How Narcissists Use Money to Abuse Others

Narcissists love money. For them, it's a form of power and they don't hesitate in manipulating others to achieve financial control over their partners or friends. In fact, even if they lead them to financial ruin, it's of no consequence to them
How Narcissists Use Money to Abuse Others
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

The way narcissists use money is clearly pathological. In fact, it’s common for this personality profile to go bankrupt or have huge debts. However, the most damaging thing is that, due to their influence, manipulation, and wrongdoing, many of those around them up end up the same way. In addition, they’re usually traumatized by the whole experience.

Many people have suffered financial abuse after an emotional relationship with a narcissist. They’re the kinds of scenarios in which these figures assume absolute control over the economic affairs of their partners. Furthermore, numerous businesses and companies fail when narcissists are in control.

Narcissistic personality disorder doesn’t just involve low empathy, exaggerated achievement, and an inordinate need for attention and praise. Due to their fantasies of power and need for success, money becomes a form of status for them and it’s a necessary instrument to achieve what they want.

It’s money that motivates many narcissists to bond with others. If they find out that they can obtain certain benefits, they’ll be interested in them.

Mind of a man with money to represent how narcissists use money
For narcissists, money is a tool they use to manipulate and control.

The ways in which narcissists use money to abuse others

Money gives the narcissist a sense of power and dominance over others. It’s like a drug. These men and women don’t think about the good things they can do by being powerful. They’re only interested in appearance, success, renown, and being superior to everyone else. Money is synonymous with social status and that’s what they crave.

The behavior of a narcissist is purely instrumental. Their movements, actions, and relationships are solely based on what they can get. This means that their friendships and emotional relationships aren’t usually down to chance or deep and genuine emotional feelings. In fact, in 80 percent of cases, they have a hidden interest.

Research conducted by the University of South Alabama (USA) claims that narcissists always use money irresponsibly. They make wasteful, dangerous, and volatile investments. The most worrying thing is that, due to their low empathy, they don’t mind bringing down others who rely on them.

Therefore, it’s critical to understand the financial behavior of these kinds of people.

Narcissism defines a type of maladaptive personality that has a great impact, both mentally and financially, on those with whom they come into contact.

At first, they’re generous, but be careful…

When you meet a narcissist, everything seems perfect. They’re the kinds of personalities who know how to draw others in. This means that the first thing you’ll notice about them is their generosity. They dish out invitations with abandon and won’t allow you to pay for that coffee, dinner, taxi, hotel room…

However, this kind of altruistic behavior soon runs out. There always comes a day when they’ve forgotten their card, or the bank, for some bizarre reason, has blocked their current account. Gradually, you end up covering their expenses.

Financial blackmail: a recurring strategy

The way narcissists use money is clearly manipulative. Once they’ve earned your trust, the demands begin,  based on emotional blackmail. They’ll use words like “I’ve done so much for you, and haven’t asked for anything in return”, “You know that I’d do anything for you”, “You know that I’m trustworthy and that I really appreciate you”,  or “ I’m only asking you because I don’t trust anyone else”.

They’ll never reveal their economic situation to you (or they’ll lie)

Narcissists are secretive when it comes to their financial affairs. If they start a relationship, they’ll rarely reveal their financial situation to their partner. Moreover, they generally resort to deception and the most far-fetched lies in order to appear solvent and maintain their status.

Naturally, this is especially serious when it comes to business matters. In fact, many people have entered into agreements and deals with narcissists assuming that they had funds or good contacts. When, in reality, nothing they said was true. 

Appearance is all important, but they skimp on the essentials

The way narcissists use money can be especially damaging if they have a family. In these situations, the way in which they spend money is ill-advised and dangerous. For instance, they won’t invest in basic aspects such as food or in covering basic needs for their children or partner.

The narcissist prioritizes their own social survival above all else. This may involve having a high-end car, good suits, etc. Consequently, it’s really common for debts to appear and for the situation to become excessively complicated with dire consequences for their family.

Most narcissists think they have the right to exercise financial control over their partners. They feel free to spend and even financially ruin others.

Fraud and extortion

As you can probably imagine, the narcissist doesn’t hesitate to cross the boundary into illegal and unethical behavior. They’ll defraud and betray, and commit acts that border on criminality. They also use money punitively, to punish others.

In the relational and emotional context, they’ll usually be friendlier when they’re obtaining an economic benefit. However, when they’re denied financial support, they act vindictively.

girl dreaming about how narcissists use money
It’s important to know the signs of financial abuse that the narcissist uses, so as not to fall into their traps.

Lack of empathy and the way narcissists use money to abuse others

The narcissist doesn’t mind bankrupting their partners in a company. Nor do they suffer when they exercise financial control over their partner and gradually leave them with no recourse. As a matter of fact, their lack of empathy is advantageous for them in this respect because it means they can act without feeling any remorse.

Furthermore, their lack of impulse control and the fact that they see money as an instrument for achieving success and good social status leads them to clearly dangerous behaviors. This isn’t only a risk for the narcissist. Families can also be affected by debt and fraud investigations.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Foster, Joshua & Misra, Tiffany & Reidy, Dennis. (2009). Narcissists are approach-oriented toward their money and their friends. Journal of Research in Personality. 43. 764-769. 10.1016/j.jrp.2009.05.005.
  • Henry KS Ng (2011) The money attitude of covert and overt narcissists. Personality and Individual Differences
    Volume 51, Issue 2, July 2011, Pages 160-165.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.