What’s in your Purse?

Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom

I was in church one Sunday, sitting behind K. When I stood and bowed my head to pray, I could see right into K’s large, open purse, and what I saw in there shocked me. K had six items in her purse. It was as clean as a whistle besides those six items. Her bag contained a pen, wallet, glasses case, full size tape measure, box of mints, and a folded piece of paper. There was one pocket on the side of the bag with looked like it had her keys zipped into it. That’s it. K has three children in elementary and middle school and a husband. How does she do it?

I think that I have a tidy and organized purse, but here’s what I have in it: cell phone, iPod touch, 2 pens, a nail file, keys, reading glasses, sun glasses, a package of baby wipes, my file of coupons (you can read about my system here), wallet, package of gum, glucogan (for diabetic emergencies), glucose tabs (same), and a reusable bag for trips to the store. In addition, I have a zippered pocket in the middle of my purse that contains lip gloss, lip balm, a pocket knife, a miniature tape measure and a small bag with medicines and personal items.

You purse goes with you everywhere, every day.  It’s your portable life! Take a look at it. Does it look nice? Is it clean on the outside? What about the inside? Is your wallet clear of receipts, unnecessary credit cards, and frequent shopper cards to stores you do not frequent? Do you have duplicates of useful items? Two lip balms is one too many; four pens is surely an excess. Are there things in your bag that aren’t even yours? Legos and your husband’s sunglasses need to be stored elsewhere. And what about trash? Are there candy or gun wrappers, phone number to who knows what, and long-lost dry cleaner receipts? Get rid of them too.  If you load it up for an extended day out with the kids, unload it when you come home. Clean out the receipts when you get home, just like you put away your purchases.

Your purse should be an attractive and functional item.  It’s not a moving van, and it’s not a trash receptacle. It’s an extension of your fabulously decluttered life. If it’s not, I have a mini-mission for you!

Today’s Declutter Item

At one point we were running to screens from the one computer. A little excessive I know. We have gotten past that craziness so we no longer need this support arm.

I am grateful from anything that brings me joy. Below are five things that gave me joy today.

  • I found out today that my mum and dad are coming to visit me next week.
  • Taste.com.au – now that I have found this site I don’t need recipe books.
  • Cindy’s weekly wisdom – It is nice to hand the reins to someone else for one day a week.
  • Hearing the children having fun in the pool over my back fenceeven though they can be loud and obnoxious at times it is good to hear their joy. Sometimes back yard pools can become useless clutter but not this one they use it from the first warm day of the year to the last.
  • Being left alone to watch a nature show on TV – Like my dad I love nature shows.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow.

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  1. My mom was once having severe pain in her left arm & shoulder and went to the ER worried that it might be a heart attack. It was not a heart attack and I don’t remember the exact diagnosis, but the cure was to carry less stuff in her purse…it had become seriously heavy! She had to wear a sling for 3-4 weeks so her shoulder could heal, and she had a lot of pain to deal with in the meantime. So there’s another reason to keep it minimal!

    • Hi Wendy,
      shoulder pain is why I have been carrying a smaller purse for years now. Too many years of softball I think has taken a toll on my shoulder and neck so I have to be careful now with what I carry and how I carry it.
      Your story reminds me of when I was a teenager and my sister was having stomach pains so my mother took her to the doctor. The doctor told her to stop wearing her belts so tight. 😆

  2. Oh my goodness Wendy! I’ve also heard of a similar problem with men with fat wallets – they can get back pains from sitting on their wallets, which makes their hips and spine uneven.

  3. Here in the UK, a purse is the name for a woman’s wallet. What you call a purse, we call a handbag. Men definitely don’t have handbags though,lol.
    I think I mut be quite unusual. I have no regular ‘purse’. When I come in, I empty everything out of the bag I am using for that occasion into its home. Next time I go out, I select the bag most practical for the occasion and put in it what I need. I guess this is in part due to not having children of my own, so never needed to keep stocked up with all sorts. I don’t have many purses I hasten to add. Just one smart one and the rest are pratical; I do like to have free hands – a couple of small little rucksacks with wheels and a pull out handle if I need it and one small over the shoulder job that takes mobie, ‘wallet’ keys, glasses and tissues, diary and a pen.

    • Before my son, I was like this. I just grabbed the bag I wanted and filled it up with what I needed for that day.

    • I didn’t know about the purse/handbag distinction. Sometimes language can be a challenge across countries, can’t it?

      I think you are unusal Katharine, not to have a daily bag. I guess you must unload all the usual hangbag things (purse (wallet), keys, etc.) into some logical spot every time you return home. Great if it works for you.

      My Mom used to dress rather formally for work, adn she changed her bag every day to match with her outfit. She kept everything in the bag she used, though, until the next day when she transferred it.

  4. I should clean out my wallet, I cleaned it a month ago and it is crowded again. I have organized my bag (rucksack) with a bag-in-bag. My rule is that if it doesn’t fit in the bag-in-bag, it is excess weight (with the exception of schoolbooks, but that is a no-brainer for a student). For now, I’m doing fine.

  5. I clean my purse out every few days. I carry my wallet, sunglasses, camera (in a case), iPod, phone, a pen and birth control. Sometimes my coupons. If I’m with my son, there is a bag of wipes and a spare diaper…and sometimes his toys. (I limit it to 3.) Not too bad!

  6. Nurchamiel and Lynn, Sounds like we’re a clean purse crowd. Good for us!

  7. Mine is not too bad. Diary, purse (which I clean out regularly so mainly just cash, cards, a couple of days’ receipts at most), cheque book when I know I’m going to need it, pencil case, small old purse that I use for all my coupons & vouchers, phone, bible study notes, holding cross, lip gloss. In the summer I add sunglasses and small tube suncream.

    My youngest is still in nappies though so I also have a rucksack changing bag. That said, that doesn’t contain anything of mine unless I only need a couple of things from my handbag that I transfer. It is all her stuff 🙂

  8. I also used to carry a large purse until it started to hurt my neck and shoulder. I think it was a carryover from when my son was smaller and I felt like I always had to haul around a lot of gear to be prepared! Thankfully, my purse is much smaller now (about 10 inches long and 5 inches high) but my sister still has me beat. She carries around a “wallet”. It’s a little bigger than checkbook size with a zipper most of the way ’round and a strap on it so you can carry it on your wrist.

    • I had a friend who had 6 children. After they were all in school, she switched over to a little bitty bag. Trouble was, everything she wanted to carry literally did not fit inside of it. Her wallet always poked out of the top, but she refused to give it up.

  9. For medical reasons I’ve had to stop using, first, the shoulder purses, and then my favourite “everything” bag (which a small, clever packer could have used for a weekend away). For years after that, I carried a small change purse that credit cards, cash and change could fit into. Then I went to a slightly larger purse and this is one area I clean out every day. I have to, or my few necessities wouldn’t fit in! Kind of like a small house versus a large one. In a small one, there is more incentive to cut out the unnecessary things and keep clutter down. Large purses and large houses just seem to invite “one more thing”.

    • I have my purse supplies so refined that last time I purchased a new purse, I was literally loading it up in the store to be sure that everything would fit in the new bag.

  10. That’s it I am breaking the silence. Why is that nobody speaks of storing any feminine hygiene products in their handbags/purses? I don’t know about you guys but at 46 some things just don’t behave as predictably as they used to so I have to carry every conceivable level of protection there is available. Am I the only one or is this just a tabu subject?

    • Not taboo. I was subtle with this comment “a small bag with medicines and personal items.” Personal items. That was my code word. But I just carry a couple of tampons, not a whole variety. Although to really break a taboo, I am trying Diva Cups (called Moon Cups in the UK, I believe). I was so-so impressed my first month; hopefully practice makes perfect. http://www.divacup.com/

      • I’ve actually converted to a Lunette cup (Finnish versions of a Diva Cup) about 2 1/2 years ago and have never looked back. Haven’t bought (or carried!) a pad or tampon since 🙂

      • Hi Cindy,
        good for you being the first one to put yourself out there. I am going to have to investigate this Diva Cup thing. I remember trying something similar some years back but found it quite unsuccessful but I am open to new ideas.

      • Mrs Green of MyZeroWaste who comments here has a whole post on this product, Check it out for some pointers:


      • Not taboo Colleen, so well done for bringing it up – didn’t occur to me as I am fortunate enough not to need to carry such things around other that a few days a month, even at 47. I have thought about a moon cup (you’re right Cindy) but they are very pricy and I was thinking I wouldn’t get my monies worth out of them at my age. Environmentlally though of course they are a good argument, so maybe I should…

    • Er, because I am finally old enough that I don’t require them! Carried a spare for a year just in case. And it would still fit in my current purse. Ah, the freedom now!

      Would you really need different products, i.e. could you take just one standard pad which would get you home or to a store?

  11. Cindy, I often don’t carry a handbag either. Just a small, zippered wallet which holds a lip gloss, credit card and driver’s licence, and has a key ring attached for my house and car keys. It can even fit my mobile phone in it, if I happen to carry it (don’t always take it with me). AFter years of lugging bulky handbags and baby bags around it feels great to be free!!

  12. BTW Colleen, a big THANK YOU to you on an earlier post about dyeing your much-loved shoes. I had a pair of great wedge-heeled brown sandals, but rarely wore them because I’m really a black clothes and shoe girl. Bought some shoe dye today and dyed them black and they look GREAT!! So for the princely sum of $9 I have a ‘new’ pair of shoes.

    • Hi Loretta,
      good for you and isn’t it so easy to apply. I was stunned and wondered why I hadn’t done something about it sooner. I bet you felt the same. You should have take some before and after pics to send to me. A friend asked me if my died shoes were new the other day and I was pleased to say no just revitalised. She was impressed. I told her if she wanted to give it a try I had some spare dye she could use.

  13. One tip I have learnt to manage the size of my handbag (purse) is smaller is better. This is simply because it can’t hold as much stuff. So while all my friends went to mega size bags over the last few years I’ve resisted the tempation and kept small. I noticed that mega bag girls kept including more and more stuff like umbrellas, books, etc and they quickly became VERY heavy.

    • Hi Gail,
      welcome to 365lessthings and thank you for leaving a comment. You and I think alike on this one. I also starting using only small bags some years back just for this reason. Unfortunately I have had to go to a slightly bigger bag to fit my glasses case in now that I need prescription glasses. I am not happy about this but that is life after 40.

  14. oo i’d like to say my handbag only has keys, phone, purse in it. but usually there is a book and/or camera as well. but that’s about it if i am only carrying a ‘handbag’, but usually its my school bag and has a lot more out of necessity. and i have given my pencil case for uni the minimalist overhaaul so it only has one pen, one pencil, a rubber and my usb-stick. brilliant!

    • Hi SSC,
      sometimes we are forced by necessity to carry more than we would like unfortunately. I love having a camera in my cell phone that eliminates one think I used to carry.
      Have I ever asked where you are from. I am compelled to ask this question because you referred to university as uni which is a term we use in Australia. I am not sure if other countries use the same term but I am pretty sure the USA doesn’t. You have me curious!