My book of the year has to be The Smart Money Woman by Arese Ugwu.
What stood out for me was the intrapreneurship aspect brought out in the book. Most often, employees leave their jobs to go and start a business or be entrepreneurs. However, with intrapreneurship, it can be easier because you have resources and systems. Yet that is so underutilized. It is a win sum game for both you and the company. Zuri, in her despair, to get higher pay and also assist the company to grow, started a new project. Not only did she ace the project, but she got the much needed extra income to pay off her debt and increase the company revenue. In the process, she a fantastic guy, Zola, who is wealthy, self-driven, focused, and successful. I love that Zola does not bail her but instead challenges her mind to put her finances in order.

Also, I love the power of the women network brought out in the conference that Zuri and her friends attended. It reveals how a biased attitude can blindside our opinion on something, and we fail to draw the real benefits. Zuri hated conferences. She thinks it’s a waste of time and money. Until one of her friends helps her change her perception, she gets to learn a lot and meets a fantastic lady banker who later helps her make investment decisions. Also, the conference is a showcase of how women can support each other. Accomplished women mentor the young and inexperienced ones, not to mention women’s networking advantages to their businesses. Oh man, the training and practicality of it all warmed my heart. Besides, the conference works to challenge and motivate other women to go after their goals.

Gender equity is addressed in the book. An issue that is so common in most organisations where women are sometimes seen as incapable of holding certain positions because they are simply women and could have easily got the job due to their beauty. We see inequity where Zola treat Zuri indifferent in the meeting.

Business woman is climbing stairs from stacks of coins toward his financial goal. Personal investment and pension savings concept. Modern vector illustration.

Also, African culture is put in the spotlight. The pressure put on women to get married and carry the burden to sustain a marriage. In the book, Zuri is continuously under pressure by her village mates to get a man. One of Zuri’s friends is in an abusive marriage right from the husband to mother in law. She endures a lot from both, and eventually, the man left her penniless disregarding the fact that she was the breadwinner and they have children together. Zuri’s mother lost almost everything to her in-laws when her father died. A culture that continuously places women deeper in poverty. Also, in the book, we see a society that blames women for failed marriages and fails to hold men accountable. The culture of loaning without actually paying back is so much ingrained in our culture. Most often, you are not expected to demand payback as that is seen as a bad neighborhood, as explained by Zuri when a neighbor comes to borrow her mother’s money.

The book equally addresses how societal pressure can be detrimental to our finances. The pressure to fit in a specific class can get us in debt. Zuri owns a car, lives in a house she can not afford. Her ex-boyfriend used to live a fake life. Also, her friends throwing expensive parties on credit, yet they couldn’t afford it. I know you are thinking of the common phrase fake it till you make it but are you working hard towards your money goals.

I like the psychosocial support that Zuri and the other friends offer her friend whose husband left her broke and broken, at the wedding and burial that Zola and Zuri attends. Community support is critical, especially at funerals.

The book reveals how our childhood programming can affect our grown-up lives; for instance, Zuri splurges on designer bags, shoes, and clothes without budgeting for them. The why her friend put up a wealthy appearance throws expensive birthdays on credit. Similarly, Zuri’s friend defends her spouse, who continuously squanders family money to contribute zero amount. The same reason mother in law treats her daughter in directions badly and supports her wayward son.

Finally, the book gives practical lessons at the end of each chapter that you can do to improve or change your financial, marital, social, and psychological situation. No one owes you anything but yourself. You want to change, be it. I have been practicing most of things. I have seen an improvement in my finances and quality of life. Also, I am more intentional about my spending and am working towards growing my agency that I started in June. So far, so good. I encourage women to read widely, embrace an open mind, network, and take charge of their finances and lives.