Practical Purse Essentials List So You Are Prepared For Every Emergency!

Last Updated on March 13, 2020 by Diane Hoffmaster

When my kids were young and I had a diaper bag to carry around, it was easy to bring everything I could possibly need along with me at all times.  My must have purse essentials list included things like snacks, toys, wipes, spare clothes, and just about everything but the kitchen sink.  Now that my kids are older, I have had to narrow down my definition of purse essentials to only what fits into an average sized handbag. And since I hate huge purses, my handbag tends to be small!

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It isn’t always easy to narrow down what goes in your purse.  I like to be prepared for every emergency that may arise. What happens when the zombies attack and I am left without my handy machete, right? And low blood sugar is almost as big a problem as zombies!  Seriously, though…if you want to cut down on the clutter in your handbag, here are a few must have purse essentials that I highly recommend keeping with you!

Must Have Purse Essentials for Every Emergency

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Must Have Purse Essentials For Every Emergency

Now, your purse essentials list is going to vary, depending on your purse size and your definition of an emergency. Here is what I, a practical no nonsense mom, keep in my purse at all times.

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Multifunction tool or Swiss Army Knife: 

This may sound really weird but do you know how many gadgets one of these things can hold?  In one handy dandy little tool, I have scissors, tweezers, a cork screw, a knife, a magnifying glass and SO much more.  Honestly, this is the practical mom solution to about 15 different things you would otherwise have floating around the bottom of your purse.  Must have purse essentials with more than one use are always a good way to cut back on clutter. I can crack open a bottle of wine with the zombies. Or cut the gum out of my daughter’s hair on the way to school.  This mom does it all!

Practical Purse Essentials List So You Are Prepared For Every Emergency!

Smart phone: 

I admit I am an iPhone addict!  This is one of my most important purse essentials.  With all of the apps available for download, you have a map, flashlight, level, cell phone, internet connection (bank access!  VERY useful!),  and a ton of other solutions to everyday problems.  Need something?  There is probably an app for that!  You never know when you might need to level the artwork on the doctor’s exam room wall because it is throwing your OCD totally out of whack.

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Paper and writing utensil: 

This comes in handy for jotting down things you don’t want to forget.  You can also let your kids play tic tac toe in it so they stop arguing when you are stuck in traffic.  Write down those errands you need to run so you don’t forget them. Let your kids fold them up into origami flowers.  Purse organization means finding things that have more than one purpose.  Keep mom organized AND keep mom from strangling the kids.  Handy thing that notepad is.

Practical Purse Essentials List So You Are Prepared For Every Emergency!

Feminine Hygiene products: 

No woman should be without a panty liner or tampon no matter what time of the month it is.  Just because YOU don’t need it this week doesn’t mean your best girlfriend doesn’t when you go out to eat for lunch one day.  Or your teenage daughter who is never particularly good at planning these things.   And I even came across one blogger who swears that tampons (the unused ones, of course!) are a great way to stop a nosebleed.  Seriously, I never would have thought of that.  Of course, if I ever jammed a tampon up my nose to stop a nose bleed, someone might call the men in white jackets to take me to my padded cell.

Bag of coupons:

How many times have you run into Bed, Bath and Beyond on the spur of the moment and then realized you forgot your coupon?  Many smart phones now allow you to pull up coupons online and just show them to the cashier but this isn’t always available.  Keep a heavy weight ziplock baggie in your purse with all of those Victoria Secret free panty cards and Great Clips coupons so you never have to pay full price again.  Sort through it once a month so you don’t end up with a bag full of expired coupons. Invest in a purse sized coupon organizer to help save money!

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First Aid and Emergency Kit:

My purse essentials list includes a small bag that contains band-aids, antibiotic cream, hand cleaning wipes, safety pins, Advil, Imodium, Alcohol wipes, Q tips and an assortment of other things that are useful in case of emergency.  Maybe I need to play MacGyver and require a bobby pin, elastic band and a piece of chewing gum to escape from danger! You wouldn’t want to get stuck being eaten by zombies just because you didn’t have a bobby pin to unlock the closet, right?  And all moms know that if you do not have band-aids at all times, your kid will bleed to death, even when there is no actual blood present on their body.

Practical Purse Essentials List So You Are Prepared For Every Emergency!

Beauty essentials:

Just because I am a rather practical sort of mom, doesn’t mean I don’t want to look good, too!  On my purse essentials list, I include things like lipstick, eyeliner, powder and even a small solid stick of perfume.  A collapsible brush is small enough to fit in your purse without much trouble. A black eyeliner comes in handy if you get lost while running from zombies and need to leave emergency rescuers a clue as to where you have gone.  And seriously, when I used to do backwoods hiking I would always pack one for this exact reason!  (not the zombies, just me getting lost!) A trial sized deodorant is also useful because how many times have you run out the door in the morning and realized that you forgot it?

Baby wipes: 

Your purse essentials list needs to include wipes of some sort. I do not have babies but I STILL have wipes with me at all times.  They get used after I pump gas and to wipe off sticky hands after a milkshake. They make great toilet paper substitute when you are stuck in a public restroom that just happens to not have any.  I always seem to pick THAT stall!

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This is a pretty obvious one but you don’t want to be stuck anywhere without your ID and money.  Get one that works for you…some people prefer flat and others prefer trifold.  Make sure you have a coin purse for emergency parking, highway tolls, or whiny kids who want bubble gum from the machine.  A handful of pennies is a great source of enjoyment for kids if you come across a wishing fountain!  I highly recommend having only one or 2 major credit cards but that is a personal decision.  Sure, Target may offer me 10% off my purchase but do I really need another piece of plastic OR the temptation of another credit card?  Keep only what you really need in your wallet so you can find things easily!


While I don’t think you should be storing MRE’s in your purse for the next zombie attack, you definitely need to have some sort of healthy snacks for days when traffic has you away from home a little too long.  Whether it is a granola bar or trail mix, throw a snack and/or water bottle into your purse on the way out the door.  Both you and your kids will be much more pleasant to deal with if you aren’t starving when you hit Target! Put portable snacks on your purse essentials list to keep hunger at bay!

Dump out your purse this weekend and see what sort of things you are storing in there.  Do you really need it all?  Could you make due with a smaller purse and give your shoulder a break?  Put together your own purse essentials list and see if you can start carrying less!

So, what’s on  YOUR purse essentials list?

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  1. This is a great list! I really should have a multifunctional tool in my purse. Right now it's a bit of a messy jungle...time to clean it out and restock with these essentials!

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