Optimizing Your Wallet

If we geeks obsessively optimize what's on our keychain, we'd be remiss if we didn't also obsessively optimize that other item most geeks carry around – our wallet.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2009/04/optimizing-your-wallet.html

When I was a kid, I’d lose my wallet and keys all the time. When I was 16, my best friend bought me a plain leather chain wallet, and I’ve not since lost either my wallet nor my keys. I’m on my fourth wallet in 12 years since then, on account of wear and tear, though. And when I say chain wallet, it’s a reasonable chain, not something that drapes down the side of my leg.

+1 Front left pocket.

I’ve had my All-Ett wallet for over five years, and it is still in good shape. It would be nice to get rid of all my cards, but in the Northeast, each store has its own loyalty card which is needed for cashing checks. Plus, I have my NY Subway and Bus maps http://antonmiles.com/newyork.html, a couple of ATM cards, my credit card, drivers license, insurance card, etc.

The Jimi Wallet and Umbra Bungee Card Case simply take up more room and hold less. The Thin Super Skinny Wallet is also bigger while it carries less. Of the ones you mentioned, only the Tyvek Mighty Wallet comes close to the All-Ett. However, I don’t think the material (although much cooler looking) is as sturdy as the All-Ett. I know a few people who got one, and all of their wallets were falling apart within a year. The Tyvek material might be nice and sturdy for an over night letter, but the material wasn’t made to last for a year of abuse.

I’ll be replacing my All-Ett with another one. That is, if the one I currently have ever wears out.

Hey, what about the rules of optimization here? Skipping rule #1 (don’t optimize), the next rule is #2: Measure

When I measured, I found most of the thickness was from stuff I didn’t need to carry around. Sears card, JC Penney card, receipts from a year ago, club membership cards, 20 business cards, pictures, etc., aud nauseum.

When I got rid of the unneeded stuff, the result was good enough (another rule: Stop optimizing when the result is good enough). If it wasn’t good enough, THEN I would go for super-thin materials. But then I would be giving up organization. I guess I’m like the TV detective Monk, but I don’t want my cards to touch each other…

You could have saved some money (and optimization time), if you just threw out the garbage from your old wallet.

Besides, aren’t you paying for everything with a retina scan already?

Ah Plastic! Status symbols.

Recently i want to change my wallet with a smaller one, and after a week of searching i choose the J.FOLD ALTRUS WALLET (i pick the black one).

I’m very happy with it. It’s very small and minimalist, and it’s made of strong material.


I haven’t solve the where-i-do-store-coins problem yet (i put them directly in my pocket), but i never change back my new pocket, for any reason in the world :wink:

I had a pen and pencil set growing up that I carried around in my wallet until the mechanical pencil fell apart. It was the size of a credit card and the pen/pencil would snap out of the frame. It was a bit thick, probably 3 or 4 credit card widths but came in handy quite often.

My wallet is already thin enough these days, thanks. :slight_smile: Love the dot-matrix wallet, though (what self-respecting geek wouldn’t?)

Some nice wallet options there. I’m tempted by the Tyvek Mighty Wallet.

At the moment I am using a Freitag wallet that my sister bought me. They’re a little expensive but they’re made from recycled truck tarpaulin. Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but I like it :slight_smile:


I can’t believe you’ve neglected to include the Ducti line of duct tape wallets in your list! I have one and like it. There was some extra stickum at first, but now it’s fine. And their warranty is kinda impressive.

I love my All-ett

All the wallet you’ll ever need - if it doesn’t fit in this, you don’t really need it in your wallet.


Popular wallets all seem to have nowhere for coins to go. Are you supposed to have a separate coin purse for them? Just let them jangle about in your pocket? Or do you throw them away? I guess it’s a bit different: in the US the biggest coin in daily use is $0.25, and the smallest bill is $1? Here in the UK coins go up to £2 and notes only go down to £5.

One thing I’ve never understood: What’s with putting wallets in back pockets? I always keep mine in my front left pocket, and I don’t care how thick it gets; it might make it a little awkward to use my laptop, but it never hurts when I sit down. Why worry about keeping a thin wallet when just moving it to a different pocket accomplishes the same goal?

My dot matrix tyvek wallet lasted about 9 months before one side fell apart. However, I’m still using it 4 months on (it’s ok if I’m careful) as I’ve not found anything better to replace it with.

I’ve owned the Tyvek wallet in the past and was extremely disappointed. It doesn’t fall apart, it just loosens enough that it refuses to hold cards in anymore. The first time you pull it out and your cards all fall out is kind of amusing. By the time it starts dropping cards behind in your pocket when you pull it out, you’re about ready to kill a dude.

The ducti lasted somewhat longer, but it is similarly fragile.


The proper pocket for your wallet is the inner pocket of your jacket, behind a zipper or button, to prevent it from falling out or being stolen easily. Keeping anything except possibly a single key in a holder in ANY trouser pocket is just unsightly.

(Strong opinion weakly held.)

Dot Matrix wallet is funky but I have always been taken with this:


A Steel mesh wallet, practically indestructable in normal use and has the benificial side effect of creating a Faraday Cage, maybe useful with the wide spread adoption of RFID tech? Especially after seeing White Hats exposing the ease of phising data from security cards and travel pre-pay cards just by waggling a scanner near the victims pockets (surreptitiously of course!)

Although Randall does make a good point, plus keeping your wallet in a back pocket is a prime target for pickpocketing - even more so if its super thin!

Wallet in the front pocket looks strange when you’re walking around the street and it’s all buldgy and sticky-out-ee. Ugh.