. Any time you pay for something the seller glances down and takes a quick look not just at your payment but at what it is coming out of. Your wallet is a statement of you in one of those subtle ways.

In my search I have gone through piles of wallets. I still have a small box in my closet that I have been loathe to throw away with then. I have gone from sleek leather, to big woven bulletproof nylon with lots of features, to slim money clips with stamped leather card slots, to the famous minimal Slimmy. Even with the Slimmy I went through two separate versions, one with window and one without.

My goal was to find a wallet that held everything I need to carry with me while still being small and slim. I have been on the largest minimal kick so the Slimmy and money clips were used for the last three years but they were too minimal for my needs. In the end the fact remains that any wallet I found that is small enough to make me happy didn’t hold enough and any wallet with enough space for everything was just too damn big.

The answer to my problem came to me several weeks ago while I was hanging out at a bar with my younger brother. We were about to tip up and I heard a familiar sound, the sound of rubber against the hard plastic of a credit card before snapping into place.

As a child my father never carried a wallet. He always just took his little pocket address book, pressed all of his cards up against it, folded up some money, and then wrapped it up in a pair of rubber bands. I asked him several times about why he never carried a wallet like everyone else and he told me it was because he never found a wallet he liked. Also, since he received the newspaper which is wrapped in a rubber band, it was free and replaceable weekly.

Like father like son I guess. When I asked my brother about it he said he “got it from dad” and “It was inevitable, you will succumb to it too.” It was and I did.

In the top most picture I didn’t use a normal rubber band but I quickly found that any fancy band I used was too much. Through a few months of testing I found that a traditional rubber band was just enough. In the picture you can easily see that I took the contents of the Slimmy, added my notebook and with the band it is still thinner than the EMPTY Slimmy. Even if I were to add more cards, which I have done, the wallet still manages to be no bigger than the standard four cards and a small amount of cash in a Slimmy that they recommend.1

My rubber band wallet currently contains a Moleskine extra small notebook2, A collapsable pen to write with, a small set of cash, and every card and ID I could need on a day. Somehow it is still smaller and more useful than every wallet I have owned before!

As you can see with the pictures just above the new wallet is just a hair thicker than a AA battery and holds a mass of cards. In fact it actually contains more cards than I actually need. I found if there was too few cards the pen will roll over the cards and wiggle about. I now keep every gift card I have, my Fresh & Easy card, and a random hotel keycard from FurtherConfusion with art on it. Minimalism is amazing but the fact that I never have to go “Oh crap, I forgot card X” is nice.

As for looks? What does this say about me? While as a kid I thought it tacky to have a rubber band for a wallet most people tend to comment on how utilitarian and useful that is. How it holds a notebook and pen in the same space as their own bloated wallets.

No matter how many times I think about the process I think I found the perfect one for the job.

  1. My problem with the slimy is its design. It is only meant to hold about four cards and a small amount of cash. On any day I need to carry my ID, Work ID, Debit Card, PCard. This means ALL extra credit cards, Costco memberships, health cards, gift cards, and even business cards are out. Yes I can live without them but having to drive home and grab my Costco card or applicable gift card every time I want to grab some shopping on the way home is ANNOYING. ↩︎

  2. I use a BRIGHT PINK notebook too. It gets comments a lot, sometimes snide, sometimes funny… but the fact of the matter is when my “wallet” is on the table it’s hard to miss and that in the end is the point; High visibility. ↩︎

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