Narcissists and Money

I got into an interesting conversation in the comments over at Chump Lady’s Blog and it got me thinking about the Narcissist and money. As with most topics around the Narcissist, I started doing some research and have found some things that make so much sense about why the Narcissist was the way he was with money.

Money as Love (Read more: The Narcissist and Money @ The Narcissistic Life)
“According To Sam Vaknin, author and expert on NPD, money is another word for love in the narcissist’s emotional vocabulary.  Having been deprived of love early on in the narcissist’s childhood, he constantly seeks love substitutes.  To him, money is the ultimate love substitute.  Dr. Vaknin states that all the qualities of the narcissist are manifested in his relationship with money, and in his attitude towards it.  For example, due to his sense of entitlement he feels that he is entitled to other people’s money.

Secondly, his grandiose thinking leads him to believe that he should have, or does have, more money than he actually possesses.  This leads to reckless spending, to pathological gambling, to substance abuse, or to compulsive shopping.

Third, narcissists engage in magical thinking which leads to irresponsible, shortsighted behavior for which they believe they are immune from the results of that behavior.  They descend into debt, commit financial crimes, and hassle people- including their closest relatives.

Furthermore, their fantasies lead them to believe in their fabricated financial “facts” which are not commensurate with their talents, qualifications, jobs, and resources.  They pretend to be richer than they are or pretend to be capable of becoming rich if they so desire. They are greedy but have an ambivalent, love-hate relationship with money.  They can be mean, stingy, and calculating with their own money yet an eager spendthrift with other people’s money.  They live lavishly and often well above their means.  It is not uncommon for narcissists to go bankrupt and ruin their businesses.

Lastly, reality is distorted and does not match their grandiose fantasies.  Nowhere is the grandiosity gap more evident than where money is involved.”

My Experience with the Narcissist and Money:
When I first met the Narcissist I was pretty financially savvy for a 23 year old. I had some student loans from my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees but other than that I had zero credit card debt, I had a solid income, I was contributing to a 401k plan and I had a direct deposit into a high yield savings account come out of every pay check. I was smart with my money and I had both pride and a feeling of safety from my financial situation.

When I met the Narcissist I definitely had some false assumptions about his financial situation… he was love-bombing me with abundance he bought me diamonds, a computer, clothes, designer sunglasses, high-end products etc., etc.  Since we didn’t exactly discuss finance in our short pre-marital phase of 8 weeks in person and ~8 months of long distance relationship I had no idea of his financial state or his financial habits.

The financial mess started early on. Before we even married, and while the Narcissist was employed he convinced me to quit my job. He felt that it was not a good environment for me to work in and since I had previously had a fling with a coworker there he was adamant about me no longer working there. He convinced me that I had plenty of money in my savings to live off of. So I quit my job, collected unemployment due to a few sketchy business practices, and sat at home with nothing to do while the Narcissist was in the desert.

After we were married, our financial outlook continued to get worse when his divorce agreement with wife #1 included paying off one of her loans. He then convinced me to cash out my 401k plan and eat the penalty so that we had enough money to get new furniture and belongings because he didn’t want to keep anything from either one of our pasts. So we gave away an apartment full of perfectly good items and then went out and purchased all new everything, and found a new and more expensive home to live in. The Narcissist didn’t want me to work, and since the military already paid for him to move his first wife to the other side of the world, that option wasn’t available for me. So he found a way to work the system and have me live there while still getting paid housing as if I was living in the US. I was also still receiving unemployment payments. In his mind that source of income was more valuable than having me actually go to a job and get paid less money.

We were spending well above our means, and since we moved to a more expensive house and bought all new furniture we got to a point where we were in debt. There were even a couple of nights were we went out partying and racked up the credit card only to report it stolen to the bank later. Since we were living over seas the bank believed that the card had been stolen and it was never questioned. We wanted to move closer to the military base because we realized that the commute and the rent price were killing us as much as we loved the locale of our house. So even though my relationship with my parents was strained at best, we asked them for a loan. Despite everything we put them through, they lent us money twice to the sum of about $15,000 dollars. We used it to pay off debt and move into an apartment that was more affordable and closer to his job.

Even with all of the financial aid my parents gave us, we burnt through all of my savings, all of my 401k, all of the money my parents lent us, and lived paycheck to paycheck. I can’t tell you how many times I would be at the commissary with a cart full of groceries only to have my debit card declined. I would have to walk out in embarrassment and leave all of the groceries behind. I still can’t quite figure out what we spent all of our money on. I mean the military paid for housing, for COLA, and the exchange rate actually helped us with spending in the economy.

By the time he got out of the military we had so much credit card debt, and so many late payments my credit was in shambles. My parents, again, supported us by giving us a rent-free place to live. My dad co-signed my vehicle lease with me so that I could get a car. I started working and was desperately trying to get us out of the situation we were in. Unfortunately the financial mismanagement at the hands of my Narcissist continued to drag us down. I was going to school for my MBA and we maxed out the student loans each semester to have more financial flexibility while I was working and the Narcissist was not. We got a large lump sum payment from the VA because the Narcissist’s disability payments took so long to process, we used it to pay off all of our debt. Yet less than 6 months later it was back. The Narcissist adamantly opposed using the VA Home Loan program to buy a home and make mortgage payments around $2,000 a month yet we moved into a rented townhouse for $3200 a month. We spent thousands of dollars to modify his Jeep Wrangler (which was leased) we spent thousands of dollars on gym equipment. When we moved into the townhouse we gave almost all of our old furniture to the Salvation Army and went and purchased a house worth of new things… including a 72″ TV and all the gizmos to go with it. I had to argue with the Narcissist to be able to contribute to my 401k plans (he didn’t like someone else controlling our money) and every single year that we have been married, we have owed taxes to the IRS (which I have never done in my life!!)

As we are about to get divorced, we do not even have $1 saved over the course of our 8 years together. We are each taking our own credit cards which are almost all maxed out. I had to use my bonus payout to pay what we owed the IRS this year (because the Narcissist doesn’t like letting them take more out of each paycheck)… my college loans are now double what they were when we first met… and I still can’t figure out where all of that huge amount of money disappeared to. Over the course of the last 4 years, I have tripled my income. I make more money in my salary than most couples my age make combined… and I can’t figure out where the heck it all went to.

Yes we had a nice home, yes we had nice vehicles, yes we had nice clothes, yes the Narcissist pimped out his Jeep, yes the Narcissist collected every single Nintendo Amiibo in existence, yes the Narcissist had a habit of wiring $100’s of dollars to his online friends who needed help, or giving $50 to the homeless men on the street… but seriously WTF?!?!

So now I am digging out and wondering how the hell I went from being so financially responsible and “wise beyond my years” to spending all of my money on things that didn’t even matter to me. Its seriously like waking up with a bad hangover wondering what the hell happened. I look back at where I was financially when I met him and wonder “what if” I stayed on that smart financial path… how much better off would I be today???

10 thoughts on “Narcissists and Money

  1. Wow, this is pretty shocking for someone who has not been in the situation. The effort to control and manipulate is hard to believe – yet I don’t doubt that it’s was as bad as all that and worse. Very sad. I’m glad that you have had the strength to extricate yourself from this marriage, and can start rebuilding.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bizarrelovetriangleblog – it is actually hard to believe it myself as I write it all down and look at it outside of my head. Along the 8 years, every thing every incident seemed small but when you compile it all it is sort of mind blowing! Thanks for your support!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Much of what Vankin says rings to in my situation too — i.e., money was very much a love substitute in a lot of situations. Birthday presents, Mother’s Day presents, Valentine’s presents — she always let me know in no uncertain terms that whatever I got her came nowhere near what she expected or thought she deserved.

    When we were dating she had to borrow money several times from her parents and sister to cover her expenses for being the young independent woman away from home that she presented herself to be. (I never took that bait.)

    Throughout our marriage, we never got into dire straights (thanks to my career development and having a two-family home to help with the mortgage) but we never seemed to gain any traction on the credit bills. Retirement savings was never a problem because she didn’t manage it — not that it will do me any good now that she’ll be getting half in the settlement.

    And because she’s either a dumbass or doesn’t give a shit, I know that she’s getting back into old habits and allowing her credit card debts to inch higher (to pay for hotel rooms, restaurants, sexy outfits, toys, etc. to entertain whoever she’s doing at any given moment) while mine is inching downward.

    Very important for me to be very clear in the settlement about money — I think she’s in for a rude awakening when she’s out on her own, and when it happens she’ll go to great lengths to frame any dire straits in terms of how it’ll impact our daughters, not her. I refuse to be dragged down into that.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. OMG what an orc that he is! I am sorry you have been through all that! Every member in my narc family is insanely stingy when it comes to spending for someone else , while they feel entitled to your money and whatever else you have because ”you are family” after all!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh gosh! My ex spent money like it grew on trees! In less than a year of marriage we were already $6k in debt. He once spent $150 on WoW. A video game. He referred to it as his money. The 2nd credit card he got without telling me and I was an authorized user on both. I ended up having to responsible for one card. Luckily my parents helped me out. We were scared he would try to somehow ruin my credit. Financial abuse sucks >.<

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  5. Yes…going through this now myself. We’ve separated 12months ago from a 23 year marriage and he continues to keep racking the debt up. There seems to be nothing within the family law to stop him from dong this. He drove me to the point of emotional breakdown with his never ending quest to satisfy his sexual appetite and now continues to destroy me financially. Even though at one point he admitted his affairs and we went to a marriage counsellor, since we have split he is back to denying he ever did anything and instead claiming my insanity to anyone who will listen including our teens. His latest ploy is to take our 16 yo to a counsellor claiming “if I don’t get her help, I’m worried she will end up like her mother”. I don’t say anything to our teens about our situation, it’s not their business. Meanwhile he takes them out to dinner everytime I do something in this horrendous legal process that gets him worried to tell out kids ‘it’s all you mothers fault. If the house has to be sold, it will be all her doing”. This never ends.
    He has racked up so much debt and continues to do so. He is professional and makes a substantial amount of money each year but same as this story above, I could never work out where All the money has been going. He slowly took over control of the finances whilst I was busy raising kids and I just didn’t see it coming. I trusted him. When I realised and tried to get some control back it was too late and he wasn’t having a bar of it. He even put my mother’s car, a gift to me in his name.
    We are both living on the same property at the moment until I can get this settled. He is desperate to keep the property for the new beginning with his new partner (he had her mind you before he moved out) and her young family. She is already spending a lot of her time here on the property ‘managing’ things for him. I get scared because I hear they are scheming all the time as to how to get things in their favour. She is an accountant.
    If I sound bitter, I don’t mean to. I missed him terribly when he first moved out but I’ve come to realise that he is no longer the person I married (if that person ever really existed) and he is not the person i want to I’ve with. I just want out. He says he wants out too out but he is making things as difficult as he possibly can. His debt will be over $1m and whilst I wait for the books to be audited from our business etc our debt continues to rise on a daily basis with my credit rating trashed along with it. He has not paid income tax in over 4 years and not paid business taxes in the last 12 months. I get emails from him daily verbally abusing me and always asking for more money to be released to pay bills.
    When will the system see through these personality types. I guess if a marriage counsellor can be duped by their charm, then anyone can be.
    I feel sick everyday knowing the type of person I am dealing with and dealing with the next threatening email.
    My thoughts are with anyone else going through this. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Belinda, I am so sorry to hear that you are going through all of that. It certainly seems like the courts are not in the favor of those being abused through the variety of non-physical means, and it makes escaping that much more difficult. Even though my Narcissist was VERY easy through the divorce process (he had already discarded me and moved on to someone else so he was just ready to be done) I still met times where I had to make a choice of what is more important to me… getting rid of him or having x,y, or z. It is tough because you feel like you deserve things and you’ve earned them and you don’t deserve the debt and all of it…. but it all starts to improve drastically the minute you have them out of your life completely. Stay strong and I wish you the best of luck as you finalize all of this. ❤


  6. This comes as no surprise to me. My Narc’s entire family is terrible with money. Bankruptcies, schemes, taking advantage of an elderly, dying parent. Thankfully, I got a pre-nup (I had a lot to lose – he basically had nothing). I have always taken care of the bills and kept our finances separate. All my guy had to do was give me a check once a month toward household expenses. I’m very thankful I was wise enough to get that pre-nup even during the love-bombing stage. He’d buy me wonderful weekends away, gifts, dinners, romance. He said I was perfect, beautiful, smart. Once we got married that all stopped. I rarely ever get a compliment now – maybe “you have a pretty face” once in awhile. I look nice for my age and I’m a healthy weight and take care of myself – do my hair and wear makeup – care about my clothing. He started picking on my appearance the first year after we got married.

    After a couple years of marriage he started to make me suspicious he was cheating on me with all the usual signs: very little affection toward me, picking on me, working out, changing his hair and clothes, traveling a lot more for work, not coming to bed until late and getting up early (on the computer at all hours). Every time I confronted him, he denied anything was going on. Said he’d never do anything to hurt me. He loved me.

    About a year and a half later he suddenly started acting like he loved me again. Bought me a very expensive purse for our anniversary. All the old sweetness was back. I was relieved he seemed to be himself again but still suspicious (thankfully). About six months later I was finally able to discover that he had a secret online life with a made up identity. He was posting disgusting sexual things and talking to confessed sex addicts. He’d also managed to accumulate nearly $50k in credit card debt. He started all this when we hadn’t even been married for two years! Still the Honeymoon phase for me! I was heart broken. I told him to set up counseling or get out. We went to marriage counseling where he said it was just a writing experiment and meant nothing. I told him I needed full disclosure on his passwords and accounts. He said he would do it.

    Long story short, two more years have gone by. He had been pretty good. Not very helpful around the house unless pushed and prodded. Really not contributing much more than the occasional movement of a heavy object and paying some portion of the household expenses. Seemed to be keeping to our agreement about the sneaky secret life BS being a deal breaker.

    His child support payments to his EX just stopped finally. I have no children and have helped support him in a nicer lifestyle than he could’ve had on his own. He started his late night computer antics again blaming his busy job and tyrant of a boss. Traveling more again due to “tyrant boss”… I was getting suspicious again and I discovered he changed all his passwords again without telling me. When I confronted him he said that he had rehearsed this conversation in his head and told me he would not give me his passwords – He needed his privacy to do what he wants. I said that is a deal breaker for me. So – he’s moving out finally. What a waste of my time he has been. DO NOT TRUST A NARC WITH MONEY. Protect yourself. Wish me luck with moving on from this con artist. He finally moves out in two weeks. He went from telling me: “You make me so happy” and “I’ll always love you” to “I haven’t been happy for a long time” in the span of a week when I caught his latest antics. Guess he feels like he can support himself well enough that he doesn’t have to put up with my questioning his sneakiness anymore. Trust your gut. It always knows the truth.

    Liked by 1 person

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