The BEST Way To Save More Money

Owen Winkelmolen

Fee-for-service financial planner and founder of

Find yourself going over budget? Always making impulse purchases? Do you know what the problem might be?

Ego depletion.

You’re probably thinking. “What the heck is ego depletion?”

Ego depletion is a psychology concept. When we make lots of decisions or are under a lot of stress, our brain gets tired, our self control starts to loosen, and we start to make impulsive decisions. These impulsive decisions can be a real budget killer.

This doesn’t necessarily affect spending. Ego depletion can cause you to stray from your diet, your exercise routine, or another personal goal.

Avoiding ego depletion is the BEST way to save more money because it lets you avoid all those extra purchases that really kill your budget.

How Does Ego Depletion Work?

Every day we start with a finite amount of self-control. Throughout the day, we experience situations that slowly deplete our self-control. Our self-control basically “leaks out” until there is nothing left. The more of these situations that we encounter the faster we lose our self-control.

This ego depletion happens in a variety of situations. It happens when we’re forced to make many decisions in a short period of time. It happens when we experience stress. It can also happen when we’re physically exhausted. These situations cause our self-control to leak away.

Throughout the day these situations deplete our ego. They deplete our self-control. Once we run out, things start to get impulsive.

Why Does Ego Depletion Matter?

Ego depletion matters because when you run out you make impulsive decisions.

  • You stray from your diet
  • You skip your exercise routine
  • You make snap judgements
  • You make impulse purchases

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The BEST Way To Save Money…

The best way to save more money is to avoid ego depletion in the first place.

Avoid things & people that stress you out. Try to identify these situations in advance and just avoid them entirely. If you can’t avoid these situations, then at least don’t go shopping directly after.

Avoid making many difficult decisions all at once. Making decisions slowly depletes our self-control. Making many decisions throughout the day leaves us with nothing left to control our spending.

Try eating something sweet! (I’m not even kidding). Studies have shown that ego depletion is linked to glucose levels in your brain. Eating or drinking something sweet has been shown to lessen the impact of ego depletion!

If ego depletion is unavoidable and you’ve eaten as much cake as you can, then the second-best way to save money is to avoid temptation. When you’re out of self-control try to avoid the things that may trigger an impulse purchase.

  • Don’t go to the mall if your ego is depleted
  • Don’t casually browse your favourite store after making many difficult decisions in a row
  • Avoid expensive coffee shops when you’re stressed
  • Stay away from expensive purchases, especially after a long day at work

For example, holiday shopping is the worst for ego depletion. You’re stressed, there isn’t much time, you need to find the perfect gift, and you’re basically forced into making many decisions in a short period of time…

“Should I buy them this, or this, or maybe this? I can’t decide!!!”

To make things worse, when you’re holiday shopping you are SURROUNDED by temptation. Stores, malls, even online shopping…. They are all designed to tempt you into making an impulse purchase.

Avoiding these situations will go a long way in helping you save more money.

“Throughout the day these situations deplete our self-control. Once we run out of self-control things start to get impulsive.”

What can you do to save money today?!?

Here are a few money saving tips to help you reduce the affect of ego depletion.

  1. Recognize that ego depletion exists. Ego depletion makes it very difficult to control your spending. It’s not your fault, it’s how humans are wired
  2. Avoid stressful situations. Identify situations that cause stress and try to avoid them
  3. Spread decisions out. Try to make a few decisions per day rather than all at once
  4. Plan ahead. Don’t go shopping after a stressful day at the office
  5. Avoid temptation. If you’re on a strict budget don’t tempt yourself by walking past your favorite store every day, just avoid temptation all together
  6. Eat something sweet! Boost those glucose levels for a short-term ego fix
  7. Get into a routine. A good routine takes less self-control to maintain, this helps avoid ego depletion
  8. Create good spending habits. Habits are second nature, they require little to no self-control. Try to create 1-2 good spending habits every month

Owen Winkelmolen

Financial planner, personal finance geek and founder of PlanEasy.

New blog posts weekly!

Tax planning, benefit optimization, budgeting, family planning, retirement planning and more...

New blog posts weekly!

Tax planning, benefit optimization, budgeting, family planning, retirement planning and more...


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