PSA: PHSD

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.

love

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.

panic

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 ; ) 

8 thoughts on “PSA: PHSD

  1. I completely agree with this! I just dropped a bunch of my savings on a house down payment two months ago, and I’m definitely grieving for that money. It was my security blanket, and now it’s gone. I’m handling it by slowly adding money to my various savings accounts and being mindful not to let my scarcity mindset flare up again.

    1. Ughhh it’s the worst feeling! It sounds like you’ve got an awesome handle on it though! It’s so funny, because a downpayment is exactly what we save for, so we know it’s going to be gone at some point, but it’s hard to let it go. I’m sure in most cases too, it takes years to get to that downpayment number, so it makes sense that it takes time to slowly build it back up again but patience has never been one of my strong suits haha. Thank you for a) the tips and b) letting me know I’m not alone. Maybe we should start a PHSD support group 😀

  2. I am unbelievably sure that this is going to be exactly how I react to dropping $30K in cold hard cash on a house someday. I’m glad I won’t be alone on that, and glad I’ve got this handy roadmap on how to handle it, haha. Thank you for the insight and the crazy-great post, AS USUAL!

    1. You are amazing. Thank you. And I’m now sorry if I’ve given you anxiety about potential future anxiety haha. I’m naturally a kind of high strung person, so I certainly don’t expect everyone to have to deal with this, but I think for people who place a high importance on savings, it’s harder to let go of those dollars. This means it’s possible that you will be doomed, but have no fear, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and those of us who have survived will be here to help you through 😛 Plus, you’d be the person I’d put my money on to have that savings account filled back up first, given your kick ass savings rate!

  3. Thanks for the awesome visuals I was laughing at your misery while reading this post, but in a good way! I think that your experience is probably a super common one, but just like the common cold nobody expects it to happen to them!

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hahaha, thank you Josh, I am glad you laughed at my misery. I’m laughing at myself now too, even if at the time, I was feeling pretty hopeless. It’s kiiind of ridiculous. But damnit, I got emotionally attached to those dollars! You’re right too, the more people I talk to, the more common it seems to be, but I had never heard about it before and had never expected it. There needs to be a telethon or something to raise awareness, seriously.

  4. I want to say that I dropped something like $7,000 on a 6 week trip to Australia and New Zealand a few years ago. As soon as i landed in Auckland, I was thinking to myself “what the heck am I doing? “, How could I spend that much money on somethnig? But it was a great travel experience and would my life be any different today fi I had that extra cash?

    You will most likely spend a lot of time in your house and have lots of memories there, so I’d say the investment is well worth it even if when you peek at your accounts, you see smaller numbers. 😀

    To me the fact that you saved for a specific goal and followed through with realizing that goal is deserving of some major props, but I absolutely understand the stress from my five years as a homeowner.

    1. Okay, taking a 6 week trip to Australia and New Zealand for $7K sounds amazing!! Especially because you spent the money on an experience that sounds like it was unforgettable. That’s one regret I have so far, not travelling enough yet. I still have time to make up for it, but I do wish I had started saving a travel fund earlier! Once I make it to Australia on my bucket list, I’ll have to get some recommendations from you! ; )

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