As I set here reading the latest blogs, in my warm house, drinking good coffee, I had to think back to a comment made about 40 years ago by a good friend who was Amish. He was in his early 80's and had lived through many changes in his lifetime. When he was born in the 1880's perhaps 80 % of the people in the US lived in just about the same manner as they did and other than the religious differences, they were for all purposes part of mainstream America. Everyone heated with wood or coal, used horses, had no electricity, little medical care and so. His comment was that he could live in one world, the simple life, or the other, the more complex life, but not both at the same time. He used the simple example of electricity. If he had it installed, then he had to pay a bill every month, even if he did not use, he had to buy light bulbs, replace them as they burned out, be tempted to get a pump for his well and a pressure tank and plumb his house for water, then he would need a septic tank for his indoor plumbing, and heat to keep the pipes from freezing and then books or something to fill the evenings when they were awake and had the light to do things. Then he had to sell something, time or goods, to pay for those expenses. This brought him into the "English" system and he had to do something to earn the money and that also required more expenses, a couple more cows perhaps for some milk money, or more chickens for egg money, or a couple extra hogs to sell, or a part time job in town for the "English". This either required more feed or the expense of going to work. Either way, what started out as "lights" to replace a kerosine lamp, now required a monthly payment of many times the kerosine bill and required it even if he didn't use it or have the money. At some point, the 80 acres and horses, would no longer cover the expenses of living and paying for the "lights" and you had to get a tractor in order to get the "cash" crops in and harvest them and then you needed more land to pay for the tractor and the gas and you had the ability to farm that extra land. At that point, you no longer had time for the fellowship of the church or leading the good life and became just another farmer wearing dark clothing and a funny hat. If we were forced to live a fully sustainable life, which many of our forefathers did, what would we have to give up? My phone, internet, and cable bill exceed $200 a month and I budget about $15 a month into a fund to replace the laptops that seem to last about 3 years before they self destruct or are replaced as "obsolete". Being 77, my wife and I have "free" medical care that costs about $700 a month and doesn"t cover teeth, eyeglasses, nor hearing aids. Our "light" bill is about $120 a month and propane for cooking and hot water is about $50 a month. Our property taxes are about $250 month. My house and car insurance bills total about 175 a month. Thus my "light" bill is about $1500 a month and that isn't allowing for food, heat, repair or replacement costs, and having the house and car paid for. The cost of "civilization" and its benefits, taxes, insurances, easy heat, light, food, medical care, are very high and more and more of us are being forced to either give up some security, insurances etc, or depend on the government to furnish them. In the present time, before TSHTF, what is the sustainable level in your life and what are you willing to compromise in order to reach that level. I am spending over half my income in an attempt to moderate SHTF events that are occurring in our lives. $700 a month health insurance, wife has had tripple bypass heart surgery, hystrectemy, appendix out, eye surgery, needs back surgery, etc. I have had a stroke, pancreas quit, and so on. Medical costs would have been in excess of $400,000 without insurance, so the $700 a month has prevented us from losing everything. What are your "sustainable " expenses, now and after TSTF.