Budget Salary Estimations

I’ve been thinking about budgets, partially b/c I just went through a protracted experience of getting the school to give me access to the remaining part of my startup (from almost 5 years ago! And while I was repeatedly told the remaining amount was non-expiring, it was just given to me in an account that expires 5 years from now…). Regardless, the goal is to spend down these remaining institutional funds while bolstering my research group, largely through personnel additions and management.

For that reason, I created a simulation of how personnel salary + other operational costs would exhaust my current funding portfolio (currently one R21 that ends in a year, an R35 that ends in 2 years, and the aforementioned remaining startup account). The black line in the plot below shows this happening, with the line terminating around the 3 year mark. This is presumably around when I would expect to run out of money, if zero future action were taken.

Now, keep in mind that there are some MAJOR assumptions going on here:
1. This simulation assumes that I DO NOT receive another grant in the next 5 years. Of course that will not be the case.
2. Aside from Nisha’s intended graduation date, the rest of the end dates are very roughly estimated. In the case of research staff, this is assumed to be indefinite for two of the individuals. Of course, if money ends up getting tight, A) my salary will end up going down some, which will help alleviate costs, and B) I’ll let go of research staff as necessary, and well before there are impacts on students (to which there is a larger commitment).
3. Everything is modeled as a daily recurring expenditure. In real life, I think everything behaves more like discrete sums that are added into the account yearly (like NIH budgets) or monthly / bimonthly (like salaries).

Note: It goes into the negative values since it’s allowing the startup not spent by the end of R35 in two years to subsequently exhaust (that’s when the line ends).

Now, I’m actively trying to recruit more personnel to the lab, at this point largely in the form of PhD students. That’s what the additional colors on the plot are. A singular PhD student would be the orange line, and two new PhD students would be the red line.

Especially in light of the fact that I *have* to spend that startup (or it presumably goes *poof* into the administrative ether), looks like I’m going to be good for at least a couple of years in the worst-case scenario. Regardless, this really does help me frame what I need to be doing at a given time. If financial situations were dire or particularly worrisome, I would be focusing on writing grant applications right now. Based on the above plot, I think it makes a lot more sense for me to devote focus on publishing existing projects and further developing preliminary evidence to increase the success rates of grant applications I could just as well submit in a year.