Honoring Money or What’s in YOUR Wallet?

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Honoring Money

Oops, I had been outed.

I had been living a lie.

I say I honor money, have a healthy relationship with it, and yet my paper money is in a favorite leather bill holder that is ripping.  My credit cards are in a utilitarian black flat leather case.  And my change is in a snack-size Ziploc® bag that tosses around the bottom of my huge designer bag and gets replaced every couple of months when it starts looking grungy.

The bill holder has a story.  (Doesn’t everything?)  After my French aunt Elisabeth died and I was clearing out her apartment in Nice, I found this lovely, thin money envelope, with just three places to put bills.  (The center slot is perfect for the three crisp $100 bills I have carried for decades, for use when cash is needed.)  Beautiful cognac-colored leather, lined in silk.  But life in the 1950s, when it was probably made, was a lot gentler than the 21st century and it is looking sad and worn.

When I adopted it, I had also thought of the fact that Elisabeth, who had started with nothing, had accumulated a sizable financial cushion.  She was a farm-girl from near Lyon, France, who had left for Paris as soon as she could.  She had met a charming American officer in the merchant marine (my uncle) who was celebrating the end of World War II, married him and went on to aggressively build their nest egg with his inheritance from my grandfather … to be sure she never again “went without.”  So maybe the bill holder also carried some good money karma.

The black credit card case has a story too.  I take identity theft seriously.  While I only carry three credit cards (after all, how many do you really need?), I wanted to keep them safe.  So when RFID protection became available in wallets, I went online to see what I could find.  (Wikipedia says that “Radio-frequency identification—RFID—is the wireless non-contact use of radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data.”  In simpler terms, that’s what’s on those cards you just swipe across a reader.  But if that reader can read them, so can powerful scanners.  And those have shown up more and more in public places—like airports—where your cards can be read without you even knowing it.)

At the time, wallets with RFID protection were pretty boring so I settled for a simple black leather credit card and passport holder.

Now, if you use a flat bill holder and a flat credit card holder, where do you put your loose coins?  My temporary solution of using a Ziploc® bag had become all too permanent.

And where do you put business cards, receipts, airline and other loyalty cards?  Well, I found an ugly Samsonite zip-around travel pouch that did the trick:  it held all that, plus the bill holder and card holder.

It was all temporary, right?  Until I could find the ideal wallet that fulfilled all the roles I wanted it to.  But temporary becomes permanent if we’re not watching.

What Your Wallet Says About You

Whether you’re listening to Suze Orman, your feng shui expert or your favorite Law of Attraction resource, I can tell you that I can almost always predict how one of my clients handles her money after looking at her wallet.  It’s like sneaking a peek at her secret money life.

A wallet cluttered with old receipts, phone numbers scribbled on the backs of business cards and dry cleaning stubs reflects a financial life that lacks control and order.  An old, worn out wallet shows weariness and fatigue over life and the role of money in it.  A cheap plastic wallet symbolizes how we treat ourselves: either penny-pinching to an extreme or minimal self-respect … certainly a lack of abundant thinking.

Crumpled bills jammed into any compartment of a wallet mirror a lack of respect for money itself.  A wallet holding just a couple of dollar bills is usually owned by the person asking you if she can borrow a couple of bucks to pay for her coffee … the same one who has trouble making it to payday.

And then you have the woman who says, “Who needs a wallet?  I pay everything with mobile apps on my smartphone.”  Today technology has further distanced us from our money.  That shift may sound progressive and convenient, but the less we’re connected to money itself, the easier it is to overspend.  We no longer equate those expenditures with the effort that went into earning that money; it all becomes fictitious digital dollars in our minds.  Even using credit cards is a little better, especially those that still require a signature on a receipt and not just the wave of a hand.

There’s an expression that says, “How you do money is how you do everything.”  So, whether you’re a believer or not, take out your wallet and look honestly at how you’re relating to your money.  What does your wallet say about you?

If you don’t like what you see, invest in a new wallet.  Find one that reflects the role you want money to play in your life.  Put your most important credit cards in it, along with only your most frequently used loyalty cards.  Keep some cash, neatly organized, along with a backup of whatever amount makes you feel safe and comfortable … whether that’s $50, $100 or more.  Set up a system for receipts, taking them out regularly and filing them for preparing taxes or expenses reports.  In short, make taking out your wallet a gesture that pleases you … for what it says about you.

P.S.  I went online tonight and found a bright red leather RFID clutch that will fit my bills, coins, travel cards, credit cards, passport, few business cards and recent receipts … without bulging or straining.  Now that aspect of my finances will be aligned with what I’ve put so much effort into creating for myself … a life of true financial control and peace of mind.

Let me know in the Comments section below what you found when you looked honestly at your wallet.


Bio: Sharon O’Day lost everything at age 53: her home, her business, everything. But how could that be? She’s an expert in global finance and marketing with an MBA from the Wharton School. She has worked with governments, corporations, and individuals … yes, she was the secret “weapon,” if you will, behind many individuals in high places. Yet she did! Since then, with her finances completely turned around, Sharon has gone on to interview countless women. She’s done extensive research to understand how that could have happened, especially with her strong knowledge of numbers and finance.

The surprising answers are shared in her tell-it-like-it-is posts and articles. Today her mission is to show as many women as possible how to become financially free for the long term, through her coaching programs. She has developed a step-by-step plan to get past all the obstacles that keep women broke and scared … and from reaching the financial peace of mind they so deserve … if they’re willing to do what it takes!

  • My biz coach always says, “How you do one thing is how you do everything.” Funny, I never thought about how I treat my wallet and it’s contents. I actually have two! LOL One in my big purse, the other in my little purse. I tend to carry the small one when I’m on the go and just carry cash and my drivers license when using it. The only credit card I use is associated with my business, so that simplifies any spending. Wow! You have made me THINK this morning! Good on you!!

    • I think that saying was born in the 21st-century coaching industry, Martha. 😉 And I’m glad that making you think this morning took you to a positive outcome. Brava!

  • Interesting post, Sharon! My wallet is bright, pretty and tidy, but a little stiff and big. Hmm! 🙂

    • Let me know once you decipher that one! If you’re respectful of money, open to receiving it and conscientious when spending it, maybe “a little stiff and big” isn’t an issue. 😉

  • Michelle

    I found these wallet guard slips that the credit card goes in to protect it. It is so thin that the cards still fit in the slots. One it protects them and second, makes me think about how I am using the credit card when I pull it out. I also invested in a beautiful designer wallet long enough to keep my money crisp and not bent. I feel so much more connected to my money now!

    • Amazing how that works, isn’t it, Michelle? I can’t wait for my new red wallet to arrive so I can get myself out of “wallet purgatory!” 😉

  • Sharon I really appreciated this quote “Today technology has further distanced us from our money.” I used to not carry cash because it was easy to spend, with a card I could track where I was spending money. Although I think the pendulum has swung far in the other direction, the digital wallet is making it creating separation from the money you earned. With my bank account balance updated in real time, there is no need to recheck my statements or balance my checkbook and reconnecting me with my spending habits. Your article is a great reminder to us all

    • Tom, I find that different clients have different needs when it comes to reconnecting with their money: some need greater accountability, some need accessibility to be more difficult, etc. Most just need to have a tighter link created between the effort that went into earning each dollar before they spend it. And what’s most important is to get the relationship with money solidly under control, but with a comfort level that allows it to be the grease in the wheels of one’s life. Thanks for your thoughtful comments!

  • Great post, Sharon. I used to have a great big fat red wallet…made some changes in my life and now I have a tiny blue one, flat and very boring! Hmmm, I wonder what that say about me? 🙂

    • Interesting, Alexandra, the first thing I thought of was that you had a heart attack in between, did you not? I have no clue what that has to do with your money but it’s the first image I had!

  • Great post…I usually just buy a new wallet when I get a new purse…about once a year (I need to get that RFID thingy tho…thanks!).

    • I’ve watched the industry put more and more RFID protection in wallets, Elizabeth. (Card producers waffle on whether RFID chips put our ID at risk, but won’t deny it and hacker technology improves with time.) Just makes sense: I don’t feel we should have our financial identities at risk because we walk in the street!

  • Love this, Sharon! I never thought about looking at my wallet or what it would mean to. Now that I think about it, I love my wallet! It is a Franklin Covey passport wallet that I bought before a trip abroad. It is big, but it does hold everything that I want to carry. It also reminds me of traveling.

    • A Franklin Covey product? Bet it also makes you feel super organized, doesn’t it, Robin?

  • Great post Sharon, remembering to be safe with our personal information is something many of us forget in the busy day to day that is life. Thank you for the info on RFID protection in wallets!

    • Keeping our money safe is another one of those ways we honor it, Meryl. And sometimes it takes just little steps …

  • lol my wallet tells the tale. 🙁 I will get a new one and honor my money.. I sling it around like it’s nothing 🙁 Thanks for the article! I love stopping by and getting my weekly reminder about what i NEED to do..;)

    • Seems like a minor thing, Elizabeth, with everything else we have to contend with in our busy lives. (I know I let it slip off the radar.) But it’s all part of a mindset and of an energy … so tell me about your new wallet when you get it! 😉

  • Happy to report that I have a lovely purse which matches my handbag and it has lots of little sections for my cash/cards and receipts. But most important is the space for photos of my family which every time I open up my purse reminds me of what really matters in life!
    I agree about the smart phone use distancing yourself from money. If I ever go out without a card and only cash then I am a lot more careful with what I spend. Thanks Sharon!

    • I know how important “peace of mind” is to you, Carolyn. Your comment just proves it! 😉

  • I’m investing in a new wallet right away – thanks, Sharon!

    • It really IS an investment … at whatever price is comfortable for you … because there is a mental AND financial Return-on-Investment!

  • Excellent article – I really agree that the condition of your wallet is a great reflection of how you treat your money. I think it’s time for me to invest in a new one too!

  • How we do anything plays out in all areas of our Life’s… LOL I talk about this with Feng Shui- NO different than throwing our Clothes on the floor. How do we treat money ? throwing it at the bottom of our Purse ? coins on the floor etc… Sooo Important to treat our Money and anything else with Respect.

    • I know you get it, Carly! What a joy to have you on the same journey …

  • Great article. I hate when my wallet feels cluttered!! I think I need to do some spring cleaning on mine and get more organized:)

    • Dani, the good part is that this Spring cleaning takes less than it takes to do the rest of what Spring cleaning entails … you can feel good in 5-10 minutes!

  • Love the ability to listen and read along…. Great job!!

    • Thanks, Fran. I’ve had lots of people say they prefer having that link …

  • Wonderful article – you had me chuckling on the bill holder, flat black case and snack-size Ziploc® bag! It makes a great deal of sense, though – thanks for a new perspective!

    • Ah, self-deprecating humor … works every time, Lisa! Actually, I just want other women to know we all have “something” to fix when it comes to our relationship with money … none of us is exempt. Me included!

  • Love the way you send your message across with humour…. Lol! Makes sense! Thanks for the insight.

    • Norma, humor goes a long way in transmitting knowledge that can feel a little uncomfortable, especially in cases of denial. Dealing with money issues can have that effect on some … 😉

  • Lorii Abela

    It is very
    interesting to know that the wallet could tell so much about the personality
    of a person. Looking forward to more of your posts Sharon:)

  • Veronica Solomon

    Oh my goodness! This us really good stuff! I really hate to admit that everything you said not to do, I’m guilty of, and I do see it reflecting in my financial life. In the past, I had more control of my finances and I recall my wallet being a lot more organized. I will take all your advice to heart and make the change today.

    • Glad that article tweaked you into awareness. That’s all it is, Veronica: we’re unaware of some things around us. (And, surprisingly, we’re even unaware when we’re moving backwards in some of our behaviors. I sure was back when I wrote that!) BTW, I still love my red RFID wallet. So far it still LOOKS perfect and IS perfect for my present needs.

  • Carmen M Perez ELO

    I learned from Suze about treating our money with respect and love the way you broke it down. My wallet accurately reflects who I am. Thank you. Xx

    • So many women started their path to financial knowledge and freedom with Suze, Carmen. And she made money a little easier to talk about … although I’m still surprised at times by the reticence I come across!