How to Know What to Carry in Your Purse

It`s hard to see if you have too much or not enough stuff, or it's too messy. This should help.


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    Decide what kind of handbag you need and buy or make it. Try to find something that looks small but has lots of space.
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    Consider what you need to carry in your handbag every day. What items do you use (or find you need) frequently? Make a list of the items, or just gather them up in one place.
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    Consider where you are taking the handbag. Specifically, what do you need to have to go there and do whatever you have planned?
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    Think through your hygiene and beauty routines.
    • Evaluate how much makeup you use each day. If you wear makeup every day or go out a lot, you may want to put a makeup bag in your handbag, and make sure you have a small mirror with you. Otherwise, see if you can keep it to the basics.
    • Tissues and a hairbrush are always useful even if you don't wear cosmetics.
    • Would you use a toothbrush, toothpaste, or dental floss more often if you had them at hand all the time? Think about it; it really could improve your mouth health.
    • Mints. It's good having a pack of mints after you ate some garlic snacks or anything that smells.
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    Remember some body spray or hotel sized soap; not everywhere is clean and good-smelling!
    • Don't forget the hand sanitizer and a sanitary napkin or tampon. Always bring a second pad or tampon to change it. Many handbags have an inside zippered pocket where you can carry personal items discreetly. Or buy a little zipper bag for extra security.
    • If you buy a handbag without multiple compartments, it is very helpful to buy a small pencil bag or makeup bag to keep all your beauty products in inside your handbag. This way your smaller items such as lip glosses do not leak in your handbag or roll around to where you can not find them. Having this smaller bag creates more organization and creates easier access.
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    Review any medication you take, and add that to your handbag, as necessary. Your local drugstore will have plenty of options for carrying your selection of medicines.
    • If you are prone to headaches or cramps, you may want to keep a small container of pain reliever in your handbag.
    • If you wear contacts, keep your case and eye drops in your handbag. Consider taking your glasses as well, in case your contacts fall out at a time when you can't put them back in, or if you can't find the fallen contact.
    • Carry any medications that you or your family will need in case of emergencies, such as asthma inhalers or injections to control allergic reactions.
    • Your handbag may not be the right place for a complete first aid kit, but you may still want to carry a few small basics, such as a couple of band-aids and some tweezers.
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    Consider tucking in a few comfort or entertainment items. Would you like a small, packaged snack or a hand-held fan for hot summer days? A paperback novel? A notebook and pen? A miniature craft kit or drawing kit? Go easy on items like these, and choose only the ones that are most important to you.
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    Be sure to include a wallet or purse containing money and an ID. Also, make sure the handbag contains keys for your house and car (though keys are always safer when kept in a trouser or coat pocket). The same goes with money--if you're going to carry money in your handbag, don't carry too much in case it gets stolen.
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    Miniaturize and consolidate. If you like to read, could your books travel electronically in your phone or PDA without adding weight? It might be a good idea to bring a book instead of a Kindle in case your handbag is stolen. Could you carry a multiple-use object, such as a four-way pen or multi-tool? Can you carry just a few basic colors of makeup in one or two compacts and leave the rest at home?
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    Avoid packing too much. If you have a complete first aid kit, you need to take it out. Remember; it's just a handbag, not a suitcase.


  • Alternate the cosmetics in your makeup bag or stick to a few basics. Otherwise, you'll end up toting around ten different kinds of lip gloss.
  • Clean your handbag regularly. Throw out any old receipts and trash. Evaluate everything you carry and make sure it is serving its purpose. If it doesn't earn its keep, don't lug it around.
  • If you like your money and cards organized, use a wallet or purse. If you just want to keep a few dollars in your handbag, you can just keep it in a small pocket in your handbag or keep it with you.
  • If you have too many items to fit neatly in your handbag, take everything out and decide what you can live without.
  • Make sure always to clean it out. Your handbag is not a garbage bag.
  • Keep zippered bags inside your handbag to keep smaller items together.
  • If you keep electronic items in your handbag, you may want to get protective cases for them. It's also a good idea to "lock" mp3 players and cell phones, so you don't waste power or end up calling your best friends by accident.
  • Make a point to use up your change, otherwise it will all sink to the bottom of your handbag weighing you down.
  • Other items you can include are: mace, a Swiss Army knife or multi-tool, a book (if your handbag is large enough), an mp3 player, a mirror, tweezers, a business card holder, a notebook, a pen, a small flashlight, pads or tampons, hand lotion, a transit pass, an address book, a planner or calendar, a PDA.
  • For special events, you may want to keep nail polish in your handbag to patch up runs in your pantyhose. Or, you could scrunch up a pair of tights or stockings into a ball and keep them in your handbag in case the pair that you are wearing run.
  • You could take an iPod/MP3 player to listen to music. Remember headphones.
  • You can carry an iPod or mp3 with a pair of headphones for listening to music, watching videos or playing games.
  • Don't forget to keep Hand sanitizer with you all the time.
  • When packing items such as hand sanitizer or other forms of liquids, ensure that the lids are tightly sealed to prevent them from leaking in your purse and ruining other items.


  • When traveling on airplanes do NOT bring liquids or gels (unless it's in a quart sized plastic bag).
  • Don't put unwrapped food in your handbag because it will get dirty. Wrapped foods like energy bars are OK.
  • If you decide to carry mace or a knife, know the laws about these items and get yourself trained in their use.

Things You'll Need


  • Wallet/purse
  • ID
  • Debit card
  • Credit card
  • Money (with some extra cash tucked away discreetly)
  • Emergency list of numbers (emergency contacts, insurance information, AAA)
  • Coin purse
  • Keys/extra spare keys (house and car)
  • Bottle opener/Swiss Army knife
  • Mobile

Beauty/Mini cosmetic bag

  • Bracelets
  • Earrings
  • Necklaces
  • Rings
  • Lip gloss/balm
  • Lipstick
  • Chapstick
  • Blush
  • Eyeshadow
  • Eyeliner
  • Mascara
  • Nail polish (if you wear it)
  • Perfume/Cologne
  • Blotting sheets
  • Concealer
  • Lotion
  • Hair tie
  • Nail file/paper emery board
  • Bobby pins
  • Safety pins


  • Pads/tampons
  • Wax (if have braces)
  • Ibuprofen/pain reliever
  • Antacid
  • Aspirin
  • Condom/birth control
  • Tissues/handkerchief
  • Hand sanitizer/travel soap/moist towelettes
  • Band-aids
  • Sunscreen
  • Floss/paper-wrapped toothpicks
  • Cotton swabs
  • Compact mirror
  • Deodorant
  • Comb/brush
  • Contact case
  • Contact solution
  • Travel-sized toothbrush and paste
  • Travel-sized mouthwash
  • Travel-sized body spray
  • Wipes


  • Sunglasses
  • Scarf (if you have room)
  • Gloves
  • Small triple-folding umbrella (in the rainy season)
  • Snack
  • Sugar-free/non-sugar sweetener (pellets)
  • Water bottle
  • 2-3 extra plastic bags/a cloth shopping bag
  • Gift cards (only if shopping that day)
  • Visiting cards
  • Mini notepad
  • Pen/pencil
  • Mints/gum
  • Book/Kindle
  • iPod/MP3
  • Map
  • Camera
  • Pepper spray or pocket knife
  • 20 Questions (game)
  • Mini sewing kit, i.e., thread, needles, small scissors
  • Mini office kit, i.e., paper-clips, rubber-bands, mini stapler
  • Mini emergency kit
  • Camera case
  • Cell phone case
  • Makeup bag
  • Double-sided tape
  • Headphones
  • Eye mask
  • Pocket agenda
  • Mini highlighters
  • Pads/tampons
  • Sandals/flip flops
  • Tablet/iPad
  • Stick-it notes
  • Ear plugs (for sleep or studying)
  • Water bottle (disposable or reusable)

Article Info

Categories: Handbags and Purses | Time Management & Personal Organization