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I Read Arese Ugwu’s The Smart Money Woman So You Don’t Have to!

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Ottawa chapter.

Beyond being my favourite book on investing and finance, Arese Ugwu’s The Smart Money Woman: An African Girl’s Journey to Financial Freedom is a powerful resource for any woman desiring financial freedom. Arese’s life-changing “smart money” tips, as told through the witty tale of Zuri and her 4 fun-loving friends, are invaluable gems that paint an easy-to-follow guide on how to make money and grow it! Here’s how I’m applying Arese’s smart money tips in my financial journey.

Calculating My NET worth

In the words of Arese, “your net worth is your assets minus your liabilities.” She advises readers to make a list of everything they own of value—these could be stocks, bonds, or land. Then, make a list of everything you owe—like car loans, student loans, and mortgages. Finally, subtract what you owe from what you own to calculate your net worth.

Even though most of us students don’t have assets yet, I thought that this was a brilliant place to start! Arese assures us not to feel ashamed or discouraged about the number we get as this is only a starting point that will help us determine where we want our finances to be days, months, or years down the road. My calculation totalled zero, and that still felt really motivating!

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Conquering my money fears

For this activity, I identified my biggest money fears and allowed myself to be curious about them. I asked myself questions like what past life experiences caused me to have these money fears? And what can I do to replace these fears with truths about where I am and where I’m headed?

Do you also have money fears of your own? You can write your fears on paper to understand your money habits a bit better. The ultimate goal is to conquer them one by one.

Tracking My Expenses

In chapter 3 of the book, Arese highlights the importance of prioritizing your needs, limiting your wants, and spending money on the things you love! What better way to do this than to set some time aside for a money date? Yes, please. I absolutely love how she romanticizes the idea of sitting with yourself (or with friends) to look at and organize your finances. We ought to make money dates a thing!

I’m learning to consolidate my spending bit by bit. I use a digital cash stuffing method where I organize my money into different accounts. This prevents me from overspending on the things I want and, as a result, from not having enough for the things I need.

Building an Emergency Fund

“A smart money woman doesn’t wait for financial surprises; she systematically saves toward her emergency fund.”

Money for a rainy day! Arese proposes that your emergency fund should have enough money to cover your living expenses for at least 6-9 months. I know, that’s kind of a lot for the average uni student, but the key thing here is to start and to start small.

I chose to look at the 6- to 9-month goal as nothing more than a proposed financial cushion. I modified this goal to fit my needs and current circumstances. I’ve begun to set aside just a bit for emergencies by saving money in a high-interest savings account.

Zuri’s financial journey greatly inspired me to embark on my own. So far, I’ve learnt that before investing, come habits and practices that prime your financial success. These habits include knowing your net worth, confronting your money fears, regularly tracking your expenses, and building an emergency fund for the seasons you’ll need. I feel so empowered already! Do you? I wish you the absolute best in your financial journey, beautiful!

Nicole Wacuka

U Ottawa '26

Wacuka is a budding writer at Her Campus where she covers money, health and wellness. In her free time, she loves to cook, swim, read and dance.