You’ve just been given a gorgeous gift box wrapped with a white silk bow. You recognize the logo because literally how could you mistake those illustrious white-block letters for anything else? You open the box and inside is exactly what you’ve been dreaming of. The leather is creamy and soft to the touch. It smells heavenly. It’s a classic black Chanel purse. And now you’re literally the horniest you’ve ever been in your life—because nothing makes you more turned on than luxury and money.

Hi, let’s talk about money kinks.

According to clinical sociologist Sarah Melancon, PhD, lead researcher at Women’s-Health Interactive, when we refer to “money kinks,” we’re not exactly talking about being literally horny for, like, paper money itself. Rather, it’s about being turned on by what that money represents in our capitalist society: power, status, luxury, and a largely unattainable lifestyle.

More From Cosmopolitan
preview for How to Sex Toy!

For example, if you become sexually aroused by having stacks of Benjamins rained down on you in bed at the Four Seasons, it’s unlikely that it’s literally the papery feel and distinct money smell that’s making you wet—it’s what the money means.

Naturally, the concept of a money kink begs a similar question to one that tends to follow recent media darling “praise kinks.” Inquiring writers (including myself) have wanted to know: Do you have a praise kink or do you just like receiving compliments? In this same vein, we might ask: Do you have a money/luxury kink or do you just like nice things?

Allow us to investigate. Let’s break down what a money kink is, how to know if you have one, and discuss some ways you can engage with it without breaking the bank—at least for those of us who don’t have a sugar daddy (or sugar mama) to fund our expensive taste in sex.

What is a money kink?

The real question: Can you genuinely get turned on by expensive things, luxury, and money?

Basically, yeah, you absolutely can have a kink for money and luxury. The difference between being turned on by money and simply enjoying nice things is pretty straightforward. If you have a money kink, you legitimately become sexually aroused by money and luxury. If you just like nice things, you may get a lot of enjoyment out of them, but you don’t get sexually turned on, per se.

Professional kinkster and BDSM expert Mistress Kye says she has encountered plenty of money kinks in her work over the years. “We’re capable of being seduced by money with little encouragement,” she explains. “The seductiveness of money in a capitalistic society makes it ripe for fetishization.”

Obviously, this kind of kink really flourishes under capitalism. And yes, this likely reflects a whole bunch of problematic societal structures and injustices that we simply don’t have time to unpack right now because, hi, we’re talking sex here, not economics. But! That doesn’t make the kink itself any less real or valid.

Why are people turned on by money?

Again, it’s probably not about the literal dollar dollar bills, y’all. I mean, sure, maybe you are really turned on by the smell and feel of money—no judgment here, friends. But even if that’s the case, any attraction to the green stuff is likely still connected to the power and privilege money represents. Whatever sensory response you may have to that sweet, sweet cash is basically registered in the brain as “this smell/sight/feeling = money and money = power.” And bing, bang, boom, you’re randy as all hell.

But more than simply power itself, a money kink reflects classic Dom/sub power dynamics. Thus, the reasons someone might be turned on by money are pretty similar to the reasons people are turned on by other kinks. “As with all kinks and fetishes, money can elicit the feel-good hormones in the brain that kinksters chase—endorphins, dopamine and adrenaline—as do the luxury items we’re attracted to that money can purchase,” Kye explains.

Having money can also mean you’re able to provide or obtain a certain lifestyle, which can be sexually arousing for some. “Wealth can indicate societal characteristics like dominance, intellect, and being connected, which can also arouse people,” explains kink educator Emerson Karsh. “You can also be turned on by the comfort [and] caring that is symbolized through being treated to expensive things, luxury, and money.”

Money kinks and “findom”

If you’re at all familiar with the world of findom—aka financial domination, which is when someone is turned on by giving their money and/or assets to a professional Dom—you may be wondering if and how that little corner of kinkland fits into the whole money kink thing. Short answer: Yes, it definitely can.

Like all sexual turn-ons and fetishes, having a money kink is subjective and can be practiced in a variety of ways. So while it can exist independent of financial domination, they are related. The common thread being the exchange of money (and thus power)—whether you’re turned on by giving it away or accumulating it, says Melancon.

“Making a tribute within financial domination is a form of relinquishing power. Therefore, it is related to money kinks because of the power exchange,” says Karsh. “The idea of financially treating and caring for someone may also be incorporated in both financial domination and money kinks.”

TL;DR: Findom and money kinks both involve money and the exchange of power, but they don’t always go hand in hand. You can definitely have a money kink without being into financially dominating a partner.

Is it normal to be turned on by money?

As Karsh points out, what’s “normal” is totally subjective, especially when it comes to sex. That said, hi, yes, having a money kink is totally normal. There is no wrong way to enjoy kink and there is no wrong way to be aroused, as long as everyone involved in this kind of dynamic is an informed and consenting adult who’s fully aware of what’s going down and why.

“Money represents power and exchanging power,” says Karsh. And guess what? “Power dynamics are one of the most commonly practiced kinks, sexual interests, and sexual desires.”

Think about it. So many kinks, fetishes, and turn-ons are ultimately rooted in power exchanges—from BDSM and breeding kinks to age gaps and (many forms of) role-play. Money kinks are just one of many ways an attraction to playing with power dynamics can manifest.

What does a money kink look like?

Wondering what a money kink actually looks like in practice? Melancon points to the following common examples:

  • Being aroused by wearing or owning expensive things. Think: fancy high-heels/shoes, handbags, jewelry, clothes, etc.
  • Wanting a partner to spend large amounts of money on you or wanting to spend a lot of money on a partner (and not just on a night out, but hundreds or even thousands of dollars).
  • Desiring to be “forced” to give money, resources, or expensive gifts to a partner or dominatrix (aka findom).

It’s important to get clear about the ways you experience your money kink. Everyone has different ideas of what a money kink looks like and how they want to explore it. Before you play IRL, spend some time considering your fantasies and identifying some specific scenarios that get you going.

Ways to play with your money kink without breaking any banks

Now, you might have a money kink…but maybe you/your partner(s) lack the resources. After all, most of us don’t have a zillion dollars to spend on spa days, shoes, and vacations all in the name of getting horned up. As is true of most kinks (and sex in general), engaging with a money kink comes with some inherent risk, which means establishing and respecting healthy boundaries is crucial, says Melancon

So how can you satisfy this turn-on in a way that’s safe for the ol’ bank account? We have some expert-approved ideas ripe and ready for you.

Make shopping a part of fantasy rather than a real-life spending spree

    Go ahead and online shop to your heart’s desire, BUT instead of pressing “buy,” Melancon suggests you “pretend to go online shopping—add items to your cart while masturbating or engaging in sexual activity with a partner.” This way, you can get your arousal going without being met with an astronomical credit card bill in a few weeks time.

    Go for the less expensive option

      Instead of buying a real Chanel purse, buy the knockoff. Bonus points if you can secure a real Chanel box to put it in for gifting. If you’re into luxurious experiences such as going to the spa, go to a cheaper place—or have your partner give you spa treatments at home. This same logic can be applied to pretty much any luxury-style item.

      Set financial boundaries

        Melancon says that in findom especially, it’s important to “set a limit for financial domination play that fits within the sub’s true budget.” But firm financial boundaries are needed in all money kink dynamics. This will mean getting clear about your finances. We know this may not sound sexy, but neither does being unable to pay your bills. It’s crucial to be realistic in order to engage with this kink in a safe and ethical way.

        Basically, it’s not weird or wrong to have a money kink, but we have to consider ways to play with it responsibly. Of course, if you really want to be a sugar baby, we support that journey too! You do you. Be safe, be realistic, and get (off to) that dirty, sexy money, babe!

        Headshot of Gigi Engle
        Gigi Engle
        Gigi Engle is a writer, certified sexologist, sex coach, and sex educator. Her work regularly appears in many publications including Brides, Marie Claire, Elle Magazine, Teen Vogue, Glamour and Women's Health.