The moment that 44-year-old Ryan deposited his $600 stimulus check into his bank account, he knew he’d spend it on being a “pathetic loser.” Though he needed the money for bills, rent and supporting his wife and two kids, he was hyper-aware that his voluptuous findomme Tina (like Ryan, a pseudonym) would be very pleased if he gave it to her instead.
Tina ate it up. She rewarded him by teasing him mercilessly about his desperation to serve her, calling him a “beta bitch” for emptying his wallet during such an unstable time. An experienced financial submissive, Ryan got off on it. “It’s the humiliation of spending that much during a pandemic that I love,” he tells me. “It’s such a great high to see all that hard-earned money disappear, especially when I need it most.”
For the uninitiated, a “finsub” (or “paypig”) is someone who gets an erotic thrill from sending gifts and money to a “financial dominant” (or “findomme”). The kind of play they engage in is called “findom” (or “financial domination”), and it primarily involves the submissive relinquishing control of their finances to varying degrees. Some only pay their findommes what they can afford to; others enjoy being put into debt and watching their bank accounts dwindle to zero.
Either way, findom dynamics tend to contain an element of consensual humiliation. “For me, findom takes place in a larger context of a [Dominant/submissive] relationship,” says Mistress Danielle Blunt, a 31-year-old professional dominatrix in New York City. “In my findom/finsub relationships, there is often an element of cuckolding involved where they’re compensating for a perceived inadequacy.”
That said, not all finsubs are into that aspect of the kink, and many don’t like being made fun of — some just like spoiling their doms and financing their whims. Either way, findom is one the most potent ways to play with power. “In a capitalist society, having a submissive surrender the control of their finances is an incredibly powerful and tangible [tool],” Blunt tells me. “I like playing with people who eroticize the forgoing of luxury in order to increase their financial devotion to me.” For her, exchanging money is an erotic way for her subs to honor her love language, show support and compensate her for her time, expertise and attention.
Unsurprisingly, findom can be an expensive kink, with subs spending anywhere from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars on their doms each year. But for low-to-average income subs, indulging in it during the pandemic has been a whole different story. With mass layoffs, pay cuts and increasing economic stressors slashing budgets and bank accounts, it’s become harder for subs like Ryan to finance their kink, and it’s often up to their findommes to decide how far they want to push their devoted paypiggies into the red.
Still, that hasn’t stopped many of them from asking — nay, demanding — that all that delicious stimulus money go to them:
It would be easy to assume that most subs responding to posts like these are wealthy enough to leave $600 to $1,200 on the table, but while it’s true that some are stacked, Blunt says that’s not always the case. “There’s a misconception that all finsubs are incredibly wealthy,” she explains. “I have working-class finsubs who just approach me when they have some disposable income to play with and thank me for the privilege.”
For some subs, the pandemic hasn’t changed that. Last July, Vice talked to finsubs about how much they spent on their doms, and of the four they talked to, three could feasibly be considered “working class.” One was a caregiver, another was a drug dealer who lived with his parents and the third was a young student who siphoned off his school loans to fuel his desires. Despite lockdowns and low earnings, all three were able to worship their findommes when they could, usually with tributes of roughly $250 at a time.
Interestingly, Jeff, a British paypig who describes himself as a “pin-dick Human ATM,” has actually spent more money on findom during the pandemic than he ever did before. Though the financial services specialist only tributes small amounts of between $12 and $150 at a time, he says he’s saved a fair amount of money on travel that he’s put in a separate findom savings account. Like Ryan, he could definitely use the cash for other things, but for him, findom is “about sacrifice” and being “openly pathetic” with his dommes.
Other subs, however, have had to make much larger sacrifices in order to continue spending. Adam, a 22-year-old student, told Dazed he lost his job at the beginning of the pandemic, but quickly learned that he could make money playing video games. As of December, he was still able to send his findomme between $180 and $485 a week. Others picked up flexible second jobs — like delivering for UberEats — while some have gone deeper into debt to bankroll their kink.
But though some doms aren’t concerned with the lengths their subs go to pay up, most make it a point not to push the fantasy into dangerous financial territory. “My whole interest in [Dominant/submissive] relationships is having someone offer me something rather than taking it,” says Blunt, explaining that she only plays with subs who have money to spare. If they don’t have enough disposable income — which she makes a point of finding out beforehand — they’re disqualified until they do. In some cases, this actually works as a motivating factor — the harder they work and the more they earn, the more able they are to worship and serve her.
Because of her hard limits around income, she’s certain that the two subs who’ve sent her their stimulus checks thus far weren’t put out by it. Both times, she kept some of their money and then redistributed the rest toward sex worker GoFundMe projects and mutual aid pandemic relief funds.
Queen Astro, a 31-year-old journalist and findomme in L.A., has also been cashing in on her subs’ pandemic payouts. She started asking financially stable subs for their stimulus money after seeing a few others do the same, and to date, a handful have obeyed. She estimates she’s made $1,500 off pandemic assistance since checks started going out. “I definitely received bigger tributes when stimulus checks hit, and I feel absolutely fine about it,” she tells me. “Six hundred dollars is an absolute joke to the American people who are suffering, and $600 isn’t going to make a difference on the $10K-plus someone owes in rent.”
And so, she says, willing subs have a choice: They can use their checks to try to catch up on debt (though the money will probably barely cover their interest), or they can have a “fun and exciting evening while we’re all stuck in this hellscape of a reality.”
That’s more or less what was going through Ryan’s mind when he liquidated his checks on Tina. As an IT specialist, he makes roughly enough money to break even and feed his family, but as is the case for many Americans, an extra $600 wasn’t going to make much of a difference. Not having it would merely be an “inconvenience.”
What will make a difference, however, is when he spends the combined $5,000 his family will be getting during the next round of stimulus checks on findom. That’s definitely money they could use, but the allure of a pretty woman making fun of him for emptying his pockets in her honor is too tempting. He plans to set the money aside in his secret findom bank account and wait until he finds the perfect goddess to give it to (ideally one who won’t feel guilty about it).
This, to be clear, isn’t what most findommes are after. When clients who really need their stimulus checks try to send them to her, Queen Astro, like Blunt, won’t allow it. “For larger sends, I always have discussions with my subs,” she says. “The idea of actually financially ruining someone is never in the cards; it’s a fantasy.”
Still, if someone really wants to pay up, many findommes are happy to help them create a budget so they can spend what they want. “I have a few submissives that I create a budget for if they’re interested in increasing their disposable income and financial devotion to me,” says Blunt. “I actually really enjoy the erotic dynamic of creating a budget for a finsub and creating findom contracts.” (A “contract” is basically a fake loan that the sub has to “pay off” through repeated tributes and acts of service).
As for Ryan, he’d rather take the gamble. Having already spent nearly $8,000 on findom over the past few years, he’s hoping he’ll soon get a taste of his biggest drain yet, courtesy of the U.S. government. “I’m not opposed to hitting zero,” he says.
Provided zero isn’t total financial ruin, I doubt his findomme will be either.