Money is a very common tool narcissists use to control others.

A narcissist could use money to control you by withholding it, sabotaging your employment, damaging your credit score, forcing you to justify your purchases, demanding receipts for all your purchases, dominating financial decisions, and even manipulating you with child-related financial decisions.

In this article, I will guide you through each of these to help you better understand how a narcissist could control you with money.

1.) They Withhold Money and Resources

The first way a narcissist could use money to control you is by withholding it.

What I mean by this is that the narcissist in your life keeps money or other financial resources away from you. 

For example, imagine there are shared bank accounts that you both contribute to, but you’re not allowed to access them or even view the account balance. 

Or, even if you earn your own money, the narcissist might demand you hand it over and then give an “allowance” to you despite it being your hard earned money.

A narcissist handing out an allowance.

This is what I mean by withholding money and resources. It is a financially abusive tactic narcissists use to maintain power and control over others.

It’s a way for narcissists to assert dominance and ensure that you’re financially dependent on them, making it harder for you to leave or make independent choices.

2.) They Sabotage Your Employment

The second way a narcissist could use money to control you is by sabotaging your employment (i.e., hindering your ability to work or earn).

This could manifest in a few different ways.

1.) They might create situations that consistently make you late for work. 

“You’re going to leave right now? After all, I do for you, the least you could do is help me with this before rushing off. Work can wait a few minutes.”

2.) They could spread false information about you to your colleagues or boss. 

“I just thought I should let your colleagues know about that thing you did last year. They have a right to know who they’re working with, right?”

3.) They could manipulate you into quitting your job, using guilt or other tactics.

“Everyone else’s partner is always there for them, supporting their dreams at home. Maybe if you weren’t so obsessed with your job, our life would be better.”

A narcissist trying to sabotage someone's employment.

Generally speaking, a narcissist has one of two objectives when they try to sabotage your employment situation.

Firstly, by reducing or eliminating your source of income, the narcissist increases your financial dependence on them. 

Secondly, by isolating you from your workplace, they can further cut off your social connections and support systems, making you more vulnerable to their control.

Suggested Reading: The 6 Types of Financial Abuse Abusers Use

3.) They Damage Your Credit Score

The third way a narcissist could use money to control you is by damaging your credit score.

If you didn’t know already, your credit score is essentially a reflection of your trustworthiness in the eyes of financial institutions. 

A higher score means you’re likely good at managing and repaying your debts, while a lower one suggests the opposite. 

Sometimes, narcissists try to damage this trustworthiness. 

For example, they could secretly take out credit cards in your name, make purchases, and then deliberately avoid paying the bills. 

This action negatively impacts your credit score. 

So, why would they do this? 

By ruining your credit, they make it difficult for you to secure loans, mortgages, or even rent an apartment alone. 

A man being denied a loan because of how badly the narcissist destroyed his credit.

It’s a tactic to ensure that, should you try to leave or establish independence, you’ll face significant financial barriers, making you more likely to stay dependent on them.

4.) They Force You to Justify Your Purchases

The fourth way a narcissist could use money to control you is by forcing you to justify every purchase you make, no matter how minor.

For example, if you bought a coffee on your way to work or got a new book, you might be interrogated about its necessity, cost, or your decision-making process. 

This constant scrutiny can be exhausting and humiliating, and it’s a tactic to make you second-guess even the most minor financial decisions.

Generally speaking, the goal narcissists have here is to make you anxious about spending or justifying expenses.


When you are anxious, you’ll likely give more financial control to the narcissist to avoid stress and confrontation.

5.) They Demand Receipts for All Your Purchases

The fifth way a narcissist could control you with money is by demanding evidence for all your purchases, regardless of their size or significance. 

At a quick glance, this might look like the narcissist trying to keep track of money. But the truth is that it is a method of surveillance for them.

A narcissist demanding a receipt for a purchase.

By making you show receipts for every purchase, they’re able to monitor your daily movements, habits, and choices. 

When a narcissist has this type of control over you, it can make you apprehensive about buying things because you don’t want to have to explain or justify it.

Suggested Reading: 16 Signs of Financial Abuse

6.) They Lie to You about Their Finances

The sixth way a narcissist could control you with money is by lying to you about it. 

This could mean hiding assets, underreporting their earnings, or even exaggerating debts. 

By doing this, they can create an illusion of financial distress or abundance, ensuring that the financial decisions made in your relationship suit their narrative. 

For example, they might hide a bonus to avoid spending on something you prioritize or exaggerate debts to justify not committing to a financial responsibility.

This is a huge problem because when you’re constantly fed inaccurate information, it becomes challenging to make informed decisions. 

This manipulation further entrenches their control, as you’re led to believe a version of financial reality that benefits them.

7.) They Dominate All Financial Decisions

The seventh way a narcissist could use money to control you is by dominating all financial decisions.

This could mean:

  • Taking control of major financial choices, like where and how to invest savings.
  • Dictating which bank accounts or financial services to use.
  • Without your input, making large purchases such as cars, property, or vacations.
  • Dismissing your opinions on financial matters.
  • Controlling minor purchases, like daily groceries or household items.
  • Setting the budget for monthly expenses without considering your perspective.
  • Establishing financial “rules” that you are expected to follow.
  • Preventing you from having a say in shared finances.

This tactic erodes your confidence in financial matters and reinforces the notion that they “know better.” 

A narcissist gaslighting someone about money.

Over time, this can make you feel alienated from your financial well-being and more reliant on the narcissist’s judgment, even if it’s not in your best interest.

8.) They Manipulate You with Child-Related Finances

The eighth way a narcissist could use money to control you is by manipulating you with child-related finances.

For instance, if you’re expecting child support, the narcissist might delay payments, pay less than required, or not pay at all. 

A narcissist telling his ex that he will be late with the child support.

Or they might control how child support money is spent, ensuring it’s used for their preferred choices, not necessarily what’s best for the child. 

This tactic allows the narcissist to maintain control by preying on your parental instincts and responsibilities.

Over time, you might find yourself making financial concessions just to ensure your child’s needs are met, or feeling guilty for “failing” to provide sufficiently. 

What Should You Take Away from This Article?

Generally speaking, if a narcissist is going to try to control you with money, eight ways they will do it are by:

  • Withholding it.
  • Sabotaging your employment.
  • Damaging your credit score.
  • Forcing you to justify your purchases.
  • Demanding receipts for all your purchases.
  • Dominating financial decisions.
  • Manipulating you with child-related financial decisions.

About the Author

Hey, I’m Elijah.

I experienced narcissistic abuse for three years. 

I create these articles to help you understand and validate your experiences.

Thank you for reading, and remember, healing is possible even when it feels impossible.

If you’re ready to heal, visit The Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse to get started.



  1. My narc mom does many of these things and it has SEVERELY eroded my own financial survival skills. Starting with my next paycheck I’m not giving it all away to her because I already gave her so much and I need to start caring for myself.

    1. Hey Blanche,

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.

      I’m sorry you’re experiencing many of these behaviors from your mom.

      I hope your plan works. It is definitely a step in the right direction!

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