Hey Ebony, I did XYZ job for a friend”
“How much did you charge him?”
“I didn’t know how much but I said 5000 Naira which he paid but he later added 2000”
“So he paid you just 7000 Naira?”
The last statement dampened my excitement while he further explained why I should have charged more and how my understanding of finance was naive.
“There’s a book I recommend, I’ve shared it to your inbox, do read and learn more about pricing and money as a whole.”
I opened my inbox and found The Smart Money Woman sitting pretty, I recognised it because another friend had shared it with me two years ago. So I dug right in to seek better ways to price my services and I’d be sharing seven lessons I learned from the book.
1. Track Your Expenses
Where is all my money going? I remember asking myself this question over and over as an undergraduate, especially in my final year.
There were lots of dues to pay, in school, in church, and in the department but I was not sure I was doing a good job managing my pocket money and the peanuts I earned here and there.
For a business, it is common to track revenue and costs periodically but this very much applies to Personal Finance. As she put it, become the CFO of your financial life and manage your money better.
This is really easy, review your bank statement/SMS alerts from the last three or six months, also review your cash transactions down to the Aboki Suya you buy on Fridays. Identify areas to cut or increase spending and set actionable financial goals.
2. Manage Debt Like a Pro
Apart from cash transactions with my siblings where they keep reminding you of as little as 50 Naira, I don’t have any real experience of being in debt but I got an idea of how to handle such if it ever happens.
For a start, don’t spend beyond your income, except you are already a wealthy person who acquires an asset that will appreciate in value and make them richer.
From the book we see Zuri making a list of all she owes, she also set a repayment schedule and set deadlines for each one. Something from your secondary school Economics classes will come handy here; Scale of preference.
Ensure that your list is arranged according to the order of importance, Zuri had to pay her Landlord because he threatened to have her evicted. If any triggers led you into debt, you also have to cut them off.
3. Emergency Funds are Essential
Many sources suggest that COVID 19 will teach a lot of people the importance of emergency funds, but there is more to emergency funds beyond COVID 19 woes.
For a four-eyed person like me, losing my extra pair of eyes will remain an emergency and it happened just this morning, leaving me in pains. If you have it at the back of your mind that sometimes bad things happen to good people, this will help you plan.
The author, Arese advises committing at least 20% of cash gifts to build emergency funds in a high-interest savings account, that way they are safe and can be assessed at any time.
4. Set Money Goals
In Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, he quotes this Igbo proverb “a man who does not know where the rain began to beat him cannot say where he dried his body.”
If the rain catches up with me, I would not bother checking where that happened because I don’t know of any trophy given for knowing where it started and stopped, but you get, it is talking about setting goals.
Before now, I didn’t care how much I received or how much I spent, but without being intentional, reading this book will make no difference. So set money goals, actionable ones with timelines. If they are long-term split them into smaller chunks.
5. Stick to your Budget
How did Arese know that Budget is not a very positive word in my vocabulary? I don’t know if any other person thinks this way but I think of budgets and use them when I have limited funds.
This should not be the case however, more fund is not a ticket to a spending spree.
A budget makes it easy to allocate resources and spend responsibly. So make a budget, stick to it and review it as time goes on.
6. Maximise/Diversify your Earnings
This particular point is the main reason I read this book in the first place.
With Zuri and her career as an example, Arese encourages people to monetize their skills or pursue a career that fits their skill-set. Seek to add value and solve problems with whatever career path you find yourself in.
I find myself second-guessing my writing skills sometimes, this book was a timely reminder.
Arese also recommends investing as a means of improving finances.
7. Discuss Personal Finance with Friends
In the book the Smart Money Woman, Arese tells the story of Zuri and her friends who find themselves in financial messes and are struggling to get rid of them.
Zuri, the main character has a well-paying job but lives above her means and is technically broke. Zuri’s friends are Tami, the fashion designer, Lara, an oil and gas executive, Adesuwa, the lawyer, and Ladun, the housewife.
As the 210 paged book draws to a close, we see each of them tightening up loose ends and getting their shit together. Friends influence each other’s personal preferences and lifestyles.
I for one ended up Fanta as my favourite drink largely because of one of my friends, so talk about budgeting, emergency funds, saving, investing and so on with your friends
The Bottom Line
Some reviews claim the book is like an infomercial for some Nigerian brands, but I don’t care that much. If anything, Arese realized that self-help books can be boring and sometimes put off the reader. She used a fictional story to educate the reader so she deserves some accolades.
This book review was written by Theresa Oyim and published by Dominicmario Ogodo.