Organizing Your Handbag…it can be done.

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Organizing your handbag…or what in the world was I thinking carrying all this stuff, and how can I find what I need?!  I happen to love purses, and have more than I can count (and I’m under-estimating this out of pure shame).  I prefer to carry a small clutch, which holds a small wallet, (think card case), my iPhone (I stopped carrying my 2nd phone,  the blackberry last year in an effort to ‘downsize”), 1 lipstick, 1 small pen, 5 business cards (which double as a note card if needed) and small pill-box to hold Aleve (darn knees), and an antacid (darn heartburn when I drink wine…I could stop drinking wine, but I choose to carry an antacid instead) and if I think I’m going to need them, reading glasses (darn my age) . That’s basically all I carry.  If I’m going on an appointment or travelling, I take a tote/laptop bag (which is actually a really cute, larger-sized purse) , in which to carry my iPad (or laptop depending on what’s needed), along with other essential items; (headphones, something to read, Sudoku  fast flats, notepad to jot down all my ground-breaking thoughts which are too many to put on those 5 business cards  and new screenplay ideas, extra pair of reading glasses and extra pair of sunglasses).


I know many women would consider what I carry in my “tote”, basics they carry with them every day.  Reminds me of Michelle Pfeiffer in the movie, One Fine Day with my next husband, George Clooney…where she had basically everything a child or woman would need in her purse.  Those who know me understand I do not like to carry things that are heavy…when I travel or go on appointments, these items would feel to me “heavy”.  Hence, I like to carry a small purse.  I throw my small purse into my tote, when I need more than my usual fab 5 items and all is well.


I couldn’t make up my mind between the black and pink tote, so I got both of them.  Not the meaning of Frugal is the new Black…so clearly wasn’t following my own mantra.  But I do love the pink one as well!

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And the small clutch, which I throw into my tote…I think the small clutch’s need to have a bit if zip…so I like a bit of sparkle or metallic.



The key to handbag organizing is to categorize items, and in such a way so you can see them.  There are “handbag organizer”s  which I thought was just another gimmick, and only decided to try one when I got 2 off Groupon for less than $10 apiece.  I’m happy to report, they really work.  I throw that in my tote/laptop bag and it has many, many handy compartments that divide and conquer the contents of the purse/tote.  You can throw that in the larger bag, and You are organized.


That being said, there are many other ideas in which to organizer your handbag, and ideas that are far better than what I do.  The internet (and Pinterest) is chockfull of great ideas and visuals…and 2.5 years into this, we know I like nothing more than perusing for ideas for my blog…

If your bulging bag has worn a groove in your shoulder, and it’s so overfilled that it takes you forever to find your car keys, it’s time for a handbag makeover.

“The biggest mistake is that people carry everything in their purse,” says Anne McAlpin of

McAlpin, a packing expert who has developed her own line of travel products, says that most women (moms especially) should regularly empty out their purse, figure out what they really need and don’t need, and then repack it. Here are her top five tips for keeping purses well-stocked and organized.

Choose the right design.

McAlpin likes purses with long shoulder straps, which can be worn across the body. Zippers are good for keeping things contained when your bag flips upside down as you’re bending over to retrieve a sippy cup or strapping a young one into the car seat. Outside compartments are useful for quick access to cell phones or water bottles, while a large, open interior without too many compartments provides the flexibility to organize your bag to suit your own needs. Look for light-colored linings, which make it easier to see the contents. And a built-in key fob is handy for easily fishing out your keys—helpful in a rush.


Make your own compartments.

McAlpin uses several Ziploc® Brand Storage Bags to divide and organize the interior of her purse. “You can see what’s in them, and they’re easy to pull out,” she says. Fill one with items for your kids (a change of clothes or a spare diaper) and one with your own necessities. compartmentalized. Buy those cheap clear plastic or mesh cosmetic bags from the drugstore, Ziploc bags, or small satchels, and break up your belongings into three categories of the everyday essentials: money, personal care, and communication tools.


Keep smaller items handy.

Ziploc® Brand Storage Bags are just the right size for stashing a few dollar bills and quarters so you’re not caught unprepared for parking meters and valets. They’re also great for storing personal-care items like lip gloss, feminine products or travel-size hair spray and for corralling receipts or coupons. Tote along a few empty Ziploc® Brand Storage Bags of all sizes for everything from packing up a half-eaten granola bar to storing soiled clothes. (And thank you Kathy P for mentioning that no fashion diva or southern belle should be putting anything in a ziploc baggie…that is why I, use these clear bags from Neiman marcus).


Don’t carry what you don’t need.

Are you really going to have time to read that heavy book you’ve been lugging around? Be realistic about what you actually need during your day; leave the rest in your car or substitute lighter, more compact versions. For instance, carry a travel hairbrush or comb instead of your full-size brush.

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Leave gift cards and unnecessary credit cards at home too, unless you know you’ll need them. This’ll slim down your wallet and help you avoid the temptation to spend needlessly.

Unless you write checks on a regular basis while shopping, don’t carry your checkbook in your purse. Instead, stash one check in your wallet with a sticky note on it. If you need to use the check, jot the amount on the sticky note and then register it in your checkbook when you get home.

Hop on the technology bandwagon.

Today’s latest cell phones have a slim profile and multiple functions and features. A single device can act as your calendar, photo album, memo pad, shopping list, MP3 player and GPS device—not to mention your cell phone. There are apps that take away the need to carry every store loyalty card.  I use Card Star, which stores my Mariano’s, Jewel, Sephora, and other loyalty cards.  I haven’t found one yet that stores gift cards, or one that does so efficiently, and am still on the look out for that.


From WikiHow… Step by step tips to organizing your purse

1.  Empty the bag’s contents on to a flat surface. Sometimes it’s best to do this by taking the items out one at a time so that the makeup does not open and make a large mess all over the surface.

2. Separate the contents into two piles: Things you must have in your purse and things you don’t need.

3. Place your shadow and blush cases in the pockets if you have any. It’s always best to use the pockets so you have more space to put other things.

4. Zip any ‘personal’ items away in a zipper pocket inside the purse. That way they’re out of sight.

5. Store other small items in the other zipper that is usually located on the front of the purse, sometimes it’s Velcro, button, or there’s none at all. You can store mp3 players, cells (although there’s usually a pocket for that),mints/gum, a mirror, etc…

6. Put your wallet and anything else nicely in the main part of the purse.

7. now have an organized pocketbook!


11 purse must-haves

Here are Anne McAlpin’s suggestions for “can’t-live-without” handbag necessities
My thoughts are in italics
1. A small bottle of water – Um, no…not necessary, unless on long trip
2. Travel pack of tissues – indeed during allergy season
3. Lip balm – Yes!
4. Gum or mints – Yes!
5. A capped pen and small notebook – for all those ground breaking ideas!
6. Antibacterial hand wipes (good for disinfecting shopping cart handles and other surfaces) – for those germaphobes.
7. A small pair of fingernail clippers – no…I mean, really?
(doubles as a scissors for clipping stray threads or removing plastic clothing tags)
8. A tiny keychain-flashlight – probably Not necessary
9. A granola bar or 100-calorie snack (try making your own using Ziploc® Brand Snack Bags) – for long car rides
10. Sunglasses and/or reading glasses – Yes, yes, Yes
11. Travel case of aspirin or other medicines needed during the day  – yes, and put them in cute pill box

What should I have in my handbag – I think these ideas are more practical…

A wallet or a small pouch for currency, credit cards and identification are “musts” for every handbag. Many women choose to carry a small cosmetic pouch for touch-ups on the go. You’ll want a place for your mobile phone, sunglasses and/or reading glasses. It’s also a good idea to carry supplies such as medication, bandages, tissues and antibacterial wipes.



What should I leave out of my handbag?

Full-size bottles, tubes or a large hair brush are too big and take up too much space inside a handbag. Use travel-sized bottles and opt for a folding hairbrush instead.  Does anyone really still carry a hairbrush?   Of course, looking at my locks as of late, I probably need to be quiet regarding this.  

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These are a few other tips I found at Good Housekeeping:

Keep vs. Toss

Toss the heavy metal. Empty coins weekly into a pretty jar, and convert them into bills at your grocery store or bank. You’ll be surprised how much extra cash you had stashed and how much lighter your purse becomes.  Use a cute chain purse when you receive change back, then weekly (or less if you have lots o’change) and put it into a change-holding area.  We turn our change in several times a year, and do something fun with the money.

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Keep copies at home of the cards and IDs that are in your wallet. Since you’re already cleaning out your bag, photocopy these, so you’ll know whom to call and what to cancel if the originals are lost or stolen.

Toss the makeup counter’s worth of products you’re carrying back into your home cosmetics stash. On-the-go beauty supplies will be much handier to grab if they fit into a single pouch or baggie. Opt for travel-size products, or decant your favorite lotion or hairspray into travel containers.

Key to Success

A slim key-chain wallet works double time, holding both your keys and your most used items: driver’s license, debit card, one or two credit cards, work ID, insurance card, and cash (stow the rest in a larger wallet or planner to take with you as needed). It’ll make switching bags or making a quick purchase a breeze. To prevent the wallet from sinking into the black hole of your bag, pick up an inexpensive key-chain clip (find one at any hardware store or camping outlet), and get in the habit of snapping it onto a purse strap so you can always find it.


Attention, errand runners: You won’t overstuff your satchel (or waste a plastic bag) if you keep a collapsible tote in your purse. Try the Envirosax, $8; it holds as much as two small shopping bags. 

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Receipt Wrangler – Manage receipts, coupons, and other wadded messes by designating a spot like a mini accordion organizer for stashing them until you’re ready to deal with them (preferably before the organizer no longer closes). 


Read more: Organizing Your Purse – How to Organize Your Handbag – Good Housekeeping

Ask any woman and she’ll tell you keeping her handbag stocked with only the essentials is a daily challenge. Follow these tips to make keeping your handbag organized a cinch!

How often should I clean out my handbag?

Cleaning out your purse once a week will allow you to maintain your handbag organization. Try and make it part of your Sunday night routine, which will help you start the week organized.

Use a lint roller as handbag cleaner.  This is a nifty tip!

clean purse with lint roller


store gift cards by punch-holing and putting on ring





Some Handbag Eye Candy






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It’s exhausting, isn’t it?  Welcome to my world!  🙂

Coming  Monday, for MANic Monday…Let’s hear it for the Boys…all things Stylin’ for our Men!  I do believe I had more fun putting that together, then I did writing about savvy packing tips. 😉

Guess who is coming home for the summer?  Mer Mer!  2nd. Best. Summer. Ever!

Mer and Murph

This must be the place, by Talking Heads!!!  Home…is where I’d rather be…:)

Bulls and Hawks both in the Playoffs…This is gonna be a great month, as long as the Bulls take down the Nets!









  1. As you know Terry O, I have used a “wristie” for the last few years….and admittedly, perhaps the same ONE for summer, the OTHER for winter 🙂 Happy to say that even I splurged for a new Kate Spade yellow print for the spring…and couldn’t be happier!! Also bought a RL PINK tote at TJMaxx that I put my snappy new clutch into on appointments. One revision from the “said organizer maven”…not even I would use a zip lock bag for anything…plenty of cute colored bags with zippers out there for simple organization. Also can’t get enough of my Kate “sparkle bag” from a certain someone for my birthday !!! YUM ! Love the blog…it ALWAYS makes me laugh!

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