Book Review, Personal Finance

THE SMART MONEY WOMAN : An African Girl’s Journey to Financial Freedom Part 1: Read of the Quarter

Hi loves,

So basically, I am trying to read more so I’m starting small by having a book for each quarter of the year. I’ll be putting up my thoughts on books I’m reading and I’m hoping we can read together.

My first read for 2022 is The Smart Money Woman by Arese Ugwu. This is a book I will recommend to everyone to read (It’s not just for women, although I strongly encourage women to read it).

I honestly do not remember the first time I heard about The Smart Money Woman. It was however brought back my mind after seeing a trailer on YouTube for the adapted series that was going to air on DSTV. I never found the time to watch it when it aired (although I wanted to), so I got the book in January this year. While reading the book, I also ended up watching the entire series on Netflix (congratulations to the entire team) and I was impressed.

 A brief; The Smart Money Woman is centered on Zuri, who earns a good salary, shops designer brands, vacations abroad, drives a Mercedes, lives in a nice apartment in a “boujee” neighbourhood in Lagos, Nigeria, However, behind the facade, Zuri is broke, in debt and a financial mess. The story takes us through her realization of the financial mess she’s in, trying to fix it amidst dealing with heartbreak and love and the messes her four friends are equally in because enough attention isn’t paid to financials. 

The author, Arese Ugwu, does a fantastic job in storytelling and financial education. There is some financial education in each chapter/episode and an exercise that is only in the book for you to do. Doing the exercises helped to put things in perspective for me, especially since I am consciously trying to be and stay on the path to true financial freedom and independence.

I’m not Nigerian, but I always looked forward to reading the pidgin lingo used in the book. It gave it an immersive experience in my opinion. It is a really good read/watch (if you decide to see it on Netflix).


  • Know your worth. Most of us only look forward to knowing the net worth of rich people or celebrities. We never actually sit down to think about our net worth. This was the first exercise I did and I was literally in shambles afterwards, lol. I didn’t know what to expect but what I got was absolutely not a figure I was expecting. No matter how “bad” it may be, that is a great first step to taking control of your finances. Knowing your net worth helps you plan, review, navigate and work towards achieving your financial goals.  
  • Money will never be enough if you’re not well put together – Zuri made good money but was a reckless spender. She made sure she enjoyed her money, but never once looked at her finances on paper. A lot of people just swipe and add their cards for payments and never look at receipts (this is aimed towards the men, they are the biggest culprits lol). How you’ll handle a 100cedis is how you’ll handle 10,000cedis. A lot of people unfortunately rather spend on things that will impress people and the circles they’re in without giving any thought to it. We end up prioritizing how we present ourselves to society rather than paying attention to our pockets and future.
  • The Pleasing problem – Being a hardworking lawyer with a broke but spendthrift, jobless, cheating boy of a husband, Adesuwa is the breadwinner of her family and has a joint account with him. He constantly plays the “you don’t trust me enough” card and he gets away with it because she tried to please him. I’m not purposely hating, or trying hard to make him the villain, because he is in fact, the villain of her story.

Not to say that do not have a joint account with your spouse (I mean, it’s your money, you can do what you want with it), but I believe as women, we should take responsibility for our money. It is okay to earn so much more than your partner. It’s okay to be more financially stable than your partner. It’s okay to be the most responsible one between you two. You do not have to please your partner by putting yourself down and having them walk all over you. A true relationship comes with mutual respect regardless of pocket size.

By all means, Have funds in your joint account with your partner but also have some funds in your account(s) that only you have access to because, without God’s grace, nothing will save you from a terrible partner who is out to swindle or tear you down.

  • It’s okay to cut things out. The biggest “spender” of money is our lifestyle. Everyone has a certain lifestyle, whether you know it or not. If you’re constantly spending hundreds of cedis on hair, events, collectibles, trips, etc. without actually having some money saved up or invested somewhere, it’s probably time to cut all those out or reduce them at least. Understanding that it takes sacrifices and smart decisions will go a long way to help you. It easily takes you to the point of being frugal (not being a miser lol) because let’s be honest, about 10 to 50 percent of some of the things you spend on (aside essentials) are not that important.
  • Your parents’ money is not your money. Most parents always go out of their way to make their children comfortable, no matter how grown they are (God bless them always). Unfortunately, some children tend to comfortably live like there is money at home so I can spend as much as I want and I’d always get it back. Unfortunately, they never realise that if their parents decide to stop providing for them or some crisis hits (in the case of Ladun and Bode), it’ll all be over for them unless they have some kind of cushion in the form of savings or investments.

Like I mentioned in earlier posts, I’m really looking to have my finances in order. It may seem difficult especially if you’re on a low income, but I believe that anything you put your mind to, with time, will yield results. I believe we are in this together and we’re achieving these goals. This is part 1 of my review of this book. Part two will be up soon, as well as subsequent posts where I’ll include some resources to help you on your personal finance journey.

Have you read the Smart Money Woman or seen the series? What are your thoughts and what did you learn from it?

Sincerely Riya

Luke 16:10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.