Here’s one reason to be glad the giant bag trend is dying down: You can actually find things in your purse again. Of course, a more modestly sized bag means you need to be a bit more selective about what you put in it. So here it is: Your desert island (or city clutch) list of absolute, non-negotiable, can’t-live-without-’em essentials. And as an added bonus, each and every one is under five bucks.


1. Hand Sanitizer

Skip the apple a day if you must. If you really want to keep the doctor away, wash your hands. Hand sanitizer is great when you can’t get to soap and water, but don’t want to risk rubbing your eyes with swine flu or any of the other nasty germs in the restroom of your local coffee shop.


2. Nail Clippers

What’s the most annoying thing in the world? When you break a nail and wind up with that little nub of nail on one side. You know, the kind you can’t chew off, and can’t stop feeling all day as it bumps into your keyboard and snags your favorite sweater.

Get yourself some clippers, and you’ll never have to put up with that again. You have a variety of styles to choose from. Most drugstores sell the long-handled ones your local nail salon favors, plus a variety of cutesy clips with cartoon characters on the handles, perfect for the little obsessive-compulsive in your life. I’m a purist, and favor the standard stainless steel clipper. Bonus? It’s cheap.


3. Emery Board

See above. Emery boards are great for smoothing down the really tiny rough edges, and these are so small, they’ll fit easily in your purse. Great for people who just can’t stop biting their nails. (Not that I would know anything about that.)


4. Tissues

Want a runny nose? Don’t carry tissues. To guarantee an extra-sniffly day, wear your best outfit and a perfectly made up face. You’ll be a sneeze machine in no time. Or, if you want to be a poop about it, carry tissues. And then, of course, you’ll never need them.


5. Lip balm

I have a friend who claims that lip balm is addictive. “Think about it,” she’ll insist. “People who use lip balm? Always need it.” I tried to think about it, but I kept staring at her super-chapped lips. Anyway, it’s lip balm for me – preferably with sunscreen in it.