12 things you should always keep in your purse

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  • Your purse keeps essentials conveniently in one place.
  • There's a fine line between wanting to be prepared for anything and carrying around a 15 pound bag.
  • The keys to deciding what to hold in your purse should be items that are essentials, compact, and multi-use.
  • Here are 12 items you should always keep in your purse.

The contents of your bag say a lot about where you are in life as well as what you value. In college, I always kept my phone, wallet, keys, and ID with me wherever I went.

Once I graduated, I added work-related items, like an ID badge, laptop, notebook, and pen to my purse. Now that I've adopted a dog, it's mostly filled with canine accoutrements like treats, collapsible food and water bowls, a leash, and doggles.

Through it all, I've tried to walk the line between carrying a few essentials and 15 pounds of "just in case" items that never actually come in handy.

And for that, I've found that the keys to know what to keep in your purse are items that fall under the categories of essential, compact, and multi-use.

To help prepare you for the surprises that life throws without overstuffing your bag (and overloading your shoulders), here are 12 things you should always put in your purse before leaving the house:

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1. Travel pack of tissues

1. Travel pack of tissues

Only about 8% of adults in the US has to deal with the joys of hay fever, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

But even if you don't have allergies, a small pack of tissues can be useful after a spill, during an unexpected cold, or when your kid decides to eat jelly with their hands.

2. Mini Vaseline

2. Mini Vaseline

Personal stylist and founder of V-Style Vanessa Valiente says that you can get many uses out of this one. Vaseline can act as lip balm, blister prevention, makeup remover, and a moisturizer all in one small container that will fit into most bags.

3. Hand sanitizer

3. Hand sanitizer

Just think about all of the germs you may come into contact with in a day, whether they're lurking on public transit handrails, a bathroom doorknob, or the screen of your phone. Hand sanitizer shouldn't be a replacement for washing your hands, but it's great to have when you can't get to a sink right away.

4. Hair elastic

4. Hair elastic

In the case of bad weather, a wardrobe malfunction, or an unexpected trip to the gym — hair bands can be a lifesaver in a pinch. Though, if you have short hair, a few bobby pins or clips may also be worth tossing into your everyday bag.

5. A healthy snack and water bottle

5. A healthy snack and water bottle

These are the essentials that will keep you from getting dehydrated or picking up an unhealthy holdover, according to clinical nutritionist Jennie Miremadi. Miremadi recommended keeping something rich in protein, like almond butter packets or beef snack sticks, in your purse.

6. Business cards

6. Business cards

You never know who you're going to meet on a given day, so business cards are on stylist Valiente's list of must-have items. "I have been that fumbling person searching for a business card on numerous occasions because I was out," she said.

7. Breath mints

7. Breath mints

Because you never know who you're going to run into, especially after you treated yourself to garlic-soaked pasta lunch.

8. Medications

8. Medications

These will obviously depend on your circumstances, but it's always a good idea to have a few OTC anti-inflammatory or pain meds in your bag in case of an emergency.

9. Headphones

9. Headphones

Whether you're using them to listen to music or as a social cue that you're not in the mood for a conversation with a stranger, these are non-negotiable.

10. Bandaids

10. Bandaids

New shoes? Accident-prone? Or just a strong believer in Murphy's Law? Be prepared for the worst by sticking a few bandages in your purse.

11. Portable phone battery charger

11. Portable phone battery charger

There's nothing worse than that lost feeling when you're out and your phone dies.

12. A spare pad or tampon

12. A spare pad or tampon

If you're someone who menstruates, it's always good to have an extra tampon in the event of hormones gone haywire. It's also nice to be the one person who can always say "yes" when someone asks if anyone has a tampon.

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