Saying Goodbye to the Over-Stuffed Handbag: Simplify Your Purse

My purse used to be so cluttered! Now I like to keep the contents of my purse simple, with just a few essentials. This is a great post for decluttering your handbag!

This post is part of the Monday series on simplifying that inspired my book, Your Simple Home Handbook. The series began with 10 Reasons to Start Simplifying Now.

Today’s simplifying mission isn’t difficult. You’re not going through your wardrobe or braving the the dark recesses under the bathroom counter. You’re just making your life a bit more organised, a bit calmer, by simplifying the contents your purse.

Why do our purses need simplifying?

Because even as small as they are, purses can collect clutter just like any other area of our lives. And of course, some purses aren’t small in the least(: Which means they collect even more clutter.

A cluttered purse isn’t stylish, and it weighs you down. Ask your chiropractor if lugging around a heavy purse is a good idea! Betcha he’ll say “no!”

Before you sort the contents of your purse, decide if you have too many purses to begin with. Keep the ones that are the most versatile for what’s in your wardrobe, and consider getting rid of the more “seasonal” handbags, unless there’s one that you truly love.

Now, empty the contents of your purse(s).

Sort to one side the items that you need to bring with you every time you leave the house. For me, that usually means these items:

  • sunglasses
  • iPhone
  • keys
  • card carrier
  • lip color/balm

A couple of those items happen to be multi-functional, which is handy. My iPhone is also my camera, and my lip balm serves as my lipstick. Oh, and I usually carry some tissues.

It’s hard to be disorganised when there isn’t much to keep in order in the first place! Your purse will be organised if the contents are minimal.

If you only own one purse that you take everywhere, then put those essential items back inside. Put everything else back in its proper place around the house.

If you own–and frequently use–more than one purse, put every item in its place around the house and keep your purses empty when they’re not in use.

The latter course of action is the one I take. Before I leave the house, I pull out the purse that matches my outfit and “pack” it with only the essentials that I’ll need for that particular excursion.

Does that sound like a hassle? It’s not, in fact.

But do you know what is a hassle? Digging through overstuffed handbags trying to remember which one I left my keys in!

I’ve found that it’s simpler to grab what I need on the way out the door with my habitual mental checklist: keys, wallet, phone.

Granted, an all-day excursion calls for more items in your bag. But they should still be “essentials”–things you know you’ll use. When I pack a shoulder bag or tote for a day out I might add a water bottle, a book, or a few homemade granola bars.

When I return home, it just takes a few seconds to unpack my purse and stash it with my other purses. If you only own one purse and opt to keep your essentials inside, be sure to unpack any “extras” that have found their way in–receipts, candy wrappers, random pretty stones (yes, I do pick those up!).

Here are the basics to keep in mind as you simplify your purse:

  • A simple purse is organized.
  • A simple purse carries the necessities.

[question]What does the inside of your purse look like? Any receipts from last month’s grocery trip in there?(: [/question]

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Do you want lots more simple living ideas? Check out my brand new book! Your Simple Home Handbook is a 100+ page guide to decluttering your home and simplifying your stuff. Work through 30 different areas of your home–at your own pace–and enjoy the benefits of a space that breathesClick here to learn about my book!


  1. I love this idea. I carry about the same but struggle with my small wallet. I can’t decide if I need one big enough for cash and change or just the few cards that I carry. What do you suggest?

    1. I just use a slim card case (the cloth one in the picture), because I rarely carry much cash on me. If I do need to bring cash, I can fold a couple of bills or put some coins in the card case.

  2. I kept only two full purses and a wristlet. One purse is black leather, the other is a beige patchwork fabric bag. The only criteria for my purse is that it must be large enough to hold my oversized over-the-glasses sunglasses.

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