Saturday, January 6, 2018

Book Review: The Smart Money Woman

The Smart Money Woman by groundbreaking author, Arese Agwu was a book I picked up hoping to learn a few lessons from. However I only had to read the first few pages of the sample I'd downloaded before I realised that I had chanced upon a life changing literary masterpiece.

The text introduces us to Zuri, a young professional Lagosian female, supposedly living her best life; she has a good job, rents her own apartment in no other neighbourhood but Lekki, and has a girl gang of equally stylish and successful female friends. But underneath the surface, she is really a struggling woman unable to pay her bills, at loggerheads with her landlord, and riding on the cusp of becoming laid off.

The question is, how will Zuri overcome her monetary woes and come into a life of financial freedom? This is the incredible journey the reader embarks on with Zuri as she peels back the layers of facade she has built for herself and deals with the core of her money problems.

What sets this book apart is the fact that the chapters of the story are intercepted with reflective "Smart Money Lessons" and real exercises that can be immediately implemented. This allows the reader to enjoy the narrative as well as learn in a practical way. If you follow the lessons as you progress through the book, you could potentially transform your life by the time you reach its conclusion. How ingenious?

As an avid lover of African literature, I was excited at the fact that the story is set in Lagos, Nigeria. There are several references made to modern Nigerian societal norms, from the aspiration to find a sugar daddy to the constant pressure to spend plenty nairas on a different aso-ebi each week. This book is basically a literary version of Nollywood - with more than one valuable lesson to learn!

What becomes glaringly obvious is that many of the money woes that Lagosians, and by large many African face are underpinned by cultural and societal norms. Why is it as Africans, we feel an immense pressure to constantly keep up appearances? Why is it a taboo to be seen in the same outfit at more than one function?

Aside from Zuri who is dealing with her own wahala, we also meet other characters fighting their fair share of trouble. Cue Adesuwa, na correct babe wei dey earn plenty money...the only problem is she is married to the philanderer of all philanderers; the habits of her underachieving, cheating husband plunges her further into the bottomless pool of debt. Or what about Ladun, a wonderful housewife, dedicated to her family, but without any of her own dough? In the words of Lara, one of Zuri's friends, "society and culture sells young African girls the lie that marriage is the financial security they should aspire to".

But for every Adesuwa or Ladun, there is also a "head-screwed-on" kinda woman, with her business and finances together. Meet Ijeoma the super networker, or Omosede the investment worker. Together, the different characteristics of these financially stable women (and others) are an accumulation of the one financial powerhouse of a girl boss that we should all aspire to be.

My favourite character (aside from Zuri of course!) is Tsola, Zuri's love interest and the voice that would trigger Zuri's journey to financial freedom. His instructions to "write down what your perfect day would look like", to me was the catalyst for Zuri's life changing journey. He is firstly introduced as a very hostile and impatient character, but as you flick through the pages, you come to find that im be correct guy! Every good story needs a bit of romance, but Zuri's and Tsola's love story isn't one of frivolity. Ladies, I think we have a lot to learn from this partnership. Receiving gifts and being treated to dinner is nice, but your man should also be invested in helping you to better yourself!

My biggest takeaway from this is that in a world where everyone wants to quit their 9 to 5 and venture into entrepreneurship, not all is called to be a business woman. But rather, whether a nine-to-fiver or a business woman, the important thing is to have a entrepreneur's mentality. I.e: manage your salary, investments and side hustle like a boss! In other words, get your shit together!

Can you tell that I really enjoyed this book?! Ha! Honestly, it was written with sass and simplicity so even the most lay woman can understand it and begin to make changes. If you are looking for a life changing read, peppered with a bit of sassy, sexy wahala, then The Smart Money Woman is the one. 

Thank you sister Arese for providing financial literacy to thousands of African Women!

I downloaded my copy on Amazon Kindle. You can purchase yours here! 

Are you tempted to make a purchase? Can you please recommend a good read? Comment below! 

mumu = dunce
wahala = trouble
aso-ebi = uniform fabric (lace, wax print or velvet) worn by the close friends and family of a celebrant)
Bella Naija = one of Nigeria's top socialite blogs



  1. Love this review! Seems like a very interesting & insightful read. I am definitely going to add this to my reading list. You have definitely sold it to me!

    1. It is a very interesting indeed! Please do add it to the list, you won't be wasting your time at all!

  2. I've read several reviews about this book. I also love African literature. I guess I should buy it soon. Thanks for sharing! And have a great year ahead.

    1. African literature is also my favourite genre. Please do buy it - it's a great investment!

  3. Wow! Awesome review. I have known abou this book for a while now but never got round to reading it. But with your review I'm definitely checking it out soonest!

    1. Thank you. I'm happy you enjoyed the review. Definitely add it to your list this year. You won't regret it!

  4. I've heard or read 'Smart Money Arese' a couple of times over the last year or so but never really bothered to figure out what that was about. Thanks so much for this comprehensive review - I can't wait to read the book now! Are there other (similar) Nigerian books or authors that you highly recommend? ||

    1. Hi Lorikemi, you are most welcome. I really do hope you get the chance to read the book. Have you tried Lola Shoneyin, Sharon Abimbola Salu or Tokin Makinwa? Then of course there are some of the giants, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Ama Ata Aidoo (Ghanaian). Let me know what you think

  5. I totally love this book Madeline. My favorite of all times
    Thanks for the review!!

  6. I've heard about this book. What a great review. What you said about Tsola is one thing I do when everything gets so mushed up and tiring in my head. I just ask myself, "How would you want your life to be in a perfect world?" and that makes me keep my eyes stayed on my goals even with circumstances that could try my race. As for keeping up appearances, it's still baffling. It's something I kick against. I recall talking about it severally on my blog. It doesn't even make sense to wear a dress once except your wedding dress. If you are not being sponsored by a stylist, kindly repeat your outfits. I could have a lot of clothes but I'd always wear the ones I'm most comfortable in. So I'm sorry for those checking me out cos you'd see a lot of repetition. Lol.


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