My 11-year-old son asks me somewhat regularly about my dream car — what I’d love to drive someday/one day. I’ve told him several times that owning an especially nice car isn’t a big deal to me. What I value in a car is reliability and low cost.
That answer never satisfies him, so he keeps bringing it up. He’ll ask whether I’d prefer a Lamborghini or a Ferrari (realistic options, right?). I’ll explain that I’m perfectly happy with my Honda Accord. Some time will pass, and then he’ll ask again: “Corvette or Camero?” It’s as if he can’t imagine anyone could be so unenthusiastic about the possibility of owning a cool car.
He is a classic sanguine. That’s his primary temperament. He has all the signs. He’s outgoing, charming, and makes friends easily. If he had a motto, it would be, “Everything goes better with other people.” He likes team sports and group activities. I learned very quickly that when he asks me for help with his homework, he doesn’t really need help; he just wants company.
And he cares about his appearance. He knows what he likes — what type of clothes, how to style his hair, and, importantly, what type of car he’d like to own one day — preferably a sports car. A red sports car.
What’s your type?
While my 11-year-old isn’t managing much money right now, he’ll manage more as he gets older. And he’ll discover (with a lot of help from me!) how his temperament influences how he sees and uses money.
I believe temperament is the single most underrated, underappreciated factor that impacts how we manage money. It goes a long way toward explaining why some people have a hard time building savings, staying out of debt, or giving generously. It has a lot to do with why some people are especially prone to buying things impulsively, overspending in general or on particular things such as clothing, being hesitant to finalize a purchase decision, hounding the people they love about how they’re spending, and much, much more.
Oftentimes, when you have a disagreement with someone about money, the issue isn’t really what you’re raising your voice about; it’s a clash of temperaments.
Understanding your temperament, and if you’re married, you’re spouse’s temperament, is hugely helpful in managing money well and in doing so as a team.
Everyone has a primary temperament and a secondary temperament. To identify yours, and to get a feel for how it impacts your relationship with money, download the free Identify Your Temperament tool.
Managing your tendencies
Each temperament comes with a set of inherent financial strengths and some inherent financial weaknesses.
On the positive side, sanguines tend to be very generous. Whereas some temperaments need to be convinced to give through logic and others are just naturally stingy, sanguines tend to be quick to share.
On the not-so-positive side, sanguines don’t like to get bogged down in details, so budgets are “not their thing.” And they can also be impulsive in their spending.
Knowing your tendencies can help you maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. For a sanguine, that could mean encouraging others in their journey of generosity. And it could mean setting some parameters, like never spending more than $100 without taking a day to think about it some more.
If you’re married to a sanguine and you’ve been frustrated at their resistance to using a detailed budget, my suggestion is to give up on your hope that they will one day develop a love for analytics. Just get them to drop their receipts in a predetermined place each evening.
You should both be involved in setting the overall direction in your household — what goals you’re pursuing, how much of your income you’re going to give and save, etc. But it’s okay for you to take the lead in crunching the numbers while you put your sanguine spouse in charge of brainstorming your next vacation.
What if you’re both sangines? Use the least analytic budget tool of all: the envelope system.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll explore the other main temperament types: melancholy, choleric, and phlegmatic.
Do you know your primary temperament? If so, what are some key ways you see it impacting how you think about and use money?
If you know someone who is engaged or newly married, why not get them a copy of my book, Money & Marriage? It goes much deeper into the topic of temperament and guides couples toward ways of using money that will enrich their relationship with each other and with God.
And if you haven’t done so already, please sign up for a free subscription to this blog. Twice a week, you’ll receive ideas and encouragement for using money well.
On another note, thank you to everyone who sent me some of the details of your financial journey in response to my request for positive financial stories. I’ll be writing them up over the next few weeks and I look forward to sharing them in this space. I know they’ll be a great encouragement to all who read them.