Finance For Dummies:
Coming from Nigeria is a romcom series (Netflix), titled The Smart Money Woman, based on the novel by Arese Ugwu, who also created the show. The foundation of the series is that women—and men—should plan their financial future well.
There are five women in their late twenties, best of friends and a failsafe support system for each other living in the capital city of Lagos, while families have been left behind in their hometowns. Zuri (Osas Ighodaro Ajibade) finds herself in a mess, when her rich boyfriend dumps her and she is put on probation at her workplace for shoddy work. Zuri, who has been used to designer outfits and a luxurious lifestyle, now finds herself insolvent, unable to pay the service charge for her apartment or repairs for her Merc.
Tami (Ini Dima Okojie) has rich parents whom she can turn to when her boutique needs money, but she wants to stand on her own feet provided she can find an investor. Adesuwas (Kemi Lala Akindoju) is a high-flying lawyer, whose husband insists on a joint account and blows up her money on dubious “deals” and a girlfriend. The woman who is respected at her office, is constantly demeaned at home by her husband and mother-in-law. Ladun (Ebenezer Eno) is married to a rich man, and wants for nothing, but her smugness is about to be wiped out. Lara (Toni Tones) is the sensible one, but even she is exploited by her sponging relatives
The friends always have each other’s backs and no matter how busy they are, they are just a phone call away when help or a sympathetic ear is needed. They are all dressed in stylish togs and live well, but the series is a cautionary tale about what could happen if women are too trusting, too generous, too extravagant or just plain clueless. There is an episode about a family patriarch dying suddenly, and the family is shocked to find out that not only did he not leave a will, he was bankrupt. Zuri’s mother’s house catches fire, and she had neglected to insure it. One of the quintet’s friends actually goes into debt to throw a party for her one-year-old son, because if they didn’t splurge, what would their social circle think? Women there, like those anywhere in the world, go through the same hassles if they are single and face a different set of challenges when they get married.
This Nigerian Sex And The City may sound like a lecture, but the plot has enough light scenes and romance to temper the very sensible suggestions for cutting down expenses. Zuri, for instance, sells all her designer stuff, gives up costly salon treatments for home facials and they all go jogging instead of paying through their noses for a gym. Spend on essentials not on fripperies, is the sage advice; do not give in to emotional blackmail, and, of course, never, never have a joint bank account which does not require signatures of both partners to operate!
(This is an abbreviated version of the piece that first appeared in The Free Press Journal dated September 24, 2021)