Weekend Project: Clean Out Your Purse

I haven’t yet shared my New Year’s resolutions here on Modern Eve. I have a lot. I am a little addicted to self-improvement and I love a good challenge. This year, in addition to many other things related to my health, selfishness and financial stewardship, I am continuing on my quest for simplicity, even *gasp minimalism.

I’ve always appreciated organization. I used to sort my Halloween candy as child. I worked for several years at The Container Store. I have annual garage sale and purge all duplicates or anything that doesn’t have a proper place in my house. Oh, and I once cried over the beauty of a well-organized laundry room in a magazine. Seriously. And yes, I know that one’s weird. I blame hormones or maybe a broken heart, I can’t remember.

Needless to say, I crave less clutter. And I know many of you do, as well. So I’m inviting you to come along on this little journey with me. Each Friday, I will be sharing a “Weekend Project” to help us weed through the material junk in our lives, prioritize and execute lingering tasks and pursue more mindful living and consumption.


For our first project, I am starting with something quick and easy, but can make a huge impact in our daily stress – cleaning out your purse! Wouldn’t we all like to carry a lighter load, literally. Above are all the items left in my purse post-Weekend Project #1 and below and a list of steps to follow, if you chose. Good luck!

1. Dump your purse on the table, bed or floor.

2. Sort all scraps of paper, trash receipts. Throw away the trash.

3. If you keep receipts (I recommend only keeping ones you may need to return something from. For example, you can throw away dining and grocery receipts) put them away in a zipper envelope, accordion file, etc. in your filing cabinet, office, desk or extra kitchen drawer. We’ll get to receipts / financial statements on another Weekend Project, but for now, at least get the out of your purse.

4. Sort out all make-up, lotions, etc. Keep a maximum of two lip glosses (I suggest only one) and one lip balm or ChapStick. Keep any other make-up essentials you actually use when away from your house. For me, that’s blush (and a mini brush), concealer, a highlighting pencil, blotting papers and hand lotion. Return everything else to your bathroom or vanity.

5. Find a small zipper pouch to put all of your make-up in. You can also add a small mirror and other toiletry essentials (Only items you actually use away from the house!) I have a couple of band-aids because I hate getting blisters. You might also have a stain pen, hand sanitizer, medicine, tampons or breath strips.

6. Find your keys. Make sure they’re on a good keychain that is easy to grab from your purse. I love my large tassel c/o Freshly Picked.

7. Remove everything from your keychain except your house key, work key or fob, and car key. Keys to second homes can be kept on separate keychains. Retailer rewards cards can be added to my all-time favorite phone app, CardStar. The only exception is if you have a keychain card case. We’ll talk about those in step eight.

8. Take everything out of your wallet(s). Everything. Repeat steps two and three. Remove any old credit cards, empty gift cards, your old student ID, unused retailer rewards cards, your Blockbuster card (yes, it’s the end of an era), etc. Add retailer cards to CardStar and throw your unused cards away (make sure to shred your credit cards). Also, add change to a piggy bank, minus a maybe few helpful quarters.

9. I actually recommend having two wallets. One large wallet that holds my checkbook, minimal loose change, my Costco membership card, my company credit and debit cards, my health insurance card and gift cards. I have a smaller card case that holds my driver’s license, my personal credit and debit cards, and some business cards. The large wallet always stays in my large handbag, but the small card case switches between that and my small clutches and cross-body bags.

10. Choose one pair of sunglasses and a protective case to keep in your purse. Put the others away with your jewelry and accessories or in your car (I also recommend you choose only one pair for each car).

11. Of course, your cell phone will often be in your purse.

12. A pen is also helpful to keep in your purse. Not pictured.

13. Lastly, remove anything else that has unnecessarily taken up residence in your handbag – scarves, drive-thru cups, earrings, old books, golf balls, etc. Put these items away, immediately.

14. Put everything back in your purse and enjoy!

Obviously, I want to keep a light purse. There are many other items that are commonly found in a handbag. When making decisions about these items, I ask two questions: 1) Can I meet the same need with my iPhone?  I don’t need a little notebook or my Bible, when I can access those items digitally. 2) Will I be able to find this item while I am out, if I need it? If I really need a tissue, I will be able to find one. I also keep tissues in my car, which we’l talk about during another Weekend Project. But, by all means, if there are other items you just MUST have in your purse (especially you moms), keep them. In fact, I’d love to hear about them! Leave me a comment or tweet at me. Use #wkndproject and show me pictures of your organized purse!

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  • hithaonthego

    What a genius idea! I’m definitely doing this weekend project. Thanks for this new series!

  • Shelby Foster

    Wait Katie I LOVE this new series! I am obsessed with organization, and equally obsessed with hearing about how other people organize their things. I got a new purse for Christmas and there’s already a bajillion receipts in there. Gotta get em out! I can’t wait for future posts like this!

  • http://www.facebook.com/i.was.born.to.say.i.love.you Sierra Gerdes

    I LOVE this! (And the closet one!) As a single mother of a pre-schooler who works two jobs, has one home business, is beginning college this Spring, AND was just recently diagnosed with Adult ADD, I have been on a quest for organization and time-management tools. I forget where I stumbled upon your site, Facebook, I believe, but I am so glad I did!! <3