Wednesday, September 3, 2008

"...a long straight row of firewood standing in the yard in springtime is like money in the bank."

And this is money in the tank.

Being frugal and freaked out about the winter to come, I've been stocking up on money, in the bank, to pay for fuel oil. When we moved to Maine back in May of double-aught-five, fuel oil was expensive- something like $2.69 a gallon. We did a price-lock pre-buy of, oh, $2000.00 worth and it saw us through the winter. In the winter of 06/07, I spread my investment portfolio; half up front and half on demand. I lost the bet and paid a bit more than the full lock in rate would give me.

Which brings us to election year, where worry and environmentalism and nannyism and speculation(ism?) have bought the price of oil and everything that is delivered by oil or once dated a girl whose cousin had a friend in the oil business has inflated.

So what we're looking at here is a 13/16 full 225 gallon tank. We're talking $799.80 worth of fuel oil. Oooooochie! Now this past winter, when the weather was cold and the roof was off the house, something like this lasted about 4 weeks. But then again, we had a plastic barrier and we were only running heat to the first floor... I'm praying this lasts 5-6 weeks of winter weather, 'cause man, $4,000 a year to heat a house is a bitch.

I love Maine, but to compare cost of utilities and other to a house of similar size and value, the one we lived in in Colorado, is a nice Roth IRA different. Sample cost of living/utilities in Maine:
Property Taxes, ~3200/year, pre-renovation.
Heat oil, $300/month annualized!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Electricity, $180/month. Yes, that's triple digits. I get to pay a "delivery" fee in addition to what I use.
Propane, $30/ month.
Water? Well, it's a well. So that's good. Keeping the emergency fund for when the pump goes. I'm not cynical, just a realist.
Plowing. Last year was spectacular! I paid about $800 for the convenience of being dug out. And we had a lot of snow storms.

Okay Colorado, what you got to say?

Taxes, $1200/year.
Heat Oil/ Utility natural gas, See electricity- one utilities company provided them both
Electricity, umm, are you sitting down? I dug into my Microsoft Money and, combined, Natural Gas and Electricity in our last year in Colorado ranged from a low of $95 in Sept 04 to a high of $177 in Feb of 05, in the heart of the winter.
Water, $45 every three months. Limits on sprinklers due to droughts... or shipping the water to California. Not sure which, it's just another good reason to bitch about Californians. *

So on a raw comparison, Maine is $2400 (that's +$200.00/month, y'all) more expensive for the taxes. It's $3900 (that's +325/month, y'all) on utilities. Add $800 for the plowing ( I never, ever shoveled in Colorado. Back out of the driveway in the morning over six inches of snow, come back in the afternoon and it was gone. Bright sunshine and a southerly facing driveway would melt it away) and we're summing to $7100 extra off the top.

Is it bad compared with our neighbors? Sure, in some ways; NH (the way Maine should be, as the clever bumper sticker says) has a utility company and no income/sales taxes. Oh, and Liquor stores strategically located to capture revenues from neighboring states. Mass is no relief, and who would want to live there? As a public service, Mass does provide the Red Sox to get us through the summers and the Patriots to get us through the winters, and the Kennedys and Kerrys to make us laugh.

7345 But when you drive over the bridge from Portsmouth NH into Maine, you know the rest of the country is behind you, with a buffer state of NH just in case. When you see that sign, "The way life should be," you have to smile and think of ball fields, woods, water, and friendship, and bumping into someone you know when you go out the door. In Colorado, by contrast, you'll trip over a Starbucks or a Home Depot when you walk out the door, and, if you can find your way out of the development, you'll be swinging the kids round to soccer practice spring, summer and fall in a Honda Odyssey or Ford Expedition anything less and you're in trouble. The lifestyle is quite different in the suburbs
our neighborhood in the mega block of Bowles and Kipling in Littleton, CO. Can you find waldo?
of Denver/Los Angeles/Atlanta/Chicago/Dallas/Boston/Orlando/Raliegh than it is in Maine:
Our home here in Manchester, Maine. The woods across the way have a huge pond and tons of trails.
Ayuh. Woods and water and family close enough to visit but not so far you have to stay too long.
My tank is full, there's some caulking in the new clapboards, and we're about to enter the season 'tis the reason' that God ave us Maine. The Fall.

*For those of you in the northeast, Californian = anyone from away, and therefore a relative term. Example: if you're from Maine, it's the Massholes. If you're from NH, it's the Massholes to the south, the Maniacs to the east and north, and those weirdos to the west in VT. Vermonters, you must wonder about up-staters, and of course you'd live in NH except that they're all so mean and close minded. A similar dynamic occurs in most regions of the country. In Colorado it was the Californication of Highlands Ranch (a Mission Viejo company!) and the onslought of Texans. I once overheard this on the slopes of Winter Park: "Bubba, don't go into the woods!" Texans hate the Okies and from what I hear, Michigan and Ohio aren't too fond of each other. I think that takes care of offending everyone with my closed-minded belittling beligerance.

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