Organizing Home

Part 4: Organizing Chaos – Handbag & Wallet

A handbag is the only thing that we carry around with us where ever we go, so it sort of becomes our comfort blanket. When we’re away from home and suddenly need a tissue (thanks to the cold or spicy food), we dig into our bags desperately hoping we can find one. Or if we are out to pay bills looking gruesome and suddenly we have to go directly to a fancy gathering, we frantically check our hand bags for a lipstick and an eye liner so no one sees us looking so naturally horrifying. Provided we maintain it, our handbag becomes a source of saving our days.
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My hang bag and wallet collection



Since I had absolutely no free time-slot at home in London, I made a system (once in three weeks) that I would sort out my handbag in the office while talking to clients on the phone. When I was in retail, I used to utilize my time in the tube on the way home to do it up provided I was lucky enough to find a seat for myself. Its up to you whatever time suits you. Try dumping the contents of your handbag on the floor and throw out everything you didn’t even know was in there. You may discover that many of these items are unnecessary and are no longer needed. Why would we want to carry all that extra weight on our shoulders everywhere we go? It is common for us to wait for appointments, meetings, people or shows. Since you can’t do much while waiting, it is the most efficient time for writing expenses in the diary and sorting your handbag. I would like to share a few sentences from an article I was reading called ‘Purposely Purse-less and Proud: Do You Hate to Carry a Handbag?’ on HubPages:

‘You will discover that you have been toting several pounds of unnecessary stuff. Do you have a sewing kit, a manicure kit, a dry cleaning kit, a first-aid kit, a leather man multi-tool , a local phone directory and a food processor in your purse? When was the last time you interrupted a serious shopping spree to do mending, manicuring, spot removing, or to splint a simple fracture? All of those things can wait until the shopping trip is over. If you think you will need phone numbers, write them on your arm, or consider a tasteful tattoo’. Although I don’t agree that we should get rid of our handbag altogether, but I enjoyed reading this article and loved the ending too. ‘In the future we will be able to lock and unlock our cars with pre-programmed laser thumbprint readers. An iris scan will provide our credit/debit information for making purchases. Our medical profiles and even instant access to electronic communication will be sent through tiny microchip implants. And I’ll bet women will still carry purses.’ I agree that we women are so used to carrying a handbag that it has actually become a part of us. I personally can’t imagine going anywhere without it.

 
A lot of women carry handbag just as a fashion statement. I also have some of those fancy handbags which I occasionally use. But in my opinion that is just for special functions. If you do change bags, make sure you empty out all the pockets and move the stuff entirely. It is common to lose your things when the pockets are not emptied out properly while changing them. Only empty bags should be put back into the cupboard. If you intend to take a different handbag, try to transfer the stuff a night before. I believe that the  clothes and bag should be ready a night before. Sometimes we put so much into our handbags that they hurt our shoulders or they turn into a big hole for us to get lost in. A purse is actually meant for our convenience and organization, in many cases it becomes the opposite. The burden of a purse was true especially when looking for my apartment keys while holding six grocery bags after trekking two flights of stairs.

 
My colleague Jade who sat next to me once dropped fish on her bag. Ironically, during the same time, my lunch box with Tuna Panini toppled over inside my handbag accidently. I even washed it in the washing machine but the smell just wouldn’t go. Anyone passing our office used to comment on how rotten we smell. After that experience, I swore I would never carry fish in any form with me.

 
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My current Hand bag in Islamabad


My idea of a routine handbag is the kind that has a lot of pockets, comfortable straps and has only the most important things that I need, in the smallest quantity. Below is a list of 18 items I always carry with me: 


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A hand sanitizer is needed at any point when you are not able to wash your hands specially after cuddling with pets, using the loo, visiting the hospital or before having food.
After my dads expiry from the deadly cancerous GBM 4, I have become very particular about using earphones while talking on cell phone on all conversations lasting over five minutes. Using a mobile phone emits radiofrequency energy or radio waves, a form of non-ionizing radiation. Tissues nearest to where the phone is held can absorb this energy. Radiofrequency energy is a form of electromagnetic radiation. It has also been proved that using (wired) earphones is the best way to avoid exposure to such rays and to save our brain from its harmful effects. There is no harm in taking precaution so I always carry my earphones in my bag with me. They are also handy if I wanted to listen to music or radio where ever I am on my phone.
I didn’t keep scissors in my bag until recently when my Nana Jan gave me his foldable ones. Now I can’t imagine how I lived without them. From opening parcels to cutting my cats hair knots, a scissor is a must in my purse.

Baby wet wipes can be used to clean your face and hands, remove make up (they make excellent make up removers!), clean your TV remote and stains on your clothes/bed sheet (you’ll be surprised!).

 A hand cream is must for your bag, we can’t imagine the amount of care our hands need. During the course of a day, our hands are exposed to all sorts of germs, dirt, harsh substances, sunlight and more. To make matters worse, the house chores and frequent washing can make them dry, cracked and wrinkled. The hands are the parts where age spots appear first of all. So try to make it a habit to apply hand cream at least twice a day.

 A USB I feel is necessary to carry with you these days. From changing computers at work to changing pictures in the digital photo frame, or simply taking some songs from a friend. It’s always handy to keep one with you.

 Since I’ve started reading books a lot recently, I keep my Kindle with me in my bag as one’s never sure when one may get some free time to read. I’ve seen if one keeps the book only at home, we kind of forget to read it and it never gets finished. Also at home there are so many distractions, (family, TV, chores). I absolutely enjoy reading books in a garden as long as the weather is good. I used to walk to the closest green belt and read my book there during my lunch break.

 I also carry a small picture of my loved ones. I keep them with me all the time in my wallet and on my key chain.



There are always some things that you can add or subtract with respect to the country you reside in. In London, I added a compact umbrella, gloves, socks, Hay-fever pills, earmuffs (or cap) and tube passes. Whenever I’m working, I keep a mini ketchup sachet in my handbag too as I know I will need that. Similarly if you are in a hot country like Pakistan, you might want to carry small quantity of sun block with you all the time.


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My handbag from 2011 in London


Following are just a few tips regarding handbags:

1. We have to remember is that everything we keep in our handbags has to be absolutely necessary. Refer to the golden rule: ‘When in doubt, throw it out’.
2. We have to make sure only a small quantity of each item is kept in there. Carrying a big bottle of body spray or sun block only shows our lack of management. We can refill them as needed.
3. Keep an eye open for small sized containers (like travel sized Nivea cream) as they are always handy. 
4. Foldable Sunglasses and scissors in my opinion, are excellent space savers.
5. One can easily buy a pack of 12 small tissue pack for a reasonable price and they are ideal for keeping in the purse and for travelling.
6. For sun-block and hand cream, I use an Ice cream or ice lolly stick to put a little amount into an empty small Nivea cream container and keep it in my purse. I never carry the whole bottle of sun block to avoid unnecessary weight and space.
7. I never let the small items like earphones, mints, scissors and USB lie around loose in my purse. Putting small sized items directly in the bag increases the chances of them being lost. It is also harder to look for them when needed. Rather, I keep small pouches inside, as shown in the picture. Pouches make great organizers and are ideal for any small sized items in your handbag. My foldable sunglasses pouch is separate to avoid scratches. There are handbag organizers available in the market which you can use. Since I haven’t used one yet, I prefer my pouches.
8. Once you finishing cleaning your purse, try spraying some perfume/body mist inside the bag before putting everything back in. That gives me a good feeling and the scent reminds me that its been done up so I can keep it that way for longer.
9. Try to buy completely different looking sanitizer and breath spray bottles. As shown in the above picture, both of these in my bag looked pretty similar (green colored). My friend had an awful experience of spraying my hand sanitizer into her mouth. After that she never dared to get into my handbag.



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Small Nivea cream, ice lolly stick and tissue pack


As far as our wallet is concerned, most of us have misplaced it at least once in our lives. Regardless of our gender, we all carry a wallet with us where ever we go which is why it is pretty common for them to be lost or stolen. I lost mine at a store in Westfield shopping center, London when I put my wallet at the till for a minute as I turned to get my mobile out of my bag. When I turned back, my wallet wasn’t there. In confusion, I took a minute or two to move out of the queue and double check my bag if I had put it in there. Then I spoke to the cashier and insisted on checking CCTV recording. We saw a strange green eyed man who was standing right next to me in the queue. The moment I turned my face from my wallet, he extended his arm confidently, grabbed my wallet and without anyone realizing it, walked out of the store. Unfortunately I had cash, expensive gift cards and my Debit cards. The first thing I did was to call up my banks to block the Debit cards and then I reported the matter to the Police. There is almost no chance of the Police finding anyone’s lost wallet (even in the UK) as they are busy handling the bigger crimes in this world these days.


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My current wallet in Islamabad


This makes our wallets more vulnerable. The trick is to only to keep your regular expenses debit card, minimum amount of cash, a laminated color copy of your NIC and Driving license in the wallet. I never carry original IDs in my wallet. You may also keep a few extra black and white copies of your ID as they may be needed anytime. Always make sure your wallet has a proper place to put coins. I think wallets with no coin space are useless. Carrying a separate coin case is a good idea in such cases. Carrying change is always necessary where ever you live.


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My wallet with coin pocket at the back and an extra coin case


In any country, an ATM machine will always require you to enter your personal 4 digit PIN Code before you can withdraw any money. In the UK, this code is always required to be entered at retail stores as well, whenever you purchase any item. That makes using Debit cards very secure as no one else knows your personal code. I was honestly shocked to know that in Pakistan, none of the stores ask for your PIN when you shop. They only ask for your signature, which one can easily copy from the card and it’s not even verified. 



So if anyone steals your wallet, he can quickly go to the nearest store and shop with your card until the time you have gotten your Debit card fully blocked. Because of thiclip_image008s, people living in Pakistan have to be double vigilant and always have their 24 hour bank helpline number and your details handy as you may need it any moment. My mom once lost her wallet and realized it a bit later that it was missing. As soon as she realized it, she instantly called up her bank to get it blocked but unfortunately the thief had already done shopping worth Rs. 20,000 using her card. The sooner you ask for it to be blocked, more chances that you will save yourself a burglary.


A lot of shops are giving us their cards, convincing us that we’ll get discounts if we have enough points. But most of the time they are pretty unnecessary. I carried Tesco grocery store card for four years but never actually benefitted from it in any way as the vouchers would expire before I got the time to take them to the store. Also the procedure to use the vouchers wasn’t suited for anyone with a busy life. Literally the bananas would get a separate discount when presented with the banana voucher. And veggies had their own vouchers. For a workaholic like me, those vouchers only looked good in the bin. On my SUBcard, I got one miserable looking free sub after about 8 months of gathering points.  So I try to avoid these marketing gimmicks now. The only store card that I actually wanted to get was SuperDrug. My only thrill with that was that its card has a mirror on one side. A girl can’t go wrong with a free mirror card after all. 

 
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Arranged cash in my granny Rosemary’s wallet


I think each of us are organized in one way or the other. Like I never really cared about organizing the cash in my wallet. To be honest I hardly carry any cash anyway. I have believed in plastic money for as long as I can remember. But lately I got to see my grandmother Rosemary’s wallet and I was truly inspired. She keeps all her notes in one direction and they are always in ascending order. It reminded me of the time I had to Cash-Out all the tills at closing every night when I was supervisor cashier in London. This way it takes seconds to take out the cash you need and I’m sure our eyes would thank us for the pleasure also.


I would love to know what you girls carry around with you in your handbags. Lets see if we have Mary Poppins among us. Comments are most welcome. Take care.


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