The Smart Money Woman, is a book on personal finance and financial freedom that nudges readers into developing positive money habits. While the basis upon which the lessons are formed are entirely fictional, every chapter concludes with properly thought out and insightful smart money exercises and lessons. I honestly mistook this book for another completely random body of words that have been largely overrated – I stand corrected. The Smart Money Woman, offers financial titbits of knowledge in a very simplistic and creative way. With 210 interesting pages and a very wonderful presentation, any person would enjoy reading this.
Arese’s book, is the story of a Nigerian girl who by all standards is living the perfect life – great house in the upper-class part of Lagos, a job that pays well above the norm, and access to a fairly large amount of luxury. However, her bad financial habits trap her in a financial ditch and she is forced to tackle the situation, ground up. Zuri, the protagonist, starts her journey from being dead broke, deep in debt, and standing the risk of losing her job; to tracking her expenses, dealing with debt and unforeseen emergencies, properly networking, and expanding her sources of income. All with a very logical step-by-step process, that while put to proper use, would help just about everybody as well.
In a creative twist, rather than burdening her protagonist with all the possible financial challenges faced by individuals, the author uses the friends of her protagonist to deliver them. Hence, we have four girls with completely different spending and finance habits. The story develops further from there.
Adesuwa is the woman that earns so well, but spends it on her demanding and complacent husband. He eventually takes all her money and leaves her stranded. Lara is the Oil and gas vixen who, while having high income levels, is burdened with the responsibility of looking after her entire family. The feeding, living expenses, and education of her siblings, eat deep into her income and she can barely keep track of where it all goes. Tami had fewer responsibilities, wealthy parents, and boyfriends to keep her deep in luxury. However, her business and income generating skills were far from exemplary. Ladun was a full housewife who solely depended on her husband and his well-to-do family for her upkeep and survival. A threat to the cash flow from her husband, would then force her to re-think her financial ground.
I particularly liked the examples, because they represented the various dynamics that take place in the typical African Society. We have the woman who believes it is the responsibility of her husband to provide, and we also have the one who remains shadowed by the ideology that African women have to be completely submissive to their husbands (even financially), in order to preserve his pride. It’s all part of the charade that is culture.
The book had the typical fiction feel. It had highs and lows, and a very simple amount of drama to keep the pages turning. The portions that served as lessons, spoke about the dynamics of wealth in sub-Saharan Africa, the way African women are left out of money matters, building for emergencies and luxuries alike, budgeting, the importance of networking, investments, and how entrepreneurship has been glamorised overtime. I also really loved the segment that spoke about creating separate buckets for different goals. Basically, the goal of the book, is to create an image of the perfect ‘smart money woman’. The woman every woman should aspire to be – entrepreneurial in mind-set, fearless, having purpose, and the one constantly growing.
While the fiction story itself was not very complex as a regular fiction novel would be, the book does so well in passing all the information required to build a strong and steady financial habit. Also, I loved the way the book focused on the pretty parts of Africa. With too many African books set in the villages in an attempt to focus on our dying African heritage and whatnot, it was a breath of fresh air reading a book that painted Nigeria in a not-so-bad light. In her attempt to bring in as many top brands of the nation, however, we had moments that were somewhat overkilled. It started to seem like an orchestrated advert placement. I mean, it didn’t suck. I read those parts knowingly like, ‘I see what you’re doing here Arese’. All in all, this book was great. I recommend it for everybody who wants to change the view of his or her finances for the best.
I rate it a 3.5 out of 5. You can give it your own rating below.
About the Author
Arese Ugwu is the Founder of smartmoneyafrica.org, a personal finance platform tailored to the African Millennial. She promotes financial literacy in Africa through speaking engagements, workshops as well as multiple media platforms. She serves as an independent director on the boards of House of Tara, the Nigeria Higher Education Foundation, and Partnership Investment Plc. She is an associate member of WIMBIZ (Women in Management Business and Public service) and has served on the planning committee since 2015. Source: The Guardian