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I debated a few names for this idea. Out of Wallet Experience. Out of pocket wallet. and Real world wallet were just some that didn't make the cut. The name of UrbanWallet is taken from the idea of UrbanExploration. It also means that the location of an UrbanWallet can be a UWL. ;)

So, the idea is this. You hide some money in an obscure, but public place.

The money is thus available if you need it (well, if you're near the UWL anyways), but lacks the temptation of actually being on your person. Thus it's suited to being emergency cash.

The trick, of course, is to secrete the money in a place where it wont be accidentally discovered by the average day to day humans - who are, it must be said, a rather unobservant bunch overall.

Australian folding money is well suited to this, being polymer and thus weather resistant without any further effort. (About polymer money) (Another reference). Anyone wanting to do this with paper money may need to investigate better weatherproofing than I'll bother with here. (Please update this page if you do!). Also note that I am assuming the use of notes here, as coins are both bulky by comparison, and not worth much economically to make this worthwhile.

Also, given the risks of discovery, it is better to hide many small notes rather than a few large ones. Start off with $5 notes - a usefull amount to have in an emergency (bus fare or a good percentage of a cab ride), without being a major blow to "lose".

So, the plan is this:

  • Roll a $5 note as tight as possible, and slip it inside a small plastic tube to hold its shape. (I'm thinking heatshrink which is flexible and weatherresistant. I'm NOT planning to shrink it though). A $5 note in a tube of heatshrink should end up being only several cm long (the height of a $5 note), and I estimate about as thick as an average pencil.
  • DuctTape. This or an equivelant holding substance (BluTak is another alternative) to help secure the money to the chosen UWL. It may also be nescessary to scrub/dust the location to help ensure it sticks. A cheap wire brush should be fine for this.

So what do you do when you need the money? Well, you take it, of course! But i think it should always be paid back. Equal at minimum, though if the hiding place has been in use for some time, then it can be considered a "trusted" spot and the amount hidden can increase. (say, $10 after 6 months, $20 after 12 months, $50 after 18 months and $100 after 24. This matches available currency in australia, and of course, you may not want to go that high depending on personal taste and how much you trust the hiding spot!). If a UWL is compromised, then of course, you don't reuse it.

It's kind of like modern day pirate treasure, except without the pirates, the gold, the ships, the maps, the 'X marks the spot', the parrots, the funny speech, the illegal stealing, or in fact, anything else that could be considered a pirate trademark.

For the locations, I plan to rate them on three metrics.

How visible is the hiding place to the average person? (lower is better). or "How likely is it to fall within the field of vision of someone?"
How obvious is the hiding place? (lower is better) or "How likely is it to be noticed by someone once it DOES fall into their field of vision?"
How easy is it to get to? (lower is better, but not too low, since you have to withdraw yourself one day!) or "How difficult is it for someone to get once they've noticed it?"
    • Do you get more points for high-visibility, low-conspicuousness locations? :) -- st
      • <nemo> Yes, a highly visible, low consp UWL that has lasting power is obviously a much cleverer UWL than a low visibility site. Of course, who else are you comparing points against?

At least one of these fields should be low (say, 4 or below) to make a UWL feasible

For eg.

  • Duct-taped to the back of a street sign. This is highly visible, but given ducttape somewhat matches the grey/metallic colour of the back of signs, it's probably not obvious. It's likely to be very accessible. So, let's call it V=7, C=3, A=9
  • Duct-taped to the side of a bridge over a road. This is extremely visible - to every car that drives under the bridge ... but assuming a grey concrete construction, and that the location isn't somewhere people are going to look much, it's not very obvious. Accessibility is good, slightly harder to get to than the street sign. V=8, C=3, A=7
  • Inside the door to my postoffice box. V=1, C=8, A=0. (note that accessibility didn't score 10, since it requires my keys to get to. Also note that this place doesn't REALLY fit the criteria of a UWL.
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