Book Review: The Smart Money Woman By Arese Ugwu

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Title- The Smart Money Woman: An African Girl’s journey to financial freedom

Author: Arese Ugwu

Reviewed by: Debbie Ikechukwu

Where to Buy the Book:

The Smart Money Woman review

The Smart Money Woman is an entertaining way to learn about money. Simple put, this is the Nigerian woman’s answer to “Rich Dad,  Poor Dad“.

The Plot

The story is set in the hustle city of  Lagos, Nigeria, a city where appearances matter and you are judged on the value of your material possessions. We journey through the book from the eyes of Zuri, a young millenial who happens to be the protagonist.

Zuri is a young woman who is determined to live life on her own terms. She lives in the “fancy” area of Lagos and has an enviable job, yet when we begin the book, we are introduced to a Zuri, who although she earns a decent salary (Seven point Two million Naira – $20,000USD – yearly), is broke and deep in money problems.

Even though she seems to represent the Lagos dream and is living the life of a “Lagos big chic”, it is immediately clear that only a miracle can get her out of the financial mess in which she finds herself.

A quick glance at her lifestyle reveals that Zuri has been living beyond her means. Forced to take a good look at herself, she realizes that she is going to make a lot of adjustments and tough cuts.

We follow her through the next chapters as she begins to critically analyse and track her expenses as well  as her income. She narrows in on her bad money habits, which include designer bags, shoes and clothes, countless aso ebi and numerous visits to the spa and cocktail dinners. Oh and not to forget the trips abroad.

Slowly, reality begins to dawn on her as Zuri realizes that she knows next to nothing about money. Her ‘hot babe’ lifestyle (read, the fab lifestyle) is slowly ruining her.

The Smart Money Woman

Zuri is not alone in her ignorance about money, she is also surrounded by her friends, women who are living above their means. This book follows their lives and how they slowly wake up from their ignorance to become smart money women.

One thing struck me about Zuri. She could easily have blamed her money mishap on a number of things and people, or even life. She could have taken the easy way out and dated a rich man to help her solve her money issues. But she didn’t. She decided to tackle things headon so that she could truly live life on her terms.

Romance or Self-Help Book

Is the Smart Money Woman a romance novel or a self help book? You would be forgiven if you’re wondering about that. The Smart Money Woman combines a number of financial advice for today’s woman. Through Zuri, we learn the basic tenets of money wisdom. The author shares important tips like facing your money fears, and budgeting.

An important quote that stood out in the book:

Some women have no idea how much their lifestyle costs…If you do not treat the money you earn with respect, it will leave you with no respect.

– Arese Ugwu

But is it a romance novel? Well, yes, to some extent. Zuri meets the wealthy billionaire, Tsola and there is lots of tension in the book as their romance develops. There were lots of aww moments and for romance lovers, this is a good thing.

The Smart Money Woman
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What I think about The Smart Money Woman

It is difficult to read The Smart Money woman without falling in love with Zuri, the main character. But even as we watch her learn to take control of her finances, we are also left in awe of the author.

Indeed, Arese wrapped fundamental truths in this humurous but  realistic money guide to help the 21st Century woman on her way to financial freedom .

I love this book and I recommend it to everyone (male or female) who has finally come to the realization that this year, things have to be different in their finances. It is a must read fort anyone looking to have a better understanding of financial literacy.


The Smart Money Woman author, Arese Ugwu
Arese Ugwu, author of The Smart Money Woman

About the Author

Arese Ugwu is the founder of the Smart Money Africa, a personal finance platform for African millennial. She has helped shape the new narrative on personal income in the media and otherwise whilst serving in various capacities such as being a host on the Guardian TV’s new personal finance show -“your life, your money” amongst other things.

In addition to her numerous achievements,she was a 2015 finalist for the Access Bank W Award for Young Professional of the year.She also holds an mac in Economic Development  from the University College London (UCL) and a Back in Business and Management from Aston Business School, Birmingham. She is also an Alumna of the Lagos Business school, INSEAD Abut Dhabi and the London Business School Executive Education Programs.

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