When I want to ask someone to do something that has some costs (like personal involvement, time, money), but want to leave it to that person to decide how much to spend on that - how do I express that in a non-contrived way?

Ideally, it should sound incidental, not drawing attention to the decision to make later.


Other: Ok, if you are willing to lend me your tools for free, I will do this project. If I make money, you get part of it.
Me: No, keep it for yourself in the beginning while it is difficult. Later, decide how to pay something back acording to your own ethic assumptions.

Example with implicit solution:

Other: Wow, thank you soo much for that - how can I ever...
Me: Oh, don't thank me - thank it forward by spending some money to one of our care projects.

Here, it's implicit that the person has to choose a project and an amount, and has not to disclose it.

  • Am I to understand that the other party will be free to choose how much and in what manner to repay to you your share of the project? Quite apart from the correct English form it does seem as if you are putting a great deal of trust in them. Have I interpreted the position correctly? I am also a little confused by your use of ethics. How do they enter into the matter? Clearly honouring trust is a matter of ethics, but I don't think I have grasped the exact picture.
    – WS2
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 18:44
  • In U.S. English, the phrase might come out something like this: "Later you can pay me back whatever amount you think is fair."
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 20:06
  • @WS2 Good point regarding how ethics is involved. At first, the normal, common kind of compensation as expected in the relevant cultural context is rejected. Then, the person is asked to decide for a compensation, which can not be derived from cultural norms. But it can be freely derived from the personal ethical values. (That could mean to spend nothing at all to the projects whenn assuming they are corrupt, or spend elsewhere.) Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 20:23
  • @SvenYargs That is well worth an answer! It covers the aspect of invoking personal ethics instead of cultural defaults in "...you think is fair" (see my comment above). Also, the "later" allows to express the separation from the normal way, like "No, don't pay anything while it's a risk. Later you can pay me back any way you think is fair.": Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 20:34
  • You may perhaps say "Later I leave our fees at your discretion".
    – Graffito
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 21:17

2 Answers 2


Reimburse me as you see fit.

see (or think) fit

Consider it correct[, appropriate] or acceptable to do something:

why did the company see fit to give you the job?



Here's a very U.S. version, including a pretty modern phrase, pay it forward:

That's okay, you don't owe us anything for the use of the tools. But later on, when you've gotten on your feet [OR gotten your your business off the ground], I hope you'll pay it forward by making a donation to one of our projects.

  • Yeah, I really like so many aspects of thanking/paying it forwards! It's interesting in terms of psychology, statistics, graph theory - and even solves a real practical problem: having to make the ethical judgement what to expect back! Hmm... so no wonder I touched it in the second example, inadvertedly - and distracting from the original situation. I'll vote it up, but add a note explaining how it matches the question partially. Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 6:33
  • @VolkerSiegel - Glad you like pay it forward. (Make sure you don't add an S, by the way.) Can you clarify what part of the question my post didn't answer? I can try to refine my blurb. Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 12:54
  • 1
    I think "pay it forward" refers explicitly to explicitly not reimburse, but instead give it to someone unrelated who is in need. This person should pay it forward in turn. Also, my interpretation of it is that the step of paying forward is not directed or even disclosed to the first person. (That simplifies some sociological aspects of the situation.) Commented Oct 17, 2015 at 15:04
  • 1
    @VolkerSiegel - I think you hit the nail on the head there. Commented Oct 17, 2015 at 15:56

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