Book Reviews

The Spotlight: A Review Of “Smart Money Woman” By Arese Ugwu

Whoa!  It’s been a long minute since I wrote on The Spotlight or even did a review.  But if you’ve read my most recent post, you’d know why.  I’ve been mad busy, and I still am.  But there’s something I’ve realised about reading, it is addictive!  Once I finish a book, I want to rest, but give me a day, I’ll be itching to get stuck in another.  I don’t know how I can have these two addictions; writing stories and reading books!!!  But God is helping me 🙂

Okay, well, welcome to a new episode of The Spotlight!  I’ve missed it, and I am happy to be back to talk about this wonderful book I’ve just read.  Yes, it’s wonderful…  Seriously!  Don’t stop reading yet, I do have some critiques.

First though, let me introduce the author, Arese Ugwu.  She is the founder of the finance blog,, which has a vision to change the African narrative of poverty by educating this generation and the next, through financial literacy content and programmes, such as her groundbreaking book, Smart Money Woman.  She is the recipient of a number of awards for her work, and serves on several boards including House of Tara, and the Nigeria Higher Education Foundation as a non-executive director, and is also an associate member of WIMBIZ, serving on its planning committee since 2015.  Arese is also a proud single mother of a little girl, who she calls her motivation.

I heard of the book last year and found it intriguing, but not enough to cough up the money needed to buy a copy.  I thought it was expensive for what looked like a small self-help book.  I got more intrigued when I learnt that it was actually a fictional story she’d written to communicate her message.  I was like, “WOW, that’s what I do!!!”  Suddenly, I was interested to see how she had used a story to teach about finance.  I thought it would be interesting, and I wasn’t disappointed.

So, to the review gon gon.  This book was innovative, imaginative, relevant, educative, inspiring, amusing and thought provoking!  It challenged me like mad.  Not because I am like the main character, but I could see myself in one or two of the characters, and I imagined what would happen if I went through some of the challenges these women faced.

I was reading this book like my life depended on it because I really needed someone to sit me down and say, “Ufuoma, you’re not being financially smart oh.  This is what you are doing wrong, and this is what you should be doing…”  The book ministered to me.  And I will confess that it was what gave me the fire on my butt to go ahead and publish my books in paperback this week!  I mean, what was I afraid of, and why was I delaying???  When I could be making money from their sales with just a little work, I am here managing with ebooks only.  That’s just one of the ways the book has already caused me to take control of my financial situation.

But back to the matter.  Arese told a story about Zuri, a middle class, working girl, who seems to have everything going for her.  Good job, great car, a high-end apartment and everything she can afford.  Except it’s not the true picture.  True picture is that she isn’t able to afford her lifestyle, and it takes a few bills in one month for her to realise that something is seriously wrong, and she needs to curb her spending, make some adjustments and take control of her finances.  Arese told a very interesting story that I won’t bother to narrate, because you should get the book yourself!

The story was very Nigerian, revealing a lot of bad mentalities that result in many women being ignorant where finances are concerned.  It is so real how it captures a lot of things we all know and laugh about, but think we can’t change, like the Wedding culture in Nigeria, and how you can go broke simply attending your friend’s wedding, through all the things you have to pay for ON TOP OF ASOEBI!  It also looked at the dynamics in marriages and also the peer pressure single girls often face to trade their bodies or relationships for money, so as to live “the life”.

After each chapter, which has a focused lesson (and the message is always passed across brilliantly), there’s a bit of teaching about the message and what to do to overcome these issues.  I found this really beneficial too.  There was a lot of counsel given even within the story, before you got to the lessons at the end, that it was a real meal.  It was truly an inspired book.

Apart from all this, the substance that the book delivered, there was also good story telling.  I was very interested to know how Zuri was going to overcome her financial challenges, and about her friends too.  And I was especially pleased to see that there was still romance and plot twists roped into the whole story.  Arese is definitely a good writer, and I hope she won’t stop with this book 🙂

For my critiques.  Hmmm…  Editing and formatting issues were glaring.  I don’t know if it is the version of the book I read, but I read it on  I had also just read On Becoming by Toke Makinwa on Bambooks, and the editing and formatting of that book was near perfect, so I don’t think it is the website.  It was a major problem for me, as I had to re-read sentences, paragraphs, flip back to check what I just read was correct.  Some pages took ages to load, had three or so lines on them, and I had to flip to see if that was the end or if there was more.  It is hard to believe that the book was professionally edited and formatted, as one would expect for such a book, especially knowing it’s reach and success.

There was also some needless repetition in a few places.  Like whole paragraphs, and I had to check to see if it was this formatting issue, but it wasn’t.  It was simply a repeated paragraph, with some slight editing to fit it into context.

Also, I don’t know if it was because of endorsements or advertising, but there was a whole lot of name dropping and advertising of organisations.  Maybe that was part of the teaching, letting women know who they should reach out to for services or mentoring.  But, I thought it was bit much.  If the book wasn’t amazing in itself, it would have been like one big marketing booklet.

In conclusion, I was thoroughly impressed by the book, Smart Money Woman, and by the lady who wrote it, Arese Ugwu.  She is a very knowledgeable and SMART woman, that’s for sure.  I got a lot out of it, and I know I’ll be reading it again and again to get more.  I am motivated to take control of my financial situation and become a Smart Money Woman too.  I think EVERY WOMAN and girl needs to read this book and take the lessons on board.

Well done, Arese!  Will you be my mentor???  Please…. 🙂

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