Narcissists have many deeply rooted insecurities like their need for power and control. With manipulative behaviors like triangulation, gaslighting, narcissistic rage, and flying monkeys, narcissists are able to fulfill most of these deeply rooted insecure needs on a regular basis. However, the most powerful approach a narcissist uses to suppress their insecurities is through money and financial abuse. 

In romantic relationships and family settings a narcissist will control others with money through employment sabotage, economic exploitation, and controlling the finances and in the workplace they will create power imbalances to keep people trapped. 

The damage a narcissist can cause to someone’s life through financial abuse is horrific. A narcissist’s lack of empathy, sense of entitlement, fantasies of success and power, and arrogance enables them to financially bulldoze their victims with no remorse. It’s for this reason that developing an awareness of the different ways narcissists use money to control and financially abuse others is so important.

Romantic Relationships

We spoke about this in our article The Three Types of Financial Abuse That Abusers Use to Control Others but victims of narcissistic abuse, especially those in a romantic relationship with a narcissist, often experience employment sabotage, economic exploitation, and the narcissist having total control over the finances or “taking care” of the money. 

A narcissist stealing money from his vicim

Employment Sabotage

When a narcissist prevents their victim from finding a source of income, limits their financial stability, or manipulates them into abandoning their source of income through emotional and/or physical abuse, it is called employment sabotage. 

3 Examples of Employment Sabotage In Narcissistic Relationships

  1. The narcissist prevents their victim from attending job training, pursuing a higher education, or other advances one can make in their career and/or education.
  2. The narcissist gets their victim in trouble or fired by constantly calling, texting, or showing up at the victim’s job belligerent and unannounced. 
  3. The narcissist distracts the victim from being able to work or destroys the materials they need in order to work.
A victim of narcissistic abuse confronting her partner about using her business credit card to buy jet skis

Economic Exploitation

When a narcissist intentionally or “unintentionally” destroys their victim’s financial stability it is called economic exploitation.

3 Examples of Economic Exploitation

  1. The narcissist coerces their victim into handing over public benefits like food stamps, a WIC card, or TANF payments.
  2. The narcissist drags out a divorce case to cause financial harm, is late when paying child support, or doesn’t pay child support at all.
  3. The narcissist maxes out credit cards under their victim’s name and refuses to make the payments on those credit cards.
A victim of narcissistic abuse in a pink shirt experiencing economic exploitation from a narcissist

The Narcissist “Takes Care” of the Finances

When a narcissist manipulates their way into having control over the finances, it’s known as “taking care” of the finances.

3 Examples of “Taking Care” of the Finances

  1. The narcissist gives their victim an allowance or makes budget decisions without consulting them first.
  2. The narcissist threatens to cut the victim off financially whenever he/she is upset.
  3. The narcissist forces the victim to keep a detailed account of every single thing they purchase.
A narcissist giving his vicim a weekly allowance

Workplace

The personality traits and characteristics of a narcissist allows them to dominate competitive environments like the workplace. Unfortunately, those who lack empathy, exploit and manipulate others, measure one’s worth through achievements, appearances, and social status are often chosen ahead of those who are humble, well-rounded and reserved. 


This means that narcissists often find themselves in positions of power in the workplace which enables them to effortlessly fulfill their insecure need for power and control with money.

Workplace Love Bombing 

Narcissists are masterful at disguising their abuse as healthy, happy, and secure behavior. They have so many manipulative behaviors to do so but none more powerful than narcissistic mirroring, a technique narcissists use to absorb their victim’s identity and reflect it back to them.

What does that mean? 

A narcissist uses narcissistic mirroring to learn the ins and outs of their victim’s identity so they can create a falsified identity designed to make the victim feel as if they’ve found the perfect partner, work environment, friendship, or family member.

It can manifest in very subtle and inconsistent ways but more often than not it manifests in love bombing, a phase in the beginning of many narcissistic relationship where the narcissist uses the information they gathered from narcissistic mirroring to fill a void in the victim’s life by quite literally bombing their victim with the “perfect” love.

In work environments this often manifests in a narcissistic leader taking a new hire under his/her wing and future faking them into believing that they have a bright future ahead. When a narcissist makes false promises for the future to get what he/she wants in the present, that is future faking. 

A narcissistic boss in a yellow shirt using future faking to remain in power and control

How is this a way that a narcissist uses money to control others?

Victims of abusive relationships get criticized, questioned, and ignored when they’re unable to leave an abusive environment. People often make the argument that if the abuse was as bad as the victim claims it is, they would just leave.

There are dozens of reasons that victims of narcissistic abuse can’t just up and leave the narcissistic environment as they please but in the work environment it is particularly hard because it requires the victim to jeopardize their livelihood.

Through the false promises, narcissistic mirroring, their co-worker’s dependence on a steady income, and love bombing that plague narcissistic work environments, narcissists are able to use money to remain in power and control of the victim.

Narcissistic Rage

A narcissist’s ability to create an environment plagued with fear is unmatched. There are many different ways they can create a fearful environment but none more powerful than narcissistic rage. 

It’s very common for people to assume that narcissistic rage is just anger or rage from a narcissist, but it is not. Anger is a common behavior that we all experience and rage, while it is common to see, it is an unacceptable response to most situations. 

The fragility of a narcissist’s ego causes them to be very vulnerable to ego injuries, which is more commonly known as narcissistic injuries in the narcissistic realm. Our article How Are Narcissists Made dives much deeper into this insightful aspect of narcissism but narcissists are created by an unhealthy/abusive upbringing. 

This upbringing has left them so emotionally immature that they’re incapable of regulating their own emotions. So, they build a falsified identity to suppress all of the negative emotions that come from an unhealthy/abusive childhood. 

A narcissist suppressing all of their negative emotions

When a narcissist experiences a narcissistic injury it’s as if someone is punching crater sized holes in their falsified identity which allows all of the negative emotions that they can’t regulate to flood their psyche.

To prevent themselves from imploding, narcissists will use narcissistic rage to project their negative emotions onto the person, animal, or object that caused the injury in the first place. It’s a terrifying form of abuse and forces people to constantly walk on eggshells around their abuser to avoid becoming the wrath of their narcissistic rage. 

Narcissists have been known to use narcissistic rage to hold a significant amount of power and control in the workplace. People are afraid to stand up for themselves, contradict the narcissist, or even do well at their job because the narcissist’s fragile ego causes them to fly into a rage erratically. 

Why don’t they just find a new job? 

There are people who live paycheck to paycheck, work in small industries where it is hard to find another job without the narcissist finding out, or even live in areas where there aren’t many employment options, so simply leaving and finding a new job isn’t always an option.

Narcissistic rage in the workplace is yet another way that narcissists use money to control others!

Family Settings

In family settings narcissists will use the same tactics that they do in intimate relationships to control others with money. 

3 Examples of Economic Exploitation In a Family Setting

  1. A narcissistic sibling manipulates other family members into paying for whatever he/she desires.
  2. A narcissist opens bank accounts under the names of his/her children or spouse.
  3. A narcissist lives in the house without paying any bills or helping with household tasks.

3 Examples of Employment Sabotage In a Family Setting

  1. A narcissist manipulates his/her spouse into being a stay at home parent instead of working.
  2. A narcissist manipulates, guilts, and/or shames his family members into working for the family business for free.
  3. A narcissist sells his spouse’s car to “save money” leaving them entirely dependent on the narcissist.

3 Examples of the Narcissist “Taking Care” of the Money In a Family Setting

  1. A narcissist uses funds from their child’s savings account without consulting the other parent first. 
  2. A narcissist promises his/her children to pay for something important in the future like college to manipulate them into making a sacrifice in the present.
  3. A narcissistic sibling steals from the family trust fund.

With that being said, one thing that is often underestimated is a narcissist’s willingness to use money to turn children against each other and their partner. A narcissist’s emotional stability is heavily dependent on their ability to accumulate validation, admiration, and reassurance from others. 

In the narcissistic realm, there’s no better way to do that than with money.

A victim of narcissistic abuse watching her daughter be manipulated into turning against her.

In a co-parenting situation this could manifest in a narcissistic co-parent buying the children really expensive gifts knowing that the other non-narcissistic co-parenting who they’re dragging in and out of court can’t match it. 

It could manifest in the form of a narcissistic parent paying for all of the extracurricular activities for their children but abruptly taking them away and telling the children that it is the other parent’s fault. 

The list of possibilities are endless but the point is that a narcissist’s lack of empathy and self-centeredness shouldn’t be underestimated. 

What Should You Take Away From This Article?

The importance of grasping a comprehensive understanding of financial abuse in narcissistic environments is immeasurable. In the narcissistic realm, money is as important as oxygen. It allows a narcissist to have a consistent flow of narcissistic supply, power, and control. It’s for this reason that narcissist have developed an arsenal of manipulative techniques designed to exploit society’s dependence on money and financial stability.

In our article 33 Signs of Financial Abuse That You Need to Know you can grasp a comprehensive understanding of the versatility of financial abuse but you shouldn’t stop there because knowledge is by far the most effective defense against narcissistic abuse!


All of the content that Unfilteredd creates is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for clinical care — please visit here for qualified organizations and here for qualified professionals that you can reach out to for help. This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policies.

References:

Postmus, Judy L., et al. “Economic Abuse as an Invisible Form of Domestic Violence: A Multicountry Review.” Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, vol. 21, no. 2, Apr. 2020, pp. 261–283,