Ever since I read this post, on Jeff Atwood's blog, I've been conscious of the size and weight of my wallet.
I don't carry an excessive quantity of cards or cash, but my wallet was still thick enough to feel, and look, awkward in my pocket.
The thickness of most single fold wallets is the result of multiple layers of material being used to separate individual compartments. Every time the designer adds another compartment they must add at least 1 more layer of material – sometimes they will add a pop fastener or a zip as well.
Wallets that are "skinny" or "slim" usually achieve this by removing the coin compartment, or by using strong, lightweight materials like Cordura. Unfortunately, I just can't get excited about fabric wallets, and I don't like carrying loose change in my pockets.
The SageBrown "Ultimate Compact Wallet"
During a recent trip to Jermyn Street, London, I stumbled across a treasure trove of wallets in a shop called SageBrown. One of their wallets is called the "Ultimate Compact Wallet", and I think it lives up to its name!
The "Ultimate Compact Wallet" has space for 3 cards, uses an integrated money clip to hold your notes, and has a coin holder with a sprung mouth. It's made of beautiful calf leather and comes in a variety of colours.
There's something particularly ingenious about the design of this wallet. It has features that I've never seen combined before:
- The choice of a sprung mouth coin holder means no bulky zips or pop fasteners; when the mouth is closed, it's slightly thicker than a 1 pound coin.
- The integrated money clip holds your notes without adding any additional layers of material, and the spine of the clip is only a few millimeters thick, which means it doesn't affect the overall thickness.
The photo below shows the difference in thickness between the Sage Brown "Ultimate Compact Wallet", a brand new (empty) wallet and my old wallet.
Optimising the contents
Having such a small wallet may seem a bit limiting – but I choose to see it as an incentive to reduce and optimise what I carry.
Because the wallet is so compact, there's no space to store receipts. Instead, I place receipts in my trouser pockets and remove them at the end of each day.
The wallet won't take more than 3 cards (as the card slots are so thin) and I need my debit card, credit card and occasionally my driving license. So, where do I put my Tesco and Nectar reward cards? Answer: I reprinted the reward card barcodes onto a single piece of paper.
There are a few websites that can help you reprint reward cards. The most promising looking site was Just One Club Card; unfortunately, the developer hasn't been able to decipher the barcode format used by Tesco and Nectar:
The following cards have barcode issues so I can't add them right now.
Tesco - EAN128, I can't figure out how EAN128 works, please email me if you know.
Nectar - EAN128 again.
There don't seem to be any online resources for creating EAN128 barcodes, so instead I decided to scan the barcodes from both cards and print them as one image. My first few prints looked a bit blurred, so I increased the contrast and used a desharp mask; this resulted in a much crisper print.
I folded the print in half and used sticky tape to seal the edges. The final (folded) piece of paper is roughly the size of a credit card, and because it's so thin it easily slides in next to my driving license.