How to kung fu your way out of money manipulation

toys on the shelf at the store

The Master Manipulator Gets What They Want

I don’t know how true that is about a master manipulator but you can bet they started their mental manipulative techniques from a young age even if they didn’t realize they were doing it.

Most people have no idea the way they come across to other people which can make them seem as if they are manipulators who always want something for nothing. They may also try to make someone feel awful if they don’t give in to the psychological manipulation that some people bestow upon them because they think they can.


Some of us are used to being taken advantage of at work when co-workers or even management rely on them so heavily that you feel guilty when you say no or they almost manipulate you into feeling that you are the only one to get the job done.

That’s a tough spot to be in but so is when people especially loved ones use manipulators to get what they want from you including your money. While my friend a single-parent was visiting with his daughter recently I wanted to work with them both to show his daughter that not everything has to be bought to bring happiness into her life.

I failed miserably from one perspective but I also think that she walked away from the day with a sense of understanding about money and that it doesn’t grow on trees.

Parenting skills

Besides teaching her how to bake homemade chocolate chip cookies instead of buying them in a bag which costs more and can’t compare to homemade this little girl wanted us to take her shopping. My wife and I have no kids so I thought, what the heck.

I have no parenting skills whatsoever but I do know there are things I would teach my child right from the beginning. My understanding is it can become a bit more challenging when the parents are split up and the child goes from home to home especially if values are different on each side.

The child almost has to learn to live 2 lives one with her father and the other with her mother and try to make sense of it all. If the child gets what he/she wants with one parent and not the other he/she will work hard to keep that ‘happy feeling’ going when he/she visits. I’ve already heard her say that her mother makes her clean her room. I’m unsure if she is emphasizing the word ‘makes’ but it seems to me that she finds it controlling rather than having the reasoning explained to her.

There must be a right way and a wrong way to talk to children.  My mother explained to me that a clean room helps me to stay organized and focused and that cleaning is just a part of life. I never felt as if I ‘had’ to do it because my mum explained it to me without any pressures.

Manipulative child behaviour

Her father said I would be in for the time of my life and he wasn’t kidding. I’m not used to how kids can easily try to manipulate their parents into getting what they want when they are shopping at the mall or better yet in the toy section of a department store. We already know that he lives only one pay ahead or at times pay to pay so money is not at his disposal yet he continues to allow the manipulations to overcome his emotions of love.

Children will eventually feel self-entitled to everything if that money mindset is not put in place from a young age.

I’ll be honest and say I had no idea about most of the toys she would pick up and go nutty over. I was interested in what she had to say but it was clear that what kids watch on television, internet and generally have surrounding them influence what they want in their lives.

There was not one time when she picked up a toy and was jumping up and down that she looked her dad or even me in the eyes to say how much she needed or wanted the toy or how important it was in some form or another.

It was clear that we were going to have our work cut out for us but I also took the time to teach her about money and finance because daddy was struggling in this area. It seems as if it might be tough for a parent to get a point across to a child when the child has been a manipulator for so long and used to getting their way using a controlling behaviour.

She also knows that she can’t get what she wants from her mother this way so when she is at her father’s house she works him only because she now knows how.

I think he feels guilty if he doesn’t give in but deep inside he wants it to stop but doesn’t know how. He seems very frustrated not only about his daughter but everyone around him. He’s a good guy and people take advantage of him all the time. He’s tired of it and sometimes I hear his anger and I speak up and hope he hears my words.

I’ve seen some improvements in how he deals with certain situations but he still struggles with a controlling ex who is manipulative in her own ways using the child and his lack of self-worth to get what she wants even if that means pissing him off.

Sometimes when a trusted friend talks to a child the child will listen because they don’t have that control over the person like she would with her father. He does do his best to say no when needed but he also doesn’t like to see his only daughter sad. He doesn’t give in to her every cry for something because he has told her that she can’t have it all.

It’s those puppy eyes that she uses and the ‘but dad’ with the reasoning behind why she ‘needs’ something where she tries to use the psychological manipulation tactics on him. Most times I gather she does it because she knows it works. I think she also thinks that you don’t need paper money to pay for things that putting money on credit is just as easy to pay for things.

Kids today see adults swiping credit cards left, right and center so as long as they see a wallet full of plastic they see dollar signs. Teaching kids about money from a young age is critical for this reason and hopefully will teach them the difference about wants and needs and why instant gratification is only temporary.

despicable me 2

Media manipulators

The media manipulates us time and time again and it’s not just the kids, adults as well. No matter if you go to the grocery store, the movies, the department store or watch TV, read billboards, internet advertisements we can’t get away from the media wanting us to ‘spend money’.

I remember sitting in the movie theater waiting for the movie to start and the opening advertisements on the big screen encouraged those with smart phones to text in but in small wording it read that text and long distance charges may apply along with a fee.

This is marketing at its best and they use the audience mostly filled with young kids and adults to draw them in and you know what, it works. I believe that people who are manipulative when it comes to getting what they want learn this behaviour at some point in their life and it continues on into adulthood depending on their values and beliefs. If you have to ask yourself “Am I manipulative” chances are that you are and you should really think about why you do and say what you do in order to get your own way.

Manipulative relationships

I’m not talking just about your spouse or partner but also your adult children and even their friends. My friend he gets it from every direction only because he is a nice guy. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being a nice guy, heck I am but I also know when to draw the line. His step children are always asking for rides all over town to work and ask him to lend them money for car repairs and that they would pay him back if he put it on his credit card.

It made him feel awful that he didn’t help out but at the same time she needs to learn that we all have to work hard for our money and putting stuff on credit cards only makes matters worse especially if it takes months or even years to pay back.

Friends of his step kids also crash at his place when they want to which is bad enough because it’s costing him money that he doesn’t have but they also ask him to borrow money. He gets upset and wonders why they can’t ask their own parents who seem to be well off. I don’t understand why kids do that but if we look at the big picture he’s probably lent her money before and/or she knows he’s a nice guy and will likely give her the money. Being taken advantage of time and time again is wearing on the heart, the mind and the soul and I feel for him.

I’m working with him to teach him how to recognize the manipulative signs of people who are only out for themselves and lean on him way too much, so much that his own life is lost in the chaos of those around him. I can tell just by the way he talks to me that he wants his life back and he wants everyone to just do their own thing so he can focus on his own priorities, his daughter and his girlfriend and finding the career that he really wants while pursuing his life-long dream hobby in hopes of earning extra cash on the side and building a business from it.

Manipulation in love

If you have ever been in a relationship and your partner constantly nags at you to go shopping to spend money or tells you they need something when they don’t and gets angry at you or tries other ways to get you to agree that is a form of manipulation as well.

When in a relationship when one partner feels they have the control over another especially if one is a nice guy like my friend that manipulation has the potential to grow and get worse over time and not just with money.

They want to control your entire life and if you allow it, they will. It’s the main reason he is single today but since they have a child she still haunts him and always feels the need to know where he is, who he is with and asks him to fix things around the house often.

When I asked him if he she wants money from him she most often would say their daughter needs something so he doesn’t let her go without. She knows that if she tells him to buy something for their daughter, he will.

Sometimes… but if she says it’s for my daughter I get what she needs

It’s an emotional manipulation that he allows to happen because he loves so much and doesn’t like confrontation. Not so much about buying for his daughter but you can easily see how that can get out of hand but more so about her letting him go. I can’t imagine what it feels like to be stuck like that and the stress he must have in his daily life because of it. It almost seems as if he is still with her but he’s not and they live in two different houses.

My wife and I talk about everything but she never tells me what to do or when to do it nor does she question my every move. We talk about money all the time and although we are smart with our money we know that money does not buy happiness nor will it work to try and manipulate each other with it to get what we want.

This all boils down to two things in my mind. One she knows he’s a nice guy, two she’s manipulating him into doing these things for her so she doesn’t have to pay someone to do it . It’s a money manipulation and it’s not his problem any longer.

There are both controlling manipulative men and women in some relationships and it can range anywhere from finances to life in general and it’s an evil that will always crush a relationship in two. Love in relationships is built on two people who work together, trust each other and want to grow together.

When control and manipulation become a factor the relationship becomes one-sided and whether it’s for money or other reasons eventually the union will fail. Even the master manipulator can fail at their own match when we don’t allow them to continue with the emotional roller coaster game they play to get what they want, especially when it comes to the hard-earned money that we all work for. In the end his daughter got the best of me and even I allowed her pretty eyes and smile to buy a toy for her at Target her new favourite store.

Another one of my friends his wife when she want something says “baby, you want me to look good don’t you?” so he gives in and lets her spend the money. It’s these little manipulations that will eventually backfire. They may work once or twice but if they continue because it works it will come crashing down at one point or another.

The lesson I learned

The interesting part was that I told his daughter that she would have to wash dishes and complete chores if she wanted the more expensive toy because I had to work hard to earn that money that I would spend on the toy so she opted for the less expensive toy saying she didn’t want to wash dishes.

I told her that she would have to earn money in order to spend money on what she wanted when her dad was off sourcing out his Big Bang Theory series DVD set leaving me to deal with her which was perfectly fine as I don’t mind talking to children about money. It was quite the experience for me since she is such a vibrant child who really knows what she wants.

I’m hoping that small lesson taught her that although we may see something that costs $50 that a comparable item for $25 might be a better choice depending on actual needs and to save up her money to pay cash. If she understands that the higher priced item may come with consequences such as paying interest if it was put on a credit card instead of paying cash or working more hours to earn more she may understand how much work it takes to earn money. I didn’t get into quality with her as it was more about choices.

If anything, I was hoping that she would question the pricing and from the sounds of it she understood what I was trying to say to her.

In the end there are no easy ways to kung fu your way out of money manipulation and other emotional ties to people but the best place to start is to practice the art of saying, “no’.

Have you ever allowed yourself to be manipulated by someone for money or other things?

What advice do you have for my friend as a parent who is struggling to teach his child about money?

What advice do you have for my friend about his ex who won’t leave him alone and mind her own business about his life?


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  1. I am so sorry for your friend and, besides his daughter and girlfriend, I’d tell everyone else politely (or maybe not so) to shove off. It’s time he put his foot down, and it’s only going to get easier to do if he does it once then another time and then another. It sounds like she’s mimicking her mother’s behavior.

    I do not deal with manipulative people. I have in the past and it’s brought me nothing but misery.

    I do admire you and Mrs. CBB for having a go and trying to help your friend. I am sure he knows how lucky he is to have you!

  2. CBB!!! A formidable post indeed. Manipulation of any kind is not to be tolerated. It is one of the greatest offenses you can bring against a fellow human. One can only be manipulated, however, if one let’s themselves be manipulated. The source must be cut off. If they someone is asked to stop such behavior and they cannot do it, then I say cut them off completely or marginalize them as far as you can. As for media and other completely avoidable mediums, cut them out whole sale.

    Have a snicky-snack evening!

  3. My kids learned quickly that I wasn’t going to get them every little thing they wanted and the whining wasn’t going to work either. They knew if I said no I meant NO, not maybe or if you whine enough I’ll give in… They also learned (the hard way) that whining was a fast way to turn a maybe into a no. When the kids were young they simply weren’t allowed to watch that much TV. For a few years we lived in the country and had an antenna which was didn’t work all that well, especially after it was hit by lightening. Cut down a lot on the license toys asked for….
    When the kids were older I did sometimes drive them and a friend or two somewhere. Sometime another parent drove the bunch of them. Curfew was another thing I didn’t argue about, 9:30 meant just that… 9:30. Try to argue it up to 10:00 and you stood a very good chance of having it backed off to 9:00. Suddenly 9:30 didn’t look so bad. Our daughter had a ‘friend’ that actually said I was a ‘mean mother’ to my face. If she thought it would change my mind she was mistaken…. I took it as a compliment, I also thought she was a spoiled little brat but I kept my mouth shut there.
    Our daughter is a single Mom to our grandson. He knows darn well who gets him what he needs. It’s not his father……I’d say what I think of him but this is a public forum……
    You are a good friend for your buddy, and he is lucky to have your support as clearly he isn’t getting it elsewhere. I know it’s one of your favourite things but does he have a budget??? Sorry it’s not in my budget right now sounds so much nicer than a straight no to refuse to do or buy something……..It’s almost too bad his car doesn’t break down right before some one ‘needs’ him to go somewhere or drive them some place………If his car was unavailable some time…..or he had a previous commitment …. just an idea to suggest to him to get off the hook a little sometime……a little white lie to cut himself a little slack now and again…He does need to look out for himself in order to do well by his daughter.

    1. I’m sure most days he wishes his car would break down but he needs it to get to work. He is my best friend so I look out for him any way I can. His girlfriend is amazing and would do anything for him and helps him out as much as she can but she knows that there is only so much she can do. Life certainly has a way of challenging us as human beings.

  4. I would say, “Not yet” is always easier to say to a child than no. If your friend makes up a list of chores that earn a certain $$$ figure, then the child has the opportunity to earn the item being requested or not…it’s entirely up to them. They can choose which is more important, their time or the item of the moment. There is no free lunch in this life so they might as well learn right from the start that if they want something, they have to earn it.

    I still remember my father setting the bar on my getting a pet. I had earn the right to have a pet. He desperately wanted me to learn to ride a 2-wheeler without training wheels since Santa had brought me one. I needed to ride a very long block and back to prove how much I wanted the dog. I had no interest in bike riding but he seemed to feel it was a necessary rite of passage. I fell, and fell, and fell until I could finally do it. Once I completed the task to his satisfaction, I handed him the bike and asked for my dog. Maybe he needed to add a few more stipulations?! LOL Think about what you really want them to accomplish!

    I also had to earn the money for Christmas presents for my sisters by doing age appropriate chores like putting my shoes in the closet, hanging my coat up etc. Mom & Dad kept a chart on the fridge so I could see how much more I needed to work to be able to get the gifts I wanted for my sisters. I couldn’t imagine not getting them something nice but the option was always there that I could spend the entire credit on myself BUT if I didn’t choose to use it for gifts…I wasn’t allowed to receive any at Christmas & that included the ones from Santa! After seeing them Christmas morning, they would be mailed back to the North Pole for some more deserving child! Tough cookies they were, my parents! They taught me 3 lessons with this…1. to give gifts, you need to earn them first, 2. selfish and self-centered behavior would not be tolerated and 3. what you give to the world will be returned to you. BIG, BIG learning here!

    As far as the ex goes, if the child NEEDS something as opposed to WANTS, both parents should price the item. Come back and discuss where what the best price was that they found. Then each parent chips in 50%. Neither parent should buy the item in question until they have the cash from the other parent. If it’s a big ticket item, perhaps go to the shop together… your 50% cash in hand. It’s a milestone moment in your child’s life and you don’t want to miss it. Surely if we are grown up enough to have a child, we are grown up enough to put their best interest first and to the devil with whether the co-parent is an ex or not. I say this with no children of my own but having witnessed a very effective working relationship between and old boyfriend and his ex with regard to their son.

    1. I can already hear her say, well then ‘when’ lol.. but the chores list would come in at that point which is a great way for children to earn money. Some people say no it’s part of what they will do living in the home but I look at it from a lesson perspective I guess. He doesn’t want to go anywhere near his ex as he can’t stand her and wants her to just move on. She tells him that she still loves him but she was very controlling of every move he made in his life, who he looked at , spoke to and had to jump when she said jump. It’s no way to live your life so he’s happy now with his new girlfriend and just wants her to leave him alone without causing problems for the child. I like the idea of the stipulations you talk about with your father, seems like an ideal way to teach responsibility to a child. Thanks Mary…

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