My husband Mike is a notorious miser who only wants to spend money on ‘appreciating assets.’ I love that as much as the next gal, but I also have a soft spot for spending money on ‘Sonic Cokes.’
Back in the early 2000's, a paperback economist coined the phrase: “The Latte Factor.” Besides demonizing innocent caffeine addicts like myself, he equated spending $5 a day on a gourmet coffee (or about half that on some sweet styrofoam-wrapped Sonic ice soaked in soda) as the short path to financial Hades. Because it’s just a little bit of money a day, it doesn’t feel like it adds up. I think the book ends by saying if you quit buying lattes on your way to work, it would save you about $100 a month, which is $1,200 bucks a year, and if you put that into your retirement account then that would translate into a Bill Gates-ian fortune at retirement.
This past week, Muskogee Public Schools asked us to think about what we could do in Muskogee if we all came together and invested a little bit of cash in the future of our community.
Their plan looks like this: Major renovations at every elementary school. A new ninth-grade center. A new sports complex with a football stadium and basketball field house. Major renovations to the high school, including new choir and band halls — be still my fluting heart! A new early childhood center for the itty bitties and major renovations to Sadler. There are more details, but here’s the short version: our community gets schools that befit students in the digital age.
MPS has crunched the numbers, and no surprise, all that cool stuff costs money. A Bill Gates-ian amount, truth be told. $110 million. So, short of winning the lottery, how can Muskogee possibly afford all that?
Luckily, the best part about living in community is that no one has to pick up the tab alone.
Here’s what it’ll take: from everyone who pays property taxes on real estate valued at $50,000, we’ll need a buck a week. That’s 14 cents a day or $50 a year.
For those who own property valued at $200,000, it works out to less than $5 a week. 68 cents a day. About $250 a year. If you’re between those numbers, I’ll let you do your own rough estimate. Warning: you might have to cross-multiply. And if you’re above that — don’t fret, you can probably afford it.
My mother-in-law grew up in Muskogee and went to ARJH 70 years ago. Last month, she walked through those same doors to see her granddaughter at an awards ceremony. She told me the seats in the auditorium were the same ones she sat on in 1950.
Those chairs had a good run and we got our money’s worth. But it’s a new day and we are two decades into another millennium.
As I sit here writing with my Sonic Coke in hand, and perhaps as you read this with your Sunday morning latte, one thing is clear to both me and my penny-pinching sweetheart: The question isn’t whether we can AFFORD it. The question is do we have the WILL to invest a few bucks to provide great opportunities and facilities for our children and grandchildren? Without question, our kids are appreciating assets.
So, $110 million, give or take. We got this! Just a little bit from each of us turns into a latte.
Holly Rosser Miller has lived and worked in Muskogee for 18 years.