This whole slow motion collapse crap is kind of a drag. It was a lot more fun when doom was going to be sudden and widespread. How naive I was in my younger days. Instead it's a slow grind downwards.
It's friends either being on the edge of losing their houses or actually having lost them. Good well paying middle class jobs have been replaced with low wage jobs. Even people who make better than minimum wage have discovered their work week cut to 30 hours or less.
Remember free medical insurance? Now many of us are free from medical insurance.
Official inflation numbers may not be too bad, but food and fuel are not factored in. Poor folk are acutely aware what those things really cost. That is, if you can get real food. It seems much of our food has been replaced with the factory produced chemical known as high fructose corn syrup. Package size has shrunk and quality has gone down.
As a prepper, my strategy has to change. I must admit that I got a surprise when my pension suddenly dropped a $1,000 August payment I used to get. Maybe I should have been paying more attention to what was going on in the state legislature, but watching those guys makes me crazy. I'd factored in the fact that there would be no more cost of living raises and thought that was good enough. Planning for steady drops in income now looks like a necessity. Expenses can only be reduced so far. Increasing my self employment income will be the way to go.
A prepper can't just follow one strategy. Changing to adapt to different conditions is necessary.
Moving to the the country has been an overall good move.
Alternative energy has been a huge plus for my situation. Producing most of my energy has insulated me from steep rate increases. Being able to burn wood has almost totally eliminated my fuel oil and propane use, at a huge savings. If anything, eliminating reliance on the grid or fossil fuels, or at least reducing my use of them even more, makes sense.
Having a good well has saved a lot of money and provided peace of mind. Friends in town tell stories of huge water bills. My water is not free because I'm my own water works. If the well pump dies, that's my responsibility. However, since I put in the whole water system I can certainly repair it when it fails. So far, my “water bill” remains a tiny fraction of what city people pay.
No sewer bill for me either. Then again, I once dug up my whole leech field and repaired it by hand. The sewer bill has been paid, but not in money.
There are a couple of big negatives when it comes to living out in the woods. EMS services, police, and fire are a long ways off. I've medical kits, fire extinguishers, and guns. They are not perfect solutions, but they buy precious time.
One big downside to country living is transportation. There's no public transportation. at all. Everyone must drive their own car. Running vehicles on waste veggie oil has greatly reduced my transportation. bill. I'm not sure how long that will be a viable option, but it's worked for over a dozen years so far.
I've a good bicycle, so that's a good thing. Next summer I'd like to experiment with a 3 wheel solar electric powered bike. My wife's car, when it finally dies, won't be replaced with another car. Maybe we just won't go into town as often.
Collapse was a lot more fun when it was hypothetical and fast. It's real, here now, and a real pain. It's a slow gray grind. Of course, if you are one of the handful living like it's a new Gilded Age, you've no idea what the heck I'm talking about.
For the rest of us, look around and check how things are going. Where do think things are heading? What can you do about it? Have things matched up with your expectations?