The Business Trip

Currently I’m sitting in a hotel room in a small, college town in Ohio. I’m here for a week with the purpose of working with a collaborator for a week doing some research and planning and starting to write a research grant. I’m pretty excited about this trip as it will be my first visit to another University since becoming a professor. I’m really looking forward to spending some time in the lab with one of my favorite collaborators.

The problem? I have to put all of my expenses on to a credit card. So that’s about $200 worth of gas and about $800 worth of hotel costs. I don’t exactly have $1,000 just hanging around to pay for things like travel expenses, which was always a big problem when I was in graduate school as well.

The typical story goes something like this: Have to go to a conference or meeting. Have to pay for everything up front and then get reimbursed. Pull out the credit card because I don’t have $800-$2,000 in cash on hand to pay for these things. Use the credit card. Get used to the credit card. Keep spending on the credit card even after the conference is finished. Walk away with about $3,000 worth of debt and only around $2,000 is reimbursable.

An added problem is that my work has a spending freeze until July 1st. So even though I will get reimbursed for up to $800 of it (that is all the money we have in the budget for travel, everything over that will come from my personal income, which I knew ahead of time and was fine with) – I won’t get reimbursed for at least 2 months. Which is… all the more frustrating since I’ll be earning interest on my credit card.

All of this comes down to one conclusion: I need a larger emergency fund so that I can handle a $1,000 trip without issue. Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait until I’m not receiving furlough pay (again, July 1st), to start increasing my savings contributions. However, I’ll likely just use my extra money from my community college teaching gig to bulk up my savings (I’ll get ~$900 per paycheck for 4 paychecks over my normal salary starting June 15th).

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8 Responses to The Business Trip

  1. LBC Teacher says:

    I was beginning to worry about you SS4BC! Glad you’re back to blogging. And have fun on the trip. Remember: the credit card is ONLY for things that are reimbursed. Write it on a post-it and stick it in your wallet! Good luck!

  2. You’ll need to remember the typical story and make it atypical.

    Make sure your bank account is endo-cash-ic instead of exo-cash-ic. (See what I did there? Bad chemistry pun. My students will hate me.)

  3. Dave says:

    Does your college have Purchasing Cards (P-Cards)? I’m a graduate student right now and I’m able to use a university purchasing card for approved travel expenses. It’s billed direct to the university and I don’t pay anything out of pocket.

  4. Yeah, having slush for things like reimbursements, paycheck snafus etc. is really important. The university can be so slow!

  5. How absolutely annoying, especially about having to pay the interest. I wonder, could you try calculating the interest you’ll be paying between now and when you can be reimbursed, and add that to your expense claim? I think I’d try that. The worst they can do is say no to it, and it’s absolutely unfair for them to expect you to pay that interest. Even if you were paying cash, being out $1000 for a few months is tough and they shouldn’t expect it from you.

    I’ve missed you, btw!

  6. Pingback: Net Worth Update: May 2011 « Small Steps for Big Change

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