Stop carrying around so much stuff! Here are my small purse essentials, plus seven tips to help lighten your load and take a weight off your shoulders—literally!
Okay, ladies. WHY do we carry around so much? I’m a self-professed light-packing guru and I still drag so much around with me on a daily basis. Here’s my bag. I wish the photo had something for scale—it’s an enormous bag.
Ryan refers to my purse as The Abyss and if I ask him to get something out of it, he gets a look on his face like maybe he’ll lose a few fingers to the gremlins that live in there. Recently I’ve gotten tired of lugging so much around. My shoulder is sore, receipts seem to multiply faster than rabbits, I can never find my keys, and even though it’s the size of a small suitcase, I still manage to, say, leave it at Alberto’s Mexican Food after stuffing my face with a plate of tacos and Mexican rice (That did not happen the other night. Nope.).
Here’s what was in it (totally unedited—it’s about to get real around here.)
What’s In My Purse?
- My regular glasses
- My sunglasses+ case (note my sunglasses weren’t even in the case — bad Cori)
- My phone
- My driver license renewal paperwork (it’s been in there for months)
- Our marriage license (for changing the name on my car’s title)
- A recipe for tzatziki
- A coupon for JoAnn
- Five pens
- Spare change
- Gift cards
- My wallet with a billion cards (the case with the sunglasses on it)
- Hair tie and bobby pins
- A bag of trail mix
- My health insurance card which somehow escaped the wallet
- A book
- Old receipts
- Business cards
- Keys to my Mini Cooper, house, studio, and various other places
- Key to the Volvo, with my Snape keychain
Good. Ness. Gra. Cious.
So I’ve decided to drastically cut back to just my small purse essentials. I’ve seen a lot of posts on how to organize the stuff in my purse, but not how to carry less overall. So this is my attempt to cut back and live more simply with my shoulder bag.
I’m not sure how this will work when we have kids someday, but for now my shoulder needs a rest. There’s no reason to carry around so much stuff!
Seven Tips for a Lighter Purse
1. Get rid of the cards
First of all, I could probably live free for a month off the number of gift cards I had floating around in my purse.
That’s not to mention debit and credit cards, loyalty cards, health insurance cards, cards, cards, cards. I went through and figured out what was absolutely essential and only carry those cards now. In most instances, stores can use my phone number to look up my loyalty account — no need to carry around those cards. I know my 16-digit library card number and my medical record number by heart. Gift cards went in a red case in a dish by the front door so Ryan and I could sort through them to find something for date night, instead of having them languish in the back of my wallet.
2. Carry a smaller wallet
My wallet with the camera on the front had six hundred slots for cards, thirteen dividers, a check book, and four places for pens. Now I carry around a hardcase wallet. It holds what I need — and I can’t stuff much else in there and have it still shut. Keeps me from overloading my wallet with, well, anything. I ended up with my driver license, two credit cards (one personal, one business), my ATM card, my IKEA family card (since we’re over there all the time during this remodel), and my Starbucks card (hiding my driver license, so y’all can’t stalk me.) These are some great hardcase wallets.
3. Carry nothing “just in case”
Are you always carrying around an umbrella just in case? A bag of trail mix? Four kinds of pens? A bottle of Advil? A flashlight? One time a friend unearthed a can of Progresso soup from the depths of her purse! One of the tenets of living a more simple life is trusting in having less. You can survive with less. If you haven’t used it in the last three months, it’s gone. Or go cold turkey — only carry the bare essentials for a week. You’ll find a burden lifted from your shoulders. And should it rain? Dance in it instead!
In my purse I ended up with:
- My smaller wallet
- Business cards
- Keys I use on a regular basis
- Sunglasses (in their case)
- Regular glasses
That. Is. It. These are my small purse essentials.
4. Tame the receipts
I am not a receipt collector. I don’t use them in my budgeting. The only receipts I keep are for things I may want to return. Other receipts in my purse are basically trash. Why am I carrying around a bag of trash? Instead, whenever I get a receipt, I immediately trash it. I have no time for sorting through receipts!
5. Carry a smaller purse
I used to have the motto that I’d never carry around a purse that wasn’t big enough for a book. But guess what? Even though I often have a book in my purse, I rarely read it these days. I can read on my phone, and my kindle is pretty small if I do want to throw something light in my bag to read. Get a purse that only accommodates the essentials. Carrying around an enormous purse is only asking for unnecessary items. There are a ton of cute small purses.
6. Try the “two bag” philosophy
I finally figured out that I need two bags. I need a small purse with the essentials, but I still have a lot of stuff I need to lug back and forth between my house, running errands, and my studio. So I have a second bag for these things — sometimes I use a big quilted bag I made a while back, and sometimes I use a backpack. Nothing actually lives in this bag, but it’s perfect for toting items back and forth in the short term. Need to bring something to a friend? It goes in the errand bag. Have a file of coupons? Errand bag. Want to bring my laptop to work? Errand bag. Want some knitting while waiting for a doctor’s appointment? Errand bag. It’s so much better than trying to lug all that around in my day-to-day handbag.
A diaper bag totally counts as a separate bag — you shouldn’t have anything in your purse that truly belongs in the diaper bag.
7. Clean out your purse regularly
No matter what you do, there’s a good chance things are going to get messy in your purse. Instead of making it a once-a-year cleaning, dump out your purse once a week or so and get it back down to the small purse essentials!
Have any tips for carrying around less? Moms — what do you do to save your shoulders?