I desperately need help with my purse contents

marie26October 14, 2006

My purse is not that big nor is it heavy when empty. I don't work so there's nothing in it that is work-related. My shoulder hs been hurting lately so I decided to weigh my purse. It weighs 5 pounds. I obviously have a problem.

There are 8 1/2 x 11 pieces of paper of some medical things that I am presently taking care of and need them should I get a call on my cell phone while out. I know this sort of stuff should be in a notebook but some of it was given to me and I don't want to rewrite everything. There's also a little plastic holder with a bunch of addresses that I know I can put into a tiny address book. Then there's a very small wallet that holds plastic on both sides with a zippered middle. There's also some medications that I take and find it helpful to have them available in my purse. Besides these items, there's more paper, a few coupons, pens and I don't know what else without pulling it all out. My keys and cell phone are kept in there as well.

One of those foldable pocket things would not work for me because I know myself. I would not put things back in them.

I know a notebook would be a solution for me but every time I start one, I never keep it up.

I've always had this problem but lately it's been getting worse. I know that I cause these problems for myself but I really need to make my purse lighter.

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Maybe the issue is the shoulder strap. I have that much in my bag --all of those things, plus a book to read on the subway. I just weighed mine and it is between four and five pounds. Thirty years ago an exericse teacher saw me in the grocery story with a shoulder strap back and yelled at me right there that I would be sorry if I contined with that bag. I changed immediately and haven't looked back. (You can do forearm curls with your bag as you walk to add arm strength)

    Bookmark   October 14, 2006 at 10:13PM
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Elizabeth, what sort of shoulder strap should the purse have? Is there a link with a picture of one?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2006 at 10:36PM
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The things I do at 11:00 at night! Grabbed our postal scale and mine weight 2 pounds 13 ounces. It really bothers my shoulder at that weight and it's not a large bag.

I'd start by dumping it all out and seeing what you really have there. Evaluate what you have used in the last two weeks. Return that to your purse and weight it again.

If it is still over 3 pounds, I would spend some time searching for a lightweight nylon bag. Those backpack style ones are really popular here.

Nothing you listed sounds strange, but how many keys are on that keyring. I know some women have 20 keys on their ring. I have two. My car and my house. Everything else I leave in the house. I would probably make an extra copy of the medical papers and leave it in the car. If you get a call at the grocery store, you aren't going to pull that stuff out and start talking about it in public, so you could go to your car to retrieve it if needed and then you would have the originals at home if they called there. I don't carry an address book. Haven't needed it. Maybe make a list of phone #s you might need and slip it in the wallet.

I keep things like Tylenol and Tums in the car in case I need them while out. I'm usually pretty close to my car since I don't spend time at large malls. Can you keep just part of the medication in a baggie and not carry the bottles? I do keep a small paper pad in my purse so I can jot something down, but it's not an ongoing notebook. I just don't want to write stuff on the back of a receipt and then throw it away.

I'm always suprised at what ends up at the bottom. I'll think I have a pen and I really have 6 pens. I have to make myself go through my purse at least once a week and get rid of all of the paper crud and things which have landed in there. I'm also always suprised how much lighter it feels.

The next purse I'm going to spend some time getting something lighter than leather.


    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 3:19AM
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I don't "maintain" a purse. I have a small backpack (day hike size) that I carry when I need to take more than my wallet and cosmetic bag. This is what I carry to work every day and when traveling. The backpack can hold everything I need, and it's much easier to carry than a purse.

I have a lightweight nylon shoulder bag that I use when a purse is easier, but it probably weighs less than a pound with the stuff I normally put in it. When I'm traveling, I put it (empty) in my suitcase. It's certainly not stylish, but then, neither am I!

I realized a few years ago that I don't need to carry a checkbook anymore because I never write checks in stores, so I was able to scale down from a large wallet to a small change purse that has a pocket to tuck in my credit card, subway card, and ID. It's also small enough to put in my pocket if I don't need to carry anything more than that.

I don't like to keep any IDs or important papers in the car in case it is stolen or broken into (a not entirely unusual occurrence here, although it hasn't happened to my car yet). I even keep the car registration in my wallet. I only drive once or twice a week at the most anyway.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 10:31AM
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When I was carpooling to law school with a friend, she would start out each day with a bunch of pens and paper. By the end of the day I would end up with a bunch of pens (and we weren't in the same classes so they weren't necessarily hers) I have no idea how or where I acquire so much junk and stuff. I was mortified once in court when I had to find my bar card and pulled out a pacifier and two small cars. I was not a young mother so everybody laughed.
So now I dump all the contents of my purse into a box every other day, and purge! Otherwise I could play "lets make a deal" every day and win.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 11:27AM
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I bought a small bag with a shoulder strap. Got rid of my wallet. I keep bills folded. I bought a small men's billfold and use it for license, car registration, and credit cards. I clean it out at least once a week, dump out the coins and give them to my DH. He spends the change. I file any papers or receipts as needed. Most go in the famous "circular file."

    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 1:28PM
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For small items like a few pills, you may want to pick up some of the tiny plastic zipper bags that they sell at craft stores. I bought some of 2 different sizes for about $4 for travel packing and they are wonderful! You can even put several of the smaller ones (2" x 3") into one of the next size bigger ones (3" x 5").

I also empty my change every night - it really adds up in a year!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 10:31PM
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If you take the same medications everyday get one of those pill carriers that have the days of the week on them. They come in various sizes. Each compartment will hold all of what you need for the day. No need to carry a purse full of bottles.

If you carry medication that you only take 'when you need it' like pain pills for arthritis or something, keep them in a tiny platic zip bag BUT be sure to put the paper copy of the prescription, that the pharmacist gives you when you pick them up, *in the bag*, so that you always know what the pills are for and don't get them mixed up. This can also help if you are unconscious for some reason and the medical staff needs to know what drugs may be in your system and who your doctor is.

You say you have a cell phone. Most cell phones have a *notepad* and you can write down all the important things you need to remember and get rid of all that paper you are carrying around, and maybe the address book too.

If you have a car, just keep all of your big bulky things in the car in a nice neat little case and only take out what you are going to need, and keep it in your purse, like say sunglasses on a sunny day or your coupons only when you are going into the store. Leave everything else in your car in the case, if you are not going to be useing it. You probably don't need to bring your hairbrush and nail clippers with you into church. Think of your car as a big purse. :)

If you don't have a car the best thing is to get a lightweight backpack and check it everytime you leave your house to make sure you have what you need for the day and also are not lugging things that you will not use that day. Keep all you "purse stuff" in one spot, so everything you may need in your purse for the day is handy and can be grabbed quickly as you go out the door and what you don't need is still all together for when you may need it in your purse.

They make backpacks where the straps can be quickly converted so the thing looks like a normal purse for when you need to be 'stylish'.

Also check out the type of purse where the strap goes across your body and you wear it, keeping your hands free. Check out the men's departments at the stores that cater to younger men, they sell those types of "purses" because men carry so much more junk around these days like Blackberries and IPods and even hair styling products. Womens stores carry them too but they are harder to find there for some reason. Even consider getting a laptop carrier and use it as a purse. The weight is distriuted from the shoulder to the opposite hip balancing you.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2006 at 1:07AM
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Those are excellent ideas, Bud.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2006 at 6:58AM
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Bud, can I say that I really appreciated your "if you have a car / if you don't have a car" comments?

The times I get crabby on the forums are when people say things like "why don't you just keep it in your garage?" as though everybody's life is just like theirs.

Since I DON'T have a car (or at least, don't do any daily traveling in the car), I've switched to a small purse and a two-strap backpack.

I keep very little in my purse, and most of the bulkier stuff in the backpack.

I use a purse like Bud is talking about, with a cross-body strap. Then I don't take it off when I sit down to lunch (having had my purse stolen when I did that once).

I also switched purses lately, bcs the one I like wore out, and I've realized the PURSE ITSELF is quite a bit heavier. And bulkier, which i don't like either.

I'm on the lookout now for a purse just like my friends. She came to visit and I fell in love w/ her purse, I contemplated stealing it from her when she was leaving, or guilting her into giving it to me (can you say "thou shalt not covet?").

What I liked about it was that the wallet was part of the purse itself. I've considerd going that route, but then I thougt, "what would I put in the other compartment?" That other compartment is always too big, or I can't figure out how I'd utilize it.

This time, looking at my friend's small purse, I realized what I'd do. Put the inhaler inside, instead of in an outside pocket. (basically, all the "outside pocket" stuff wld go inside; and the wallet (which is my only " inside pocket" thing) would go in an outside pocket.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2006 at 9:43AM
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Jannie, thanks! I never thought about using a man's wallet! I was thinking this morning that I needed to get a creditcard case type thing to use and keep all my cards together in my purse. A regular sized lady's wallet is just too bulky/heavy, etc. I may try that idea. I've been keeping them in the zipper compartment of my purse, but they constantly get shuffled and then I have to look for a gas card, etc.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2006 at 3:42PM
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Here is another tip that may eliminate "purse clutter".....

If tiny things always find their way to the bottom of your purse and get lost, or you have to go digging, pulling everything out just to find something like a pen - use Velcro.

I could never find my pen or lighter in my backpack so I glued a tiny piece of Velcro on them and put the other side glued inside the backpack near the top opening. They don't fall to the bottom of the backpack and I always know where to grab them.

You can do this with your favorite lipstick or your reading glasses or address book. Just about anything and everything can be organized this way ready to be grabbed quickly out of a purse or backpack, without hardly even having to look for it.

Also consider buying TWO of things that you *always use*. One for your purse and one for at home. Extra reading glasses can be bought for $1 at those Dollar stores. Having an extra lipstick in the color you always wear, kept just for the purse, is worth the extra $ spent. That way you don't have to be runnng around your house trying to find everything you need and get it all together before you leave the house.

As I mentioned before, have just one spot where you keep all your 'purse stuff' ready to grab before you leave. I have a drawer just for things that I may or may not need when I leave the house. If I am not going shopping I don't take checkbook/credit cards/coupons. If it is not sunny I don't take sunglasses and sunscreen. I don't lug the keys to my parents house unless I am going over there to check on them. But having all these thing in *one spot* makes it a breeze to get ready and be organized and get out the door fast. >>>Resist the temptation to use your 'purse stuff' drawer as a JUNK drawer or catch all spot. That would defeat the purpose. You want to be organized and efficient. Your 'purse stuff' drawer has a *specific purpose* and no other.

You can streamline this method even further by getting those tiny, skinny, zippered nylon bags they sell in the cosmetic area, at stores. (They sell nice looking ones too, not just pastel flowered ones.) Keep all all your grooming products in one. Keep all you financial items in another. Your coupons and receipts in one. Glasses or contact lense stuff in another. Ect. Each bag is a different color/design and you just grab the bags you need for the day, knowing what is in each bag, and toss them in your backpack. This way, saves a lot of time rather than fiddleing through all the items in your 'purse drawer' and even keeps the drawer looking neat an not like a junk drawer. It keeps your purse/backpack looking neat too.

You could use the see though plastic kitchen baggies too. The advantage is that you can see what is in the bag and not have to remember what each color bag is for, but I like the 'neater look' of the nylon zippered bags in a backpack.

When you need an item out of your backpack you just grab "the blue bag" and know that your checkbook and ID and money and credit cards AND A PEN are all together in the little bag. This works for any grouping of related items together.

And as a previous poster mentioned - do not use a leather purse. Leather purses themselves weigh more than the new micro-fiber purses that they sell now. You can even get nylon lightweight wallets that look stylish and ditch the clunky leather one.

One disadvantage to a backpack is having to take it on and off everytime you sit down. The things that have the strap across the body are better but do not hold as much.

The backpacks with the convertable straps that convert to look like a purse, are nice, but harder to find in the stores But it is so much nicer to wear a backpack on the bus and for walking, and then quickly convert it so that you don't feel like a mule or a camel when you enter a posh restaurant. This goes for guys too. Backpacks do not look "professional". It is better to have something that converts to look like a lighweight briefcase when you arrive somehwere and you won't be mistaken for a homeless person or a student.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2006 at 4:55PM
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Thank you all for your advice. I'd already done some of the suggestions, such as different small nylon type holders organized for coupons, receipts, etc. I also have pockets in my purse where I keep my lipsticks.

Another problem area for me is carrying way too many business cards with me. They are in one of the outside pockets and I do refer to them when I am out, especially if I need to make a call to a business. I keep a phone book in the car but prefer to look for the business card first. Perhaps I should be putting the most used numbers in my cell phone since I always carry that with me in my purse. Or write all these into an address book.

I had given up on using a wallet a long time ago. I now use the credit card holder that came with my wallet. It has 2 pockets on either side of a zippered pocket. One of the outside pockets is covered with clear plastic so that I can show my driver's license without having to take it out.

I have a new leather purse that I haven't used yet but I think I'm going to look for a nylon one. Does anyone know if the nylon purses have pockets on the outside and inside like some leather purses?

    Bookmark   October 16, 2006 at 6:20PM
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Where in the U.S. are you? Because there are stores we could suggest that have purses you would like. But not if you are in some remote wilderness.
The way I solved the business card problem is that I print on three sheets, every single phone number I use; fax if they have it; cell also. Its in my computer and I update it regularly. I have one copy of that in my car, one on the wall at home, one in my desk, etc. If I am desperate I can turn on my computer and print another. Also I give a copy to my husband, one to my secretary, one to my Mom. So they know how to reach somebody on my listd. My Garmin GPS has a copy

    Bookmark   October 17, 2006 at 12:53AM
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Marie26, People come to this board for IDEAS to solve their problems. You are going to have to put *some* effort into getting done what you need to get done, to solve your purse dilemma.

Since you are on this site, you obviously can use a computer and search for purses that can be ordered online and shipped to you, or find stores in your area that carry them.

To answer your *very specific question*, yes, some microfiber purses do come with outside pockets.

Here is an example of a nice one that comes in either pink or black for $16.95 :


You can use Google to search for anything.

I like to use Shopzila.com to narrow my shopping searches down.

Here is what comes up using Shopzilla with the keywords 'microfiber' and 'purses':


You will see that the prices range from $11.00 to over $200.00, for hundreds of microfiber purses listed there from various stores. Thrift stores have them too, for under $1.00.

It took me under ten seconds, to search and find, the above $16.95 microfiber purse. I bet that you could find exactly what you need, and have it ordered and on it's way, in under 20 minutes.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2006 at 2:17AM
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bud, marie can come here and ask any question she would like. In any way she would like. Without judgement or someone being snarky.


    Bookmark   October 17, 2006 at 3:05AM
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I like "froogle.com" for shopping stuff.

But I'm trying to figure out what sort of term to use to find a purse that has that built-in wallet. I tried "wallet compartment," but wasn't sure that was working well.

AND....when I'm sick of publishing, I'm going to start a "custom handbag & wallet" company, and I'll MAKE Marie a purse out of lightweight nylon w/ pockets where she wants them. And I'll make one for me, too!

    Bookmark   October 17, 2006 at 9:32AM
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Off topic, I read about a company that "rents" expensive purses like Netflix for a monthly fee. You just return them when you tire of them.

Bud, I do live in a rural area and my local store is K-Mart. If I drive an hour I can go to a few more stores, but definitely not big city types with a huge selection of purses. A purse is something I prefer to try on my shoulder to see how it fits and looks. Besides, I want a new one because of the weight and it must have certain features as well. I can't be positive that anything I'd order over the internet would fit my criteria.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2006 at 12:45PM
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talley_sue, I typed in "wallet purse" into Google and got pages. The *first one on the list* was this one:


It looks kind of clunky to me but if you go to


(#2 on the Google search) you can browse through wallet purses of all sorts. Most are the "wallet on a string thingy" though but they do have the larger wallet purses.


Someone earlier mentioned useing a mens style wallet to reduce bulk in a purse. I would suggest rather getting what is known as a 'European slide wallet'. I have one and they are very thin and lightweight. They look good becasue they are made of very thin leather rather than nylon which looks too sporty for my tastes. They can be slipped into the inside pocket of a suit or slid into the back pocket of jeans or into the tiny inside pocket of a purse. They come in colors.

What is nice about slide wallets is that they have a *zippered coin compartment*, something that mens wallets do not have.

This is an example of how they look but is not the one I have. I got mine at TJ Max CHEAP.



I'm sorry if I came across as snarky in my previous post. I don't mean to stir anything up or make anyone feel bad. I wasn't very 'internet savvy either when I got my first computer. I know it takes time to get comfortable with the internet and doing searches.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2006 at 10:50PM
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Just to clarify...

"Froogle", that Talley Sue refers to, is different than "Google": It helps you find the bargains shoping online. (I've never used it, but this is what I've gathered from her posts over the last few years...)


    Bookmark   October 18, 2006 at 2:47AM
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I got my nylon purse at Old Navy a few years back. It cost about $14. They don't seem to have anything like it right now. This one is similar, but is larger than the one I have. It comes in several colors.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bag

    Bookmark   October 18, 2006 at 12:54PM
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The 'rental' site is bagborroworsteal. I think its geared towards the fashionistas.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2006 at 9:51AM
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You should check out this Website: for Le Sportsac purses (there are lots of styles and prints, but start by clicking on Le Sportsac Classic first). A wide variety of shapes, sizes, uses, colors and patterns throughout the Website. Some stores--like Lord & Taylor--sell them, too. (If you're lucky enough, there could be an outlet store near you; there's one at Woodbury Common outlets--an hour north of NYC.)

They are lightweight nylon and when traveling you can ball one up and throw it in a suitcase (all the better to pack your souvenirs in!).

Here is a link that might be useful: Le Sportsac purses

    Bookmark   October 21, 2006 at 8:29PM
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The only time I use a regular "Purse" is if I'm going to a concert or other "dress-up" event. I gave up on shoulder, clutch, carry bags etc years ago after having been mugged and the purses stolen. I now use a "fanny pack" which doesn't sit on my fanny but is up front where I can put my hands on it. I has 5 zippered compartments. In a flat side one I keep my DL and some ID's. In the Pouchy place I keep my coin purse which has side flaps to put bills in. I also keep one of those Hallmark calender things and one blank check and a couple of other -not flat- items. In the outside sipper I keep one credit card and 2 store cars (like Albertsons/Office Depot) which are used to get the discounts of the day.

In another section I keep my Sam's Club card and any gift cards I might need.
I like the security of having it always on me and easy to open/close. I carry no family photos and just a few emergency Tel numbers.
I've seen women open their wallets at a check out counter and they must have 15 CC's and a big fat Check book.
My car/house keys I carry in my pocket and my cell phone in my other pocket. I also have pinned down deep in one pocket a spare house and car key, in the event that I do misplace my keys.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2006 at 7:39PM
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Ever since I reach that realization: If men can survive with a wallet and a cell phone, so can I.

I have been using a leather wristlet instead of a purse for several years. I am on my second one from Coach. It has a main compartment and an outside pocket. In the main compartment, I have a traveler's check, some cash, one pen, a lipstick and a car key. Outside pocket I have a driver license and one credit card. I keep my cell phone in my pocket and house key in the car, and dump out receipts and loose changes several times a week. I don't miss using a purse at all.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2006 at 12:33AM
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Thank you everyone for your advice and links. When I get a chance, I will still look for a nylon purse but for now...

I cleaned out my purse and it's now 2 1/2 lbs. lighter. I got rid of the addresses holder and found a tiny, light address book to write all these scraps of paper into. There was hardly any change in there because I always put the change into a pocket. Since the weather's turned, I am now keeping my keys in the pocket. I took a week's worth of pills and put them into a plastic pill holder. I rewrote some of the large pieces of paper onto a couple of small post-it cards I'd found at Office Max. Since I did find a couple of items I'd been looking for recentely, the purse is definitely a black hole. I feel better knowing that others must clean theirs out on a regular basis.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2006 at 1:31PM
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you should look at www.joeyjunior.com, they have purse organizers that allow me to keep only what I really need in my purse and switch purses easily.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2006 at 4:32PM
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