Title: The Smart Money Woman
Author: Arese Ugwu
Page count: 184 pages
Year of publication: 2016
As is written on the cover, Arese Ugwu’s The Smart Money Woman is really (the) African girl’s guide to financial freedom.
Even though I usually find finance-related books to be a bore, this was easy to read because it was written as a story with a familiar setting. The financial gems were embedded in the story of an evidently smart woman working in the investment sector who was experiencing extreme financial hardship because she did not have a budget and was careless about her spending. Although Zuri is the protagonist, we meet her friends; Tami (the fashion designer), Lara (the oil and gas executive), Adesuwa (the lawyer) and Ladun (housewife), upper-middle-class women in Nigeria who constantly splurge on luxury items with little or no proper financial plan.
Owing to their careless financial habits, some of the women found themselves in severe debt brought on by a series of unfortunate as they only spent money on liabilities (items that don’t appreciate in value).
The twelve-chapter book offers financial advice alongside some exercises at the end of every chapter based on the just-completed chapter. These help readers, especially women, to understand their financial starting point and help them build the blocks to help achieve a plausible financial goal with the right savings and investments. Hence, it helps women to create a workable financial plan for emergencies – around 9 months that can be covered in terms of rent and main necessities, in case of unemployment – setting financial goals for the year, put your money at work, by buying portfolios and investing in land or real estate.
Arese Ugwu’s The Smart Money Woman is also a feminist manifesto that hammers on financial independence for women while maintaining the importance of quality romantic relationships. The five friends seem to have different stances on the role romantic relationships play on their financial status. Some were simply hunting for a rich husband; others were breadwinners but preferred to hide it because of their need to protect the ego of the man and some were advised to downplay their achievements in order to be more attractive.
However, Arese Ugwu seems to opine through the characters that women need to be more focused on achieving financial independence on their own. The Smart Money Woman story projects the story of how several single women get obsessed with turning up at the most popular events in the most expensive clothes while being immersed in debt. However, they hope they can meet a rich knight in shining armour to rescue them. Arese seems to disagree with this belief and insists that women need to focus on handling their finances so as not to become liabilities in their relationship which can leave them at the mercy of their partners.
Hence, she breaks the norm by ensuring Tsola and Zuri do not start a relationship until she had gotten her life in order. He was not a “Mr. Right” who gave her the necessary money, instead, he advised her as a friend and left her to handle her fate. Through this, the author seems to tell women that they can overcome every situation, especially those of a financial nature by themselves and do not have to wait for any man. A necessary message, I must say.
No matter who you are, whether male or female, Arese Ugwu’s The Smart Money Woman demands that you re-evaluate your finances. It makes you look at the mirror of your spending habits and calls you to order without berating you for your mistakes.
It is no doubt a compulsory read and should be read by women of all ages to ensure the treasures embedded in its pages are known by every woman.