Thursday, June 16, 2011


I'm working on the accounting for my last trip. I swore I was going to keep on top of entering my expenses, which I did for about 6 weeks and then everything like that (and reading email) went to hell once we really started working 7 days a week. I recorded the vast majority of it in my daily planner, but now once again I'm having to sort out which expenses came from which pot of money, exactly.

There was a withdrawal and currency exchange transaction for which I didn't have receipts this time, and I was sitting here thinking, "Did I change $200 at that place? Or was it $300?" I was about to email Cam to ask if he remembers (yeah right), when I flipped back through my notebook where I write all sorts of misc things, and sure enough I wrote it down. $300 it is! That means I can account for all $4570 that I brought in USD! I haven't figured out yet how much of the Ukenzagapian currency I can account for, but I'm pleased as punch about the USD. I still have to figure out how much I have left in my big grant, how much of our money I spent, and how much money I spent from what Sam gave me. I have receipts all over the place.

When I'm in the field, about 1/3 of the things I write in my book are money-related, and because I'm kind of paranoid about Ukenzagapians overseeing the sums of money I manage, I tend to write in a way that makes it unclear which currency I'm working with (or even that I'm writing about money at all). This is not very good if I have to look back at my notes to figure stuff out. I need to be more clear about this!

While I'm thinking about money, that reminds me that I still have to actually do our taxes from 2010, and I'm still not 100% clear if I have to pay taxes on research awards even if I can clearly account for the research expenses, but I think the answer is yes (because they aren't "qualified educational expenses"). I'd be much happier paying these taxes if we had universal single-payer healthcare and if 60% of it didn't go towards war.


African Fieldworker said...

Bring a gallon sized ziplock bag (or envelopes or whatever), you could have one for each grant or type of expense, whichever works better for you (I ended up with like 15 envelopes of different expenses). Number the receipts (just write the number on the back- no one will see it once you tape it onto paper to submit) and keep an excel file or a notebook you record in.

For dealing with the university, find out if you can get some of your money as per diem- at my university you can do this if living expenses are in your grant and you do not have to produce receipts (unless audited, which I've not heard of happening- keep them anyway). This means no messing with the proof of exchange rate and document prep (this killed hours of my time in the field). It means you can be a bit messier with your records; I always had a ton of receipts for food and such, I could just sum them and make 1 entry on my spreadsheet and know that the receipts were in the right envelope. If I ever have to show them, I'll have to spend the time organizing.

Hope that helps!

Anonymous said...

I am a new ecology student and I have never thought about this before..we have to pay taxes on our research funds we receive?!

How does that work? That wasn't income for ME..its all work related..


African Fieldworker said...

it's not about paying taxes, it's required for the funding agency. At least the ones I've had.

EcoGeoFemme said...

This sounds so complicated!