There are several ways that narcissists use money to control their victims; however, they all generally end up in one of the 5 categories that will be discussed in this interview. I have teamed up with Jason Crowley, financial advisor and narcissism expert, to dive deeper into the ways in which narcissists use money as a method of controlling others and how to prepare accordingly for this.
Financial planning as it relates to narcissistic relationships is incredibly important. Recently we took a survey of approximately 400 people in our community that are dealing with narcissists. Out of the respondents, 66% stated that money is a tool that has been used to control them. This showed us that money in regards to narcissistic relationships and divorce is definitely an important topic to cover.
Narcissists are going to do everything that they can to try and maintain control. Money really is just a tool that enables them to do so. All of the different ways that they use money as a tool to control are things that you have to be aware of so that you can plan, prepare, and prevent. Since you never know exactly what someone else is going to do but you always want to prepare for the worst. If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, you will most likely encounter at least one of the five ways in which narcissists will use money to control you as discussed in the below interview with Jason Crowley.
How did you decide to specialize in narcissism and narcissistic relationships?
It’s just something that comes up really, really frequently. I started off in the financial planning, financial advisory, wealth management space. From there, I niched down and got more into the divorce financial planning world. The more work that I was doing in divorce financial planning, the more I started seeing a lot of the financial control and abuse that tends to happen in narcissistic relationships. Ending up in this niche happened by chance and our practice evolved accordingly.
Cutting off Credit Cards.
“When it comes to cutting off credit cards, the first thing you are going to want to do is start building your credit. There’s actually an interesting tool I just came across the other day called Grow Credit. It enables you to actually start building your credit through subscriptions. If you’re not in control of your own finances, you can use a program like this to start building credit through things such as your Netflix subscription and the different types of things that are already paid regularly. This program reports those subscriptions to the major credit bureaus and will enable you to start building credit. Through this, you’ll be in a position where you have credit established, are able to open credit cards in your own name, and still have a lifeline and access to capital when you decide to pull the trigger and leave your partner or spouse.”
Hidden and/or Moved Money.
“Cash is one of the hardest pieces to track. If someone has a cash business and is receiving large sums of cash on a regular basis, it’s going to be a challenge to track where this money is going because it never really came into you or your spouse’s financial ecosystem.”
“Outside of this, everything is already available online and is digitized. So, there’s a lot that you can do to be able to get a sense. I think it’s a big mistake to try to get to the bottom of things for the sake of getting to the bottom of things. You really want to be smart about where you’re spending money. It doesn’t make any sense to spend $10,000 to recover $1000. Especially if you have been in a long-term marriage, one of the approaches that you can take is to pick a year and look at the finances from that year and see if things align and make sense. When I make this suggestion to clients, people will often respond with things such as “They have been planning this for a few years so maybe they’re covering their tracks.”
“If you go back a few years and look at a particular period, you can use what I call the “smoking gun analysis” and try to get an assessment of what the total income, total expenses, and total taxes paid were for the course of that year. Have there been any gains or losses in terms of financial assets? This should be your cash flow surplus or deficit. When you combine these things, you’ll see if the balance at the beginning of the year versus the balance at the end of the year make sense. If all of this lines up, some of your concerns will hopefully be alleviated.”
“If things don’t add up, you now at least have a substantiated concern and can dig deeper, whether it’s through a full forensic analysis or through hiring private investigators to do an international asset search to see if there are things in their name. Either way, the smoking gun analysis will help you avoid any unnecessary expenses and any escalation of the conflict prior to finding the proper evidence of hidden or moved money.”
“This really becomes a challenge when someone is not hiding money but you accuse them of hiding money due to your own suspicions and concerns and you can’t move past this idea. You might actually have a decent settlement deal on the table that you’re not willing to agree to because of this lingering concern. It’s important to address this in the most cost effective, efficient way possible.”
“This issue is kind of a similar idea to cutting off credit cards. Having at least an ounce of prevention is really the best place to start. If you are having any suspicions about any of the above issues, definitely pull a credit report once a year. Depending on the level of concern, you may want to sign up for a credit monitoring service that notifies you of any changes. Regardless, if you are starting the divorce process, I always recommend clients pull a credit report, dig through it, and see if there’s anything that doesn’t look right. Sometimes credit bureaus have incorrect information and so doing this gives you, at the very least, the opportunity to correct those errors.”
“In order to address a problem, you have to diagnose that there is one. A credit report is a great way to assess if there is any suspicious activity going on. It’s a good idea to do this as soon as possible and then about a month after the divorce is finalized. This will allow you to double check that any joint accounts that were supposed to be closed actually have been. This will confirm that there are no credit cards or other forms of debt that still remain in your name and that everyone followed through with the terms of the marital settlement agreement.”
“In general, any spending that happens in a marriage is considered to be marital or community expense. There are exceptions to this if the spending is not benefiting the community like when someone is gambling or engaging in other similar behaviors. This is more of an issue regarding breach of fiduciary duty and reimbursement. This is a challenge. One of the things that you can do is establish a date of separation or put a postnuptial agreement in place. This comes back to the general conversation of if someone is overspending or if someone is controlling spending. If they are overspending, it’s important to find out if this is being done intentionally or if they just don’t think about money the same way as you do.”
“If the overspending conflict is occurring when two people are not on the same page then you have to start employing a process to ensure a unified financial vision of what is wanted to be achieved. If someone is deviating off course, course correction can help. If something is more nefarious and is more of a narcissistic control tactic, you’ll have to make a decision to protect yourself financially.”
“In order to prepare for an attorney’s retainer fees and to get counsel early on, it is important to find ways to stash cash prior to pulling the trigger on leaving the relationship. You can do this by taking cash out when you go to the grocery store and do your shopping. Each time you go you can pull out extra money. You might have found some other ways to make money too. Figure out everything that you can do to ensure a padded emergency reserve fund. This will position you so that you have some assets that will enable you to get counsel.”
“If you do have access to an account, you may want to take half of what’s in that account and put it into an account in your own name without telling your spouse. This depends on if you think your spouse might weaponize money and take all of your joint assets and withhold your share from you. This could be problematic because you will be escalating conflict right off the bat. So if you’re in a situation where you might be able to resolve things amicably, you probably will not want to do this. To decide if this option is best for you, you’re going to have to assess what kind of person your ex is and definitely err on the side of caution.”
“It’s important not to use divorce as an opportunity to get justice. When people have this mindset they usually end up making poor decisions in that search and quest for justice. You are going to want to focus on setting yourself up for financial security going forward. This might seem like you’re not winning but that’s okay as long as you ensure that you’re protecting yourself and not getting railroad on various issues. This is especially important to think about in regards to mounting attorney’s fees. It comes down to a cost-benefit analysis and decision.”
“It’s important to really try and learn about the negotiation process and what some of the tactics are that you can use. That’s one of the reasons why I really love your SLAY Your Negotiation with a Narcissist course. It really arms you with some of the tools that will enable you to prepare and not offload everything on to your attorney.”
“For example, there’s a lot of great stuff in there about how to respond to emails. Especially when dealing with a narcissist, your attorney will spend lots of time sending countless emails that will cost between $35 to $75 a piece, at a minimum. These are often emails regarding small trivial things. By purchasing a course like yours and learning a lot of the tricks of the trade, you will be able to maintain some semblance of control over aspects like this and will use your attorney for the things that you really need help for such as legal advice and maneuvering around within the legal system.”
“One of the things that a lot of people struggle with is the application of your own sense of the world to the way other people think. The truth is that a narcissist thinks very differently and so, while you’re trying to punish them or get some sense of justice, they’re often actually thriving off of that. Just having the realization that they operate on a totally different mindset than you do is critical moving forward and focusing on what you can do to maintain things.”
What are the resources that you offer and how can you help those that might need assistance in regards to financials in a divorce?
“One of our divorce-related companies is called Divorce Capital Planning. For those of you in California, we offer a lot of financial mediation, where we work with both parties to come up with an agreement. We also help individuals with all of the aspects of financial planning that is needed during a divorce. For instance, if you are the monied spouse we will help you understand which assets to keep and which assets to let go of.”
“We also have a company called Divorce Mortgage Advisors where we essentially help people that are going through the process of divorce understand how the mortgage fits into their settlement negotiations. Most of the time, people wait until the divorce is finalized prior to refinancing the house in order to remove their spouse. A lot of times it’s either too late or they’re not able to qualify. There are often a whole slew of other issues to deal with as well. We help with bringing these things to the forefront so that you can figure out how your mortgage fits into your divorce and figure out a way to structure things to your benefit.”
“With all of the resources that we have put together, we have invested a ton of time, money, and effort into survivedivorce.com. On that website, we compiled a list of state resources for nearly all 50 states. We have lots of great information on divorce laws, divorce processes, co-parenting, finances, and even the emotional issues brought on by divorce. We have created a lot of in-depth, well-researched articles to help people understand everything that they can in order to survive their divorce.”
“The readily available access to information enables you to use an attorney for what they’re really good at. It’s important to do as much research to educate yourself in order to reduce your attorney’s fees significantly. This way, your attorney won’t need to bring you up to speed on the basics and can just tell you how things will be applied to your situation or how a particular judge tends to look at things.”