This question is based in the UK, with no specific religious or cultural preferences

Often after doing a favour, some people will offer me money to say "thank you" or as some form of compensation, however I don't feel comfortable accepting this money, so usually say "no thank you". However, in some cases the person in question can be really insistent, repeatedly pressuring me into taking it, even after I've said no.

I personally am really bad at dealing with situation when being put under pressure to do something by others, often eventually giving in to the pressure, so is there any way to politely, but firmly reject the money on offer, or would it simply be much easier (and better for my friendship with the person) to accept the money?

  • 7
    Why is refusing the gift/offering more important to you than the potential hurt to the relationship? Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 8:47
  • @curiousdannii I don't want to hurt the relationship, however I feel rude accepting the money as I don't really need it. It also can appear rude to others around me who see it happening (at least that's how my father makes me feel about doing it). Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 8:48
  • 3
    In my Javanese culture, refusing is the standard we held. However, if the person is insistent, you should accept it. In my standard, I must refuse at least two times, more often three times. Accepting means you value the gift, which means you value the person.
    – Vylix
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 8:54
  • Not an answer on how to refuse - hence a comment. If your father told you it is rude to others if you accept money then he is wrong and might be a bit envious ("If i don't get money you shouldn't either" - You get it). If somebody wants to give you money for whatever it's most likely because they feel you deserve it. Maybe refuse politely once and if they insist just go with it.
    – hopsinat
    Commented Jun 9, 2020 at 12:49
  • I want to offer an alternate point of vue. Giving a reward of any kind might make them feel good about themselves, or in a grimmer way to relieve a perceived dept. If no harm is done to you by accepting than you're allowing them to feel good or relieve themselves from dept, while by refusing you're forcing them to still be in debt. In a way this can be kind of a mean thing to do. I've also been in situations where someone does me a favor but later holds it in front of my nose when they themselves need something. Giving money is a way to settle the matter immediately and be freed from it.
    – Touniouk
    Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 13:25

6 Answers 6


In these cases in the past I have either, after resisting the money, simply accepted it because it is polite to accept their thanks however they wish to express it.


I have offered an alternative 'reward':

"No, no. It's fine. I'd prefer you kept your money, just buy a me beer next time we're out or something"

This gives the person a way to accept your rejection of their money by feeling that you are willing to accept their thanks but in a payment of a different form.

Thus the social contract feels fulfilled.


Pay it forward.

I tell people to "Pay it forward." That means next time they see someone in a jam, they can help that person instead of paying me.

From a blog:

What is the point of all this? Why do so many people live their lives according to the “pay it forward” principle? It has been proven that acts of kindness build exponentially in a community and because people believe that one good deed deserves another. “Paying it forward” can make the world a better place.

Most people are just fine with this idea, even happy with the idea. Doing someone a kindness is often more satisfying than giving them money.


after doing a favour

If it is after doing a favour, it is not a compensation. They offer it as a reward.

There is no problem in accepting it but if you don't want to accept and they pressure you to accept it, tell them

"It's my pleasure to help people like you. Thank you for offering but sorry I am not doing this for money."

You should thank them for the offering and say sorry for not being able to accept it.


If someone wants to do something for you as a thank you, and you really don't want to accept the money, there are a few options.

If you happen to know they are very good at something you would like, say cooking, you can suggest that you want no money but would love to be invited to dinner next time they make (insert whatever food name here). That way you not only give them a way to thank you that is tangible (feed you) but also pay them a compliment in the same process.

If you have a charity or something you really believe in, you can recommend they can make a donation to that in your honor. I love this on in particular. I don't know if anyone follows through on it, but I do know that it also gets the name out of a charity I really like and I hope that they at least look it up & see what it is all about.

I noticed you mentioned your dad. I expect my kids to do a certain amount of "community service" as perhaps this is what is going on. If so, talk to your dad & negotiate a way to handle this situation. Explain to him that some people are insistent & it feels awkward to refuse at those times. You can then perhaps suggest to your dad that at those times, you could relent, thank them for the monetary thank you, and tell them how you are raising money for this or that charity & you would love to add this to it. Then you are doing two good deeds at once, helping the person out who gave you money and then using that money to help more people. This is an arrangement my kids and I have worked out. So they know to say "No thank you, I just wanted to help you out. Money isn't necessary", one time. If after that the person insists, they can say "Well I will take that to put toward the money I am raising for X charity. Thank you. This will help me meet my donation goals." I also have no issue with my children earning some extra money doing things for others. I think that is fine as well, but some of what they do, I want to be as service. I think it's important to learn to be giving and to build community and to take care of our elderly. I prefer they not take any money for doing manual help for those who are physically not able to do that work themselves. If they remove snow for a neighbor that is simply too busy or prefers not to be cold, then pay is okay. If they remove it for my 85 year old neighbor, I do not want money involved. It is neither likely safe nor feasible for someone that age to remove it alone and I feel it is our obligation to look out for our neighbors who actually require the help. That is how I handle it as a parent. So again, you could talk to your dad ans see where his thinking is on this.


First off, I am assuming:

  • it was a pretty big favor you did, something that would otherwise have been impossible, required an expensive professional, or was deeply meaningful
  • the amount of money they offer is not close (< 1/5) to what they would have had to pay a professional but significant independently (not just pocket change)

This seems to me like they're offering you a "token of their appreciation". It's a sincere sign of gratitude which doesn't try to minimize the value of the favor that was given. If this is the case, then you will have to accept if they insist. To do otherwise would be to say that you don't value their gratitude, and by extension, them - they are as beggars to you, less than children (since you would accept a little drawing, pretty rock, or flower from a child). This is part of why people making this offer are so insistent - it can feel awful to not be able to at least express gratitude concretely.

But maybe those assumptions are wrong. In that case...

If the favor you did was minor and the amount of money offered is similar to the value of the favor, then you are mostly free to say no (unless they really, really insist.) Be honest - "it was nothing", "you don't owe me anything", "I did it because you're a friend", "I'm sure you would do the same for me", etc. If they insist, then you could simply suggest a minor alternative - "buy me a beer" or whatever is culturally appropriate.

The general rule is that you can offer a few refusals, but you pretty much have to accept a sincere gift that wouldn't be inconvenient to you (you can refuse a dog, a bulky cabinet, stolen goods, a piano, etc.)


When refusing money for something I did for a friend/family, I always tell people,

I didn't do it for money. If I did, you couldn't afford me.

I find this usually gets a chuckle and is fairly effective. Helps that it is true. Think of how much you would expect to make in order to do the task for money. You can also try telling them,

That's not nearly enough. I charge $### an hour.

If they continue after that, I tell them,

If you insist, you can by the first round next time

(or something appropriate where you get to spend more time with the person)

If they still continue, I firmly tell them,

I'm not taking your money.

  • "You couldn't afford me" and "I charge $###" sounds way more agressive than it needs to be to me. I certainly wouldn't use those phrases had I not wanted to offend the other side in the OP's situation.
    – user11056
    Commented May 10, 2018 at 19:59
  • Works for me and nobody has taken offense. But I suppose it depends on how it is delivered. Of course, no matter what you say, if you say it in an angry/irritated tone, people will probably consider it aggressive.
    – Brian
    Commented May 10, 2018 at 21:34
  • True. I guess it also depends on how well you know the person and how relaxed you both are around each other.
    – user11056
    Commented May 11, 2018 at 14:40

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.