Thursday, 22 July 2010

Does Your Handbag Show a Simple, Green & Frugal Life?

By: Notes From The Frugal Trenches

I recently read an article that stated research from found the average British woman's handbag is filled with £342 worth of essentials, which works out to $522 US, $590 Australian dollars or $543 Canadian. The article stated that some experts felt that was a conservative estimate...this of course inspired me to count up just what my average handbag contained...

The breakdown of costs were:
Handbag (what Americans call purse)
ARTICLE: £51 MINE: £10 (on sale - 6 years old!)
Purse (what Americans call wallet)
ARTICLE: £29 MINE: £10 (on sale - 4 years old!)
ARTICLE: £28 MINE: £0.05
Mobile Phone
ARTICLE: £105 MINE: £0.00
Make up, Perfume
: £18 MINE: £13 (if I remember it!)
: £47 MINE: £30
: £25 MINE: £5.99
Leather Organizer
ARTICLE: £40 MINE: £1 (the dollar store!)

MINE: £70.04
- but the truth is, 90% of the time I don't take my ipod or make up with me (I really only take them on long journeys), which would bring my total down to £27.04. Although, the resale value of a purse & handbag which are four years old is certainly less than £20 so it is probably only worth a fraction of £27.04!

Extra things I generally do carry in my handbag are: a cheap notebook I've made to make lists of things to do, a change purse to give coins to anyone in need (the homeless or someone selling Big Issue), a couple of healthy snacks and water which helps me not spend money and the truth is I rarely go anywhere without a book from the library!

The last time I carried my ipod was en route home after volunteering overseas, I very much enjoyed listening to my favourite radio program, because it is a rare treat it is very much appreciated.

I like that my handbag and list of essentials is short. I'm very happy to go for a walk without noise, to work, volunteer or exercise without the distraction of a phone. I enjoy my lists made on scrap pieces of paper which gives them another use before being recylced. My handbag's contents have not always been so simple in fact I'll admit I used to carry a lot of stuff all the time, now I'm glad it's a sign of a pretty care free, frugal, green & simple existence.

What do you carry around with you? I'd love to hear the contents of your handbag or pockets! Is it a reflection of the change in your life?


Anonymous said...

My handbag and contents:
handbag value $AU20, 4 yrs old
wallet value $au10, 6 yrs old
cash $au2,
2 x biros $au2.
scrap paper $.05
house keys
jelly beans $au2 (Im a diabetic)

grand total= $au36.05 or less as if you take depreciation into account.
either i am fugal, or broke lol, i prefer frugal.

Notes From The Frugal Trenches said...

lol oooh Annonymous, thanks for the laugh re frugal or broke! lol

Notes From The Frugal Trenches said...

p.s. I too prefer frugal ;)

louisa @ The Really Good Life said...

Admittedly as I work from home, I don't leave the house a lot but I'm generally a pocket kind of a girl. I typically only carry with me my purse/wallet (cost £4 about five years ago; needs replacing - as soon as I get around to making a new one out of reclaimed/scrap fabric); my phone (which was "free" with my bargain contract a couple of years ago); my keys; and a lipbalm (£1). So a generally very low cost.

If I'm going shopping, I'll also carry a few reusable bags - costing from free (homemade from scrap fabric) to £1 (bought ones).

My "going out of an evening" bags are invariably just my pockets tipped into a bag filled with receipts/tickets from the last times I've used it. I have three "going out" bags - one homemade, one from a charity shop a few years ago (£3) and one that was bought new (gosh!), for about £6 about eight years ago.

It worries me that if the average woman's handbag value is £342 and mine is never more than £10 - someone is compensating a lot for my cheapness!

Mama Podkayne said...

My handbag and contents:
handbag value $1, new, but a simple handmade canvas bag. Can be washed hard which is important given we raise both children and pigs.
wallet value $1, 2 yrs old (dollar section)
cash $23, my Amish nieghbors only take cash at their country store and it is jam season, plus a bunch of change because I never clean it out and it just accumulates
yesterday's mail, possibly last weeks too
phone free with service
house keys for the other house, sometimes (wish that thing would sell).
candy $1.30 because I'm pregnant and I love cinnamons

grand total= $26.30
That's more than I expected actually. Unless you count that the house keys represent a HUGE debt that we can't unload. Then it is more like $200,000. Ugh. But that is not what you meant, right? LOL.

Yes, broke indeed.n

Michelle said...

I'm American so figures are US Dollars...

Handbag $70 Vera Bradley I've wanted for years and years, a present to myself

Purse $35, another Vera Bradley, that matches my handbag

Cash exactly $2.16, all in coins

Mobile Phone, Blackberry purchased over a year ago, Buy one, get one free, plus mail in rebate, cost in the end = $30.00

Make up, Perfume : I only carry lip gloss and a mirror = $5

MP3 PLAYER/IPOD Given to me free of charge

Sunglasses hand-me-downs, free

Leather Organizer No need for the paper organizer, as my Blackberry takes care of my appointments and phone books, $0

Also in my bag:

Cents-off Coupons for my grocer worth over $5

Pepper spray, a free gift with purchase of...

Taser, purchased for $49, never had to use ;)

A book at any given time, always bought used, around $3.50

A couple cloth hankies for sneezing fits, $2.00

I'd say my bag says that I am mostly green, careful, cautious, relatively frugal, but also willing to treat myself to something nice now and again if it makes me happy. :)

Tree Huggin Momma said...

Umm Handbag, purse.... I have several and they are all hand me downs. I went out once with the intention of buying the perfect bag, but I couldn't bring myself to spend the money. So instead people give me their old ones and when I need to I carry a wallet or handbag, but not often. In my wallet one will find my cell phone (3 years old now and free to me), my license, a debit card (bad habit for me) and maybe $5 if that. No makeup, no electronics. Maybe a pen and an old shopping list (from recycled mail scraps)

A Bun Can Dance said...

Hi there - what a fabulous post - thanks for sharing !!
What do I carry around?
My bag is a homemade fabric bag which cost about £5 for the fabric.
My purse is nearly 20 years old - no idea how much it was way back then!
Cash inside purse: £2.16
I have a notebook - it was a Christmas gift from a friend.
2 Cotton hankies - I prefer them to paper tissues: they were about 20p each at a flea market.
My camera - cost about £150 four years ago.
My mobile phone: cost about £20.
Handbag mirror: came from a Christmas cracker about 15 years ago!!
Rescue Remedy: costs about £3 : just in case - and it means I can always help somebody if they need it !
I don't carry make up with me.
so that's it for my handbag contents!
Total: £187.56

My camera is obviously the most valuable thing - but I'd rather leave home without cash than to leave my camera behind !!!!

I just read the first comment by Anonymous and smiled to myself. I am both frugal and broke - but I am very, very happy and contented !!!
Denise x

sweet locus lane farm said...

I don't carry a purse at all. I don't own one! I gave handbags up totally when my youngest was out of diapers. Said I would never carry all that stuff with me again.( she is 14 now). I have a leather wallet cost $12. Canadian. It seems to house my checkbook, stamps and needed health cards and such and bank card, there is a side slit for car key. The house is never locked. I use canvas bags for shopping but have made them with a Velcro strap so the fold up neatly and can be carried under my arm.Don't own cell phone,( figure if I need help I can tag someone else down with a cell phone) Ipod, MP3. I'm not frugal in this way just don't seem to have the need for this stuff in my life.

wardhouse said...

Hmm. Not sure of the prices:
handbag - won in a giveaway
purse - 3 yrs old - $5.00 (Walmart)
Camera - with me ALWAYS! $135
Cardboard datebook - $10
small skein of yarn w/ needles
eye liner
cash - .50 (in pennies)
Hmm My camera is the most expensive item and, as someone above me said, I'll leave the house without money before I leave without the camera. Come to think of it, I already leave the house with money; cannot take what you do not have! =)
Great post.

Liz said...

My handbag was a present from my daughter. I think it cost about $25. It contains my purse ($2 from an op shop), a hanky, a pen, and a small zippered makeup bag (50c from an op shop) containing a spare cloth pad (about $14). I don't wear make up, and I don't own an iPod or any kind of music player. There is also usually a library book in there! My mobile phone was free (given to me when the owner upgraded), but mostly lives in my pockets, along with my keys. I do have $70+ in there for a change, but that's because yesterday was payday. Usually there's just coins and a wodge of receipts, lol.

Billie said...

Purse - Christmas gift $0
Cell phone - free with package $0
Cash - right now 40+$ in preparation for farmers market which only takes cash. Usual cash - about 10$
Receipts, lots of receipts
2 memory sticks - free with purchase
Pen - ripped off from somewhere
cards - lots of cards like license, insurance, library card, credit cards, business cards, gift cards and so on
stamps - about 4$ worth
label for adressing a box - 75cents?
cheque book
lip balm - $1
bandaids - 10 cents?
emergency sanitary napkin - 25cents?
tire pressure gauge - gift $0

I think all it says is that despite the fact that my purse is super small, I can clearly stuff a crap load of paper into it. Apparently I am also cheap because outside of actual cash to purchase groceries there is less than 10$ worth of value to it.

Dea-chan said...

My purse: relatively new, a cute red leather one on sale: $50

Wallet: leather "clutch-style" bought on clearance: $10

Cash: ... tip money. ~$20

Phone: Free

Make-up, etc.: $<20

iPod: ... 5 years old?

Sunglasses: $5

I also usually carry books, notepads, or similar small items.

Total: $105 damn am I pricier than I thought

Heather Carroll said...

I keep it simple, but not necessarily cheap. I'll buy something that's more expensive if it's made in North America or Europe as opposed to China, where people aren't paid enough or treated properly.

Purse - $120 (leather, which I debated, but figured this purse will last the rest of my life, and I made sure it was treated with as few chemicals as possible)
Sunglasses -$200 (but made in N. America, and 4 years old now)
Wallet (so old I can't remember how much. Still in good condition though!)
Lip chap - $3 (Burts Bees!!)
Poo bags for the dog (biodegradable ones)
Reusable shopping bag for quick trips to the store to avoid plastic bags ($3 at MEC - packs up real small)
pen (free give away)

And that's all! Except for the occasional recipt that gets stuck in there...

Notes From The Frugal Trenches said...

Heather that is a good point! I too buy fairtrade, made in N.America or Europe OR second hand (if the other two aren't possible). It is worth it for me to pay more and get fairtrade! Thanks for the reminder :)

Simply Authentic said...

On a non-work day or to run errands I only care a small cloth clutch (which cost $7 3 years ago) and has my wallet ($5--5 years ago), usually $1 in change, a burts bee trial lip gloss ($2), 2 free pens, a tampon just in case, and sometimes my cell phone (1 year old and $90 at the time).

To work, I carry the clutch inside a professional tote (3 years ago $20), which usually includes paper (job descriptions printed out or things from home I need to shred), a reused sandwich bag, whatever I've brought from home for lunch, maybe a random magazine or book to pass on to someone, my klean kanteen w/ coffee or water, more free pens and a highlighter.

Attila said...

The contents of my handbag are much the same as all your other readers, but it reminded me of when I bought my winter handbag. It's a leather Marks&Spencer one that I bought for £3 in a charity shop in a town just a bit posher than where I live. I wondered, "What sort of person shells out maybe £40-50 on a bag and then gives it to a charity shop hardly used?" When I got home, I found it contained an (empty) bank bag labelled "£1000 in £20 notes"! That's the sort of person.....

Sarah said...

The breakdown of costs were:
Handbag: I actually use a messenger bag, which was a gift about 5 years ago but probably value about £15.
Purse: £4 from market stall.
Cash: about £5
Mobile Phone: £15
Make up, Perfume: £10 - all I carry is a small 'touch up / cover' compact.
MP3 PLAYER/IPOD: I use the inbuilt one on my phone.
Sunglasses: don't use them
Leather Organizer: don't use one.
total £49.00

In addition to that, I carry a pen, tissues, a drink, small fabric tote bag, and mints or gum. Definitely not 'kitchen sink' like!

Kari said...

What a neat game!

I don't have costs for many of my items, but can list the contents:

Handbag (actually a shoulder bag that looks like a messenger bag) - bought used at a local charity thrift store - under $2.00

Wallet - Christmas gift from husband in 2001 - It's a Levenger wallet so he probably paid close to $100 for it, but it's a quality item and still looks nearly new

1 cloth prefold diaper

1 nylon pull-on diaper cover

1 PUL zippered wet bag (for used diapers and menstrual pads)

1 box of wet wipes

2 cloth menstrual pads (I sewed them myself)

2 fabric nursing pads

1 pen

2 hair elastics

2 bandages

1 comb (this one I've had since 1987)

1 folding mirror (bought new in 2003)

1 leatherman multi-purpose tool - 2009 Christmas gift

1 cell phone - the free one that came with our plan

1 house key (we're a one-car family so I usually walk or use public transportation)

assorted pieces of paper with lists on them

1 coin purse (79 cents at a local charity thrift store)

Assorted coupons for 25% off at Goodwill, free custard from Culvers, sale ad from JoAnn's Fabrics, etc.

1 pair clip-on sunglasses - paid $13 two weeks ago. This is a bargain because the style of prescription eyeglasses that comes with sunglasses would have cost me ove $100 more than buying the style I did and buying separate clip-on sunglasses

Joyful said...

My handbag and contents in Canadian dollars:
handbag (a wonderful woven bag from Kenya) value $10, 2.5 years old
wallet value $3, 2 years old
cash about $2. in coin
book "The Shack" borrowed
stainless steel water flask, $4, 4 mos old.
house keys
lip gloss x2 $14.
notebook & pen, $2 (from dollar store)
reading glasses $2.99
small contact lens solution - free fr. optician
Cell phone - Free on contract
Sunglasses $14.99 (technically these aren't in my bag as I always put them on my head, lol)

Grand total $52.98 this was fun and interesting. I am frugal & also a little bit broke :-)

Teresa said...

Let's handbag and wallers were and far fancier than anything I'd buy for myself.

I usually carry a cell phone ($20 four years ago), my asthma inhaler ($10, but it really is a necessity), a checkbook (better for budgeting than a debit card), pens (more often than not promo ones handed out for free) and a tiny notebook (I think also a promo item). I do have five or six lipsticks, but they're all several years old, inexpensive brands. Those are the basics. I carry some small amount of cash, rarely more than $20.

If I'm going to be a passenger on a long trip or likely to have time on my hands, I'll have knitting or a book. And if I'm going to be out and about for awhile, I'll have snacks and a bottle of water and/or a coffee.

anastasia_wolf said...

Handbag: a handmade gift from a friend
Wallet: a handmade gift from same friend
Cash: $65 (my fruit and veg money and the remnants of my "play" money)
Lip balm: $6
Mobile: a hand-me-down
Water bottle: $16

Total: AUD$87 (but only because I carry cash for markets around!)

Anonymous said...

I found a beautiful, new, black leather/embroidered fabric handbag at the op-shop for $10. I priced it online at $140. One woman's trash, another woman's treasure that will last for years. :)

The usual suspects inside are house/car keys, leather wallet (bought years ago for $20), two cloth bags for groceries, grocery money, mobile phone (a cheap pre-pay; the only phone I've owned), Moleskine diary, small aluminium water bottle, pencil and eraser, small bottle of paracetamol, tube of Lucas' papaw ointment, tape measure, band-aids, a small tin containing my fave tea bags, cotton pads, and a brush/hair elastic.

If I'm going out for a special occasion there will be lipstick, and if a train ride or a long wait is involved, a book.


Rachel B. said...

Purse: $18 on sale only a few months old (reg. $32)
Gum: $1
Headache/Stress relif aromatherepy: $7
Cash: about $3
Phone: $10 a few months old had no choice but to buy a new one
Chapstick: $2.50 (Burtsbees mango flavor)
Random pins: $1 each x 2
A pen: Free

Total: $43.50 USD
There are other stuff such as coupons but it's not worth listing them.

Anonymous said...

backpack ($50), never had a purse/handbag

pocket knife
water bottle
library book

total cost <$60 most of these things are over 6 years old

no cell phone
no house key

OnDandelionWings said...

Oh what an excellent game to play!

Handbag - cloth over the shoulder washable hippie variety, a gift.

wallet - large and full of many coins and odd bits and pieces I collect, I think it cost me $18, I think it has $5 and some schrapnel in it.

Hand cream - Hemp and grape and organic but I can not live without it (it's Winter here... ) $24

Lip Balm - Dr Bronner's $4

Water Bottle of the plastic type that I carry everywhere.

Random tampons

House keys

Sunglasses - $7 but they're really 2 $7 pairs put together because I always break them.

Drum rolling tobacco (horrible habit but needed) and lighter, papers, filters, $35

Mobile Phone - I think free with it's plan wich is $49 per month

Pencil case with a lot of pens and pencils and other bits in it bought in Japan in 2005, I think it's contents is prbably $25

Hardcover Moleskine diary, TOTAL necessity, - $34

Random detritus: A lot of coasters from that day last week I didn't have my moleskine, two bandaids, a receipt, a gum wrapper, a paper tape measure from IKEA, a bell that fell out of my hair, a sewing kit.
Usually some kind of book to read when I can' write or draw anymore

Usually some kind of nut bar or a piece of fruit is in there too.

The total is $152 (I think, never was good with numbers) Which is high, but considering the rate of replacement of the items in it is rather slow, I don't think it's so terrible!

Anonymous said...

I'm British and my handbag and it's contents don't come to anywhere near that value. The average British woman can't afford it! Fair enough there may be some who can but that will be the case in most countries.
Heather (Scotland, UK)

lindano said...

I loved your post, I am always interested in what people need in their bags.I have just started work and am amazed how extravagant some people are or maybe its wasteful.All have to have the lastest brands and up to date items.Feel sorry they need these items to feel good.
My bag is a ten year old leather one may have cost $100 on sale then
wallet $50 a present 5 years ago,contains cards license and $3.50 in coins

mints 1.00 sun glasses $10
comb wooden $4.00 two years old
emery boards free
2x headache tablets
mobile free with plan
2x pkt tissues
Lipstick,lipliner and lipcloss$40it has lasted 3 years
Random reciepts.
My bag is very boring and cheap.No wonder I like to see what other people carry !

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Anonymous said...

I loved this post. Perhaps I too am a secret purse voyeur, huh. Well, here's my contents:
1 Ergo Baby Carrier purse attachment ($15 - 3 years ago)
1 wallet ($12 - 5 years ago)
1 handkerchief (hmmm...old one at that)
2 random pens (bic or whatnots)
1 pack of Trident (purchased in bulk at Costco)
1 nursing pad for oops-I'm-leaking days
1 shea butter lip gloss (my big splurge - $8) comes to about $40.
I shared this post today too on my's at this link:
Thanks for a wonderful and thoughtful post. I so enjoyed it.