Do you spend your own money on your research?
I’ve done so occasionally. There was a time when my university decided that certain common household items which I also use in my lab couldn’t be purchased with grant money. So I just paid for them myself. And when my grant is overspent, I sometimes won’t claim reimbursement, or will only claim partial reimbursement, for my annual trip to the ESA meeting. I rationalize this on the grounds that I always combine the trip with a vacation to visit family, making it difficult to separate flight segments into those that are reimbursable and those that aren’t. Plus I have so much fun at ESA it almost feels like a vacation anyway. 🙂 And I’ve occasionally spent small amounts of personal funds on other professional expenses, for various reasons.
I actually don’t mind doing this at all. My attitude is that it’s no different than deciding to spend money on anything else I might want to spend money on. I’m fortunate to be in a position where I can afford to spend some of my own money on my research, without having to give up paying the mortgage or the utility bills or anything like that. And of course, I’m only supplementing my grant a little bit with personal funds. If I didn’t have a grant, I wouldn’t be prepared to cover anything like the entire cost of my current research program (about $30,000/year) from personal funds.
I recall that years ago there was a news article in Science or Nature about scientists who were independently wealthy and so self-funded their research programs. This makes them throwbacks. Science hasn’t always been a profession. Professional science, funded by governments, grew out of the largely self-funded pursuits of gentleman amateurs, many of them wealthy. Darwin is a famous example, but far from the only one.
So, do you ever spend your own money on your research? How much do you spend? How often? Why?