Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Receipts and reimbursement

This week I'm trying to finish all of the paperwork to get reimbursed from my grants for my expenses in Ukenzagapia. Wow. It's insane.

While I was gone for 5 weeks, I had a little weekly planner in which I wrote down every expense (even 2 cents) and noted if I didn't get a receipt or shared a receipt with another person (i.e. Helen). Sometimes you just can't get a receipt, like for the avocado and mango you bought on the street. Still, I diligently recorded all of these expenses, marking personal expenses such as gifts with a star. I put receipts in an envelope and tried to always get receipts for expenses more than about $5, even I had to get them to use my receipt book. I didn't always succeed for various reasons.
On Monday I sat down with my planner, receipts, and receipt book to add it all up. Then I took out all of the expenses for which I didn't have a receipt (they totaled about $75- not bad). Next I categorized the expenses in the same way I'd written my grant budgets. Then I had to split the expenses between two grants which are administered by two different institutions (UBC and BNHM). Each grant had a spreadsheet and about 15 pages of receipts individually numbered and taped to sheets of paper- all in a different currency.

I can't even imagine what it will be like when I'm in the field for months instead of one month.

To make matters worse, when I get all of these reimbursements, I have to give a big chunk of it back to UBC because they seriously screwed up my advance before I left so it has to be done in this nonsensical, convoluted way. They're not used to doing advances for grad students. I've been meaning to mention that when I receive official correspondence from UBC about my grants that they address me as "Dr. Anirak" which is several years premature and thus endlessly amusing.


EcoGeoFemme said...

yuck. Can you do it by per diem instead?

Karina said...

That's a really good question. I have no idea how that works. It seems like though at this point I might as well continue with my meticulous method, but I should remember to ask about that in the future!

JaneB said...

Definitely try and ask about a per diem subsistence rate - you have evidence from your meticulous accounting this visit of what would be a fair rate. Per day is just so much less hassle even when travelling to the remoter parts of my own country, never mind exotic locales... For example, receipts from China could be for absolutely ANYTHING and noone here would be any the wiser

Silver Fox said...

Per diem can be a great way to go if it compensates well. You could have a perdiem for all food and housing, and you could have a mileage rate for any travel, instead of gas receipts (if you have those). Then you'd only have receipts for unusual items, like various office or field supplies. Also, have the spreadsheets do as much of the calculations as possible so you can just enter numbers - I realize that won't work for the currency conversions unless you can get them to use one rate per trip or week or something.