Like many things in a girl’s life, a good bag is hard to find. When you see one that matches your needs and your style, you may end up spending more than you planned. And if you’re like me, you end up using it for five seasons until it’s outdated and totally falling apart.

I know how easy it is to fall into both of these habits when it comes to purses. But I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to overspend on a bag and then make up for it by using it for every occasion. Here are some tips on how to shop sensibly for your next purse purchase.

First of all, some designer bags that boast high-end labels are made for looks, not durability. I can’t imagine how heartbreaking it must be to watch a bag that costs $1,000 wear out like any other bag, but it likely will if you use it every day.

Cheaper imitation bags aren’t the way to go, either. They’re often made out of materials that will give out on you much sooner.

Instead of labels, look for quality. You don’t necessarily need leather for a decent bag. You just don’t want the seams to be flimsy or held together with glue. A good price range is about $40-$80.

The Cosmopolitan Leather Tote by Amerileather is a great example of a budget-friendly yet polished purse. You can find it on sale at Overstock.com for $41. It’s big enough to be a carry-on, which is good news for women who are always on the go.

I also have been able to find some of the most affordable and well-made bags at locally owned women’s boutiques around Charleston. Often, buyers for these shops are looking for good deals themselves when they go to trade shows, so they’re looking for obscure designers who may not have a big name but know how to make a good bag. That’s good news for the consumer.

Bashful Boutique in Avondale has some fashion totes and clutches that are all priced under $50. Owner Errica Watkins said she chooses trendy bags from about five of her favorite accessories vendors.

“They’re really inexpensive, and you can get a great bag that will hold up for a couple of seasons,” she said.

TJ Maxx and Marshalls carry plenty of designer handbags for discounted prices, but be sure to check the clearance rack first. You can often find a nice Michael Kors or Hobo bag for less than half of its original price.

Other places I check for trusty handbags include the sale section upstairs in Urban Outfitters and the Banana Republic and Saks Off Fifth shops in the Tanger Outlet Mall.

To get more wear out of your bags, buy more than one for each season and trade them out once or twice every month.

Reach Abigail Darlington at charlestonsavvyshopper@postand courier.com.