Saturday, December 1, 2012

How to organize your purse?

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 My work requires that we carry transparent plastic totes when checking in.  Though they are great for security reasons, they do not offer much for privacy. If you are like me, you probably carry a ton of stuff with you at all times, some of which you may use often, other things you may carry around for those "just in case" moments, whether they did occur in the past or not. In any event, us ladies are always prepared! 

I found myself tired of moving endless junk from one purse to the other, never mind fumbling around to look for keys or that one lip balm that fell at the bottom. After much youtube research (there appears to be a large demand for that type of videos) and consideration, I did come up with a system that allows me to cover all the basic needs, while maintaining order.  The best, of course, is my ability to switch bag, regardless of size in less than one, yes one, minute!

Keep reading if you want to unburden your life!

This is the purse I carry during the Fall and Winter seasons (alas I do not own a lot of purses, so I do care for the ones I have). I love this purse because it comes with feet at the bottom, it is large enough inside to carry all my stuff, and  has handles that have great shoulder length but are not so long that I cannot hand carry it. It was a Christmas gift from my husband, some three years ago, and I think it was a QVC purchase

I do not care for purses that have a lot of pockets and zippers. I never find what I am looking for because I can never remember which pocket holds what. They also tend to look bulky and  to me that is just neither attractive, nor functional. So a tote style with only one zipped pocket for keys inside, is all I need.  Of course you can adapt whatever organizational system I keep to your purse style since I keep everything compartmentalized. Here is the inside of my purse with all the stuff I carry on a daily basis (in my clear plastic tote, it would fit just the same, only security checks do not get to see all my personal belongings unless they request I open things for them).

I keep my keys in the zipper pocket and the phone in the little pouch on the side so that not only can I reach for it easily, I can actually hear it too!

I do not keep anything loose in my purse, everything is either an individual item (wallet , etc.) or contained in one of the two pouches. Here is the content of my purse:

I am going to go through each individual item to show you how I organize things and why I am doing it this way. let's start with the wallet which is the first item on the bottom left.

I used to carry around one of those wallets that had two sides, one zipped side for cash and coins and another one which would carry a ton of cards, the checkbook , etc. It was so big it almost looked like a clutch. Half of the time I was not able to close it completely and there were so many reward and bank cards that the card slots had become loose and cards would slide out. It also took too long to open, put stuff back in, not to mention all the receipts popping out from the sides. So I switched to a slim profile wallet. This one is from Target (I think it was under $15). I like it because it has a turn key which makes it more secure. Everything I need is in there. To reduce bulk, I moved reward cards to another location, and only keep a few detached checks instead of the entire checkbook. (BTW, I blurred or removed the private information in this picture.)

From the sides it is very slim. I also no longer keep change over two dollars in coins in this wallet, mainly because I keep them in my car instead (for the tolls) - No need for a coin purse.

I switched to a slim profile wallet instead of the old two zipper/flaps wallet.
Since I removed all my store cards and reward cards from my old wallet, I needed a new place for them. So I found this business card holder:

There is no reason for me to carry all my store reward or store cards in my wallet. If we go to dinner for instance and only need my wallet, why would I want to carry all that junk with me? The card carrier is slim enough that it does not take much room in my bag, I chose to leave it standing but I could also lay it flat at the bottom of my purse. Either way, when I go to a store and need their card, I can easily retrieve it from this holder rather than pulling out one card at a time from my old wallet until I find the right one. I also organized the cards by frequency of use, Barnes and Noble taking the front seat here!

The next item is my personal planner. I used to carry a size A5, which is more like a 8.5 x 6 in. While it allowed for more writing space, it became very bulky as well and not easily transferable to a smaller purse. So while I was purging the office some time ago, I came across Scott's old Filofax which is a "personal" size (3 3/4 x 6 3/4). I did have to adjust to the smaller size (I tend to write in big letters) but overall, this is actually making a big difference, both in weight and in bulk.

On the front, I keep a plastic pouch with small sticky page markers. These are my "school is closed" markers. It allows me to remember those days when childcare is needed. (Leave a comment at the end of this post if you want to find out more about planner organization).

Next, is my coupon and receipt file. This one is the best I could find. It is from the Martha Stewart Avery Collection (Staples). I love this coupon file because it is actually smaller than the other kinds and has this built in large elastic ribbon to keep it compact inside my purse. Though I am big on using coupons, I do not keep grocery coupons here (I have a binder for that). Instead, I use this coupon file for store coupons in the like of a 40% off one item at Michael's , etc. Most of the coupons I keep here are from the school's Kids Stuff and Entertainment Coupon Books. But whenever I find a store coupon, it goes in here and there is a reason for that:

Martha Stewart's Coupon file has a built in large elastic to keep the file
compact and easier to carry inside your purse.

I never remembered what store coupons I had nor did I have a good place for them to go (my coupon binder is way too big to carry around every time we go shopping). There have been countless times when we purchased something only to return home and find a coupon we could have used. So now, my store coupons travel with me. I keep them in the back of the file but in the front, I place all my receipts. At the end of the week, I empty the front pockets and go over the budget. No more receipts all over the place, if I want to return something that same week, for whatever reason, I can find the receipt right away too!

On to the pouches. I purchased a set of three cosmetic pouches from TJ-Maxx. I think they were $9.99 for the pack of three. Though it may seem  that I carry only two, the third and smaller one is actually inside the larger pouch (more on that later).

Pouch #1 (Medium Size) is my Walking Pharmacy:

I do not need to carry my Walking Pharmacy at all times but it does come to work with me. Otherwise, if I am simply on quick errands and not far from home, I can easily leave this pouch at home and put it back inside my purse at a later time.

Here is what I carry in my Walking Pharmacy (these are all travel sizes when applicable):

  • Dental Hygiene: Oral B Glide (best floss on the market), Scope mouth wash, Wisp one use toothbrushes (great in a pinch) they come in packs of four and have the toothpaste already pre loaded. Since I coupon, this was all free stuff!
  • Medicine/First Aid: I keep a travel size Advil for headaches, when it is empty or near empty I simply refill it from the larger bottle I keep home. Alka Seltzer Cold & Cough (I keep two single packs), Some Band Aids, my rescue inhaler (I keep another one in the car), a small container of Prid Drawing Salve (in case I have a cut), some throat and cold homeopathy granules, Tissues and Q tips.
  • Others: I keep a bottle of hand sanitizer (this one is from CVS in Pomegranate and Apple scent, probably the one that smells the least like alcohol), Shout wipes in case of an explosive bottle of Ketchup and a box of small Altoids mints.
Again, because I keep all of this in a separate pouch I can decide whether to take it with me or leave it home, I do not have to pare down nor reconsider anything as I am heading out the door.

Pouch #2 - The large Pouch:

This one contains items I probably would use everyday on the go, and it also includes Pouch #3: my cosmetics pouch.

Inside my large pouch, aside from my small cosmetic pouch, I keep various cosmetic and miscellaneous items:

  • Simple face wipes, which I also use for my hands. 
  • More Kleenex, in case the Walking Pharmacy was left home.
  • Burt's Bee Cuticle cream in the travel size tin (awesome product).
  • A mini lint roller/remover (two dogs, one cat)
  • Pack of gum (if I do not have the Altoids from the Walking Pharmacy).
  • Hand Lotion (Carmex - my favorite) and instead of a scent spray, I use this sample of Calvin Klein Euphoria lotion, it smells great and acts just like perfume.
  • A manicure kit.
  • A retractable makeup brush and a folding hair brush by Conair.
  • Post it pads and a pen.
  • And of course the smaller pouch with my makeup stuff.
I found this manicure case at Harmon Cosmetics for under $5.  It is small, slim and takes little room inside the pouch. Better yet, it has all the essential for grooming.

This below is an awesome find! Post-It makes these plastic envelopes (they come in a pack of two) that have an adhesive back and a small velcro flap on the front. I use the envelope for a large post it memo pad and a pen. The envelope has a stick back that can peel off easily so what I do is stick the entire envelope to the inner lining of the large pouch, it is not in the way and stays put. When I need to write something and I do not have my planner with me, I simply open this envelope and grab a sticky note!

In Pouch #3, I keep my essential makeup touch up. Some girls keep a lot of makeup with them, I really do not care for that but since I do have to attend meetings and what not, I need to at least appear refreshed after lunch hours. This is what I keep in this small pouch, small enough to fit in the large one:

Small cosmetic pouch fits inside the large one.

This is all I need:

  • Mary Kay blotting tissues.
  • Estee Lauder Face Powder - great coverage (I use the retractable brush to reapply instead of the sponge thing that came with it).
  • One eye Liner and one lip liner (these are Mary Kay and pretty small in size)
  • I keep two lip products, not lipsticks, only tinted lip balms, one is a Mary Kay tinted lip balm in Rose and if I need something a bit darker I keep a Sally Hansen Collagen treatment in Toffee.
  • I have a mini blush from Cover Girl (blush does not stay very long on me, so I need to reapply throughout the day otherwise I look like death).
  • I also keep one concealer in buff (CoverGirl) and one small tube of Mary Kay Yellow concealer in case of a blemish alert.
  • Mascara (also a Mary kay).

So, this is what I keep in my purse, it is a lot of stuff but again, because it is compartmentalized everything is easy to find, retrieve and transfer.

If we go out for dinner, all I would need is my wallet and small makeup pouch (less than 30 seconds to grab). If we go to the mall, I would probably remove the walking pharmacy and planner, again less than 30 seconds. For a quick run for milk, all I need is my wallet. There is no looking for stuff, emptying the entire content of the purse on a chair or at a restaurant table to find that one card at the bottom. I also keep everything discreetly out of sight so no one can see what's in my purse, another bonus!

This is how I organize my purse, it took me years to figure this out, I guess it is never too late. I am hoping I offered a few valuable hints and tools in this post. As always, feedback is welcome, you can comment below or join my page on FACEBOOK and feel free to ask, request or comment just as well.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.
Sophia, NJ.


  1. As a busy mom and organizing nut I love this idea. As a Mary Kay lady I love seeing all those products!!!

  2. Thank you for this. Just bought a new large bag and don't want it to end up like all my other 'trash bags'.

  3. Add a pocket knife and a flashlight :)

  4. Great ideas! I'm going to use them, thanks!

  5. Perfect, do the planer organization.

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I welcome your feedback and comments. If you have a question or a specific request, do not hesitate, I am here to help! Thanks, S.

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