Wednesday, February 25, 2009

spending that startup funding

I'm not a haggler. I suck at it: even in other countries where I've spent a decent amount of time and know how much things should cost, I always pay too much because I hate arguing over prices with some guy who makes two bucks a week.

Right now I'm looking into purchasing some big-money items using my startup funds. I'm rearranging some of my original plans, reevaluating whether I can use smaller pockets of cash designated for X to buy a really nice Y that I think would be far more useful than X anyway. I'm having stress over my limited pot of money, even though it's a nice pot and I'm not at the bottom of it yet.

This is kinda fun, but also very annoying because I have to talk to salesmen. And all the equipment I'm familiar with was purchased at least five years ago; who knew they'd come up with so many fancy new versions of everything! Do I really need superawesome software package A? Maybe. Probably not. But what if I DO??

Also, even when I think I know exactly what I want, I have no way of knowing whether I'm getting over-sold. I talk to microscope guy, for example, and I say that I want a microscope that does X Y and Z. And he says, ok you want Microscope L. Great. But, really? Maybe microscope J would have done the same shit for $1500 less, but given that nothing is priced and everything has a long list of options for every model, I have no idea whether I could have put together a package that would fit my needs for less money. More importantly, I can't find out without running into a major character flaw: I'm afraid of looking stupid in front of salespeople. I don't know why I have this issue, or why I can't bring myself to just say, look I'm hoping to get a Microscope that does all this amazing stuff for less than Z amount of money. Because I'm afraid I'll get this crazy look and they'll say, look crazy lady, you can't get a microscope like that for less than Z amount of money. What do you think this is, 2003?

I've been putting off these decisions, but I can't do it anymore. I have two years to spend my cash, and year one is drawing to an end in the near future. Also, it'd be nice to have some of my equipment ready to go in the fall. I think I'll end up erring in favor of slightly nicer/more expensive versions when I'm in doubt, if only because, hell, I'd rather not end up with a useless very expensive item. However, I've already had to cross a few things off my list of shit I wanted to buy - in part because in reality my research plans here won't really need them, and in part because I wanted to upgrade other items. This has been a lesson in appropriately budgeting for a startup package. And I think I wouldn't be so worried if it wasn't completely impossible to get basic equipment through grants.

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