This is one for my fellow suffering blokes. Are you tired of sitting on a burgeoning mound of leather, plastic, cardboard and metal alloys? .. buying new jeans because that mass of keys a jailer would be proud of keeps destroying the pockets? .. buying new wallets because the coins burst the seams (or alternatively tossing a mint-worth of coins in every tip jar you see)? And are you at times secretly envious of the bottomless storage capacity of your significant other’s handbag — but wouldn’t be seen dead with a man-bag? Well then the following may not entirely save you; but heck, you may as well read on having got this far.
Several years back I finally decided to get a compact coin pouch, since storing coins in my standard bifold wallet was getting beyond ridiculous, what with torn zippers, worn leather, and a dead weight in the back pocket. Been through a few varieties; here’s the current one:
That took care of some of the challenge. But several months ago, I decided the wallet was still absurdly obese. I’d wind up with a crook back after driving a distance with one hip perched over a 3-inch thick collection of everything. Either that or I’d have to think to put the wallet somewhere before starting out, or pull over somewhere mid-journey. (Or there’s continuing on the freeway in cruise control, balls of both feet anchored to the floor behind the pedals, knees and hips held taught and straight, shoulders pressed hard into the seat back, left hand on the wheel, eyes front, right hand wrestling to extract the recalcitrant wallet, before the wallet finally lands on the front passenger seat on a half-volley. Awesome toning for several underused muscles, but probably not in the syllabus for any accredited advanced safe driving course. Not of course that I ever actually did that; and if I had, well you wouldn’t have read about it here, would you?) Oh, and added to that I had a mounting collection of otherwise perfectly good jeans that were no longer functional for general wear, solely because the pockets had been eaten away by the pressure of keys and even the metal edge of my phone.
So I began researching both slimline (or ‘minimalist’) wallets and alternatives for carrying and storing keys. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised to discover a plethora of options out there: innumerable styles of wallets, cardholders, phone + card holders, money clips, coin purses, coin + key wallets, key holders, and the rest …
In the end I’ve accepted that the traditional notion of having everything in one place and grabbing a single bundle from the drawer beside the bed in the morning, just isn’t compatible with 21st century life. So some few dollars later, I now have a collection of four separate leather accoutrements, of which at most times three will be upon my person, typically one in the left front pocket, two in the right front pocket, and gloriously none in either hip pocket. In addition the old bifold wallet sits in the bottom drawer, as a storage for rarely-used cards. More on cards later … So now here’s the run down:
- Phonewallet (see featured image at top)There are a few others similar to this one, and it doesn’t show up until about the 3rd screen on Google. But it’s designed and sold by a one-man Aussie small business, and is half the price of similar items. The guy is also very responsive and helpful, and his sense of humour ain’t bad either. Supporting him felt good, apart from anything else. But that aside, I’m sold on the product. Brilliant and functional. Quality leather, comes in a few choices of colour, and there are a few sizes to fit various phone models. A bit of a fiddle answering the phone, if like me you were used to just pulling the phone straight from your pocket. But a more than fair trade-off in my view. The other adjustment to make is having a much tighter space for cash (notes, I mean). No more opening the wallet to flip through a pile of notes laid out flat and in order. Rather you have to fold them in half and stuff them in. Again, an adjustment but worth it. Fits ok in front trouser pocket, if just a little wrestle to get it out. If you’re a jacket wearer, it would go well in an inner jacket pocket. Holds 7 cards, which I reckon should be enough for all the regular use cards most of us need.
- Coin pouch. Not much to say really. Plenty of them to choose from, although can be surprisingly hard to find in department stores, and even specialist bag shops don’t often have much of a range. Buying online may prove better. I’ve had zippered ones, which I think are as good as any. I lost one recently, and couldn’t find a suitable zippered replacement. So went with the the one pictured above.
- Cardholder. I’m not a formal wear person, so this one sits in the drawer 98% of the time. But worth having as an alternative if going somewhere and/or wearing gear with limited pockets and/or snug fitting clothes and/or wearing something that would be spoilt by a visible bulge. Sits nicely and unobtrusively in any pocket, including even a standard top shirt pocket. Just swap up to four plastic cards you think you’ll really really need into the slots and if needed stash some cash into the spring-opening central cavity.
- Key Cover. This one took some finding, involving the frustration of first spending good money on another device that held promise, but proved no better for my purposes. (I’m referring to the KeySmart. Holds the keys together ok, but with the keys only partially covered and the device itself also made of metal with a hard edge, the pockets suffered just as much as before. So then I tried hanging the device-with-keys on a belt clip. Saved the pockets, but eventually decided it looked silly; and it would catch on things when I sat down, etc. Enter the Key Cover. How I wish I’d found this ages ago. Awesomely functional, keeps four keys in a compact bundle, completely covered by a tiny but solid leather case that shuts with a simple magnet. No key edges in contact with the pocket. Key bundle sits neatly enough in the right front trouser pocket along with the coin pouch.
There’s just one more aspect to cover, with a quandary still remaining. The most obvious reason wallets have ballooned out exponentially in our lifetimes is the rise and rise of cards, whether plastic or cardboard. What mainly kept me from acting sooner on my hip pocket bulge was that it seemed all too hard to cull out the cards without the nagging internal question, “But what if I’m out somewhere and find I need that card … ?” So I just kept the pile growing.
Well my new regime has a substantial but not complete solution. Like almost all solutions to twenty-first century problems, it’s a phone app. (What else?!) There are a few of these around, most of them free so there’s nothing to lose really. The one I’ve now settled on is called Stocard. Whichever one you get, it’s pretty simple. Just scan in all your loyalty cards, rewards cards, membership cards, etc. (Or you might have to manually type in numbers for some, especially if they don’t have a barcode). This has certainly reduced my felt need to carry around quite a few cards. So I’m a fan. Many of them will scan straight from the app at store checkouts, just as if you’d presented the physical card. At worst you sometimes have to ask the checkout person to manually key in the numbers; e.g. some older scanners can’t read from the app.
But the glaring gap, especially for us coffee drinkers, is that wallet full of coffee loyalty cards. 9 out of 10 of them don’t have serial numbers (never mind barcodes) or associated member accounts. Amazingly no one, not even in the hospitality industry itself, seems to have found a way forward for this one. I’d have thought someone would have made their fortune on it well and truly by now. But it seems not. I do have an app called HeyYou, which potentially could do the job. But in several years of coffee crawls, I’ve found maybe five cafes using it. All the rest still use printed cards. So the pile grows. With my new system, I’ve ended up largely consigning the periodic free coffees to the dustbin of history. Having just bought an awesome automatic coffee machine for home will help considerably. But that’s another story …