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How My Money Mindset Changed When I Bought A House

November 14, 2018
How My Money Mindset Changed When I Bought A House| Tiny Ambitions

Buying a house is one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in your life. Unless, of course, you’re into buying super and hyper cars. In which case, can we be friends?

In all seriousness though, a house purchase is a massive financial decision. I know it was for me when my partner and I took the plunge back in June. The new house buzz hasn’t really worn off yet and I kind of hope it never does.

However, buying a house has had interesting impacts on my money mindset. In some ways, these shifts were expected, but in others, I didn’t see them coming at all.

Here’s how my money mindset changed when I bought a house.

What Do You Mean, I Can’t See the Future?

Ever since we bought the house, I’ve had periodic bursts of panic about the future. Specifically, what happens if our financial situation changes? What if we lose one or both of our incomes?

This is not a fear that is unique to homeownership. But, my perception while we were renters we if we ever needed to, we could find a cheaper place in town, or find someone to take over our lease and move back to southern Ontario altogether. In my mind, renting seemed to have a lot more escape options.

Our mortgage is different. Or rather, it feels different. Sure, if it came down to it, we could sell the house and cut our losses. But that seems like a logistical, red-taped nightmare that I would like to avoid at all costs.

Mortgage means “dead pledge” – and the binding nature of that is the part that’s been weighing heavily on my mind.

Freedom, With A Side of Fries, Please

Somewhat paradoxically, owning (part) of a house has allowed me to feel a tiny bit of financial freedom that I’ve never felt before. Barring any structural or health-impacting changes that need to be done, I don’t have to do a single thing in the house that I don’t want to do. That means I can spend my money on the house however I want.

I am currently exercising the freedom to not spend money to fill the various nail holes and patch some paint left behind by the previous owners. I would never let my house fall into disrepair. But, I will sure as heck avoid filling those nail holes for as long as possible because I frankly don’t care that they’re there and I just don’t want to do it.

We also have some big plans for renos in the spring (primarily in the backyard), and it is so cool that we have control over every decision we make. Well, us, and the city permit office.

Taking My Investments Up A Notch

Brace yourself – I don’t view my house as an equity building asset. I see it as a very lovely liability – a liability that I happen to love, but a liability nonetheless. And I know some of my personal finance peeps will back me up on this.

My home is not going to be my retirement strategy. That’s what my investment portfolio is for. Right around the time we purchased the house, I upped my asset allocation in Wealthsimple from Balanced to Growth.

It might have been the most stressful thing I did with my money all year (with the exception of buying the house, of course). But, thanks in part to my awesome personal finance friends, I knew I need to take advantage of as many years of aggressive compound interest as possible.

Goodbye, money-sucking inflation.

Thank u, next.

What’s One More Trip to the Home Improvement Store?

Here’s a secret I wish homeowners had told me before we purchased our house – you’ll spend inordinate amounts of time walking aimlessly through the aisles of home improvement stores. Weekends used to be for napping and being lazy and its ‘we need this thing from the store’.

I’m no longer phased by these trips or their accompanying bills. Sometimes, they’re small, and sometimes, they’re not so small. But, at a certain point, I realized that’s just the cost of owning and maintaining a house.

I didn’t get to opt out of fixing the leak in our roof after a massive storm. It’s just part of my job now. And, watch out world because I’m adding roof repair to the skills section of my resume.

I don’t want to classify any of these money mindset shifts as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. They’re just different and new to what I’m used to dealing with as a renter.

Some of them are more productive (hello, aggressive investing), than others (looking at you, panic about the unknowable future). But, overall, it’s just my new normal.

I’m sure I’ll experience new money mindset shifts as I get further into homeownership. But, these are the ones I’ve been dealing with so far.

Have you ever experienced a money mindset shift after a big life event? How did you tackle it?

P.S. if you missed the latest episode of Tiny Bites, all about leaning into seasonal change, you can listen to it here.

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  • Amanda November 22, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    The biggest change in my money mindset happened when I moved in with my now-husband. I was struggling financially before I met him – working 2 jobs, barely making ends meet, obsessively devouring personal finance articles and tracking every cent I made or spent in my multiple spreadsheets.

    And then I moved in with a spender… Oh boy! Did that ever change things! (Except the struggling financially part, unfortunately.) But I’ll just leave it at that, for now, before this comment turns into a rant 😉

    • Britt November 22, 2018 at 5:06 pm

      It’s so interesting to see what happens to our finances when other people are involved in them. I don’t know that mine changed a lot when I moved in with Mr. TA. If anything, I probably became more financially responsible and ‘minimalist’.

  • Melissa November 17, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    I totally get the whole panic feeling with a mortgage. I think what you feel is normal. Maybe figure out backup strategies for any ‘worst case’ scenario you can imagine? That usually helps. It might also just take time to get used to a new responsibility. The fact that you have an awareness and think about it makes me think you’ll handle anything that comes your way just fine.

    • Britt November 17, 2018 at 4:34 pm

      Thanks, Melissa! I’m working on building up an emergency fund for any worst case scenarios that might come up. That has certainly been helping to put my mind at ease.

  • Tread Lightly, Retire Early November 16, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    It’s been more than seven years since we bought our home and that sense of freedom, while no longer new, is still there. Granted, it means when the refrigerator dies, we have to be the ones to replace it, but it also means that we were the ones to decide on a whim to rip up all the carpet to see just how bad the hardwoods were underneath (they really weren’t terrible, and we still haven’t refinished them).

    • Britt November 16, 2018 at 11:10 pm

      The freedom piece is definitely a double edged sword. Also- good condition hardwood is the dream, Angela! The dream!

  • Sylvia November 15, 2018 at 7:54 pm

    Mortgages & mindsets – the biggest thing for me has been to scale back just how much of an investment I view my home as. For me, I decided to buy a house because I was tired of ‘throwing my money away’ with renting. Now, it’s tempting to sink every paycheck and extra side-hustle penny I’ve got into chipping away at the principal / building equity since ‘that was the whole point’. Unless I consciously stop myself, I’d completely allow myself to be house-poor.

    • Britt November 15, 2018 at 9:05 pm

      That’s such a big one! We’re sold the idea that our homes are always a good financial investment and that’s just not the case in reality. Good for you for making that commitment to pay off more of your principal and interest! Thanks for reading.

  • theluxestrategist November 15, 2018 at 9:24 am

    “Renting seemed to have a lot more escape options.” This is how I feel, too. The idea if being locked into a mortgage I think would make me a lot more conservative about money.

    And the amount of freedom you suddenly have can be liberating, but also overwhelming at the same time! I’m considering painting our bedroom in our rental, but even that is a project…

    • Britt November 15, 2018 at 6:09 pm

      Absolutely! It’s definitely made me more conservative with my money. It’s almost created an illusion of a scarcity mindset.

      And you’re right – everything is a project. I’ve had some serious project overwhelm and fatigue from even the smallest of tasks.

    Hey! I'm Britt. I write about living a tiny, simple, intentional life. Because life doesn't need to be lived big.