Hobbies on a Budget: What to do when you lose your wallet

By Sharon Williams
Contributing columnist
There’s nothing worse than losing your wallet when you are out on a road trip, vacation or even in your own city running errands. But unfortunately, this is something that does happen to the best of us. There are some definite things you can do now to be prepared to make this situation a little less horrible.
On our recent trip to Washington DC, I got out to pay for gas and couldn’t find my wallet.  Instantly, I went into panic mode trying to remember where I had seen it last.  I finally did find it on the floor of the van where it had fallen out, but it got me thinking about all the things I would have needed to know if I had indeed lost it or had it stolen.
Know what you are carrying: Do you know what is in your wallet? Have you taken an audit recently to see what you are carrying?
•Do you know which credit cards are in your wallet?
•What grocery cards are stuffed in there?
•Do you have any gift cards you haven’t used?
•How much cash is in your wallet?
•Do you have your family insurance and medical cards?
If you don’t know what is in your wallet, you won’t know how to handle it if it gets lost or stolen.
Make a record of numbers & contacts: Once you know what you are carrying in your wallet, you need to record the numbers and contacts so you will be ready if an emergency happens. Some people like to keep their information in a safe back at their house, but how will you access this if you are on vacation in another state?
Other people prefer to keep all this information in a document saved on the cloud or on google drive.  If you aren’t comfortable leaving this information in a cloud document, then you may want to use a simple program like Keepass that encrypts your data in a password protected document.  You can then keep all your information updated in a Keepass file and house the file on the cloud or on dropbox.
If you want to go a little less technology based, you could have all your information written out and give the information to a family member or friend.  Then if you have any issues, you can contact them and have them give you the numbers over the phone.
Notify your Bank & Credit Cards: When we were in Washington DC, we tried to use our credit card at the Metro and had our card denied.  It is a great safety feature when the credit card company notices unusual behavior and denies the card, but it can also be a big headache.  Give your bank and credit cards a heads up that you will be traveling so they will be aware of unusual activity.
Consider downsizing: One of the things I am thinking about is whether I really need everything I carry every day.  Do I really need a wallet stuffed with every credit card, loyalty card and gift card that I don’t use every day?   Dump everything out of your wallet and then think about whether you actually need to carry it with you.  You might just find that you have expired cards or things that not longer fit your lifestyle.
Call the authorities: If your wallet is stolen, then you will want to notify the police so they can file a report.  You will need to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles to order a replacement license as well as other identity documents.
Losing your wallet is not a fun experience, but if you do a little planning you can be ready in case you have this unfortunate event occur.
For more ideas on hobbies and life, check out Hobbies on a Budget (www.hobbiesonabudget.com).