In this episode of Money Stories we spoke to Mona. Mona is lovely, too lovely.

I’m Mona, 22 and going to be a Chief Financial Officer soon.

By that I mean I’m at school studying Business Administration and working as a Certified Nursing Aide. It’s great, but yeah, let’s just say we’re not in the $$$ just yet. Right now, I spend most of my time with my boyfriend or my other love, sleep. I have been using Cleo for a while and we can definitely call her my third love. For literally as long as I can remember my mum has told me to save and I have of course ignored her but Cleo told me once, with some kind of sassy and deeply personal insight, and I did it. Admittedly it started with $5, but it’s now way more than I thought I’d be able to do.

That’s what I need help with though, I really, really want to grow my savings but I have two huge weaknesses – other people, and Target. Whenever someone asks me for a helping hand, to cover dinner or hints at a treat they’d love I literally cannot not do it, it’s a physical reaction. Target... also a physical reaction. Literally will not let me leave without a basket full of things that I could’ve gotten for half the price somewhere else. Please HeLPPPpppP.

Mona's spending over a weekend:

FRIDAY

Today was set up to be great – I’m off work, I don’t need anything from the store and I absolutely do not feel like driving.

I get a call at about 11am from my sister – her birthday is coming up and she’s called to let me know that she really wants a popcorn maker. I’m not sure what’s become inefficient about either the microwave or the pan method, but she never asks for anything for her birthday so I feel bad… remember when I said I had that problem with always wanting to help people? Yeah.

One popcorn maker it is then, plus a family crowd-surf for some $.

You know how I also said that Walmart was a weak spot? My sister-in-law calls, she wants a lift to yep, you guessed it, Walmart. You’ll see what I left with from my list below. SORRY.

Spending:

Popcorn Machine $170

Money for popcorn machine from friend +$40

Urine Off $16.83

Pet Brush $6.38

ORS Shampoo $4.14

ORS Condition $4.14

Eggo Waffles $4.77

Total: $130

SATURDAY

Yesterday was rocky, but I wake up today ready to commit to my bed and a cup of tea. My phone rings. It’s my friend – she wants to borrow $25 because her landlord is messing with her. Now though, she’s messing with me and somehow $25 turns into $100. She reassures me that she will pay me back, and tells me to stop playing, so I pay instead. F*ck the tea, I need a drink.

Spending:

Phone Bill $25

Money for Friend $100

Total: $125

SUNDAY

Right now a text from mum normally means brace brace for a painful family Zoom call. Today though, was something even worse.

2:30 pm: Hey boo! Your sister’s birthday is coming up… Please get some fun decorations for the family Zoom call. Love you!

As if the ordeal of an awkward Zoom call wasn’t enough, it was now being fuelled by MY dollars. Luckily, I caught my mother-in-law as she was about to go to the dollar store, so I tagged along for the free gas and some as-affordable-as-it's-gonna-get decorations.

P.S. OK, I ended up in WALMART TOO (If my sister doesn’t cry real tears, I will) – Forgive me? I put $100 into my savings after this thanks to friends finally paying me back.

Spending:

Streamers  $1

Ginger Ale $1 (my mother was thirsty)

Aquafina Water $1 (I was thirsty too)

Number 3 Candle Cake Decor $1

Number 4 Candle Cake Décor $1

Ribbons $2

Streamer Buttercup 2 pack $1

Table Cover Yellow $1

15 yellow balloons  $1

15 white balloons $1

Yellow Plastic Dinner Plate $1

Yellow Plastic Dinner Plate $1

Hefty Foam Plate 20 count $1

Foam Cups 24 count $1

EXTRA spending at Walmart:

Cake $19.00

Flowers $4.89

Number 3 foil balloon $5.99

Number 4 foil balloon $5.99

Gum $3.24

Total: $54.11

Cleo’s Advice

Mona, your bank balance is not as sizeable as your heart and tbh, we’re not sure that’s even possible.

Where you’re killing it

You resurrected yourself with your savings transfer at the end, a true underdog. You could stop keeping yourself and us on our toes and transfer a set amount over on payday if you’re able – aka hide it from yourself asap and forget about it.

Everything you put together for your sister’s birthday was super kind, making you priceless. You almost broke Cleo, but not quite.

Where you’re… not killing it?

Might've gotten lost in that list of birthday paraphernalia, but we don’t think we counted a single time where you treated yourself this week. Switch out some of the spending on others for some spending on yourself. You deserve it. And no, the Eggo waffles don’t count, they are of course essentials in these wild times.

Saying no is hard and peer pressure is real, but why not come at friends asking for help with a practical alternative that isn't your own money. You could support friends in setting up a budget or, you know, downloading an app that helps them see trends in their spending  👀

How Cleo can help:

Next time a friend asks you for money, make them sit next to you while you go through Roast Mode. Like, multiple times. If they don’t show any signs of empathy, red flag. Ctrl, alt, del.

And in terms of your own toxic spending habits, Cleo has a thing called Spendr literally built to clock the outgoings causing you grief. Just type ‘Spendr’ and she’ll give you a list of previous transactions which you can 👍 or 👎depending on your levels of regret.

If you want to put money away before your friends jump on it, try setting up some savings rules. For example, every time you buy something for your sister on Amazon, Cleo can fine you $1. She’ll stockpile the money for later. Then spend it. On yourself.

You’ve got this, queen.