Temperament and Money: The Choleric

I have a friend whose vision and passion have fueled his creation of a very successful and enduring company. He’s a classic choleric.

People with a choleric temperament are the type-A hard chargers. They’re goal-oriented and tireless in their pursuit of their goals. They have an especially strong work ethic, which is mostly a positive attribute, but they need to guard against workaholism. Ask them about their childhood and they are likely to say they were earning money from an early age.

Because they tend to value results so much, they also need to be careful not to run over or even use people as they go after their goals.

More than one temperament

An important point about temperaments is that each of us has a primary temperament and a secondary temperament. In some people, their primary temperament is especially dominant. In others, their primary and secondary temperaments are more balanced.

While my friend is highly driven, he is also very relational. There have been times, through the ups and downs of business, that he has had to lay off employees, and that has been brutal for him. He cares deeply about his staff.

Financial tendencies of the choleric

The opportunistic side of cholerics can make them seek deals—sometimes obsessively. My primary temperament is choleric and I can relate to this one. I often do lots of research before buying to make sure I’m getting the absolute best price.

That’s why I especially like the “price rewind” benefit of one of our credit cards. If I find an even better price after I buy something, the card will credit my account with the difference. We recently bought a laptop computer for our 13-year-old. He and I did a lot of looking around in pursuit of the best possible combination of features and price. Still, a few weeks after buying the computer, I found an even better price and my card credited my account with the $130 difference. Awesome!

Cholerics are time sensitive. That, in combination with their tendency to be on the lookout for once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, can make them vulnerable to get-rich-quick schemes.

Their need to not waste time can lead some cholerics to overspend on eating out, since it takes more time to cook from scratch.

Cholerics can have problems with debt because they may view spending money, even to the point of taking on debt, as justifiable means to reaching their goals.

They can be very especially demanding of a spouse. Instead of taking an interest in what their husband or wife bought on a recent shopping trip, they’re usually far more interested in knowing how much was spent.

Cholerics also have a tendency to make financial decisions without consulting their spouse and can end up leaving their spouse ill-prepared to handle the household’s finances without them.

Their highly practical nature can lead cholerics to stockpile money and trust in their wealth instead of trusting in God.

The generosity challenge

Giving generously can be difficult for cholerics because they may not see the practical benefit of it. That was true for my friend, the entrepreneur. Of course, temperament isn’t the only influence over our behavior. Also shaping his views were a lack of teaching about generosity in the church he attended as a child and the fact that he grew up in a single-parent household where money was always tight.

However, during a building campaign at his current church, when the senior pastor explained in very practical terms how many seats in the new sanctuary certain dollar amounts could buy, and when he cast a vision of future visitors who might sit in those seats and hear the Gospel perhaps for the first time, my friend got on board. He and his wife ended up giving the largest gift they had ever given.

Some suggestions for cholerics

If you have a choleric temperament, remind yourself of the importance of relationships. When people look back on their lives, it isn’t the business success they enjoyed that will matter most; it’s the people in their lives.

As Jerry and Ramona Tuma point out in their book, Smart Money, it’s interesting that one of the most clearly choleric people from biblical times, the apostle Paul, wrote these words, perhaps in part as a reminder to himself:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. – 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Also, make sure to involve your spouse in your household finances. A Bible study I highly recommend is Set Your House in Order, which will help in this area.

Have you seen yourself in this profile of the choleric temperament, or the previous profiles of the sanguine and melancholy temperaments? Next time, we’ll take a closer look at the phlegmatic temperament. How have you seen your temperament playing out in your use of money?

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