Have you ever heard of anything as silly as this? You pay big bucks for whatever kind of heating system you need. Every member of your household, from the dog right up to Grandma, is excited because now you will finally be comfortable in your home.

Soon after learning of your plans, however, two or three Facebook friends whisper in your ear that you can save a few pennies if you turn down the heat just enough so you are constantly uncomfortable.

You know what we are talking about here if you have ever heard these words: “Set thermostat to 68 degrees. For every degree you lower your thermostat below 70, you’ll save an easy 5 percent on your heating costs. Just a 2-degree decrease, from 70 to 68 degrees, rounds up to a nice 10 percent cut in your energy expenses.”

Heed them not, but persevere.

Following this to its logical conclusion, by lowering the temperature setting far enough, you will eventually reach a point where the oil dealer will owe you money.

Saving on heating expenses has attendant ramifications. While vacuuming the living room rug, you can be quite comfortable in a snowmobile suit. But what do you put on over it later that morning when you go out to shovel a path to the barn?


I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to spend my golden years in an icebox of a house just so my heirs will have more than enough cash to winter in a liveried mansion in Jamaica.

If you ask this old man (who hates Maine winters), an Airstream camper, a truck big enough to haul it and lazy warm months in Mexico sound like more fun than a mansion in Jamaica.

Would it take much to finance such a retirement? Is determining your own Mexican itinerary in an Airstream less expensive than living in a Florida retirement community, where the lot rent or association fees shoot up faster than a grandchild? We are not discussing fantasy here, but we have followed the Facebook posts of young friends who introduced us to Airstream travel in Mexico.

With the aid of Google Maps, I have driven with our friends down through the towns and cities on the west coast of Mexico and have crossed over below Mexico City and up into the Yucatan.

If you have never used Google Maps to walk or drive about the streets in other countries, you might give it a try.  The first thing I look for in any country is litter. The Mexican streets I have seen, while walking them on Google Maps, are very clean. Perhaps most Mexicans cannot afford to accumulate the number of motorized machines that we see by many Maine houses, but from what I have seen on Google Maps, Mexico is a very neat and organized country. My young friends who are there report that, although they are not pushy, our southern neighbors are very industrious and many are on the streets selling everything from water to windshield wipers. To date we have heard nothing of the famed Mexican bandits, perhaps because our young friends do not make a habit of staggering out of bars at 2 a.m. One can’t also help but wonder if these purported bandits are promoted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which would have us “See the USA first.”

A few young Maine people, who were able to retire early only because they heated their home with the breath from four large dogs, will miss out on an interesting retirement, simply because they can’t imagine anything more exciting than sharing a cruise ship with 3,000 people who look and think just like they do.


However, if you have the cash and are past the age where you can comfortably walk or drive to the market, a cruise ship with all its amenities might be a pleasant alternative to assisted living.

No matter how cold they kept their homes in February, many wealthy Mainers will never retire anywhere for the simple reason that they have locked themselves into a lifestyle that requires massive influxes of cash. They eat in restaurants once or twice a week – leaving pathetic tips. They fritter away cash in bars. They go to shows or movies.

Some will try to milk a bit of sympathy by wistfully explaining that they buy their clothes at Goodwill. “Goodwill?” I exclaim. “This warm coat was a gift from a widow who was cleaning house.”

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at:

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