What’s in Your Wallet? Old Money, Of Course

You’re sitting in a cafe. Maybe it’s in Boston or New York, Charleston or San Francisco, Mumbai or London. The man sitting next to you is dressed, even if he is not “dressed up.” His shirt is clean and has a collar. His jacket fits. He’s wearing long pants that may not be denim and his shoes are not sneakers or flip-flops. He is, in summary, well-groomed and does not appear to have slept in the clothes he’s wearing. He is not engrossed in his cell phone. He may be having a conversation with another person at a reasonably discreet volume. He may even be in immediate possession of a book.

Shocking, I know.

You deduce that he may be Old Money, and when he reaches in his jacket  pocket to pay his bill, your interest peaks: What really is in the Old Money wallet? The snarky retort is, of course, Old Money.

But that’s too easy. Below is a potential list of The Top However Many Things You Might Find in an Old Money Wallet:

  1. Seldom-used credit card, probably American Express. Probably not a Black Card. More likely a Gold Card.
  2. ATM card for credit union, private bank, or foreign bank. Or all three.
  3. Drivers license, which, invariably, will carry the restriction of requiring the issued party to wear corrective lenses while operating a motor vehicle.
  4. Medical insurance card (Old Money insures the hell out of everything, including itself.)
  5. Auto club card (essential when all the cars in your family each have over 200,000 miles on them.)
  6. Public transportation monthly pass (Old Money rides the subway like everybody else.)
  7. Frequently-used public library card.
  8. Claim check from shoe repair shop (Old Money shoes are consistently re-soled and refurbished, and therefore last a lifetime.)
  9. Folded-up post-it note with various computer passwords and pin numbers that, for some unknown reason, cannot remain retained in the brain. Invariably, the ink or pencil lead will be rubbed smooth or smeared over time and this document will be rendered worthless and, at some point in the future, discovered and discarded.
  10. Ticket stubs from chamber music concerto, three years old. No coherent reason for keeping them, but they never seem to get discarded in the twice-a-year wallet house-cleaning ritual.
  11. Business cards.

As always, your comments and additions are welcome. As a man, I have no idea what is in any woman’s purse, Old Money or not. Old Money Gals, you’re encouraged to elaborate.

Below are photos of my own retired Ghurka wallet, and the new recruit now doing active duty.

The Old, after 20 years of (ab) use.
The Old, after 20 years of (ab) use.
The New, a gift from Mother for Christmas, 3 years ago.
The New, a Christmas gift from Mother, 3 years ago. I think.
  • BGT

 

 


32 thoughts on “What’s in Your Wallet? Old Money, Of Course

  1. Unless I’m going out of town, I don’t carry a wallet or a purse. When I leave the house I have my driver’s license, a credit card, cash, keys and some Kleenex. I do not need or want to carry anything else.

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  2. Excellent post, as usual. Your old wallet still looks like it has good mileage left on it. Could you use it until it falls apart and then, and only then, use the wallet your Mum gave you?

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    1. No, that won’t be possible in this situation. When I pulled the old wallet out at a restaurant to pay the bill, Mommy Dearest audibly gasped at its dreadful condition. A few weeks later at a Christmas gathering, the new one was presented with instructions to bury the old one in the backyard.

      I would, if I could, but I can’t. Thank you, Michael, for the suggestion though. It’s a good one. – BGT

      Like

  3. Byron, Cannot agree more about carrying and keeping cash. Here in Canada savvy OMG’s use both. Canadians are famous (or infamous) for their frugality. It goes back to our British and Scottish roots. Most Canadians I know ask if there is a discount for paying in cash. I do this. Not all but many shops will do it to avoid bank charges on credit cards. One still has to pay the taxes to the shop for Revenue Canada. Recently I had my father’s watch serviced at a jewellery shop and asked if there were discounts for cash. I was told yes and that it was 10%. I went next door to the Toronto-Dominion bank and pulled out the cash from the Interac machine (no fee for this). I still had to pay the jewellery shop the VAT and GST tax but I would have had to pay those anyway. I do not consider myself a fool, so why would I not save 10% on an item if given the chance?

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    1. Hi Austin, the amount on hand would depend on a couple of things: how safe is your residence? How much liquid cash do you have in total? Maybe you keep five or ten percent of that in a safe place at home. If there’s a fire or a burglary, you will certainly feel the pain of your loss of cash, but it shouldn’t wipe you out financially. Conversely, if the financial system goes sideways, you should be able to survive without an ATM card or bank access for a period of time. What that period of time is depends on your personal circumstances and how many people you’re responsible for.

      You might also take a broader view of currency, in a more historical sense. A friend of mine, who is very successful, had the majority of his holdings in the South African Rand, the local currency for him. Then that currency lost 40% of its value almost overnight. He took a hit. He’s okay, because he has assets in other countries, but currency fluctuations are a reality of life today. And don’t think it can’t happen here in the US. So do some research and consider assets like precious metals that hold their value regardless of the value of a dollar, euro, yen, or pound.

      I don’t give investment advice, but being independent of your local ATM for the short term ($500 or $1000 on hand at a minimum….?) and being independent of local currency rollercoasters in the longer term is something that a lot of very qualified financial professionals recommend.

      Short question from you; long answer from me. Usually it’s the opposite. (Wink, nod.) Thank you for asking. – BGT

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  4. Hi Austin! Byron seems to have a slight bias in favor of cash, and I’m not saying that he’s wrong, but I’d like to offer a slightly different perspective. Where is your money safer, at home or in a bank? For almost everybody, the answer is “in a bank”. Nobody has had any trouble getting their money out of a bank since 1929 and the legal requirements regarding banks’ ability to pay depositors are much stronger now than they were then. Also, the federal government, through the FDIC/FSLIC, insures all deposits up to $250,000. (I certainly hope you don’t have more than $250,000 in a checking or savings account.)

    But if for some reason you couldn’t get your money out of a bank, you could write a check. If you’ve run out of checks you could use a credit card. If you don’t have a credit card you could use a debit card. If you don’t have a debit card you could use an ATM card. If you don’t have an ATM card you might have a problem, but if the banking system has collapsed and the federal government is unable to make good on its guarantees, that probably means the complete breakdown of civil society and its back to the stone age for all of us. In that case not having any cash will be the least of your problems.

    Although having a little cash on hand for incidental expenses is a good idea, I think it is both unnecessary and unwise to have large amounts of cash lying around. None of this is meant to disparage Byron’s approach, but rather to point out that not all old money people do things exactly the same way.

    Byron, I hope you don’t mind me weighing in with a different point of view. I find your blog very interesting. Keep up the good work!

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    1. Hello, Amy! I enjoy this site and appreciate your insightful comments. I have an off topic question for you. Byron previously has created posts on wardrobe essentials for men — the L.L. Bean post was excellent! You previously had commented that you keep a small wardrobe of high quality classic pieces. Would you mind sharing what your essentials are and where you shop for them? Thank you!

      Like

    2. Thank you, Amy. No, not at all. I welcome different points of view that are articulate and well thought out. Yours always are, and I really appreciate it. I also greatly appreciate a woman’s point of view, which, enlightened as I like to think I am, I can’t always perceive or articulate.

      I do have a bias toward cash (and gold) in hand. There is an unpleasant middle ground between banks closing their doors for a ‘bank holiday’, which would most certainly limit or eliminate altogether ATM withdrawals for a period of time and the complete breakdown of civil society. (Recent events in Greece and Argentina come to mind.) It’s during this period that cash on hand would be very helpful.

      The preservation of wealth over the long term, irrespective of currency valuations (and devaluations), lies often in the physical possession of gold. Of course, a diverse portfolio of other assets is important, but every once in a while a stash of the oldest, most reliable form of money and store of wealth can make a big difference after a financial tsunami.

      As always, this is not investment advice.

      Thank you again, Amy. – BGT

      Like

  5. Fine jewelry has been the store of assets for women for thousands of years. As the only daughter and one of just two granddaughters, I have three generations of wedding rings, anniversary pins, birthday necklaces, etc. I store them at the bank and take them out for special occasions. If push comes to shove and you need to keep a roof over your head and food on the table, hawk the jewelry. Diamonds, emeralds, sapphires and rubies also have trade value the same as gold. Plus having a variety is a hedge against volatile commodity prices. Remember the Hunt brothers?

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    1. Hi Janet
      Money must by durable, divisible, convenient, consistent, must posses value in itself, limited in the quantity that is available, must have a long history of acceptance, portable and must have stable value. Only gold and silver have these attributes, therefore they are money.

      I do not remember diamond certificate, but I have old gold and silver certificate (once in circulation as a medium of exchange) to show to my lads what was, is and always will be money.

      Though jewelry is nice but it doesn’t store value. Fiat currencies are money substitutes, not money. Artificial sweetener is neither sugar nor honey. It is substitute.

      Money is 100% liquid. Anything else has less than 100% liquidity.

      Of course Byron, you advice cannot be considered as an investment advice! Money doesn’t have counterparty risk. There is no issuer. With investment one has to suffer risk (not only risk on return but primarily risk of return).

      Principal function of money is store of ones work, store of value.

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  6. Very much enjoying this lively post and hearing the opinions of others. Perhaps I lean a titch more towards Byron’s thoughts on gold and cash, as well as having prudent investments. Living in a small community (about 900 people in the village itself) on an island that is about two hours away from Vancouver, British Columbia, during the winter our part of Canada rarely receives any or much snow, but we due experience hydro outages from time to time due to winds. The road down the mountain to Victoria (several kilometres away) is oft times closed in or after a storm. Mill Bay village boasts a small branch of the Canadian Imperial Bank and also the Royal Bank of Canada, but your Interac (ATM) card is useless without the hydro on. Our grocery store has a generator and will accept cash and cheques but no plastic during these times. One last thought on cash: many Canadians are taking a page from some Americans and asking for discounts for paying in cash. Not all shops/cafes can or do participate but some do. One still has to pay the VAT/GST tax but the cash discount of, generally, 5% adds up to frugal Canadians. I have saved around $600 Cdn. this year alone by asking for and receiving the cash discount at my dentist office, a jewellery store, small cafes. At my dentist office I simply wrote a cheque but still received 5% off. I bank the savings I receive. Cheers.

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  7. You’re forgetting about compound interest. Gold doesn’t compound. The price of gold may go up and down, but the gold itself just sits there. With compound interest the amount of money you have increases over time. It’s not just worth more money, it is more money. Also, you can’t go into a grocery store and buy groceries with a fist full of gold nuggets. But you can with cash. The federal government prints the words right on the bills “This note is legal tender … “.

    Gold is only valuable because everybody agrees it’s valuable. Gold is not backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, only U.S. currency is. Ultimately, gold is just a type of metal without much practical utility. It only has value because people will give you money for it. That’s why people talk about the value of gold in terms of dollars per ounce. Money is the medium of exchange; other assets are valued in terms of how much money they can be exchanged for.

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    1. Hi Amy,
      While you are talking about currency, I am talking about money. Dollar is not backed by anything; it’s a fiat currency. But it wasn’t always like this.

      One should read history. You have plenty of great historians, economists and politicians who witnessed 20’ and 30’. Try Irving Fisher – The Money Ilussion, Dixon Wcter – The Age of the Great Depression, of try J.P. Morgan’s Testimony before bank and currency committee of the House of Representatives – Dec. 18-19, 1921, or Blockade – The Diary of an Austrian Middle-Class Woman 1914-1924 https://archive.org/details/Blockade-TheDiaryOfAnAustrianMiddle-classWoman1914-1924 or how about Fiat Money Inflation in France by Andrew Dickson White https://mises.org/system/tdf/Fiat%20Money%20Inflation%20in%20France_2.pdf?file=1&type=document, or Gold Reserve Act of 1934, or Alan Greenspan – Gold and economic freedom, or Howard Buffet, Warren’s father and his speech from 1948, or simply pick up the phone and call Ron Paul. (I think he will autograph his book for you).

      Dollar did not devaluated against gold, dollar crashed! Multiple times.

      The Federal Gov. doesn’t print anything on dollar. Who prints is Federal Reserve. Fed. Gov. buys its own currency from private company. Legal tender is not money.

      Gold has no counterparty risk; therefore gold does not need to be back by anything. It has been money for 6 000 years. It is perfect money from nature.

      People do not talk about gold’s value in dollars per troy ounces (ounce and troy ounce are different things). People talk about gold price in dollars.

      Money is medium of exchange, but only when you need to or desire to exchange, otherwise money (not currency) is store of value.

      One doesn’t need to use gold nuggets in grocery; one can get plenty of food from local farmer in exchange for sound money (constitutional silver). If, however, one wants to live grand and desires a super sleek teak wood yacht, he will exchange it for gold coins.

      But we do not practice this, we are happy with frugal life. Although we are the third or fourth generation, we are actually the first, because it is upon us to preserve what we inherited, add more and tech our lads how to do it so they can continue and tech their lads.

      As far as I remember, dollar is certain weight of gold or silver, not a picture.

      Like

    2. Hi Amy,
      While you are talking about currency, I am talking about money. Dollar is not backed by anything; it’s a fiat currency. But it wasn’t always like this.
      One should read history. You have plenty of great historians, economists and politicians who witnessed 20’ and 30’. Try Irving Fisher – The Money Ilussion, Dixon Wcter – The Age of the Great Depression, of try J.P. Morgan’s Testimony before bank and currency committee of the House of Representatives – Dec. 18-19, 1921, or Blockade – The Diary of an Austrian Middle-Class Woman 1914-1924 https://archive.org/details/Blockade-TheDiaryOfAnAustrianMiddle-classWoman1914-1924 or how about Fiat Money Inflation in France by Andrew Dickson White https://mises.org/system/tdf/Fiat%20Money%20Inflation%20in%20France_2.pdf?file=1&type=document, or Gold Reserve Act of 1934, or Alan Greenspan – Gold and economic freedom, or Howard Buffet, Warren’s father and his speech from 1948, or simply pick up the phone and call Ron Paul. (I think he will autograph his book for you).
      Dollar did not devaluated against gold, dollar crashed! Multiple times.
      The Federal Gov. doesn’t print anything on dollar. Who prints is Federal Reserve. Fed. Gov. buys its own currency from private company. Legal tender is not money.
      Gold has no counterparty risk; therefore gold does not need to be back by anything. It has been money for 6 000 years. It is perfect money from nature.
      People do not talk about gold’s value in dollars per troy ounces (ounce and troy ounce are different things). People talk about gold price in dollars.
      Money is medium of exchange, but only when you need to or desire to exchange, otherwise money (not currency) is store of value.
      One doesn’t need to use gold nuggets in grocery; one can get plenty of food from local farmer in exchange for sound money (constitutional silver). If, however, one wants to live grand and desires a super sleek teak wood yacht, he will exchange it for gold coins.
      But we do not practice this, we are happy with frugal life. Although we are the third or fourth generation, we are actually the first, because it is upon us to preserve what we inherited, add more and tech our lads how to do it so they can continue and tech their lads.
      As far as I remember, dollar is certain weight of gold or silver, not a picture.

      Like

    3. Hi Amy,
      While you are talking about currency, I am talking about money. Dollar is not backed by anything; it’s a fiat currency. But it wasn’t always like this.
      One should read history. You have plenty of great historians, economists and politicians who witnessed 20’ and 30’. Try Irving Fisher – The Money Ilussion, Dixon Wecter – The Age of the Great Depression, of try J.P. Morgan’s Testimony before bank and currency committee of the House of Representatives – Dec. 18-19, 1921, or Blockade – The Diary of an Austrian Middle-Class Woman 1914-1924 https://archive.org/details/Blockade-TheDiaryOfAnAustrianMiddle-classWoman1914-1924 or how about Fiat Money Inflation in France by Andrew Dickson White https://mises.org/system/tdf/Fiat%20Money%20Inflation%20in%20France_2.pdf?file=1&type=document, or Gold Reserve Act of 1934, or Alan Greenspan – Gold and economic freedom, or Howard Buffet, Warren’s father and his speech from 1948, or simply pick up the phone and call Ron Paul. (I think he will autograph his book for you).
      Dollar did not devaluated against gold, dollar crashed! Multiple times.
      The Federal Gov. doesn’t print anything on dollar. Who prints is Federal Reserve. Fed. Gov. buys its own currency from private company. Legal tender is not money.
      Gold has no counterparty risk; therefore gold does not need to be back by anything. It has been money for 6 000 years. It is perfect money from nature.
      People do not talk about gold’s value in dollars per troy ounces (ounce and troy ounce are different things). People talk about gold price in dollars.
      Money is medium of exchange, but only when you need to or desire to exchange, otherwise money (not currency) is store of value.
      One doesn’t need to use gold nuggets in grocery; one can get plenty of food from local farmer in exchange for sound money (constitutional silver). If, however, one wants to live grand and desires a super sleek teak wood yacht, he will exchange it for gold coins.
      But we do not practice this, we are happy with frugal life. Although we are the third or fourth generation, we are actually the first, because it is upon us to preserve what we inherited, add more and tech our lads how to do it so they can continue and tech their lads.
      As far as I remember, dollar is certain weight of gold or silver, not a picture.

      Like

    4. Hi Amy,
      it took a while to find this video. I HOPE it will help, not only you!

      I am only wondering where is compound interest?

      Everyone should also read your Constitution.

      Article 1, Section 10:
      No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

      Like

  8. Hi Millie! I got sidetracked by the gold discussion and forgot to answer your question. I’m a pretty hard core minimalist, so you’re probably going to want a more extensive wardrobe than mine, but since you asked, white, navy blue and tan or beige are sort of my foundation colors with a liberal sprinkling of green, pink and yellow mostly in the summer and some hunter green and burgundy in winter. Lots of polo shirts and OCBDs and khaki pants and shorts. I don’t wear blue jeans although I do have a denim skirt.

    I have two solid color wrap-a-round dresses and a couple of wrap skirts, one madras and one Indian print. Of course you need a little black cocktail dress and I also have one in white for daytime and summertime events. A pencil skirt or A line skirt can be very versatile if you get one that goes with a lot of your tops. And I’ve probably got seven or eight blouses, long sleeve, short sleeve and sleeveless in gingham, poplin, madras, and seersucker.

    As for where to buy, Polo Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, although my husband is a recent convert to Mercer & Sons for their oxford cloth button down shirts (thank you, Byron!) Ann Taylor, Lily Pulitzer, Vineyard Vines, L.L. Bean, J. Crew and Lands’ End. Some people like Orvis, but I don’t find much good stuff for women there. I keep the jewelry and makeup extremely minimal, and I won’t go into the subject of work out clothes except to say that if you’re a runner like me you can never have too many sports bras (sorry if that’s TMI).

    Basically, think simple, clean, preppy. But classic, traditional preppy, not the trendy “preppy” stuff you see at Aeropostale, Abercrombie or (heaven forbid) Juicy Couture. Remember that high quality doesn’t necessarily mean expensive (although probably not super cheap either). I try to buy things that will go with what I already have and that I will still be happy wearing years from now. Anyway, I shouldn’t take up so much space on Byron’s blog talking about women’s clothes, but feel free to email me if you have more questions! Good Luck!

    Like

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful and detailed response, Amy. This is very helpful as I start to build my adult and professional wardrobe. Thank you, Byron, for allowing me to “hijack” the thread for my question to Amy. I love your website and both books!

      Like

    2. Thank you, Amy. You and Millie are welcome to discuss at length, as I’m sure a detailed focus on women’s wardrobe is long overdue. Can anyone add some photos? Just a thought. – BGT

      Like

  9. What an interesting topic and discussion (digressions included). Amy thanks for the wardrobe info!

    Personally, I do a better job of keeping track of my expenses when using cash, though, of course, a credit card is a necessity. My brother believes in gold too, and a friend swears by jewelry. Sounds like it depends on whether the purpose is investing or having something during an emergency, as well as the kind of financial emergency and where you will be during the emergency (staying at home or fleeing the country).

    Michael, not all old items make a good impression (toothbrushes and wallets come to mind.)
    What kind of wallets are recommended for women ?

    Like

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