Economic issues are a fairly mundane reason to think of LTS, but nonetheless, the most likely man-made disaster we all can face.

OK, here's a scenario.

You lose your job, tomorrow. If you're like the vast majority of Americans, you're not going to have 6 months of cash and another job lined up at the same or greater salary.

So what would you do to conserve cash? I'm sure we all have the list of things that would go, the list of things that would stay.

Back in January, I "fired myself" and we went on what we called the "Oh S(&*&T" plan of economic management, as if all I had was part-time and contract work. We did a complete and accurate assessment of our spending and not only did we discover a lot of the "regular" expenses to be cut (ALL subscriptions to ANYTHING that's not a utility, magazines, Netflix, all of that - we don't have a TV, so we didn't have to cut off Cable subscriptions) we also found a pile of ways to cut back expenses which we implemented:

- We stopped using the landline phone, and turned to Skype, which has a huge number of handsets that work well with it, so it's like using a regular phone, but much much cheaper. We keep the DSL service so we have real 911 and a real dialtone, but only for 911 calls. We also use prepaid cellular phones (I'm a big tracfone fan) at a great savings and NO MONTHLY BILL.

- We stopped going out to eat so much. We didn't cut that out entirely, but we set an absolute maximum of $100 a month for ready-to-eat food consumed out of the home. That means pizza, coffee, snacks, whatever. We loaded the van and my jeep with kid chow for when they gripe about wanting a snack.

- Similarly, I brow-bag lunch and I brought a bunch of canned food to work for those inevitable times when I forget the lunch at home.

- We instituted a NO LEFTOVERS policy. We eat what we cook, and if we cook too much, we eat that until it's gone.

- We got more chickens, so now I sell more eggs and we'll have free meat in the fall when I cull the flock before winter.

- I drive slower and we drive MUCH less. We use maps and plan trips.

- I carpool when I can, and where I can. That's not easy.

And all of this while still very much employed. The effects have been great. We have cash to save, I have a lost weight and feel great. Not only that but I'm finding even more slack in my budget and we're cleaning that up too. I don't actually NEED 6 computers running at all times, and I don't really NEED a lawn tractor (sold it) and in fact, I've ditched almost all of my gas-powered machinery in favor of electric or manual. This spring was liberating - fewer engines to prep for the season, less oil and gas to buy - we're down to a chainsaw, a small lawn mower and a pressure washer, and the backup generator and I'm thinking about getting two goats to do away with the need for the lawnmower. I'm seriously thinking about an electric chain saw for the woodpile area at least.

Anyway, we're really re-evaluating the "hafta" list and finding it shorter than we expected. The bottom line benefits have been many. Try it.