The Moneyist: My ex-boyfriend and I contributed to our family primarily based on our salaries. I now owe $ 23,000 in again fee. I'll pay it again

Dear Moneyist,

Recently, I was informed by my employer over 5 years ago that my initial salary brokerage was incorrect and I have to pay a relatively large amount of retrospective pay. After tax, it's around $ 23,000.

About a year ago, I ended a long-term relationship in which my ex-partner – who I wasn't married to or had not legally partnered with – and I shared our rent and home-related finances on a pro-rata basis.

He made a little more money than I did (at the time), so he deposited about $ 150 more per month into this joint account than I did. We had agreed to this agreement for 4 years of our relationship before we broke up. I did the math and that's $ 7,200, which he paid more than me in total.

Do I have an ethical obligation to repay him this money, or at least to give him the option to accept some of the money I received retrospectively?

– Ex girlfriend

My question is, having retrospectively adjusted my salary – to the same amount as his salary during our relationship – I have an ethical obligation to repay him that money, or at least give him the opportunity to accept some of the money that I have paid retrospectively?

As a side note / more context, my ex-partner received a net family inheritance of $ 40,000 during our relationship, which we neither divided nor adjusted our rental / housing costs based on his inheritance.

We had planned to buy a house together at some point, so it was planned that he would put his inheritance in a savings account for any down payment on the house. When we split up, he kept all the inherited money, which I had no objection to.

He and I don't really talk to each other anymore, but we ended up on relatively good terms and I want to do the right thing.

Ex girlfriend

Dear ex-girlfriend,

What a refreshing and welcome letter from someone who wants to do the right thing. You were acting in good faith then, and you and your ex-boyfriend shared your financial responsibilities fairly and fairly. I applaud you then and I applaud you now.

It's no comparison between apples and apples, but if you had received that $ 23,000 during your relationship, you probably would have done the same thing that your boyfriend would have done with his $ 40,000 inheritance. This is another godsend that will show up on your income tax return for the next year.

This puzzles me. What if you received that $ 23,000 in the last year of your relationship? My guess: you would have set up a bank account in addition to the 40,000 USD and adjusted your payment in the future. I don't think you would have given him $ 7,200 and only kept the rest.

"It's one thing to pay a little more each month; it's quite another to dedicate a third of a modest stroke of luck to a life that was never realized."

– The money is

You could ask 10 people and get 10 different answers. Give him half! Keep it! Insist he take $ 7,200! Pay it plus interest! Etc. People generally bring their own relationships (and complaints) to the table. Your male friends may also have a different answer than your female friends.

For all of the reasons above, I see this $ 23,000 in your lap as the universe that gives you a secret savings account that you can use for your own down payment or some other life goal. They both moved on. Look into the future over there, not the past. That money appeared in your heavenly piggy bank for a reason.

You are not ethically obliged to give him anything. It's one thing to pay a little more each month as you plan for a future together. Assigning a third of a humble stroke of luck to a life you planned but never realized is quite another.

The past is a different country. Enjoy your personal and financial freedom without feeling guilty, ex-girlfriend. I don't think any of you would enjoy wiping your old household budget to make up for these books. This life is over and for better or for worse, that domestic ledger no longer exists.

You can email The Moneyist at with financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus

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