August marks Women’s Month in South Africa, and one of the most venerable traits of a new age Mbokodo is her unwavering finesse when it comes to holding her own finances.

A young woman’s ability to accomplish milestones such as owning her first property or aggressively following and making a success of her entrepreneurial dreams is nothing short of inspirational and is something I continue to aspire to.  So while I cannot (yet) gift all of Maisha Mazuri’s Mbokodo readers with beautiful bouquets of roses or tulips to celebrate the infinite power you all possess, I can share with you the perfect Women’s Month reading experience that has changed my life.  

The Smart Money Woman is a bestselling novel-come-finance-how- to authored by Nigerian Finance whiz, Arese Ugwu. I recently had the radical opportunity to read The Smart Money Woman, which I completed in a record breaking two days (a huge accomplishment considering my non-existent attention span). The Smart Money Woman’s ability to grab every inch of my attention from start to finish is a true reflection of how relatable the book is, despite its financial literacy focus . Set on the backdrop of Nigeria’s buzzing city of Lagos, TSMW reminds me of an African millennial’s version of Sex and the City, with a refreshing educational twist.  

Zuri (the main character and a little bit of my spirit animal) is a modern Lagos independent woman who has an infectious personality, a great career, a coveted wardrobe, and what I would imagine to be an enviable Instagram profile. While Zuri ticks all of the “It girl” boxes, she finds herself in a situation where her overspending tendencies and lack of financial wisdom have led her into a dire trap of debt and financial distress. In short, Zuri (like many of us) is living beyond her means. 

The storyline quickly introduces us to Zuri’s multifaceted circle of friends, and through a combination of “smart money lessons”, practical exercises and a captivating romcom storyline, Arese manages to teach her readers some pivotal lessons surrounding topics such as net worth, investments and family finance.  Arese’s ability to break down financial literacy topics in a practical and relatable way left me a little dumbfounded, questioning where this information had been all along.

The point at which I became completely enthralled with the lessons in TSMW was when I began to recognise the similarities between Zuri’s mistakes and my own. The utter ignorance considering the ability to earn wealth, yet having no real concept of the need to not only keep, but grow that wealth had me scrolling through my eBook in a panic, wondering if it was too late to break the vicious cycle.

Completing the book while following Zuri’s journey to redemption left me with a buoyant sense of optimism.  The very idea that financial freedom is attainable, regardless of current circumstances, has me planning around every last cent. Admittedly, it’s a work in progress and much like with baby steps, there will be a few tumbles, but my religious following of Arese’s Smart Money Africa network has me learning plenty of personal finance lessons beyond TSMW. At one point, I felt as if I had a little Arese sitting on my shoulder at every online shopping checkout, asking me how much I had saved, and whether or not I had budgeted for that splurge. I’ve since cancelled two shopping baskets (and failed at one- it’s a process) which is a bitter sweet experience that leaves me proud of my decisions nonetheless.


The Smart Money Woman is a MUST READ and is available in eBook and paper book on 

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