Ten things you must carry in your purse or wallet

A while ago I dumped the contents of my purse for all to see. I unwrapped my wallet and unclutched my handbag to reveal all the crap I carry with me daily. The tote tally was humbly humiliating, and I’m certain I will forever get email giggling over my lip gloss and snickering about my tampons. Blush.

My intention for doing this deed was to warn about the things we should never carry in our purse or wallet. Many agreed there are certain security, financial, and personal risks with a lost or stolen wallet and purse. So now I wonder, are there items we absolutely must carry with us at all times? Are there things that should be kept on our person when driving, biking, walking, and traveling? Could not carrying the right cards and identification cost us big bucks?

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Here are ten things you should always carry in your purse or wallet:

1. Personal Identification:

Who are you? It’s kinda a famous song popularized by that crime scene show. But the question of “Who are you?” may just come up if you’re in an accident and cannot speak for yourself. So be sure to carry a driver’s license, or some other ID with you when outside of the house.

2. Emergency Contacts:

Carry a list of neatly printed emergency contacts. I hate to sound like a downer but if you are found or rescued from a terrible accident or crash, this list helps authorities contact those important to you. Be sure to list only local contacts, as friends and relatives miles away can do little to help you in the short term. List home, work, and cell phone numbers of your parents, partner, children, friends, and relatives.

3. Health Care Card:

In many countries one’s health card provides quick entrance into hospital care. If you’re terribly injured and need medical attention, having your health card available helps authorities. Some cards also contain important medical information about you, which may also aid medical staff in an emergency. If there’s one card you should never leave home without, it’s your health card.

4. Important Medical Information:

Do you have a medical condition rescue staff and medical doctors should know about? Are you allergic to penicillin, have diabetes, or depend on a pacemaker? Be sure to list all medical conditions so emergency staff can better access your medical needs right away. My mom has a pacemaker, and she carries this documentation with her at all times, just in case.

5. Essential Medications:

Be sure to carry life-saving medications with you. I’ll never forget the day I went for a group bike ride and one of my friends got stung by a bee. For most people a bee sting is a painful annoyance, but due to her deathly allergy she could have died. Because she carried her life-saving medication in an Epi-pen, I was able to administer her injection. Our group ride was over that day, but she’s with us to enjoy tomorrow. If you have essential medications, tell the people with you about them, and bring them along for the ride.

6. Notepad and Pen:

Make note of this, bring a notepad and pen with you. You never know when you’ll need to document pertinent information from an accident or crime scene. I’ve witnessed several accidents only to see the driver zoom away. Since I had my notepad, I was able to write down the license plate digits quickly. I also use my notepad to list grocery items, addresses, and blog post ideas. Using lists can help minimize store trips and decrease time spent in stores. Since I’m pretty forgetful, I love how my notepad remembers for me. Oh, and unlike a PDA, a notepad does not require batteries or charging, so it’s always available and ready.

7. One Credit Card:

You only need one credit card to cover your butt in case of emergency. My credit card came in very handy the day I needed a tow truck to take my auto away. I stalled on a busy roadway near Toronto, and had to get the car to the shop fast. So bring just one card with you, and not every store card you have. Getting a new pair Manolo Blahnik’s doesn’t count as an emergency situation, even if they are on sale.

8. Emergency Cash:

Carry a little stash of emergency cash with you always. You never know when plastic cannot help you. Credit card companies can occasionally give you the cold shoulder by putting a freeze on your account if they suspect fraud. So be sure to carry some cash if you need to fill up on gas or need a meal.

9. Cell Phone:

The Extra-Terrestrial being in the movie E.T. knew a thing or two about phoning home. If you’re ever in an alien situation, be sure to have your cell phone handy to phone home. Darn, that movie always makes me cry.

10. Road Side Assistance Card:

Do you drive a car? If so, best to keep your road side assistance card in your wallet or purse, not in your car. Why? ‘Cause if you’re locked out of your auto, how are you going to call for help? Unless you memorize your identification number, stay safe by stashing this card on your person and not in your glove compartment.

Not carrying the right things in your purse or wallet can really cost you. Am I just being paranoid? Does your bag boast emergency items? What are the essential items you carry?

Keeping your wallet or purse safe (series):

Your two cents:

  1. fathersez April 30th, 2008

    You are right. But in the event that we are unconcious and dependent on others to help us, we also have to hope that they are honest and decent.

    In Malaysia at least, there have been many reported cases of peersonal belongings being stolen when people get involved in nasty accidents.

  2. Kerry May 1st, 2008

    fathersez: Very sad yet true. I mostly wrote this post in thinking of my late grandmother. A few years ago she was in a mall walking about and suffered a mild heart attack. She wasn’t carrying any emergency contacts, so my mom was only notified several hours after her hospitalization. Luckily, the emergency authorities were able to track my mom down…but we all felt terrible not being there for my grandmother sooner. Since that time, I always carry this information with me.

  3. CindyS May 1st, 2008

    Just an FYI, make sure that you include a signed note stating that the hospital has permission to contact those people on your list and also to give them your condition. Due to the new privacy laws, I know of several people whose adult children were involved in an accident and the hospital WOULD NOT RELEASE the information as to their condition even when the parents called because they did not have written permission.

  4. Movingonup! May 2nd, 2008

    And don’t forget chapstick! I don’t leave home without several.

  5. Beth May 3rd, 2008

    w.r.t. your drivers license, a lot of people in BC, particularly, seem to think that you have 24 hours to produce your driver’s license if you are stopped and do not have your license on you.
    not sure about the rest of the world, but here in BC you can get fined for not having it on you.

  6. Beth May 3rd, 2008

    i should add, unless you are driving a tractor, in which case you are exempt.

  7. Kerry May 4th, 2008

    Beth: Very True. I’ve never been asked to produce my driver’s license whilst driving the tractor. I live for that day, though. ;)

  8. P.L. Frederick May 6th, 2008

    Nice list! Yes, I guess carrying one credit card would be all I need.

  9. SmBizMan May 9th, 2008

    Good ideas, unless you are trying to keep the size of your wallet to a minimum. Notepad and pen? Cell phone in my wallet? Medications?

    I think not.

    it would be easier though if I could get my hands on one of these:

    http://www.icache.com/

  10. Mel May 9th, 2008

    I think you might mean a MAN-purse or murse…
    But still

    If i carry cash with me I spend it on junk… Except for a film canester filled with quarters and a few $20s… I know these are for emergencies only and therefore dont spend them. i also have a film canaster filled with quarters and money in my car… JIC i lose my purse

  11. Annie July 23rd, 2008

    I have my emergency info stored in my cell phone (ICE=In Case of Emergency). The practice is common enough that many emergency techs know to check cell phones for ICE.

    I also have stored the phone numbers for Equifax, Experian and Trans Union, the 3 big credit bureaus. Calling one should be alert all 3, but why take chances if your wallet has been stolen. The Big 3 can put a freeze on you so no one can start a new account without a notice of theft popping up (and you have to call in to verify it’s really you) plus it can stop any credit card offers from coming in the mail (so thieves cannot try to have offers or new cards sent to their address with your name).

  12. Rosa Rugosa November 24th, 2009

    #11 – I would never leave home without my multi-function Swiss Army Knife!

  13. ID Card Supply June 15th, 2010

    I so agree with you, you number one item was a personal ID card. I think its very important to carry a copy of your identity wherever you go. The only thing missing from my wallet from the above list is road side assistance card.

    Fox don’t you think if you are on a unplanned trip its gonna be difficult to have a road side assistance card and in such cases what do you suggest?

  14. Julie September 2nd, 2011

    Interesting article, Kerry. I carry all of those things and MORE in my purse. I think it’s important to have I.D. with you at all times, and health insurance card, but I hadn’t thought of having a signed release as CindyS advises. I imagine here in Iowa it would be like that, too.

  15. Zhu October 10th, 2012

    Great list!

    I also usually carry feminine products (come on girls, we’ve all been there…!), tissues and a couple of samples such as face wash–great if you have a late meeting or just want to freshen up.

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