It’s hard enough to find the perfect handbag without a budget in mind; the irritation that goes into fitting the perfect accessory purchase into a regular month’s expenses is exponentially worse. We usually like to highlight the most drool-worthy fantasy pieces in the handbag world, but fret not, we never forget that our readers represent a wide range of incomes and budgetary needs. Not to mention that Megs and I both appreciate a relative bargain too…

Like we do every season, we’ve scoured the Internet to pick out The Best Bags of Spring 2012, but with one caveat – they all have to be under $600, which many contemporary brands used as a de fact price ceiling. What have we found for Spring 2012? Lots of pastels, a few brights and plenty of lovely leather goodness to go around.

I have quite a personal affinity for most of the bags in this selection, but the Oryany Reese Leather Satchel is among the very best values, in addition to being chic. Not only is this all-leather bag less than $400, but it has a very Gucci vibe for a very un-Gucci price. Buy through Neiman Marcus for $398.

The Le Pliage in nylon is a handbag classic, but the Longchamp Le Pliage Cuir Satchel gives the whole design new life in soft, slouchy leather. This shade of blue absolutely blows me away. Buy through Neiman Marcus for $590.

It seems like everyone’s doing “Coachella style” features lately, but really, how many people actually GO to Coachella? Still, if you’re trying to get that rich-hippie look, the Cleobella Cantina Medium Bag in magenta painted leather is a good way to do it on a budget. Buy through ShopBop for $165.

If you’re looking for an affordable everyday bag in one of spring’s trendy shades, look no further than the Botkier Valentina Satchel. Buy through Nordstrom for $395.

Pantone has named a reddish-orange color called “Tangerine Tango” the Color of 2012; if you want to add a bit of it to your wardrobe, the Kate Spade Gold Coast Meadow Shoulder Bag is a great way to do it without breaking the bank. Buy through Neiman Marcus for $398.

Any of the bags from the Marc by Marc Jacobs Werdie line could have made this list – crossbody or satchel, solid or colorblocked, bright or neutral, they’re all incredibly chic and all significantly less than $600. My favorite is this colorblocked crossbody. Buy through Net-a-Porter for $300.

Trust me, ladies – a big, bold day-to-night clutch is a bag you’ll use often once it’s in your lineup. The Diane von Furstenberg Harper Large Envelope Clutch is a perfect option. Buy through Nordstrom for $465.

If you’re looking for an alternative to the Valentino Rockstud bags that still has the same feminine-but-edgy quality, the Rebecca Minkoff Quilted Affair Bag hits the nail on the head. Buy through ShopBop for $495.

Nothing welcome warm weather like bright, sunshine-y yellow, and for less than $400, the Coach Poppy Leather Pushlock Satchel gives you a ton of aesthetic bang for your buck. Buy through Coach for $378.

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