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8 Ways to Downsize Your 10-Pound Tote Bag—and Avoid Back Problems Later

If your handbag is getting too hefty, it’s time to lighten your load.

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Evgeniya Porechenskaya/shutterstock

If you’re the type of person who carries their life in their purse, we’re right there with you. Our love for the oversized purse knows no ends; for all we know, an apocalypse may hit us and God forbid we don’t have granola bars and several lipstick options. But the roominess definitely doesn’t exempt it from drawbacks; massive bags can cause back pain and ruin your shoulders over time. Plus, it’s only a matter of time before the bottom of your bag ends up a tangled, shambled mayhem of old receipts and candy wrappers. Ideally speaking, your bag should not weigh any more than 10 percent of your body weight or 10 pounds (whichever is less). If your purse is the size of a small suitcase, but you still have to fumble around for your keys for a whole minute, it may be time to reorganize.

Although we unfortunately cannot teach you the ways of Hermione Granger’s Undetectable Extension Charm, we can show you how to downsize your bulky tote into something a little more manageable. If lugging your purse around has got you feeling like a pack mule, consider these tips on how to minimize that extra weight.

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Evgeniya Porechenskaya/Shutterstock

Start with your wallet.

If your bulky wallet is causing a headache every time you approach the checkout counter, switching to a cardholder may be a wiser option. These sleek alternatives will be just enough to tote around everything you need in terms of cash, cards, ID, license, etc., (although you may need to sacrifice the clump of expired coupons).

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Condense your beauty products.

For all you product junkies, this may be a bit painful. But let’s face the facts; do you really need five different lip balms to get you through the day? Try limiting yourself to only three to five must-have cosmetics. (Find out the best lip color for your skin tone.) In place of clunky powder compacts and setting sprays, opt for oil sheets. In addition, look for products with a dual purpose (bronzers that can be used as eyeshadow, eyebrow pencils that can be used as eyeliners, etc).

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Downsize to travel-size everything.

Stocking our purses with sunscreen, medications, and hand sanitizer may be indispensable essentials, especially for those who are always on the go. In that case, convert your large containers and tubes with their travel-size sister. Most ibuprofen pills, lotions, and other skin-care items will come in mini sizes perfect for lugging around; you don’t have to be going overseas to utilize these. Even if it’s for a quick stroll to the grocery store, your shoulders will thank you. Here are some more ways to pack lighter when you travel.

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Ditch the coins

The biggest culprit for a heavy bag is spare change. Scrounge out all those nickels, quarters, and pennies, and dump them into a piggy bank. Lugging around little pieces of metal is not only super impractical, but highly unnecessary. Unless you plan on using parking meters or going to a laundromat, keep the coins at home.

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Only carry frequently used items.

If you don’t use something on a daily basis, don’t bring it. Unless you’re venturing to the depths of the desert, chances are you’re carting around too much than you need. Toting things around that which you rarely use takes up necessary space and weight, so drop the unnecessary clutter and only pack the essentials. If you’re consistently carrying things to and fro that you exclusively use at the office, leave these tucked into an office drawer or glove compartment.

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Declutter daily

Before you go to sleep, adopt the habit of cleaning out your bag and the miscellaneous medley that may have accumulated throughout the day. Waiting to do this every week, month, or year will make organizing a near impossible task. Don’t wait until your purse becomes a portable dumpster to clean it out; shed off the pounds every night for an easier day.

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Simplify your electronics.

Commuting without music is a must for many, and we don’t want to abet that. On the other hand, are those monstrous Beats headphones necessary? Opt for mini earphones or built-in microphones for on-to-go phone calls. Leave the tablets at home and download apps on your smartphone for entertainment instead.

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Evgeniya Porechenskaya/Shutterstock

Separate your items.

If you want to spare your spine from permanent damage, it may prove easier to carry two small bags, one in each arm, than one gigantic clunker. Hanging a massive tote on one side will create imbalances and neck troubles over time, so divide and conquer with different parts of your body. Make use of clothing and put what you can in your pockets (cell phone on hip clips, sunglasses on head, keys in pocket, etc). Distributing the load across your body can prevent a load of pain in the long run.

Hana Hong
Hana Hong is a journalist/storyteller who writes for Reader's Digest, InStyle, CollegeFashionista, Her Campus and The Fashion Network, among other publications. She hails from the Midwest, where she graduated from the University of Illinois with a BA in News-Editorial Journalism, but has a passion for the East Coast.