This boss in my company is retiring at the end of the month, he politely asked me if I could get an external hard drive so he could save personal pictures and videos along with other personal files stored on his work computer, he is no IT guy so I politely agreed.

For the sake of the argument let's say he gave me $50 USD when we talked about it and said he would give me the rest once I had bought it and knew how much it was.

Let's say I spent about $80, would it be ok for me to tell him that it's fine and he shouldn't worry about the rest? Would that seem weird or even petty?

I don't know him for long but he has been a friend of the family for a while, also I did get a recommendation from him when I started working here although I don't work directly with him.

I've never been in this position so I really have no idea if:

  • This would look desperate as in implying that I'm willing to give gifts in an attempt to keep or improve my current job.
  • This would seem petty as in I was pretending to chip in with himself in getting him some kind of farewell gift.
  • It actually seems like a nice symbolic gesture and is appreciated for what it is and not so much for the amount of money.

So is it appropiate to decline the money? Or should I just accept it and move on?

  • IMO you should have asked him before if an 80$ one was fine. In your situation I'd ask him that now, and if he answers yes then you're good. If he answers no, I'd buy him a 50$ one and keep/sell the 80$ one. That's the less awkward solution I can think about.
    – Tim
    Jun 22, 2017 at 16:59
  • I personally don't think the price is a problem, he probably only gave me that because it was the spare money he had at the time, and like I said my intention from the beginning was just to cover the rest of the amount, until I had second thoughts of course. Jun 22, 2017 at 17:09
  • You know your boss better than I do ;) But if it was me and my boss in this situation, that's what I would do. To me the amount he gives you is by extension the maximum amount you're supposed to spend for the item. I would personally feel uneasy to spend more than what I was given, even though (and even more btw) if the other guy proposes to pay the difference. Except if I specify at the beginning that "a bit more is fine".
    – Tim
    Jun 22, 2017 at 17:12
  • 1
    "he said he would give me the rest once I had bought it and knew how much it was" Couldn't be simpler; he wants you to tell him how much it was, so do that. Don't try and make a gift out of it, that would be weird.
    – Fattie
    Jun 22, 2017 at 23:47
  • Note - when you hand the device over. (Or, the empty box if you install it.) Just tape the invoice to the box and say nothing, just say "here's the drive! / box!" and then say "I'll get that installed straight away!". Simply say nothing at all about the price. That's one good approach. Hope it helps.
    – Fattie
    Jun 22, 2017 at 23:48

3 Answers 3


You should give him the receipt so he is going to know. If you don't give him the receipt he does not know it was $30 and you kept $20. Not giving him the receipt is much more awkward. Give him the drive and receipt but do not ask for the difference. He already told you that he would pay the difference. If you want to decline he pay the difference then fine but I think that would be awkward also.

  • Yes I think this is what I feel most comfortable with, I will let him know that I indeed paid more for it but I'm not asking for the money, and that I paid for it because I felt that was the best available choice, it was actually the cheapest I found. What if he insists on paying for though? Jun 22, 2017 at 19:56
  • Then take the money.
    – paparazzo
    Jun 22, 2017 at 19:57
  • 1
    If he insists on paying just take it and say nothing, just say "let's hope this drive works well!" And yeah you must hand over the receipt!
    – Fattie
    Jun 22, 2017 at 23:49
  • This is what I did. Set up the hard drive, did the backup, told him how to work it out and finally left the receipt, honestly I really don't care if he repays me, I just found it exhausting to think about the whole thing. Thanks. Jun 23, 2017 at 2:31
  • Update: in case you are still following this, he sent me the difference but let's say if he needed to send $30 USD he actually sent $40, I'm guessing I should give the rest back, would that be ok as well? Jun 26, 2017 at 21:20

First, tell him that you found an $80 one and ask if it's alright for him.

If he say yes you're good, he'll give you the difference by himself.

If he says no, buy a $50 one and keep or sell the $80 one. This way no one is weird or petty.

This might change depending on your location but I personally would feel uneasy if I asked someone to buy me a $50 item and the person comes back with an $80 one, whether he asks me for the $30 difference or not. Actually, if the person proposes to pay for the difference, I'd feel even more awkward since he lost some money in the process.

That's why I think in this situation you should have asked him before if he could go a bit higher than $50.

  • What if I didn't fully disclose the amount I spent? Say if he asked me if I was able to purchase it with the money provided and I said yes, even though I spent more like I said I have no problem covering the rest, then again I was planning on handing over the receipt and everything in case he needed it, could not doing so and just saying the $50 were enough allow him or someone else to think I spent less and kept money for myself? Jun 22, 2017 at 17:34
  • Well if you give him the receipt or if he looks up for the price and sees it costs $80 then you'll actually look petty to him because it'll be obvious you paid more to fill the hole.
    – Tim
    Jun 22, 2017 at 17:36
  • Really? I just figured that if he already gave me that money then I could just said that I spent it and give the drive to him, without expecting any reinbursement or even telling him how much more I spent, I feel like stressing the fact that I spent a certain quantity more would appear to be as if I was demanding the money back, which is something I didn't want to do. Jun 22, 2017 at 17:49
  • You can do that, but if he finds out that the drive actually costs more, then he will think you've been petty. That's why the most honest way to do it is to be transparent about the device's price, and since you already bought it, then IMO the best option is to ask him if buying this WOULD BE ok. If so, give it to him and expect the $30 back. If not, buy him a $50 one and do whatever you want with the $80 one.
    – Tim
    Jun 22, 2017 at 17:51

Let's say I spent about $80, would it be ok for me to tell him that it's fine and he shouldn't worry about the rest?

If it's your money, you can feel free to do anything you like with it. Buy the drive as a gift, give him a discount, whatever.

If it's your company's money, you generally are not free to give it away. Ask the accounting department for permission or clarification.

  • There's no company money involved at all. I bought this myself and there was never any implication that I should have done it through the company, hence why he asked me and not the actual IT department. Jun 22, 2017 at 17:00
  • 1
    Though note that the US government has specific policies forbidding gifts between employees "in the same supervisory chain of command," so there are circumstances under which this wouldn't be OK. I haven't heard of this rule in private companies, but there may be some that do.
    – iayork
    Jun 22, 2017 at 17:06
  • @iayork: Good point - consider making that an answer :-).
    – sleske
    Jun 23, 2017 at 7:24

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