How Narcissists Use Financial Manipulation to Control You

Financial manipulation is a weapon of control that is often used by narcissists, yet it’s one of the least discussed. It’s a destructive tactic often used by individuals with narcissistic tendencies to assert their dominance and power over their partners. When money becomes a tool for punishment and control, it transforms from a neutral medium of exchange into a sinister weapon of abuse. Understanding these dynamics is essential for those who find themselves caught in the crossfire.

Five Toxic Money Habits of Narcissists

 To recognize financial manipulation, it’s vital to understand the key habits that signal this kind of behavior.

Charts for How Narcissists Use Money as a Weapon of Control

The Financial Punishment Play

Further diving into the last point, narcissists may use money as a lever of power, withdrawing it when they’re upset with their partner and offering it when they want to get on their good side. This might look like giving or withholding money based on their partner’s behavior, or even taking out loans or credit cards in their name without consent, leaving them in debt and financially crippled.

This kind of financial abuse serves as a form of punishment but also further entraps the victim in the relationship, making it harder to escape the narcissist’s control.

Red Flags: Spotting Manipulation

 If you suspect your partner might be using money to control you, be on the lookout for these signs:

  • They insist on having control over all financial accounts and decisions.
  • They frequently make large purchases without consulting you.
  • They regularly belittle your financial contributions or earning ability.
  • You notice unexplained debts or dwindling savings.
  • They use money or the promise of it to influence your decisions or behavior.

The narcissist may also use money as a status symbol, frequently showing off their wealth, possessions, or lavish lifestyle. They might brag about expensive purchases, luxurious vacations, high-end cards, or extravagant dinners, seeking admiration and envy from others. These displays can serve as a manipulation tactic, designed to showcase their power and elevate their perceived status.

Empowering Yourself: Overcoming Financial Abuse from a Narcissist

If you find yourself a victim of financial abuse, it’s important to start taking steps toward financial independence. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Establish your own bank account. Open a separate bank account in your name only. This will allow you to maintain control over your finances and provide a safety net, should you need it.
  • Set up direct deposit. Arrange for your paychecks to be directly deposited into your personal account. This ensures that you have immediate and private access to your income.
  • Educate yourself. Learning about personal finance, budgeting, and investing can help build your confidence and independence. There are many online resources, books, and even free classes available to start you on your journey. We also have several resources on our website that can be of help. When you become a Community Member, you gain access to all our financial tools and resources.
  • Create a budget. Developing a budget can provide a clear picture of your financial situation, helping you understand your income, expenses, and where your money is going.
  • Set financial boundaries. Discuss and agree on financial decisions together. A respectful partner will acknowledge your financial independence and involve you in major spending choices.
  • Seek professional advice. Consider contacting a financial advisor or Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) to assist with long-term planning, especially if you are dealing with the aftermath of financial abuse.
  • Document everything. Keep a record of all financial transactions, abuse, or manipulation. This can be a crucial piece of evidence if legal action is necessary, especially during the divorce process.
  • Reach out for support. Don’t be afraid to seek help from trusted friends, family, professionals, or support groups. Organizations and support groups do exist to support victims of financial abuse, offering resources and guidance.

Under the Control of a Financial Narcissist

Living under the financial control of a narcissist can have devastating effects, not only on your bank account but also on your self-esteem and mental health. Remember, acknowledging that you’re a victim of financial abuse is the first and most critical step toward regaining control.

Your worth is not determined by a narcissist’s control over your finances. With the right tools, support, and determination, you can break free from the chains of financial abuse and work towards a future where your money works for you, not against you. While the road to financial independence is not easy, it is entirely possible. Your financial health, like your personal well-being, is worth fighting for.

Dealing with a narcissist and in need of more support? Read these blogs:

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Essential Resources

If you’re facing legal/custody battles, a mental health crisis, an urgent medical issue, serious emotional problems, including suicidal thoughts, please seek help from the appropriate professionals near you.

Suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
Crisis line: 1-800-356-5395
Crisis text line: Text “help” to 741741
The National Domestic Violence Hotline
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) Resources Marital Life Inventory
Divorce Lifecycle Document
Divorce Process Overview


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