Updated on 09.15.14

Wallet Hacking

Trent Hamm

One of the first major challenges I had to overcome during my financial turnaround was right there in my own back pocket. It was an overstuffed monstrosity, holding several credit cards, a gigantic pile of receipts, and a plethora of other nonsense. When I actually needed something out of it, it was a challenge to find it amidst the chaos – but somehow it was easy to find a credit card in amongst the junk.

What I eventually found is that an optimized wallet helps with personal finance recovery and with remembering seldom-used but key pieces of information. When I moved from using the wallet as a catch-all to using it as a tool, I began to realize that it could save me a lot of time and money compared to the way I used to do things. Here are six of the tactics I used.

Six Tactics to Minimize Your Spending and Maximize Your Time

Junk all but at most two of your credit cards

This is the most important thing you can do, especially if you have a constant temptation to bust out the plastic more often than you should. First thing first: find a good general use credit card. Just one, and I can guarantee you it’s not the credit card you got at the checkout counter during your last giant shopping binge. Once you’ve identified that “best card,” take every other credit card in your wallet and chuck ’em. Put them in a safe place that’s not in your wallet. Eliminate the balances on all of those extra cards, then eventually cancel them.

This tactic works well because you don’t have a lot of choices. You can’t look at eight cards in your wallet, think “This one doesn’t have a balance on it… I’ll use it!” and spend away – you have to face that one card and know that you’re putting a larger balance on it. Plus, if you’ve chosen the card well, you’ll be racking up some decent rewards with it.

Wrap a picture of your goal or inspiration around your credit card

Still not convinced of your own willpower? Take that one credit card and wrap a picture of your personal finance goal or your inspiration around it. Wrap that picture around your card and tape one edge of that picture to the other picture, creating a pocket or a sleeve for the card to live in. Then, when you feel the urge to pull out that card, you’ll pull out that picture, too, and it will serve as an immediate reminder of the big dreams you’re postponing to make this little trivial purchase.

I personally used a picture of my son in this way for most of a year until I broke my bad credit card habits, because he was the inspiration for my turnaround. Whenever I pulled out my credit card, I’d see his face, and I couldn’t help but reconsider my purchase.

Use it for password storage

For some people, this seems crazy, but it really works. I keep a half-sheet of paper in my wallet, folded up a few times, that keeps some of my passwords on it. I don’t keep ones that I use regularly enough to remember them, just the ones that I don’t use very often. I also don’t directly indicate which site each username/password is for – just something that reminds me what they’re for – a precaution against a stolen wallet.

Edit: Some people jumped on this as being a bad idea. However, Bruce Schneier, an expert on security issues if there ever was one, agrees with this approach wholeheartedly.

Merge some of your rewards cards

I’m a big fan of maximizing customer loyalty programs to get free stuff, but one drawback of that is that you end up accumulating a bunch of cards in your wallet. No more. You can merge several cards onto one by using JustOneClubCard.com, which allows you to create a single card with the bar codes from up to eight programs. I have one of these and it eliminates the space for seven cards in my wallet – and makes it so that I don’t have to hunt for a particular card at the checkout.

Process your wallet once a week or once a month

I find my wallet is the place to collect receipts and other small financial detritus. While it’s efficient as a junk collector, it doesn’t take long for that wallet to get nice and fat with garbage. Thus, once a week, I process what’s in my wallet, getting rid of all of the unnecessary receipts and other little documents that I pick up. If I need to do anything with these pieces, I just take care of it right then so that I don’t have to worry about it. This keeps my wallet thin and keeps me from embarrassing myself with a monstrous wallet full of garbage.

A corollary to this: if you find yourself actually in a routine of processing your wallet, it becomes a very convenient place to put stuff that you know you’ll need to look at again soon – almost like a mini-inbox in your pocket.

The next time you buy a wallet, don’t buy a cheap one

I have owned four wallets in my life. The last one has lasted longer than the other three combined, but it cost double the price of the others right out of the chute. What does that mean? Don’t hesitate to spend more on a quality wallet that will last for years, even if there are cheaper options available. You’ll end up paying less per year with a really good wallet than with a cheap vinyl one, thus saving yourself a bit of money and a bit of time, too.

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  1. The first thing we did when getting our finances in order was to remove the credit cards and replace them with cash. Once there was a set amount in my wallet my purchases became much more controlled.

  2. Lurker Carl says:

    I’m gonna check out the Just One Club Card, rewards cards really take up too much room. I like the idea of clean out detritus each week, receipts and such become unreadable after several months! Wallets last longer when they aren’t stuffed full.

  3. jayne says:

    This post seems directed towards those who can’t manage their cards to begin with. Those of us who are meticulous end up saving more when we use several cards, and I find it keeps my expenses easier to understand (for example, if I only put gas on my gas card, I know exactly how much I’m spending on gas each month).

    Also, most of my cards require being used once a year to avoid an annual fee–if I stuck them in a drawer, I’d be much more likely to forget about them than if they’re in my wallet. I don’t look at them and think “ooh, no balance, let’s put it on here!” I think “don’t use until next January.”

  4. Mary says:

    Thanks for the tip about Just One Club Card. Looks pretty cool. What kind of paper did you print it on to make it work?

  5. Christopher says:

    One thing that really helped me slim down my wallet was moving from a standard bifold to a much smaller card wallet from Timbuk2 (http://www.timbuk2.com/tb2/products/accessories/wallets/triple-card-wallet).

    I keep my IDs on one side (license, work id, bus pass, insurance), 1 credit card and 1 debit card on the other side, and cash in the middle.

    I cancelled the rest of my cards, and the rewards cards I have are kept at home or at work, depending on which place is closer. I may move some to the Just One Club Card in the future, but the places where I’d use it most often (REI, Best Buy) are always willing to just pull my record up with my phone number, so I don’t need to have the card on me at all.

  6. Randall says:

    Passwords in the wallet?? I’m assuming you have a backup piece of paper somewhere?? All the other ideas are good, but this one puzzles me. Why store them in the wallet?

    If you lose the wallet, no one else can use it true, but if you don’t have a backup copy somewhere, YOU CAN’T EITHER.

    I keep my passwords in my quicken program that’s ALREADY encrypted/backed up/offsite. I don’t need to access my accounts away from my computer because they’re all automatic.

    Good article. Just caught me strange about the passwords.

  7. Frugal Dad says:

    I really like the “wrap an inspirational picture around your credit card” idea. I actually have mine in one of those sleeves that comes with your ATM card with a piece of masking tape over the ends. The writing on the tape reads, “Break Only in Emergency.”

  8. Drew says:

    On the processing your wallet and keeping it thin: Might I suggest the Big Skinny wallet:

    Absolute magic how well it keeps you from ‘bulking up’

  9. TheJeffe says:

    I have several cards in my wallet but do not spend to much. Actually I use the card intentionally because I do not like cash and use the credit card companies categories in quicken. This post is focused at people that really can’t control their spending and should not have credit cards in the first place.

    I do like the Just One Club Card site.

  10. Ogden says:

    One thing I did was switch to a front pocket wallent. It’s smaller, slimmer, and has a bill clip instead of a billfold. It just can’t hold as much extraneous stuff as a traditional folded or tri-fold wallet can.

    Plus, once you get the 1-2 inch thick monstrosity out of your back pocket, you’ll find yourself sitting more comfortable becuase your hips and back won’t be out of line all day due to your sitting on, what amount to, a brick on one side but not the other.

  11. Andre K says:

    I use the David Allen Notetaker Wallet, which contains a retractable pen and notepad. I don’t care for the pen’s ink flow, so I use a Fisher Bullet Space Pen in its stead. At $99, it’s not cheap, but it’s a high-quality product that comes with plenty of refills for the pen (the included one, not the Fisher) and notepad. Despite the notepad and pen, it also has plenty of space for cash, IDs and CCs, and still fits flush in my back pocket. It’s also available in a women’s version.

    The wallet allows me to immediately write down any expenditure the moment I make it, per Dominguez’ and Robin’s FI system, so that it makes no difference whether I’m using cash or plastic. These slips get tossed into a Monthly Expenditures folder at home and entered into my system at the end of each month.

    I also use the wallet to jot down anything else that enters my head that me need further processing–it’s the first line of collection in my GTD process. I usually process these notes before I get home, but regardless, I make sure these items are crossed out before putting the slips in Monthly Expenditures, since they usually share space with the expenditures I write down.

  12. Working Dollar says:

    “Wrap a picture of your goal or inspiration around your credit card.” Now that’s a clever idea.

  13. KC says:

    I keep 2 credit cards in my wallet. I would just keep one, but my favorite (and oldest) is a Discover card and not everyone takes Discover. So I keep 2.

    But I use them in cycles. I’m well aware of when both my cards are on new billing cycles. So when a new billing cycle for one of the cards starts I’ll use it, til the billing cycle starts for the next one. This is purely psychological but it usually keeps me from getting an enormous bill (eventhough I’m still spending the same amount of money). I also feel like I’m getting a little extra payment time out of my purchases by charging them to the card that won’t be billing me for another month.

    That being said, I wouldn’t do this unless you have your credit card spending under control and pay off your monthly balances. This is not a method to make you spend less.

  14. Longtime habitual wallet-cleaner here. My chiropractor says that sitting on a bulky wallet all day is bad for the back, so that’s yet another reason to keep the wallet trimmed down. As a female, some think it’s odd that I often only carry a wallet in my back pocket (with keys and lip gloss in a front pocket), but I love the freedom.

  15. Stephen says:

    Buy an expensive wallet? No way! Make it yourself!
    I’ve been carrying a duct tape wallet for 2 years. It’s an oddity, but the greatest wallet I’ve had. It’s consistently thinner than any other wallet I’ve ever had (I used to hate the things, I used to just keep cash and a card in my front pocket) and it smells like beef jerky. It can’t get much manlier than that.

  16. Katy Raymond says:

    Now, to expand this wisdom to a purse: In October, I asked my very most organized friend to show me the inside of her purse. She shrugged and opened up. (No WAY would I have wanted anyone to see mine!) Inside, she had one VERY thin checkbook-sized wallet plus two differently sized make-up cases. One make-up bag contained make-up. The other contained medications, pens, a Tide stain remover stick, nail file–assorted small items. One zippered compartment was for all receipts, and the other zippered space was for coupons. NOTHING was “free-floating” in her purse!

    I went immediately and purchased the two makup bags necessary for this system. SINCE THAT DAY, my purse has remained WONDERFULLY organizes. I have no doubt that I have saved money as a result. I know where to find my Lowe’s $10 off a $20 purchase coupon, and the same with Office Max. The only thing I have added beyond what my friend carries is a small journal, essential for my life.

    Once every couple of weeks, I clear out the receipts and the spare change, and I’m good to go. At 54 years old, this feels like a miracle to me, since I’ve been organizationally challenged my whole life. Old chicks can still learn new tricks!

  17. Elaine says:

    Get a small wallet. I have the all-ett European wallet (www.all-ett.com) which is stupidly thin and holds ten cards max. Basically it forces you to keep things neat, there’s just no room for a mess!

  18. lulugal11 says:

    I loved this post as the tips were very helpful.

    I do not agree with the password thing but that is just me. I use an online password storing system to store some of my trickier passwords.

    I clean out the receipts from my wallet (I am female but just do not like the big bulky purse system) because I enter my receipts on my computer daily.

    Like you I only carry one credit card because I get great rewards from it and it makes it easier to track.

  19. Susan says:

    Timbuk2 makes great, durable products. I have a messenger bag, and just got a great wallet from them too:


    I used to have a Kipling wallet until I found out they are owned by the VF Corporation, which manufactures its products in China.

  20. Ryan says:

    Put your passwords in your wallet? Too risky, I prefer to etch them on my wrists with a rusty blade.

  21. squawkfox says:

    I like the get a smaller wallet idea!
    I suppose I’d need to get a smaller purse too though.

  22. Jim says:

    Also don’t forget, a slimmer wallet may eliminate some of that back or leg pain you’ve been experiencing due to sitting on that brick you’ve been carrying in your hip pocket.

  23. This may sound a little New-Agey, but there is a Feng Shui teaching that says that you need to have room in your life for the things that you want to attract. If you have a wallet stuffed full of old receipts and cards you don’t use, you’re not creating space for more money.

    Maybe there is a correlation between Trent’s wallet cleaning and his financial turnaround?

  24. misha says:

    There is no finer wallet, especially if you are trying to go minimal, that the Jimi. I got mine last year and have hooked everyone in my family on them now.


  25. Lorraine says:

    We don’t have credit cards issues in our house BUT as a keeper of a disturbingly messy handbag/purse, it is errant coupons where I miss out on huge savings. So my pledge after reading Trent’s blog today is to go and find a small sized walled to keep only my coupons in so every time I go shopping I know exactly what coupons are there. I can perdiodically clear outdated ones and add new ones.

    Thankyou Trent for the inspiration – a few dollars a week saved on coupons adds a substantial amount to our savings (and saves me giving Customer Service people the pips when I waste time rummage around looking for coupons that aren’t there!)


  26. My wallet holds about 4 cards, and I don’t carry cash. There are 2-3 favorite credit/debit cards which I carry always, and the remaining slots are taken up by cards needed for a specific errand (e.g. library card for trips to the library, or medical card for doctor visit), or maybe a credit card which I want to use for a specific purchase. This helps plan errands, and therefore gas mileage better – I won’t get tempted to drive 8 miles out of my way to the library if I don’t have my library card on me, for example.

  27. jeff says:

    One thing about canceling credit cards; make sure you keep a couple of cards that you’ve had the longest. It keeps your credit score up in case you want to apply for a loan.

    Anyone know the metrics of how they judge it? Is having one long-time card enough?

    Yes, a nice well-made leather wallet is great and lasts for years. I get them on sale at department store sales; last one was $15 (from a 30 regular price).

  28. Ryan says:

    I do all but the last one of these using a paper wallet (for many of the same reasons). The reason I use paper is because I can do all of these things directly on the wallet itself. When the wallet wears out (or I just want a new one) then I process.

    Using a paper wallet keeps me from having tons of junk crammed inside too.

    Most of the time, I use this Paper Wallet Generator to make wallets.

  29. star says:

    I agree that several of these tips are directed at people who can’t manage financial discipline. They are completely useless to those of us who manage credit without any problems.

    I carry 4 credit cards with combined limits of over $100k. Even with limits like that, I am never tempted to overspend. I pay my cards in full every month. I have never paid any interest at all.

    In return for using my cards for everything I can, I get 5% cash back on fuel purchases and 1.5-3% back on everything else. This adds up to over $500 a year just for my meager spending.

    I think it’s silly to try and play tricks on yourself with silly solutions. The real solution to credit cards is realize they are a financial tool to be used for payment and cashflow purposes. They should not be looked at as a loan.

  30. star says:

    I never carry my wallet in my back pocket. I have never understood why you would. It’s much more comfortable in a front pocket. Not only will you not sit on it, but you’ll be less likely to be pickpocketed.

    Wallets also last so much longer if you’re not sitting on them.

  31. Scott says:

    another use for the JustOneClubCard.com – I saved a copy of the generated graphic for my grocery store affinity card and created a stack of sheets that I use to jot grocery lists on. Put about 6 on a page and cut ’em up and you’ve got your barcode on the paper list you’re carrying to the store anyway. No need to even carry the card in your wallet.

  32. Every six months, photocopy everything in your wallet. If you lose it, it will make it easy to get replacements.

  33. Eric says:

    I just ditched the wallet altogether and use a money clip now. I bought a titanium money clip for about $15 and it works like a champ. I fold any paper money around the cards and slide the clip on. I’m down to a debit card, driver’s license, CCW, health insurance card, student ID, and Costco card.

    I just got so tired of the Constanza wallet.

  34. !wanda says:

    I have a relatively large wallet, and it’s because it has a coin compartment. What do guys do with change? Keep it in their pockets? I prefer to keep it with my other money, because I ride the bus frequently (but not frequently enough to buy the monthly card). I even pick up pennies from the ground, because the bus takes pennies. If I had to keep all that in my pocket, I wouldn’t be motivated to keep as much change on hand or pick up stray change.

  35. JF says:

    I’m glad to see that i’m not the only one who’s stumped by the password recommendation. Sure it makes sense to have your passwords handy. However, i’m sure if i found someone’s wallet with their passwords and ID, i’d be able to login to a few of their accounts with a little digging. Sorry, but it’s just a bad idea.

  36. AaronO says:

    “Once you’ve identified that “best card,” take every other credit card in your wallet and chuck ‘em. Put them in a safe place that’s not in your wallet. Eliminate the balances on all of those extra cards, then eventually cancel them.”

    Isn’t it good to keep a few accounts open – especially older accounts? I have two credit cards. For my primary card, I intentionally requested a smaller limit. The only way the limit will increase is if I request it. The other does not have a balance but the limit is increased by the CC company. I thought having existing accounts, especially with a zero balance, will help to improve your credit rating? So wouldn’t canceling most of your CC accounts, in a way, hurt your credit rating?

  37. jonnyspoon says:

    To stick to my budget, I keep a running reminder of what I’ve got to spend as a note on my mobile phone

    I set it to be constantly viewed on the “desktop”

    It is in this format

    dd/mm/yy of week $Amount of spend

    Every time I spend, I deduct from the running amount. Been doing this for a couple of weeks, seems to be working. As a new week starts, you can reset it again.

  38. Dan says:

    For the love of all that is safe and secure, don’t store your passwords in your wallet. You might have cryptic clues as to what those passwords are actually for, but combined with your credit cards, bank details on your cash cards, rewards cards, and judicious use of Google, you might find yourself worried about more than just cancelling your cards if they go missing.

    Stick Whisper32 on a thumb drive and put it on your keychain or something..

  39. Aaron says:

    Canceling all those other cards can put a nice dent in your FICO score. FICO is based largely on age and utilization. If you cancel older cards that aren’t “as good” you hurt your age. When you cancel any card your overall utilization goes up (credit available verses what is used). If you can’t handle the cards throw them in a sock drawer and use them for something small once every 6 months. If you can’t resist the temptation, well you have other problems to deal with.

  40. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Bruce Schneier, an expert on password security if there ever was one, encourages people to write down passwords and keep them in their wallet:

  41. Anna says:

    Wallet processing every week? every month? My goodness, if I waited that long my finances and schedule would be in utter chaos. I process my wallet every day as soon as I get home.

  42. sandspiral says:

    I’m with !wanda–what do you guys do with your change?

    I use a backpack for day-to-day carrying of my stuff, and a wallet-on-a-string for when I don’t need the whole backpack (such as leaving it in the trunk when I go into a store). The wallet has a coin pouch, two slots for bills, and a checkbook carrier, pen loop, and plastic card holder on the other side.

    So I use one of the bill slots for paper money, and the other to hold receipts, which I take out and process once every day or three. It’s a good way to make sure I track all my expenses YMOYL-style without having to pull out a separate notebook.

    I honestly don’t understand how people get by with anything more minimal . . . unless they use plastic for *everything,* and don’t carry checkbooks or coins at all. I’d love to go more minimalistic in the wallet department, but I haven’t been able to pull it off yet.

  43. Maggie Shaw says:

    I’ve already taken two of your suggestions above. I only have two credit cards: Mastercard (which I’ve had since college) and Old Navy. I was thinking of getting an AmEx but my Dad was so right when he simply said, “Why?” I also keep a list of goals on my refrigerator since this is the first place I look in the morning. This isn’t the same as wrapping a picture around your credit card but it still serves as a very effective reminder.

  44. moonimus says:

    Good post on wallets. I’m using the David Allen trifold though I had the David allen bifold before that. I process my wallet about once a week.

  45. PiFreak says:

    I was wondering if I was the only one with a duct tape wallet… I made it out of cheap duct tape, so it cost less than a dollar (didn’t use a whole roll), and keep it in my back pocket. I don’t have credit cards, but I have a lot of student ID cards (like 8 or 9), my drivers permit and some cash (plus the occasional note that I CANNOT lose). It’s still less than 1/2 an inch thick.

    I keep my house key in the change pocket, and I have a small bag on a string for change, which gets hooked around a belt loop and put in my front pocket. I put a cell phone in that same pocket, and have an empty back pocket and front pocket, but everything I could need within a day.

  46. Amy says:

    Fascinating! I must be the only person on earth who almost never carries any cash on me (to prevent vending machine temptation at work) and I never stop unexpectedly to shop anywhere to/from work.

    I only bring my pocketbook & checkbook with me when I go grocery shopping (once a week), or if I’ve planned to shop elsewhere.

    And you’ve probably heard enough about passwords, but…

    I carry a lot of my passwords (excluding my major credit card & bank account passwords) printed out in my planner notebook. If my notebook is lost, I have an electronic copy at home & can quickly change the passwords.

    And I do believe it’s a good idea to keep both a written list & electronic list of all passwords & account numbers somewhere safe at home so that if I’m ever disabled or killed, my significant other (who doesn’t handle the day-to-day family finances) can find them fairly easily.

  47. Flounder says:

    I like having a lot of stuff in my wallet. It is the Costanza wallet. Lately I’ve reduced its size but it is still pretty thick, I took out most credit cards and put a lot of club cards on my keychain, but video rental cards, insurance, library, id, etc all add up quickly. I only have to remove it when I wear certain pants or if I’m going on a long road trip.

    I just realized that I bought this wallet 6 or 7 years ago. It was a bit pricey, Fossil brand even though I’m realllly not a brand name person, but with this durability I think I’ll get another almost just like it. I even have a student who works there so maybe she can get me a discount!

  48. Wamu says:

    Bad idea to chuck credit cards and close them. Your credit score, which determines your interest rate for big purchases (homes, car, etc) is dependent on your credit availability, credit to debt balance, and credit history. By closing your credit card accounts, your credit score will suffer resulting in higher interest rates, higher monthly payments.
    Who ever came up with this suggestion is a simpleton and doesnt know what he is talking about.

  49. Wamu says:

    A better way to deal with passwords is to have just ONE password BUT customized for each account.

    Example: your one Username is “Wamu” and your one Password is “july4”

    when online at website Geico.com, you customize it.. your user name becomes “GWamu” and password “Gjuly4” (WGamu, jGuly4,WaGmu,juGly4, as long as you are consistent in how you customize.)

    When online at citicard.com, you customize it.. your username becomes “CWamu” and password ‘Cjuly4″ (WamCu, julCy4, WamuC, july4C, again as long as you stay consistent in your customizing.)

    Then all you need to remember is one password but each different for every account…

  50. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Wamu’s suggestion about keeping all cards isn’t correct. While debt-to-credit ratio is important, a more important factor is the ratio of your available revolving credit to your income – an indication of how easily you could get yourself into really bad shape. When I got my home loan, I had only two active credit cards and the lady who did the underwriting said that my prudence with credit was a very positive sign.

  51. Wamu says:

    Be careful those considering closing their credit cards. Google it.

    Canceling credit card accounts lowers your credit score. Google it yourself. Perhaps canceling a card show an inability for self control and thus affects negatively on your credit score. Where smart people can resist impulse buying, some have to suggest and employ tactics that would cause your co-workers, friends, and friendly cashier give you a second look when you pry that credit card from the ‘inspirational’ picture wrapped around it.

    The main post’s suggestions are valid for a freshman college student just realizing the risks of credit cards. Once more savvy, tricks such as wrapping pictures around a card, and canceling credit cards so one isnt tempted becomes amature-ish and unrealistic, even detrimental to your credit score.

    If you really want to control your wallet, the most important think to do is CREATE A BUDGET first. Wrapping pics around credit cards can be done after if thats your style.

  52. Jeff says:

    I’ve been using the ALL-ETT Original Billfold (http://all-ett.com/). It’s by far the thinnest wallet (while holding the same stuff) I’ve ever owned and I love it.

    The material used is obviously why it’s so thin, but it’s also the only complaint I have. My wife makes fun of it. It makes a crinkling sound when it’s opened & closed, etc.

    There’s now a leather version of the ALL-ETT that will probably be my next wallet. The best of both worlds!

  53. James says:

    In regards to pocket change. My father always had a change purse and I’ve experimented with them many times, but have always been annoyed or disappointed. That changed in Venice six years ago. I found an accordion change purse with four pockets. It isn’t too big and keeps pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters separated. It is made from really fine leather too. I love it and would love to have another.

    For the curious, the shop was located on the Riva, steps from the Arsenale vaparetto stop. I can’t remember the name of the shop or if they do mail order. Can anyone find out?

  54. Thin wallet: I went on a relentless hunt for the world’s thinnest wallet last Christmas. I bought about 15 wallets and the one my husband uses now is the Big Skinny. It’s ridiculous how much smaller his wallet is now, compared with that big brick of a wallet he had before! I’ve been trying to organize my purse (like Katy Raymond mentioned), but have been having a hard time finding a makeup bag the right size to tuck in my purse… I keep on trying, but all seem just a shade too big or too small, even with my makeup minimized big-time).

    Trent’s comment “When I got my home loan, I had only two active credit cards and the lady who did the underwriting said that my prudence with credit was a very positive sign.” That’s very good, and probably reflects the fact that mortgages actually care about financial prudence and responsibility. Unfortunately, everyone else looking at your credit score want the opposite. When I got out of college and bought an el-cheapo used car, they said that due to my “lack of credit” I could only get a loan at 22% interest. Let me say that again. 22%!! I had had a credit cards, but used it carefully and paid it off. I bought in cash when possible, or used checks or my debit card. Result: no credit.

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