A Letter To My Daughter


Mr. Akinkowo (Class Teacher): What do you want to be when you grow up?

Tunde: The CEO of an oil company and the owner of a technology company. I just want to be very rich so I can own houses in Ikoyi, a private jet and a beach house in Marbella.

Rolake: I want to be Tunde’s wife.


Photo Credit: She Leads Africa

This is a slightly edited version of a meme I saw on instagram a while ago. Hilarious right? I laughed so hard at first but then I spent some time thinking a little deeper about it.

In African society, what do we teach girls about money? African women are more entrepreneurial now than they ever were but it made me question if there was still something culturally engrained in us, that says a woman is only as successful as her husband? (I don’t have the answers but these are my thoughts)

Ultimately, did I want my 3-year-old daughter, Zikora to give Rolake’s answer, when asked this question? Alarm bells started to ring in my head! ‘Na uh’! *insert Nene voice from RHOA* Mummy isn’t working this hard and making all these sacrifices for your future education so that your sole ambition in life is: marry a rich man! You are extremely talented and you have to make a positive impact on this world. So here’s a letter to my daughter:

Dear Zikora,

A man is not a plan honey…

Baby girl, be your own hero. Your financial success should be based on the plans you have for your life not a man. (They are not always reliable) Don’t get it twisted a rich husband would be great too but my covenant with God while I was pregnant with you is that, you would make great contributions to your generation and that I would do everything in my power to facilitate that.

So if you do marry a rich husband you can be the kind of woman described in an article I read recently in the Huffington post that said the term ‘new trophy wife’ has taken on a new more upscale meaning. She is no longer the ‘brainless beauty whose sole function is to look good and stay quiet’ but a woman who is making good money and is in a position of power a la Amal Clooney.

Money isn’t everything, so that’s not what I’m trying to teach you. However, money is connected to every aspect of our lives from the kind of food you can eat, being able to do the things you love or afford the medical expenses when we are ill, to paying tithes in church.
The bottom line is, money gives you choices so its not the most important thing in life but its pretty important if you want to have access to all the options available to you.

So here’s a checklist of dos and don’ts…I’m sure you are already frowning but you’ll appreciate this when you are older.

Master your skills
I know every mother probably thinks their child is special but at just 3 years old I can already tell some of the things you are going to be good at. I love that you seem to have an ear for languages. (Yoruba and French in particular) we need to figure how to match your language skills with your ability to use your charm to convince people to do what you want. You will probably be really good in sales but I’m sure you will develop other skills as you grow up. All I ask is that you pay close attention to what those skills are and make it your mission to master whatever craft you choose.

Ultimately, be purpose driven and conscious of the things that drive you. Focus obsessively on the things you are passionate about and figure out how they can solve a problem that people will pay you for. This is what a successful career will be built on.

There’s no point being fabulous… and broke

Listen! Being a girl is going to be expensive! The struggle is real! Work hard so you can afford to live the lifestyle you want so it’s not about being extremely frugal but about understanding that resources are limited and you can’t have everything you want every time you want it.

The trick is to prioritize what you value most in life and engage in planned spending as opposed to impulsive spending. For example, mummy likes holidays to Europe in the summer, CLAN dresses and eating fish Tacos at 355 once a week but if she does all of these things every single month without thinking about our financial future, constantly being broke will become a lifestyle and school fees money ‘go hard’. So I plan for the things I love and cut expenses ruthlessly on the things that are not that important to me.

Money goals
The journey to financial freedom starts with your goals. The people who can articulate the narrative they want for their lives are more likely to reach their goals successfully. Things may not always work out how you plan but design the life you want and make a plan to get there anyway. Write down your goals and review them everyday to see how far you managed to move the needle.

Good debt vs. bad debt
I’m all about that good life but don’t borrow money to fund your lifestyle. Paying interest on non-assets is ‘ un peu stupide’. Most people fall into the trap of debt by thinking, ‘I work hard so I deserve this’ (i.e. new phone). ‘I will make more money and pay for it later’. You don’t deserve anything you don’t have the cash to pay for today! Taking a loan for travel, a car etc is bad debt. The only kind of debt that you are allowed to take on is good debt. i.e a loan to start or grow a business. For example, you borrow N500,000 to increase capacity in your catering business at 21% for a tenor of 24 months. This is good debt if your cash flow is positive after you’ve covered operating expenses and monthly loan repayment.

Surviving emergencies
The easiest way to derail your financial plan is to wait for emergencies to happen before you plan for them. Mummy doesn’t like financial surprises (unless, they are credit alerts) so always have 3- 6 months of emergency savings handy in case your generator breaks down or your iPhone screen cracks. Catastrophes are a given. Life happens, so stay prepared!

Invest early and consistently
Your investment portfolio should include a diversified mix of stocks with varied levels of risk and return potential. People are probably going to try to discourage you from building a stock portfolio. ‘Its too risky’ they’ll say! They are right, its risky but no one ever got rich from a savings account and the value of cash decreases over time due to inflation. (In Nigeria about 8%). It is important to understand that even though stocks are volatile in the short run, they’ve historically risen in value in the long term. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Look for a mix of stocks that fit your risk profile. Do not borrow to buy stock and do not speculate, unless you become a stockbroker. (Otherwise Speak to a professional)

Charity goals
Giving to charity is one of the few things in life that will give you fulfillment. When you give try to maintain an attitude of abundance (when you give there will be more money where it came from) and gratitude (be thankful that you are in a position to give). However, set a budget for charity so you don’t over extend yourself. Earmark the amount of money you intend to give each month, each quarter or each year. Think about giving to causes that put people in a position to help themselves. i.e. Youth centered organizations that teach skills the recipients of your donations can use to earn a living.

I love you Zikora and I have no doubt you will make mummy proud in all things.

P.S: I can’t wait for us to laugh about this and how over the top I am when you are older.

Your Mama,



  1. …and you wrote this for your daughter alone. Seriously???every human being needs to read and imbibe these values. #eternal. God bless you.

  2. I’ve been stalking you(in a healthy way though) ever since I heard you speak at the HOT rep conference. You’ve made a great impact; making financial issues sound uncomplicated.I’d keep spreading the word.
    One thing I’d love is that the posts be more regular and interactive

    1. Lolll! @stalking You are really sweet! I’ll definitely try to be more consistent with my posts… Thank you for the feedback

  3. You hit every single attribute of success in this letter. Thanks for sharing. To Gods continuos blessings for you and your daughter in Jesus Name Amen

  4. Amazing … Simply amazing Arese.
    Zikora is so blessed to have a wise Mama like you. This is an all time classic and will still be relevant when shes old enough to understand.
    But I think there is a lil Zikora in every one of us & we all need to read & heed to this letter. So the Little Zikora in me says “Thank you Mama… I will make you proud.” Love this. Big hugs. Uncle Fela

  5. Blessed are the daughters of our generation with the mamas that are raising them. My first child is a boy but I will be discussing these topics with him as well. When we have young ladies who are brought up in this fashion he and other young men will want to do better and be better. I think they’re generation will be phenomenal. Thanks for sharing – Amin 🙂

  6. Hi Arese, thank you muchos n God bless you for this eye opener. Like uncle Fela said, there’s a little Zikora in all of us.

  7. Oh Arese! I’m so happy I found your page… You’ve simplified these key principles and now I feel I can do them… More grace!

  8. It would be nice to send her this letter every 3 years until she becomes a mum. But mum, am still thinking about these lines – “You don’t deserve anything you don’t have the cash to pay for today!”

  9. First time on your blog but second time reading this…I love it!! Our generation sadly has some way to go as some of us are so infatuated with keeping up with the joneses, we sometimes lose sight of what’s important and take a back seat In our children’s upbringing. Zikora must be so proud of you. Definitely picked up another tip in this!! I.O. 😉

  10. First time on the blog.Got to know about you in the newspaper.I am overwhelmed. Following your blog henceforth. Thank you Arese.

  11. “you don’t deserve anything you don’t have the cash to pay for today” just became my #smartmoney mantra…thank God i decided to google smartmoneyafrica today… i feel my financial life changing already…. Thank you

  12. Lovely. Lovely. Lovely!!!! I loved that you said one should be grateful to be in a position to give. Gratitude is such a powerful force, a real blessing. Gushing over this post.

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