Guys, I’m here to tell you about an affliction that I came down with after buying my house. Post-house stress disorder or PHSD. It could happen to you. It’s a real thing. (That I just made up. But trust me, it’s rill.)
So spoiler, I love my house. It’s been a little over a year since our house was built, and I still sometimes just sit back in my living room, look at the walls around me and think about how lucky I am to call this home.
It’s not a big house or a fancy house, but of all of the things I’ve ever spent money on, it’s my favourite.
I like to think that it has feelings and that it knows how much I love it, and as a result, it will be good to me and not fall apart.
Probably the biggest reason I love it so much is that I’m not a slave to it; I’m not house-poor.
Before we bought, my husband and I crunched the numbers and saved hard. We bought a house well under the amount we qualified for; I knew what our monthly expenses would be to the dollar; and I had a spreadsheet that accounted for nearly every single upfront and ongoing cost that we could possibly be expected to pay.
I lived and breathed that spreadsheet. I was super fun to be around.
But as much as I planned and prepared, and as much as I am completely happy with how home ownership has treated me, there was a dark side that I never saw coming.
Dun dun dunnnn.
I wasn’t prepared for the emotional and psychological impact of wiping out our savings.
Real talk – in the months after we bought the house, I went into kind of a dark and twisty place of stress and anxiety. This is like… walking around, wringing my hands, “woe is me” level tension.
I was the Soup Nazi of spending. I scrutinized every dollar and stayed up at night regretting purchases (but not frivolous things… I mean things like groceries and toilet paper).
It was actually a big part of how I racked up my credit card debt – to “protect” the remaining cash in our accounts, I started putting things on credit and not paying it off in full.
Throughout the whole thing, I knew rationally that I was fine, financially.
When I say we wiped out our savings, what I mean is we wiped out the savings that we had specifically saved for the house.
I took advantage of the Home Buyers’ Plan and cleared out my RRSP to put towards our down payment, and I had a separate high interest savings account for the rest of the down payment and our closing costs.
We didn’t touch our pension accounts, retirement savings, emergency fund, TFSA or even our “fun” savings. Plus, what was left on my student loan was easily manageable, we were living below our means, and we were continuing to put money back into our various savings accounts every month.
But I was still feeling anxious about money.
It took me a long time to figure out why I was feeling the way I was, and it wasn’t until a friend of mine made a joke about taking a picture of her down payment cheque to remember it by (#truth), that I realized what was happening.
I was grieving for my savings.
I was in full on mourning mode without realizing it.
I had gotten used to having a substantial amount of cash at my fingertips, and in the end, I wanted to keep my savings and have my house too.
I never had any buyer’s remorse and I don’t regret our home purchase for a second, but I missed having those high numbers greeting me when I logged into my cash accounts or my RRSP.
Even though we spent it on exactly the things we saved it for, I wasn’t mentally prepared to start from scratch in those accounts.
Basically, my scarcity mentality went into overdrive.
I’m not a big spender by nature, and I had just gone and spent a huge chunk of change – that was bound to leave an impact, but I had never stopped to think about it.
Once I could actually name the problem – even if I made up the name of the problem myself – it was a lot easier to deal with it.
I still track every cent and live beneath my means, and I still check my savings accounts more than I should, just to remind myself that they’re there and growing.
But I get a good night’s sleep knowing that my savings are automated and there’s little I can do to screw that up. They’re in good shape and trucking along steadily. If an emergency happens, I’m taken care of. My budget and expense tracking means there aren’t surprises waiting for me when I check my bank accounts.
I saved all of that money for a reason, and it served its purpose well. Now it’s on to the next financial goal.
Fellow sufferers, there is hope – I am finally recovering from my PHSD, and you can too.
Have you ever missed your savings after spending it on the end goal? Share your story with me so I know I’m not alone ; )