It was time.
More than 4 years had passed since my husband upgraded his smart phone. In technology years, 4 years translates to forever. So being the supportive spouse that I am, I encouraged him to go to the Apple Store and get what he needed.
And he did - new phone, new case, and of course - new plan.
All of that translates into new charges in the amount of about $80 that we incur on a monthly basis.
I pay the bills in our family and I watch the pennies pretty closely, so an increase of $80 each and every month is something that I have to reconcile.
To my husband, who contributes to the bill pay but doesn't write the checks, $80 a month is less of an issue. He doesn't see that additional charge - he just knows he has a new phone with improved data access. He's happy and I'm happy that he's happy.
He doesn't actually see the bill - and it doesn't impact him that much.
That's how most of us feel about how we pay for our infrastructure - including me.
I drive A LOT. Just this week I've driven more than 330 miles. My Ford Escape gets 24 miles to the gallon - that means that it took just a little more than one tank of gas to drive all those miles. With combined state (26 cents) and federal taxes (18.4 cents), I pay a total of 44.4 cents per gallon to use the road. My car has a 13 gallon tank - meaning per tank (or roughly 330 miles) I only pay about $6.00 for using more than 330 miles of road.
I'm an above average user of our road network - all total I drive about 25,000 miles per year. Using the same math from above, I pay an estimated $462 for more than 25,000 miles of road.
Keep in mind, that out of that $462 per year that I pay, only about $271 goes to the state of Kentucky.
Just as my husband never sees his mobile phone bill, I never write a check for $462 per year for using the road network. Until I did the math, I had no idea how much I paid for using something that has an incredible impact on my ability to do everything I need to do.
In fact, in our household budget, that is the smallest fee we pay to use something that has an incredible impact on everything I do every single day.
And I expect a lot for that small amount of money. I expect the roads to be safe. I expect them to be well maintained (i.e pothole free). I expect them to be designed and built to move the millions of cars and trucks that are on the road with me.
And honesty - I'd pay more to ensure the roads were safe, that they were built to maximum capacity, and that the potholes were all patched quickly.
Maybe you don't agree with me.
But, just remember, when you're late to a meeting or late to pick up your child from daycare or you have to fix a broken axle on your car because you hit a pothole, you could have paid a few dollars more per year and saved yourself all that trouble - and it would have been less expensive than buying a new mobile phone.