Notes from Smart Money Woman by Arese Ugwu

I love this book.

Smart Money Woman by Arese Ugwu is the story of an African girl’s journey to financial freedom. Not a new book, but all of the advice can still be put to practice in 2021.

The prose is pretty basic (a ten-year-old would catch the drift). But with so much knowledge on finance and living within your means, I doubt you’d care about literary potency as much.

Granted, my situation (most likely yours too) is nowhere near that of the protagonist, Zuri, in terms of earnings and debt, but you don’t need to be handling hundreds of thousands a month or buying designer bags at the drop of a hat to apply some of the practical steps in this book to your everyday life.

I’m almost done with Smart Money Woman. It’s the second time I’m reading it. The first time, I wasn’t paying much attention to anything. I was sixteen-going-seventeen then. I wasn’t really thinking much about money because my parents had me sorted.

In a few months, I’ll be twenty (which still baffles me). And as of today, I’ve never been in a classroom where finances were being discussed. Ever. Didn’t offer Econs in senior secondary school. Barely understood Business Studies too.

So yeah, I will take all the financial literacy lessons I can get. And that includes buying Smart Money Tribe.

On today’s post, I want to share some excerpts and anecdotes with you should you choose to pick up this book and start your financial journey, like I am doing. All of this will come in very handy in the long run so… Pay very close attention!

Top 5 Lessons from SMW

5 – You will not work forever.

“We must dismiss this idea that we will always make more money. We have a finite amount of productive years to work; many people will never be as agile both mentally and physically as they are now. What happens in thirty years when you can no longer work as hard and have no cushion to fall back on? Poverty and dependence on others is inevitable. In order to build wealth, this mentality has to change.”

Chapter 1: Broke.

4 – Your Friends Matter.

“Zuri considered her friends—women who lived very comfortable lives but didn’t seem to have a handle on their finances. Their money seemed like it was being pulled in different directions, most of which were not the direction they intended. What do we want our money to do? Zuri mused.”

Chapter 3: Where is Your Money Going?

“If one friend talked about her business and investments, others in the group would likely start speaking about theirs too.”

Chapter 11: Earning More.

3 – Treat your money right.

“If you don’t treat the money you earn with respect, it will leave you with no respect. We have to learn to spend with intention by allocating our resources to reflect the lifestyle we want and are able to sustainably afford. This all starts with having a clear idea of where the money is going in the first place.”

Chapter 3: Where is Your Money Going?

2 – Network. Network. Network.

We’ve heard it about a billion times. “Your network is your networth” “You are only as good as your five closest friends” etc. etc. etc.

Although one might find these words of advice controversial, we can all agree that networking with people in our industries is important for growth. How we go about networking and finding those people is where problems start.

In Chapter 8, The Power of Networking, Zuri attends WIMBIZ (a conference for women in business). She is at first reluctant about it because she thinks nothing worthwhile comes of being in such spaces. I’ll be the first to admit that I used think the same.

Thing is, how we navigate these spaces is what truly makes the difference. Zuri comes to a realization in chapter 8 that is probably my greatest take-away from the book.

Let’s imagine you’re in a conference right now for women in your industry. Of course, networking with the best of the best is important. Naturally, wanting to kiss-ass and win over the affection of the shiny looking guest speaker is the first thing you’d think to do, right? She’s probably the only reason you’re here in the first.

But what you miss in doing that is the opportunity to collaborate with tens or hundreds of people in your field going after the same things you are. What you miss is building community, an actual network.

So next time, look around you. Ask a few questions. Exchange numbers. Mingle. You’re not an ass-kissing shrimp.

1 – Make Your Money Work for You.

“Building wealth is ultimately not about how much you earn but how much of your income you are able to convert to assets that can provide you with an income in the future.”

Chapter 10: The Long Game—Investing.

Arese Ugwu’s book is a delightful read, aimed at getting African women deep in their bag. If you want to get your finances right, read this book.

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Amarachi Ike writes from Enugu, where she is currently studying Medicine at the University of Nigeria. She is an essayist, fiction writer, blogger and aspiring author.

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