We’d all like to make better financial decisions, right? And some of us have probably made some fairly questionable ones— it’s basically human nature. But the impacts of something called ‘decision fatigue’ could be contributing to some of our poor decision-making, even if we don’t realize it. Luckily for us, there are a few things we can do to help stop it from impacting us so much. 

What in the world is decision fatigue?

So we’ve all gotten to the checkout line in Target only to throw a couple of last-minute items into our cart. Did we really need those extra Christmas decorations that were just too cute to ignore? Probably not. But when we’ve been making lots of decisions for a long time, our brains can get tired, and our decisions will start to get worse and worse. That’s decision fatigue.

Reschedule your big decisions

If you find yourself needing to make a large financial decision later in the day (say, at the end of your shift, or just late in the afternoon), postpone it, if at all possible, to the next morning. You’ll be much better at making that decision early in the morning when you haven’t already had a full day of decision-making, and the outcome will probably be much better.

Save the little things for last

They might not be the best, but your smallest financial decisions should certainly be saved for last. If you can schedule all of your smaller decisions (like, what movie you’re going to see this weekend) for later in the day, it’s okay if you’re suffering from a bit of decision fatigue already, because these decisions will have very little financial impact in the long-term. 

Frontload your day with bigger decisions

The early bird gets the worm, and the early decision-maker makes the best decisions (the closer to sunrise, the better!). So, if you’re going to make a decision about things like investments, or buying a car, you should make it early in the day, to avoid the possibility of decision fatigue hitting you and impacting your ability to make your best decisions.

Make a checklist

Something as simple as making a list early in the day can be helpful in avoiding decision fatigue. Even if you still have to do the thing later, you’ve already made the decision to do the thing, so decision fatigue can’t catch you by surprise. This works better with things you can act on, like “I will prep vegetables for dinner when I get home from work; it prevents you from needing to make a decision about dinner later.