I finally feel ready to give a qualified review of my StashBelt.
For those who don’t remember, I first heard about it via Nora Dunn, the Professional Hobo. Thanks to her site and a discount code I ordered my own belt. It was a great experience in customer service, and pretty soon I had a very nice piece of leather in my hands. Along with a “secret” zipper pouch “large enough to hold more than $1000 in folded bills” it also has a small pocket near the buckle big enough to hold a USB thumb drive. They proved it by providing a 4GB drive with the belt (my request that they prove their other assertion was, unfortunately, ignored).
There’s not much bad to say about the stashbelt, so I’ll get it out of the way quickly:
- You need to make sure the USB drive is securely in the little pouch, or it is likely to fall out when you take off the belt. It’s also easy to either pull off the cap or lose it in the pouch when pulling the drive out.
- The belt is thinner and lighter than a lot of belts I’ve owned. While I do like the craftsmanship, I worry that the hole where the buckle fastens will wear out (the solution is not to pull it too tight, I know, but it’s a concern).
- One of the selling features is that you can swap out your own buckle for the one provided. I have a beautiful glass buckle I like to wear for special occasions – but it adds 3″ to the length of the belt, which means I run out of holes to buckle it.
- Speaking of running out of holes, while they did get me the right size, I’ve been losing weight…and I’m already at the furthest hole I can buckle at. I’m certain I can have a leather worker put in another, but a little more leeway would have been nice.
I realize that these are all minor – especially the last one, which is just as likely to go in the other direction. But they are all things I wished I’d known before I bought it, just to be prepared. So now that you know, you should go buy one, because of –
The Super-Amazing Fantastically Wonderful Super Power
Like any review, this lends itself to a bullet list:
- Did I mention I admired the craftsmanship? They talk a lot on their site about their leatherworking quality. It’s all true. Believe it.
- It holds money. You have to fold it pretty carefully, but the pocket zipper is quality stuff and it easily held three or more bills with no additional bulk.
- It holds other stuff. I could put an “emergency stash” of meds in the belt and know that even if I lost my bags I would be ok. I could even put in something like a lockpick if I wanted to…
- Feel like Jason Bourne. One of the initial reasons to look at this was Nora Dunn’s “USB Stick Trick“. I took it a little further using GizModo’s guide which led to the sexy experience of carrying around ID in three languages. If I’m ever lost in China, they’ll know who I am! Oh, and also a portable operating system.
But none of this is why you should buy a stashbelt and carry around extra cash. Here’s the real reason.
My Abundant Experience
During a recent trip I carried a few $20 bills in my belt, not expecting to use them at all (it’s hard to get stranded in Raleigh, N.C.). My friend and I shared a shuttle to the airport and I realized too late that I’d forgotten to bring any small bills with which to tip the driver. In case you’re wondering (because I did, and looked it up) it is considered best practices to tip your driver, usually about $1 per bag. Since my bag was extra-heavy, I definitely felt he deserved it.
“Have you got any ones?” I asked my friend, and she frowned as she realized why I was asking. She shook her head and quickly darted back into the hotel to try and get some change for a $10, the smallest bill she had in her wallet. No luck at the front desk, and she sadly shook her head as we got in the shuttle.
I felt terrible, on a lot of levels. I’ve worked in the service industry before; I know how thankless it can be. I like to tip 20% at restaurants and make sure that people know in a material way that I appreciate the care they take in their work. Even if the service was bad, I try to remember the idea of compassion and assume that the person is having a really bad day – and me not tipping them is not going to improve it. I was sure that the driver was used to not being tipped by the majority of his passengers, and wouldn’t hold it against me – but I would hold it against me.
On a deeper level, though, I was having a bit of a “scarcity attack.” I have friends who are well off, and they always have a wad of bills – sometimes several thousand dollars – in their pockets. They never run into the “don’t have enough to tip” problem. I, on the other hand, struggle to get out of the paycheck-to-paycheck experience, and when I realize I have no cash on me, I feel like a loser. That voice in my head says “You’re a white male in the most privileged society in the world and you don’t even have a few bucks for your driver? How pathetic is that?”
As I struggled with these internal voices, I suddenly realized there was an obvious solution. “Let’s give him the ten,” I told my friend. “I’ll pay you back when we get to the airport.”
I can’t tell you how good it felt to slip that ten into his hand. Generosity feels great, and that oxytocin was a-flowin’. Then, when we got through TSA, before I put on my belt I unzipped the secret pocket, pulled out a $20, and handed it to my friend. “Use the change to buy me lunch,” I told her.
I’m sure that I’ll have occasion to use the USB drive, and I’m sure that the stashbelt stash will at some point be used as actual “emergency” money. But in this case it was the key to flipping me from the scarcity to abundance mindset, and that makes it worth far more than the money I paid for it.
Two thumbs up and a big generous grin for Stashbelt.