Before you leave the house, read the list below of what not to keep in your purse or wallet, so you can pare down to just the essentials – and protect your finances and identity.

Credit Cards

i1Don’t carry every credit card you have: If your purse or wallet is lost or stolen, the thief will have a field day with more cards to rack up (leaving you more headaches to deal with). Plus, you won’t have anything to use in the meantime as you take care of getting new cards. Carry only one or two of your main cards, and possibly a backup, and leave the rest in a safe place at home.

Keep photocopies of the fronts and backs of all your cards at home. If your cards are lost or stolen, you won’t have to hunt around for numbers.

Extra tip: If you are faced with this situation, do not close your accounts – ask for your account number to be changed. Closing an account can damage your credit, and you may lose previous reward points, interest rates or credit limits.

Social Security Card

i2This is the number one thing to not keep in your wallet. If a thief gets a hold of your Social Security card, he can open credit cards, take out loans, or even buy a car – it makes you very vulnerable to identity theft. There is no need to carry this around as an extra form of ID, and even the U.S. government’s website recommends leaving your card at home in a safe place. Your Social Security number is only nine digits – just memorize it.


i3You’re at serious risk of identity theft if your passport falls into the wrong hands. While it may seem obvious to some, you’d be surprised at how many stories we hear of people carrying this around as a form of ID in the U.S. If you’re traveling internationally, leave your passport in the hotel safe (carry around a photocopy if you want). Losing your passport in a foreign country is a terrible hassle that involves trips to the embassy, wasted time and sometimes changed travel plans.

Too Much Cash

i4Try to carry only as much cash as you are willing to lose. You should always have some cash on you in case of an emergency, but you don’t want to feel a huge hit if your wallet is lost or stolen. If you’re on a “cash diet,” carry only what you need for the day. According to a recent poll, over 50 percent of LearnVest readers carry less than $50 of cash with them.

Excerpted from an article in