I have always been one to learn more by working for something and actually going through the emotions and seasons that come with it. Only then is the interpretation my own, with great lessons that give my life a deeper meaning. It is only natural that I do not like Self-Help books. This book, however, had so much hype in my book club and among my friends I had to indulge my curiosity. Also, given how much I enjoyed reading Mark Manson’s Art of Not Giving A Fuck, I thought to give it a shot. I figured however bad it goes, I’ll probably pick one on two lessons on personal finance. And being from an African woman’s perspective gives it an added bonus.
I enjoyed the approach the author used. Arese having utilized fiction with key financial lessons made it easy to keep up with the characters in the entire book. I even read the entire book in one sitting! I instantly fell in love with Zuri. I am Zuri. Well, I am yet to meet my Tsola; and lucky for me my mother is never calling to check on the prospects of me getting married soon. Thanks, mum 🙂 Anyway, the timing couldn’t have been any better given my debt crisis and my attempt to get myself out of debts. I sure did learn a few tricks to track my finances
If you are 1) Seeking to understand the financial behavior and lifestyle of the majority of the urban millennial African woman and 2) Looking to make changes in your financial lifestyle then you should definitely read this book. My main takeaways on personal finance are:
- What it means to be broke. If you were to lose your primary source of income now will you be able to sustain your current lifestyle? Do you have assets to rely on in the event that this actually happens? If you answered NO then you are broke.
- Conquer your money fears. But first, do you understand how money works? Unless you understand how it does there will always be one too many bills, impulsive purchases, and not enough money to go by no matter how much you make. Then, whatever financial challenges you are currently facing, deal with them head-on. Have a plan. After all, as Marie Curie once said ”Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.”
- Set your Goals. Ensure to articulate the vision you want for your life. Your investment goals should not only reflect your financial obligations but also what you value most. In simple terms, what do you want the money that you make to be able to do for you? This will act as a roadmap to your lifestyle and financial freedom. It will define your spending and investing habits
- Have a spending plan and track your expenses. This enables you to control your money and not the other way around. You can achieve this by budgeting. A budget is a financial plan that helps allocate your resources. Your budget should also be aligned with your values.
- Importance of having a sustainable budget. Having a realistic budget will allow you to save, invest and also enjoy some of the things you love. Do not budget with money you are yet to receive i.e do not buy a car you cannot afford to maintain with your current income with plans of working on increasing your income after you get the car. If you have an appetite for the finer things like designer bags and dining in high-end places, you can set such things as rewards for having reached a set financial goal(s).
- Deal with your debt. If you have debts make a plan to ensure to clear them in the shortest time possible. Depending on the amount and interest rate you can decide on which ones you want to start with. You should only borrow to acquire an asset that appreciates in value.
- Increasing your income. You can achieve this by investing, venturing into entrepreneurship, adding value to your existing work and finding how to tie this to a salary bump. Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur, and we need to learn this early on. Find out your values, things you are passionate about and career paths that suit your skill set and temperate so you can thrive. Then decide on any of the three strategies or all to increase your income.
- Have an emergency fund. Life happens! What happens when your house catches fire? When you suddenly get sick? What if your car suddenly breaks down? Do you have funds to pay for your parents’ medication in time of abrupt illness? You can consider insurance for some of these options.
- Take stock of your family finance. As Africans, finances are usually left to the man. The fact that most women have ‘Imposter Syndrome’ (we tend to rate ourselves lower than the world would rate us) only makes things worse. I am lucky to have been brought up in a manner that empowers both men and women financially. You should know the affairs of a breadwinner. What do you own and owe? In case of properties and life insurance policies who are the beneficiaries? Most people are caught unaware when the breadwinner dies or some misfortune befalls them. It is your responsibility to know what’s going on.
- The power of networking. Your network is indeed your worth. It’s true that you are an average of the company you keep and having an extensive network allows you to maximize your potential. Use mentors, organic relationships and work on your elevator pitch. ”The business or job opportunities you will have access to will come from your ability to harness your network into opportunities because the more people you are able to reach out and influence. The more likely you are to attract new businesses, gain access to partnerships or raise funding your business and place of employment”
I am aspiring to be a smart African Money woman. A woman who not only works hard to make money, but to also keep money and grow money. I am still working on finding my calling and slowly embracing the things I am most passionate about, as I horn my skills. And much like Zuri, I am excited and confident that I will make money because I have positioned myself for success. I am working on maximizing my earning potential and influence on the African woman’s financial well being.
How are you planning to attain Financial freedom?